POC Zine Project founder Daniela Capistrano’s review of Spit and Passion by Cristy C Road.
I’ll call Spit and Passion amazing the same way that I define childhood resilience and secret dreams as amazing – as conduits to freedom. Sometimes words just don’t do incredible manifestations of life’s experiences justice. But yes, Spit and Passion is amazing, and you should find a way to read it as soon as possible.
Cristy C. Road is a Brooklyn-based Cuban-American illustrator and writer who’s been contributing to queer arts, punk, writing, & activism since 1996. Road published a zine, Greenzine for ten years, and has released three books – Indestructible, Distance Makes the Heart Grow Sick, and Bad Habits. Her most recent work is the graphic memoir entitled Spit and Passion. She’s currently working on a Tarot Card deck with Author, Michelle Tea; and her punk rock band The Homewreckers.
At its core, Spit and Passion is about the transformative moment when music crashes into a stifling adolescent bedroom and saves you. Suddenly, you belong. At twelve years old, Cristy C. Road is struggling to balance tradition in a Cuban Catholic family with her newfound queer identity, and begins a chronic obsession with the punk band Green Day. In this stunning graphic biography, Road renders the clash between her rich inner world of fantasy and the numbing suburban conformity she is surrounded by. She finds solace in the closet—where she lets her deep excitement about punk rock foment, and finds in that angst and euphoria a path to self-acceptance.
Cristy C. Roadis a young Cuban American artist and writer from Miami; she currently lives in Brooklyn, New York. She has reached cult status for work that captures the beauty of the imperfect. Her career began withGreenzine, a punk rock zine, which she made for ten years. She has since publishedIndestructible, an illustrated novel about high school;Distance Makes the Heart Grow Sick, a postcard book; andBad Habits, a love story about self-destruction and healing. She has also illustrated countless record album covers, book covers, political organizations propaganda, and magazine articles.
Queer Latina Punk Artist Cristy C. Road: The Interview
Your website’s description of Spit and Passion describes it as a “graphic interpretation of a queer punk Latino (accidental) ‘It Gets Better’ campaign; in order to shed light on the painfully unwarranted and sometimes demonized experience of staying in the closet.” I think as people of color, when we are in the closet, we often face a very white homonormative insistence around what ‘coming out’ is supposed to look like, and without larger networks of support, many of us struggle to figure out what that process should be for ourselves in the context of our own cultures, families, communities. Does your work confront this specifically, and how?
C: My work has always documented that disconnect, and how the most distinct things like finding a punk scene, to healing from abuse, are all connected to the insecurities that came from holding on to a culture that was only mine; while holding onto a queer identity that I seemed to share with a whole community of mostly-white people. Spit and Passion feels like a solid culmination of not just this process, but also the healing and closure that I came to feel, around the time I turned 27, when I finished taking these steps towards balancing my identity (eating meat, growing out my hair, looking like a femme quinceañera, getting a lot of family tattoos– to name a few). The most important result of all this reconnection was coming out to my family; which was a long drawn out process that started at 25 and felt complete around 26/27. I came to see coming out as an adult as valid and real, as oppose to cowardly or internally homophobic, by connecting with other people who had a similar story, whether it was due to their ethnicity, or just fear itself. Spit and Passion accidentally became this homage to the closet; and I was really happy with that route the book took; because it really sheds light on this Latina experience (of holding onto culture) as oppose to just the experience of being queer and scared.
Cristy C. Road, author of the excellent graphic novel Spit and Passion, poses for #SelfieSummer with our new release, Pissing in a River by Lorrie Sprecher. Check out both of these great authors for a couple of fun summer reads.
Validate the culture you wish to see in the world - this is something I often say to audiences who come to hear me speak. It’s one thing to criticize the false idols foisted upon us daily by the mainstream media; far more impactful is creating and supporting a vision that reflects oneself and one’s world view.
I first met Cristy C. Road (interview with her here) a few years ago at L.A. Zine Fest, where I was speaking on a panel. Cristy was in the audience. Afterwards, she introduced herself, expressed interest in my work and handed me a copy of her graphic novel, Spit and Passion. I am a sucker for graphic novels so I gobbled it up that same night, slowing down from time to time to marvel at the way her expressive artwork perfectly complimented the text. By the end of the night I was a Cristy fan.
Time passed before I would see Cristy again. In 2014, we both happened to be in Champaign, Illinois. She was staying with a mutual friend, Mimi Thi Nguyen. We hung out together and before long Cristy was treating us to a living room serenade, playing and singing acoustic versions of her rock songs. That night, over a late night supper Cristy started talking about a tarot deck that she had been working on. She asked me if I would like to pose for her and of course, I said yes! I have to confess that I was a little confused when she asked me to get down on the ground and strike some unfamiliar poses, right there in the restaurant. Her imagination was racing much too quickly for me to catch up to her.
A few months ago I saw some of her tarot deck drawings. The illustrations were colorful and vivid. They depicted beautiful, badass women - the type who are not typically portrayed as beautiful: women of different ethnicities, body types and ages. It was a powerful affirmation of a woman’s worth. Then I saw myself.
Cristy had drawn me, picking up jewels from the ground. It thrilled me to be included. I wanted to buy decks for my daughters and my friends but the deck was not finished. Doing enough drawings to create an entire deck of cards was requiring time and money.
Cristy is no slacker. Earlier this year I contacted her with a crazy request. I asked if she could illustrate the cover of my book which was going to the printer in two weeks. To my surprise, she said yes. Within days I had sketches to approve and two weeks later a front and back cover for my book.
To be truly loved
Is to be seen,
To be persued
In each fold
Of the skin
To truly love
Is to see under
And meet what
With the ferocious
Courage of soul.
There are no
Love is not a fairytale,
Love is guts and blood
Spit and passion
Drink it in
Lap me up.