EP124 Community, Selling out, and Punk with Cristy C. Road

Andrew and Cristy talk about the power of punk and community as well as its complications. The need to find a balance between struggling and selling out. The role community played in the creation of the Next World Tarot. Cristy’s return to her cuban spiritual traditions. And much more!

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Episode 124 Transcription

Andrew: Hey folks. I want to take a moment and remind everybody before we get to the podcast here that  one of the things I think is really important here, and I’m hoping that people will  jumping on supporting this is that  accessibility is a big deal. And there are a lot of people who cannot partake in the podcast without the process of creating transcriptions. And  you don’t transcriptions cost money. Basically they cost about a hundred bucks an episode so far for the season. There are two people who have contributed to that, and I would certainly love it if other folks who are enjoying this podcast and are committed to the idea of making sure that everybody can have equal access to all the different kinds of things out there. Um, check out the links in the show notes. You can go to buy me a coffee. You can use PayPal. If you’re in Canada, you can use new transfer, any, which we cut it. Uh, please jump in and support this process because I think it’s really important. And I think that  those of us who benefit without these obstacles  you know, if we can, it falls to us to  help make sure everybody else can get it all right on with the show.

<intro music>

Andrew: Welcome to the Hermit’s Podcast today. I’m hanging it with Cristy C Road who is the creator of the Next World Tarot, which is a really fascinating, and I think really radical deck that’s come out. I think it’s one of the more fascinating sort of pushes away from the world of standard, beauty standards, street culture, and brings all sorts of real deep, profound radicalness to it, which is something that I’m always curious about. If you listen to this podcast, I’m interested in, who’s out there doing stuff differently, who’s really thinking deeply about Tarot magic and all this stuff. And Cristy is one of those people who’s really done a lot of deep thinking about it. So I want to have them on for this conversation. But for folks who don’t know you Cristy, you want to give us a quick introduction.

Cristy: Yeah. I’m Cristy Road, I am… It’s hard to give an introduction. I’m a Gemini with a cancer rising in moon and I’m Gemini Mercury. So it’s real easy for me to turn a very small question into an hour presentation about my deepest feelings. So I’ll try not to do that. But yeah, I’m an illustrator and a writer and a musician. My whole life, I’ve just tried to merge everything and use everything to communicate whatever it is I’m lost in. My life as an artist just creating, started around 96, 97 with my zine, the Greenzine. It was all about Green Day and the concept of selling out and how everybody hated Green Day for signing to a major label. And there was this…

I was young at the time. I was 15 and just had these very new feelings about punk rock community. And I eventually became a part of a community that focused on making our art creating, telling your story, writing your songs, making your art, and not expecting money or stability from it, but community and revolution and education, and that was… That became my goal as an artist after creating the zine, but I was always just very proud of Green Day for getting big and becoming this beloved rock band. And I hated that people got shit for growing with their careers, especially poor people and women and people of color and [inaudible 00:03:03] people who just want to exist in the world and be visible.

And especially in the 90s, it was like… It just felt fucked up that these punks were going to judge certain people for making decisions that had to do with growth, and stability, and having children, and supporting their children. So it’s like, oh yeah, I’ll sign to this major label so then I can feed myself and my family. And I think that judging that just felt really classy. So I wrote a zine about it and called the Greenzine, and it’s a 15… And then that evolved into stories about my life and my trauma. I think it all started when I started experiencing sexism in the punk rock scene with… It was the 10th issue of the zine. And I was just getting into these shitty relationships, and I was processing them in public as a Gemini mercury. It was really interesting because my… I don’t know. I’m so private in regular life, even my social media, I don’t really like posting that many videos of myself. I feel really weird about it and but I like to just continue creating and doing all the stuff that I mean to do. So [crosstalk 00:04:38]

Andrew: I want to pause you-

Cristy: Okay. 

Andrew: … Because you basically, number one, just told me you could talk for an hour, we’re here for an hour, so it’s great-

Cristy: Yeah. And I’m still [inaudible 00:04:50] my teen years.

Andrew: Yeah. I think one of the things that’s really interesting actually that you touched on is this idea of… I mean, number one, I know your work is about supporting change, supporting big change, changing society, and all that stuff on the one hand. And I think there’s question of like, what do we do… What does Green Day do? What do you do? How do we find some way to sustain ourselves and support each other even when there’s growth and profit and these kinds of things? And I think it’s a-

Cristy: I think-

Andrew: Yeah. I just think it’s such a difficult thing. And we see it obviously in punk communities. For sure, I’m older than you, so my punk years were earlier than your years, but same thing I’ve seen in high school, hanging at the concerts, trying to figure out all that kind of stuff, and trying to change the world and so on. And a lot of people just basically, yeah, as soon as you… Instead of having community that can grow with people, there was a lot of community that if you weren’t hardcore enough or weren’t, whatever enough, then you are out and it’s like… How does that work? How does that change the world if we’re-

Cristy: Boy-

Andrew: Yeah. Go on.

Cristy: I do get certain… I understand… Like I said, I reconnected with, or I eventually connected with DIY anarchist punk community, and that became my life. It’s my values. I’m just aware that I’m surviving in the United States under capitalism and I want to feed myself and I want to live. But I do think there’s still this very important notion of sacredness to certain kinds of music, and it could be implemented punk or hip or poetry. So much different kinds of art are meant to be underground, because they’re meant to be this exchange within a community. And if you’re playing a benefit show to raise funds for a local, like women’s shelter, for example, or raising funds for any local cause, you become a part of the community and that is how you create change through your music and through… But then there’s the aspect of writing a song that inspires people and keeps people alive.

And I think that that is what gets erased when bands are accused of selling out and just because they grew because, it’s not… Selling out to me is like becoming a puppet of the media and changing your entire way of presenting yourself to appeal to something as opposed to you’re excited to be this new version of yourself, which happens really organically. And in Green Day’s case, I think the American Idiot era, all these punks are like, yeah, I don’t listen to anything past, warning there, and it’s so dumb and pointless. It’s a pointless feeling. It’s like, okay, that is an experience that you have, but it doesn’t make you better than other people. 

Andrew: Sure. 

Cristy: Because you don’t appreciate musical theater and rock operas, And I just feel like Green Day decided to write a fucking rock opera and wear fun outfits and… I feel like it’s really annoying when… I think it really annoying when people get attacked for becoming flashier or becoming this different version of themselves, because it’s like that version isn’t always evil. It isn’t always out to coddle capitalism and then ignore everything else. Sometimes it’s just about being fem and fun and wearing eyeliner. So it’s like, fuck you. I feel that way when I dress up and wear pumps and a gown to do a show and it’s like, oh, Cristy is all like, whoa, you’re [inaudible 00:09:12] now. And it’s like, no, I’m just having a fucking good ass time.

Andrew: Yeah.

Cristy: And you’re being misogynist, for one, what? Sorry, I’m not wearing anarchist patches all over my jacket that I haven’t washed my car hearts. I just feel there was this a lot of dogmatic rules as far as how to be a person and anarchist punk community. However, there is this really important sacredness that a lot of bands and a lot of people and including myself are going to continue to talk about and try to create, whether it’s by playing a show or by doing a piece of art. Or being a part of something, being a part of a local thing, like I do posters and stuff for local… Other people’s things all the time. And it’s like a lot of benefit stuff that it’s nobody is making money, it’s just being a part of that community.

But yeah, we still live in the world and we still have to pay our bills. So it’s an honor and it’s magical when a band or an artist gets to live off of that. But I’ve experienced a lot of that too, people being like you’re opposer now that you, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. I remember being called opposer when I started using computers for certain parts of my art. I was just like, I get it, but it’s not I’m doing… It’s like, I get that you miss the traditional media. I miss it too, I ended up quitting most computers. The whole Next World Tarot is all ink and marker and paint, but I’m not going to attack the six million Gen Z tablet illustrators.

Andrew: I also think that like, one of the challenges with that perspective is, have anarchist punks of this timeframe reach the pinnacle of evolution and wisdom and understanding of everything, of course not, we’re always-

Cristy: I’m sure some have, some badass.

Andrew: Maybe. But also-

Cristy: Sorry. No, I just like to think that the wisdom carried by youth, like anarchist youth who are black indigenous people of color, I think that the stuff that my crew, as friends, as women of color were learning and writing in our zines was, I look at that shit now and I’m like, why wasn’t anybody listening to us? 

Andrew: Sure.

Cristy: This is the shit that we all are still fucking talking about. 

Andrew: Yeah. 

Cristy: And yeah, that’s really important for us to honor the wisdom of a lot of radical thought that does exist in the world now and back then. And like-

Andrew: Absolutely. And I don’t want to diminish any of that. But I also think that if we look back 10 years, 20 years, 30 years, 50 years, people have changed, and we’ve accessed more, through the work of all those people along the way, more wisdom, deeper wisdom and so on. And there can be, in a variety of communities, this notion that we’ve hit the edge and anybody who drifts from it, whatever is no longer a part of it or as you said, opposer and these kinds of things. But if we look at history, we know that we’re only… If we continue to engage in radical thought and actually being punk rock, we’re going to change, and our ideas are going to expand and what we’re aware of is going to change and grow too. There’s no-

Cristy: Yeah.

Andrew: [crosstalk 00:13:09] constant destination, which we can arrive at and be like, now I’m dumb most radical punk person thing ever. That’s just an illusion as well, that’s just part of the, in some ways its part of-

Cristy: I think it’s important for everyone to just strive to be the most conscious version of themselves. 

Andrew: Yeah. Exactly. 

Cristy: And whatever that looks like is always valid, because everybody has these different experiences that pushes us to comply with the system, whether we’re disabled or parents or need healthcare. I feel like I have the privilege of being this, I’m just a self-employed artist, I didn’t do taxes for most of my life. And I just started doing them recently because… Doing them in a intentional way, because I started making more money on the books through my work. And it wasn’t just a lot of under the table art stuff. So it was just like… And then the older I got and the more… Like my health deteriorated and I just needed to start investing in things. When I tour with my band we stay at Airbnbs, I can’t just sleep on floors and couches anymore. I’m all like broken.

Andrew: Yeah. 

Cristy: But yeah, so it’s like all these things that I need money for and I need stability for. So it’s my acceptance of things that I don’t even support, it changes, because it… Or it’s just the way you judge institutions, people, because you see their needs are different than… If you don’t have any responsibilities then, it’s easy to live off the grid or the… Or it’s like there’s a lot of ability required to do certain things that are… Things that I dreamt of when I was younger, living off the grid and just not caring about being famous or making money off my art. 

I never even thought about making money off the Tarot Deck, I actually went to grad school while working on it so I can get more professor jobs, and I did get one, a really awesome one, but I haven’t gotten one since. The Tarot Deck and just that, and then illustration my freelance work, because of the Tarot Deck has blown up since that. So I’m super grateful. I’m so grateful. And I try to not be morbid about how much I don’t capitalism and social media and branding and pushing us to be like products.

Andrew: Sure.

Cristy: You know how social media pushes to be products. And back in the day it was like, we could just be artists, and our product is our product, our book, our record. That’s what we were selling, but we’re not selling our personalities unless if we want to be talk show hosts. And now it’s like, if you’re an artist, you have to be a talk show host. And I just think that’s weird. I’m so tempted to make really sarcastic videos, because I think that I can be really funny, and I can be really entertaining, and I can do these really fun things and make people laugh and have more followers. But it’s like that’s not what I want to be known for. I want to be appreciate, I want my friends to God damn my personality. And I want, when I do a performance, I want it to be like a fun surprise, my personality, and my stage presence, or performance and interview, stuff like that. I’m just like, I guess I’m old. And I’m just not trying to be seen every God damn day. That’s a lot. 

And it’s like, if you choose to do that, that’s awesome. And that’s the route that you’re choosing. And I feel there is so many… I just think that a lot of consciousness has shifted and maybe values that are traditionally just anarchist, anti-capitalist values… I think that the conversation of the specific issues, anti-racism, homophobia, just all this stuff has become mainstream conversations. There’s this really big blur now, like lines have blurred. For me, a person… I see women of color and trans people on Tik Tok and they’re not punks, but they’re talking about all the stuff that the punks were talking about 20 years ago, because they’re important issues that we all need to raise, and these are people who are living these experiences and talking about them. So I feel like… I don’t know. I just have a lot of feelings about the fact that capitalism and technology and all these things just became greater than a lot of institutions and platforms that we used to give a lot of power to, like books. I don’t know. I just think there’s a lot of things-

Andrew: Even books are diminished in some ways now, because-

Cristy: Yeah.

Andrew: … Anybody can publish a book, you can go on Amazon and upload your PDF and boom, you’ve got a book [inaudible 00:18:30].

Cristy: That’s so weird. 

Andrew: Yeah. 

Cristy: That’s so interesting. 

Andrew: Yeah. 

Cristy: And I think that’s great. It’s like now everybody has access. It should be that way. It shouldn’t just be the punks who can steal copies, who feel confident enough to steal the key cards at Kinkos. And take a giant magnet to change the count of copies to get free copies and print your 500 zines. 

Andrew: Yeah.

Cristy: It’s like that was just the way that we did self-publishing 25 years ago. And now it’s just everybody can self publish. Everybody can do and have the voice in public, and that’s awesome. And that’s so important for the world. I think my only problem is like, it being linked… I don’t know. Just [inaudible 00:19:28] the existence of …. Okay. I want to say that again.

Andrew: Yeah. 

Cristy: I think that the main problem is that social media decides what we should do. Suddenly there was this big change with the video formats on Instagram, so I can’t really share long Tarot videos anymore. Like, they don’t get shared on… So it’s like, I guess I have to pay to do ad for it.

Andrew: Yeah. [inaudible 00:20:08].

Cristy: But I’m like, no, I’m not going to pay money unless I’m promoting a big deal. I’ll do that when Tarot is rereleased or if I have a new book out or something, but-

Andrew: yeah.

Cristy: … Not-

Andrew: The way in which the algorithm determines what we get shown is the problem, the rest of it… I mean, if the algorithm was-

Cristy: Well, it determines what we share.

Andrew: [inaudible 00:20:33].

Cristy: Because if I post art that’s not the thing… My algorithm for example, [inaudible 00:20:43] share photos. If it’s a photo of me and it’s really staged or there’s some sexuality to it, some hot outfit, that gets shared. If I have a photo… My Green Day content only gets shared if it’s photos of me with a Green Day or in a Green Day space. 

Andrew: Yeah. 

Cristy: But drawings of Green Day do not get shared. Drawings of music only get shared if it has a Tarot vibe, like I made a drawing of Grace Jones and that got very shared, just like whatever. But then I had a drawing of somebody who wasn’t as famous, that was not shared. And it’s just this really annoying thing. And then the drawings for example, have to have a clear sex theme for them to get shared. But if it’s just stuff I get hired for a lot, which is like this right here for example, here’s a drawing. It’s a drawing for, free our mother’s campaign and it was about women in prison. 

Andrew: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Cristy: Mothers in prison particularly, and it’s a drawing of a woman just with her fist raised and it’s very floral and colorful and it looks Tarot card. So you would think the algorithm would be okay with it, but it was not, because it’s very bizarre that suddenly I can’t even share… The page of Wands for example, is a hard sell, because it’s just a woman chilling in nature. It’s like there has to be some kind of product. It has to be a product, announcing a new product or it has to be sexual. 

Andrew: Yeah. 

Cristy: And it’s insane, because then there’s also all these [crosstalk 00:22:50].

Andrew: But it can’t be too sexual?

Cristy: Yeah. There’s so much anti porn censorship right now. So it’s just like, it’s so wild. I can’t handle it. 

Andrew: Yeah. 

Cristy: [crosstalk 00:23:06].

Andrew: So what’s the answer, more punk rock-

Cristy: For me-

Andrew: [crosstalk 00:23:09] more community?

Cristy: No, I think… I mean, yeah. I think that that’s always consistent for me to always continue with, caring about my community and showing up for my community in these ways and showing up for the world. I think that it’s okay for artists or any public person to have errors of not wanting to be seen, not wanting to be participate, I’m there right now. I feel really exhausted with doing things in person as an artist. And I just need a little moment of self preservation. So I just want to do a lot of art in my studio and just not show up that way. 

I’m just really there right now. Another thing with the algorithm is that my music never get shared, it has to be a hot selfie with my guitar, and it’s… I’m at a point where I’m like, you know what? I’m only going to promote stuff with these Reels and Tik Tok and all… It’s like a format. It’s like the only format that is allowed now. But I think it is a format that sucks your soul out because it requires so much sound. And I think that’s rude and weird, why does everything have to have sound? 

Andrew: Yeah. Well, I think-

Cristy: I think sometimes with accessibility, it’s like, yeah, okay, great, it’s great to have that option, but now we’re going to cut off this whole other option, and that’s accessibility for other people, with visuals, with no sound. I cannot with the sound. I don’t want any sound on my social media experience. 

Andrew: Yeah. No, I leave the sound off when I’m flipping through, but I think it also really impacts a lot of like… It dictates, well, people… It makes it possible only for people who are really naturally inclined in that way or able to force themselves into that, which is not really my inclination, I do this podcast and… I know I could have more listeners if I made it 20 minutes long. And if I forced it to be very sound [inaudible 00:25:25] and all these kinds of things, and I’m just like, fuck that, that’s not what I’m actually interested in. To me, if that was what doing a podcast was, I would just not do a podcast anymore. And so, I’m-

Cristy: Yeah. Now, I totally feel that way.

Andrew: And so instead I do these podcasts that are an hour long and I think that there’s a lot of really great stuff that comes from that and really important conversations, but it doesn’t work, it’s on Tik Tok and doesn’t get much traction on Instagram and so on. But that’s whatever you can’t live… I mean, you can if it’s your business, but for me, I’m like, I can’t dictate what I want to do based on that kind of stuff. To me, that doesn’t really make any sense. Same with all the other projects that I do. There’s a scope at which I’m like, no, I’m not interested in that. That’s not going to fly for me. I’m sure that in some ways, having a sense of your art, your creativity and so on, that it’s the same for you. There are things where people come to you and just be like, why did you think I will do that? That’s not me. That’s not where I’m at. That’s not what my thing is about.

Cristy: I mean, people don’t really interact with me much.

Andrew: Fair enough. 

Cristy: Which I feel very lucky that nobody’s been like… I have friends that will be like, oh, you should post more videos of yourself. But it’s because they’re just giving advice on surviving and capitalism. It taught me to not complain about bills in front of people, because I don’t want to hear that advice. I understand that, if I had more of a like commercially presence on Instagram, I could sell a lot more art. But yeah, it makes me depressed, it makes me feel I’m not the person I want to be. And I’d rather just get a part-time job, because it’s all also… For me, it’s always about selling merch, the more videos I post, the more photos I post, the more I sell a products off my website, which I find so bizarre.

Andrew: Sure.

Cristy: I don’t even understand how that works. But I appreciate the support and the love coming from anybody, because if they’re inspired to buy the product from a random photo that has nothing to do with the product that’s nice and I appreciate that. But it’s like, I’m not going to hustle it. I’m not going to do more than I need, because my goal is to make ends meet, and then to keep releasing the work that I want to release

Andrew: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Cristy: When I publish a book for example, it’s like I want to write the best possible version of my vision. 

Andrew: Yeah. 

Cristy: And if there’s a more sellable vision, if there’s a more sellable version of that vision that might be more universal, more… I may or not give a crap about it. Before the Tarot Deck was, I did the Kickstarter and… Well, I won’t talk about that. I’m just going to say in general, throughout my career selling my vision was always hard, because I have this vision, and if it’s not trending, then no one’s going to buy it. 

Andrew: Sure. 

Cristy: And the one time that the vision I had was for the book, Bad Habits, I had an agent at the time and she sold it to an indie press and it was really awesome. We got a good advance, it was really exciting. We had all these opening events at Barnes & Noble and all the book things.

Andrew: Yeah.

Cristy: And then I had put on my event, I put on a punk show for it, I put on… And I was like, this is… I like the idea of being an artist or a writer, just feeling like it’s this job that keeps me steady and it’s nice. And then the idea of hustling to get more famous is depressing to me. If I get more famous because of what I make appeals to more people, which is what happened with the Next World Tarot, then I’m just going to be very grateful and very happy, and see what happens with the next product. 

Andrew: Yeah.

Cristy: I’m not going to try to generate more from that success [inaudible 00:30:24]. That is not me. I see if folks doing that and I see they’re excited about it, and if they’re inspired, then that’s fine, but I’m just not inspired at all to do something… And it’s funny because a lot of… There’s different Tarot Deck ideas that people have thrown at me and I’m just like, if I was commissioned to do it, but it’s, yeah, that’s my job. That’s my artisan trade. 

Andrew: All right. So just hiring for this [crosstalk 00:30:59].

Cristy: I draw people’s ideas. 

Andrew: Yeah. 

Cristy: Yeah. It’s like hire me to draw… It’s like a publisher can commission me to do a Tarot Deck and I’ll totally do that because it’s my job. But it’s not my passion and my vision, like it’ll become my vision, but it’ll still be a commission no matter what.

Andrew: Yeah. 

Cristy: And there is two Tarot ideas that may happen. It’s just that the Next World Tarot was created from love, I was in that community, those are 78 people that I know. Three of them are like, I was a fan and I was at their event and I was like, let me take your picture. And then, a couple, three or four of them, not many, actually it was just two of them, to be honest. Sent me a bunch of selfies and I pieced it together to do the image because we couldn’t meet up, but I really, really wanted these specific friends in the deck, because yeah, they were really excited to be in it too. So I was like, that’s fine, I’ll just look through your Instagram. But I wasn’t going to do that for everyone. 

Andrew: Sure. 

Cristy: That is like… That’s the bane of illustrator existence and I want [crosstalk 00:32:15] references.

Andrew: Finding the right reference? Yeah.

Cristy: Yeah. I hate it. I always tell my clients to it like, I don’t have the community that I used to. And it’s fine. It’s not like I’m… It is sad sometimes, but it is true that I don’t have the punk nightlife existence that I used to. I still go out, but I can’t randomly go up to everyone and be like, can I take your photo on the sidewalk? Because I don’t know everyone anymore like it used to just be. We all kind of knew each other and everybody in my community grew up. So now when I go out, it’s just me and my two friends and then a bunch of strangers who I may or may not get to know, but I can’t just randomly be like, I got this job, I have to draw three people, this identity, two people, this… They’re all… This club, I’m going to go up to them and take their photo, I can’t do that. 

Andrew: Yeah.

Cristy: I’ve been looking up at a lot of stock photography and stuff like that if clients can’t send me photos or coordinate with people. If they’re in New York City, it’s awesome, because then I can meet up and take photos of people in the collective if they want to represent the collective, and they want a drawing a whole. Right now I had two jobs that people… People with bullhorns and people with microphones. And my most recent one, the people of the group sent me photos of themselves, which was so awesome. And it’s like, it’s made the job six million times easier. But yeah, I did the whole Next World Tarot from people, my community came over, I took their photo. I drew some of them, I just drew them from life and… And that’s what I love to do. I love figure drawing, but only if it’s fun, it’s very challenging. I’m not going to draw 78 humans in a… I’m not going to draw 78 images-

Andrew: How long going to take you?

Cristy: But what I was saying was that the process that I took to create the deck was just bizarre and long. It began with the… I was on Sister Spit tour and all quire author tour in 2007. And Michelle Tea the author who’s also a Tarot reader. And since then she’s doing a lot more Tarot and witchy stuff as her writing and her performance. But at the time, she was just like iconic quire author and funeral Valencia. And at the time her new book was of no man’s land and just really good books that I loved about quire punks and quire love and survival and drugs and sex work. Just all these quire punk community themes. It was this really important tour that fed my activist and quire feminist art life. But I was not spiritual at the time at all, like I was…

I will always say this, and it happened, I will always say that I wasn’t going to get into Tarot and witchy stuff. I had never even seen the craft,


Andrew : Hey folks. I just want to jump in here for a second and Remind people that The Hermit Lamp is also a store. So I have an online store and an in-person store in Toronto that sells over 400 Tarot Decks 300 kinds of crystals and incense, incense holders, candles, oils, and all the magical goodies you might want for whatever spiritual practice you were up to. I think we have great prices on stuff. Everything is sourced to the best of my ability to be authentic, and we offer pickup or in store shopping when it’s not COVID in Toronto and we offer delivery just about anywhere in the world. So do me a favor next time. You’re thinking about stuff drop by thehermitslamp.com. Check it out. See if we’ve got something you need there, because I always appreciate that support.


Cristy:  I was like, I’m never going to get into that unless if it’s through Santeria, because I’m a first-generation Cuban American and from Miami. And it’s like, I grew up with so much of that spirituality being in the way of other spirituality. And it’s for a reason, it’s powerful ancestral magic. And if it’s part of your ancestry, and if it’s also part of your… And it’s just gift to this intuitive knowledge and this really wild magic that comes with that practice-

Andrew: Sure. Yeah. 

Cristy: I just think it’s really important to access it before anything else. I always just felt like, well, punk is my religion and anarchist organizing and all this other stuff, feminist poetry. But however, so I’m on this tour and Michelle Tea is giving everyone Tarot readings, and I’ve got… At that point, I had gotten two readings in my entire life. And one I really wanted, and then the other one, I was at a party and this woman read my poem and it turned me out and I chose to not believe what she said, because it was so intense.

I believe the first half, because it was all real, stuff about my parents. But then she gave me a prophecy and I was like hear a while, I’m not going to believe that. And it totally is happening right now, and it’s happened over the last 20 years. So it’s very powerful calm reading that it got me just thinking a lot, but I didn’t obey it until my late 30s. And so this tour with Michelle Tea she was reading a lot and she was like, I really want to do a death. It will be awesome if you illustrated it. And there was so many other artists at the time who would have just dumped on that, but there was something binding us and we kept touring together, we kept performing together and I could be like, I don’t want to do this, I’m not with witchy.

And then by 2009 she gave me another Tarot card reading on tour again. And at the time I was definitely the same chasing toxic love, my work is growing, I’m becoming really known, I’m becoming really appreciated and feminist punk spaces, but I’m not present for that journey, because it’s like my art is present, but my body is not. Because I was just very traumatized by a relationship of my early 20s. And it had me obsessed with love and chasing these relationships that reminded me of what the dream could be. And they all had these toxic red flags, and instead of listening to these red flags, I was just like, no, you’re the one.

And I just chased these relationships and ignored my work for a very long time. And so Michelle Tea gave me this reading that was like, one day soon, you’re going to start the process of seeing the artists that other people see, instead of being this wounded survivor, because that’s what… So my zine evolved into… The later issues were all about sexual assault and sexual violence in radical communities, and so talking about that… Because of my experiences became such a big part of my work, and that was healing and that was important and I’m so proud of myself for having been able to do that. And I’m so grateful for the people that listened. However, I just feel I’m exhausted with how it becomes your identity.

The second you talk about abuse, it becomes what people refer or associate you with which sometimes I’m like, fuck yeah, I’m going to survivor. I’m proud [inaudible 00:40:55]. But then other times it’s like, I have healed, I want to focus… Let’s talk about the materials I used to make art. Let’s talk about my music, and the song writing. Let’s talk about healing ancestral stuff and family stuff. It’s like the topic of abuse and violence it’s like, once you talk about it in your work, it’s like everybody only wants to talk to you about that or publish you talking about that. Or they don’t want to include you at all, because you might call them out or you might call their friend, and it just, in punk, especially, it’s just like, when you’re a feminist who called out her abuser in a zine, a lot of people just are going to be, oh, let’s not deal with her. That’s a lie. I just felt that narrative. And I thought, those specific walls were bullshit, but then the walls that I was creating for myself were just really difficult for my own healing and my own growth as a person and as an artist and as… So anyways, that was a big tangent about all that stuff, but that’s-

Andrew: I think, yeah-

Cristy: … The Tarot Deck.

Andrew: Well, I mean, I think it’s interesting. Number one, I think it’s interesting that you got pulled into it.

Cristy: Yeah.

Andrew: And I think it’s interesting-

Cristy: Yeah. It was very-

Andrew: … For me, so I’m proud to [inaudible 00:42:42]. I’ve been involved in Santeria for over 20 years now. And the deck I made was actually the Orisha Tarot deck. So I find it, it was fascinating where people intersect around things. But I also really curious about this idea of like… And I feel this ties back to what we were talking about a bit earlier, but the punk stuff is like, how do we identify with things where is there space for us to change that identity? And as you were talking about the stuff around abuse, through people who’ve suffered with abuse and trauma and whatever, that question of like, what can we do to define ourselves in relationship to that? And how do we contend with those forces that want to define us by it instead of inquiring about how we want to relate to it? So yeah, I find all of those things fascinating and complicated and challenging.

Cristy: Yeah. I definitely think that the progress, how the deck came to be, was very much in tandem to that healing. It’s what I was saying before that it was this bizarre process. So after I told Michelle like, all right, fine, I’ll do the deck. It’s an illustration commission, totally would have felt like. And the beginning it was like, I was just going to draw a lot of [inaudible 00:44:15] punk, this is one, the page of Wands was a one of those images. And then also the pages launch, temperance. It’s like these images of our friends and our community. This is Mimi Wand an author and activist is the page of Wands. And then had her cousins, his temperance, and she’s a musician and fraught woman and a bartender and just a nightlife person. And so it’s like all these quire punk community people. And I had only drawn five, five of them. And they all look like the original writer wait Pamela Coleman Smith’s illustrations. 

Andrew: [inaudible 00:44:53].

Cristy: And Michelle was going to write the definitions and we were just going to do it one by one. And in the meantime, she was looking for a publisher. We were looking for an agent to work with and nobody wanted it. Everybody was just like, this is not going to sell, it’s too queer. It’s too radical. Cristy’s art is a little fad, like it’s… Yeah. I like things to look a little bit morose, like beautiful colors, but a morose vibe, people’s expressions.

Andrew: Yeah.

Cristy: Because it just feels more realistic. And I don’t know, I’m a cancer moon, I don’t know. But either way it was a very long, difficult journey because right after, like a year after agreeing to do the deck with her, my then partner broke up with me and we were band mates and… I was just convinced this was the one we were going to have babies next year. And I would tell the other band like, when we have babies, can we take them on tour. And my band mates were always just like, you’re crazy, we’re not taking children on tour. And we used to take our drummer’s poodle. And I was like, we take the poodle. So it was just like, I had this whole image of what my life was going to be in relationship. And that didn’t happen, that didn’t… It’s like he wanted a totally different… He was on another journey and I was on another journey.

And I really care about this person and I really hope that they’re living… Things are happening in their life that are healing and magical. And I love everybody of that whole era, but when it happened, I was so sad and… I was done with life, I was done with… I cut off all my hair, I stopped dressing the way I dressed. I stopped listening to Green Day, and they had this whole trilogy album release and it was three albums. I didn’t know how to enjoy it. I would try to listen to it and I would start crying. And it was just like the same relationship that I ended up having with the punk bands that I listened to during an abusive relationship when I was 19. This relationship wasn’t abusive, the one during the Tarot creation, I was just so obsessed with it.

Andrew: Okay.

Cristy: And this person… It was like dramatic. And then they ghosted me and then we went to therapy, it was just very… It was a really good queer drama, but it was very emotional and it took over my life and it owned my self esteem, my relationship to the past. And it’s like, at the end of the day, I was trying to grieve, or I was trying to heal from this really fucked up stuff that happened when I was 19, 20. So it was like, the breakup, the ending of the band and the partnership, and that was around, I was like two years into the deck, but I was working so slowly because it just wasn’t in me. I needed to extract something in order to be inspired. And so I was also… I always overlap my projects and I was finishing Spit in Passion a graphic novel at the time, which was about Green Day and being in the closet as a tween.

And I’m feeling like this, like very jaded old man at the time and not relating to my age, my culture, and it being this paradox, queerness being this sad paradox for Latinos. And so that’s what Spin Passion is about, my book from 2012. My favorite story is the release event at Brooklyn museum, fucking awesome, such an amazing privilege, such an honor, feminist press who released the book did so much work in the PR, in the events, the release events. They did much for me, and I’m so grateful, but they knew, they were also so nice to me because they knew I was so depressed and that it was like, I was unable to see the value in my work, to see the value in the book, to see the value in the Tarot Deck I was working on.

I was just so sad until the book release happens in the Brooklyn Museum. And all I could think about was that, my ex was there. I was like, oh my God, we’re going to get… It’s like we’re going to reconnect, it’s going to be magical. And I didn’t even meet Brooklyn Museum people. And now I go to the Brooklyn Museum and I’m like, God, I was such a sad bitch. Now, it’s fine. I needed that era, because what came from that was ancestral magic and some Vidia and this deep reconnection to my cultural upbringing that wasn’t just calling up my away a lot, like calling up, visiting family, it wasn’t about that, it was about really deep soul work.

Andrew: Yeah.

Cristy: And ancestral work. And I was living with really amazing black femme queer, which is who changed my life, and they’re all in the deck. One of them is right here next to me, there’s a drawing of her right next to me, two of them actually. And we lived together for about seven years. So it was just this magical coven of black and brown ancestral energy and knowledge and just sharing so much. It was just, like you said, this magic just enters your life, and I was sad about love. So all of my guides and random people on the street, it was so awesome. It was such a time. They were all like, oh, she wants to help you. [inaudible 00:50:50]. But then my roommate was like, I’m going to make an alter for a [inaudible 00:50:54] by the door if you don’t mind.

And that altar is still there She hasn’t lived here in 10 years maybe, but the alter is definitely still there, because it’s just like, this came to me for a reason, and this is magic that I needed to work with. And it totally… My life just changed. I stopped being between a bunch of [inaudible 00:51:14], a bunch of work, years, seven… A long time of doing this work. And I’ll never forget. I went on a writer’s retreat in 2013 and it was amazing. I was sharing a room with [inaudible 00:51:27] who’s another amazing queer author. And his new book, a 100 Boyfriend is like… It’s blowing up in the world. And I’m so proud of him, but we were these sad… We were just sad babies. And we had the only room in the retreat with a balcony, and I thought they gave it to us so we can smoke pot.

And then I found out pot wasn’t allowed. I just felt a teenager, but I was definitely 32. And I was just like, is hard times, but we were both sharing a room with him. It was just so meaningful because we were both so inspired for our project. That’s what we were there for, to make a project that we were super inspired by. I was working in the Next World Taro, and most of the cards that I drew on the retreat did not make it onto the deck, except for the pencil sketch of death, and death made it onto the deck. And that was the only one I did on the retreat that made it on. The other ones didn’t make it.

The other ones were just to Pamela Coleman Smith, they were like… Or just not drawn well. But in depth I loved the drawing and I loved… It was just a really weird moment where I was like, I need to get over this ex, I need to get over this past, I need to get over seeing myself as just the survivor. I need to get over all that in order for me to do this deck with my full heart and intention and ancestral magic. And I want to put intention towards the people I want to represent. I want to represent people of color, I want to represent queer people, I want to represent disabled people, I want to represent my community, but then I also want to represent past generations and older folks and children, I want to represent all the generations. So it’s just like, how can I… I can’t just draw my punk friends.

Andrew: Right.

Cristy: The whole experience of doing the deck just completely changed. And then I enrolled in grad school at FIT in the illustration program. And it was so awesome, this very accessible, affordable state school. It’s a Fashion Institute of Technology of New York, and they have an illustration program and it’s just such a fashion school that at first I was like, how is this real? But all the teachers were just so amazing and just like… It’s such an amazing program. The FIT illustration masters program. And I just really wanted to teach, I was like, I want to do this deck. I want to do the deck in grad school so I can get direction about illustration, because I miss that. I love figure drawing, but I haven’t taken a figure drawing class in almost 20 years. So it’d be nice to have one. 

[inaudible 00:54:35] time it wasn’t 20 years, at the time it was like 12, maybe. But yeah, so it was this really important experience to help me reconnect with illustration and not just be this, the Christie Road legacy of writing about abuse and writing about punk. I needed to just see this esoteric spiritual project as a piece of art, and not as a piece of my legacy. It was the first non memoir I’ve ever done. Long story short, Michelle Tea started working on her book Guide to the Modern Tarot. We parted ways because it’s our visions just, her vision was Guide to the Modern Tarot, and then my vision was this-

Andrew: The Next World Tarot.

Cristy: … Queer ancestral… Yeah. It was Next World Tarot. It was originally called End of the World as we know it, or End the World Tarot, but that’s so morbid.

Andrew: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Cristy: And Michelle actually was like, what about future or next… And we were like next world. So it was just really magical collaboration still, her energy really pushed me to believe in the project at all. And so now, not now, but after we parted ways, at this point it’s 2015. And I realized, all right, well, I’m not going to get a publisher, I’m not going to get more student loans, I just need money to finish this. And I did a Kickstarter to pay for funding the deck and then to pay my rent for a couple of months. And it’s like between the original date of starting 2010 when I was in that relationship, and the world felt like my oyster, between 2010 and 2015, so five years, I did 10 cards that I ended up keeping, about 10. And then after I did the Kickstarter, I just crank them out, like a real illustrator.

Andrew: Nice.

Cristy: I’m just like, I do [crosstalk 00:57:16].

Andrew: Like person with a deadline.

Cristy: Like drawing pages lawns, which is right next to me for everyone listening. I’m pointing at it like a commercial on Tik Tok. But yeah, the page of ones, for example, a full color, 11 by 14, all the original pieces were between 18 by 24 and 11 by 14, but most of them were 11 by 14. And it’s paint marker and ink. It takes me about three days, a day of inking, a day of coloring, and then a day of obsessing over it. 

Andrew: Okay.

Cristy: And then the pencil, the pencil drawing takes hours usually, because I’m trying to capture lightness. But sometimes it’ll take five minutes, because the lightness will come naturally, and for some reason.

Andrew: Yeah.

Cristy: So yeah, I could do it. Between grad school and between… I just love that energy, that New York vibe of, we are here to work. That is why we moved here. Yeah. I really love that. I really love just pushing myself to finish it. And I did the Kickstarter. I had a lot of friends help me. That was the thing with this era that’s very different from my life right now. My life after the release was, I had so much physical presence community. I wasn’t dating anyone, I wasn’t… I didn’t have that intensity. I just had a lot of friends are hanging out around all the time. And then I had my [inaudible 00:58:48] dies. I had my roommates, I had… Everything was just really full of people, like bad-ass… 

Mostly people of color, queer people of colors, energy, and magic, and intentions all around me all the time. And then I had one best friend who was this huge cheerleader, my roommate also who I was just talking about, and so these friends who are actually the king of Fords and my roommate was the chariot. Those two friends were just… I don’t think the deck would have happened without them, to be honest. [Avery 00:59:28] and [Gina 00:59:29]. Gina moved away, Avery and I have drifted apart, a lot of the friendships of the deck, either just drifted apart. It’s very sad and it’s painful, but at the time, my life was just party every day, slumber party every night like forever, the duration of creating the deck.

Andrew: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Cristy: And that really, really pushed me, and that really inspired me. But between that and then the constant practice of ancestral magic, now I do my rituals. It’s every Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, all are for a different [inaudible 01:00:15]. And then there’s regular visits to the ocean, regular visits to regular rituals for [inaudible 01:00:24] like all… I got to do all of the ancestral Cubanship, because if I don’t, I’d start obsessing over stuff in like…

Andrew: Right.

Cristy: I started obsessing over, what could go wrong. And then it’s like, sometimes I catch myself obsessing over what could go right and things that are exciting and that’s fun, but then it feels like I did a stimulant drug or something and I need to do some grounding work and that’s fine, grounding work, I go for a walk. Hang out with some-

Andrew: Yeah. It’s interesting how when we get the right set of spiritual practices, whatever those might be, everything just shifts in a way that makes what we want to do so much easier. [crosstalk 01:01:10].

Cristy: Yeah.

Andrew: And it doesn’t even have to be super complicated or whatever. It’s just… Yeah. [inaudible 01:01:17].

Cristy: It’s funny because when I tell people about how [inaudible 01:01:21] entered my life, and you mentioned [inaudible 01:01:24], he was… I used to love a song about him, because I thought the song was funny. Because the lyrics were funny. It’s about a white guy that goes to a party and eats the banana off [inaudible 01:01:37] altar and [inaudible 01:01:38], it’s like, oh, don’t ea the banana. And it’s this hilarious song, and I loved it as a kid. I was [inaudible 01:01:48] and there was just something about his energy and how he is represents all these different genders, represents all these different identities, but then it’s like this wounded healer. 

And so I just… The more that I read about him, the more he seemed like my ex and there was all these elements like, fire elements, the animals he relates to, all these things where like, oh my God. But it was, it was a leg while pushing me to connect with him. And it was all these tricks, and I just feel like, so now in my life, I’ve learned how to navigate what is a trick that is making me wiser, and then what is a trick because I’m not following.

Andrew: Yeah.

Cristy: I’m letting the darkness get to me and I’m making bad decisions, I’m chasing bad decisions. I learned so much from that whole era of making the deck because it involved the deepest connections, becoming really real and existing beyond the idealistic punk community, anarchist community that I chase, that Green Day talked about in the beginning of their career. And I was like, that’s the family, I need, real queer musicians loving each other, and letting each other stay at their house because of trust.

And there was this really beautiful trust element with punk and traveling for such a huge chunk of my life. And now, I’m not like that. I’m like, I’m not going to let a bunch of smelly dudes that I’ve never met stay at my house. I have to get to know…. We have to at least go out to dinner first. I’m just really… It’s like I’m angry at the amount of walls that I’ve had to build to protect myself from stuff like sexual violence, racism, sexism, weird misogynist, misogynist tones that facilitate a lot of punk scenes that are supposedly feminist, but it’s like they’re not feminists, they’re just silencing loud women who are… But they’re elevating a certain way of being a woman. And it’s very annoying.

And I feel these are all paradigms created by punk men who have done amazing work. But it’s like they let that work into their head and they create institutions and it’s a very annoying, and… So yeah, in order to just move away from that and just really exist independently of that, I really needed this whole experience of creating the deck and of connecting to my ancestral magic and becoming that above all else, becoming this multifaceted person with a lot of culture, whether it’s rock and roll or Cuban or-

Andrew: All of [inaudible 01:04:57].

Cristy: … Ancestral secrets that I’m not even going to talk about, because of the rule of [inaudible 01:05:02] being this practice that all the people who were brought to Cuba after the transatlantic slave trade west African people, on how practice this, how to merge the Yoruba deities with Catholic deities in order to not get killed or get… Because they had to practice it in secret. I don’t really think it’s fair for mixed ancestry Cubans like me and millions of other people who practice this. I don’t think it’s fair for us to be all flashy and wild on Tik Tok with our things because it’s like, well… I think a level of secrecy is very important. I forgot to say this that, before launching the Kickstarter and finishing the deck and becoming grounded in it, I got rid of all social media. And now that’s what I was talking about as far as keeping it secret, my whole process of connecting to this magic and developing my rituals, it was all done in my community. 

And I don’t talk about it online. I’m not going to talk about the things that I do. I would talk about it in a forum that I knew was exclusive to people who are practicing that magic and honoring it, but just not… I’m not trying to do a show about my sacred practices, I’m just trying to make art, release it, and share it with the world. And that goes in line with the punk ethos of creating. The music I make is about fun and you going to go to the rock concert and dance… I write a little love songs and I write a lot of stuff that I hope people dance to. But that’s not what my art is about, my art is so much about healing and education, and yeah, fun and rock and roll and not giving a shit, that could be healing, but I just mean in a literal sense.

Andrew: Yeah.

Cristy: The subject matter of my art is always going to be this more laborious educational, social justice, that’s all.

Andrew: It asks more people to engage with it. It’s just one of the reasons why I think it’s such a great voice. Well, we’ve hit the end of our time here today, even though I feel like maybe there’s more stuff we could continue to talk about, because I think there’s so many interesting things surrounding you and your work and your process, but you’re not really on social media very much so you’re saying, if [crosstalk 01:07:53]

Cristy: Well, I’m on it, I’m on Instagram.

Andrew: You’re on Instagram, what’s your Instagram handle?

Cristy: It’s croadcore, croadcore.

Andrew: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Cristy: The R-O-A-D C-O-R-E. And it’s the that for Twitter, for Facebook. And my website is croadcore.org. I’ll post like, maybe there’s a day I post three things and then I won’t post for a week, and then I’ll post something. I treat it like a portfolio. 

Andrew: Uh-huh (affirmative).

Cristy: I’m like, if you stumble upon it, look at all my stuff. But that up to the minute existence, I really don’t want to participate in, because it drains me-

Andrew: [inaudible 01:08:37].

Cristy: … And it makes me feel like I’m not the mysterious cancer rising punk rock illustrator that I sought out to be 1996 when I published the zine and didn’t include any photos of myself.

Andrew: Awesome. Well, thank you for hanging out with me today and chatting. I really enjoyed-

Cristy: Thank you.

Andrew: … Hanging out with you and yeah, definitely everybody should go check it out and go check out the deck if you haven’t already. And yeah, it’s really awesome.

Cristy: Yeah. The repress is mid November.

Andrew: Mid November. So probably just around the time this will be coming out that, so, yeah. [inaudible 01:09:14].

Cristy: Cool.

Andrew: All right.

Cristy: Cool.

Andrew: Thanks again.


Andrew: Well, my friends that brings us to the end of this episode. I certainly hope that you’ve enjoyed it. Please do jump over and support the transcription process through buy me a coffee. And so on. As I mentioned in the beginning other ways that you can support the podcast are by sharing it with people, you know, who would dig it. Uh, it’s really difficult to get, reach on social media these days. So you know, share it to your story, share it wherever or just tell people about it. The podcast was originally intended for six consecutive weeks, this term, however, I had some scheduling issues. Uh, so there will actually be a one week gap before I returned with the remaining episodes. Uh, coming up next, we’ll be Eric Purdue, who amongst other things is releasing a new translation of some amazing old magical books. And after that, we’ll be Lon Milo Duquette, who was one of the first guests on this podcast, way back when I started over 10 years ago. Now see you soon and thanks as always for supporting the podcast.

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