I've been so lucky to watch Alexia Clarke grow creatively. Since starting fem zine Phosphene Girl in December 2015, she's repeatedly poured her feelings onto paper, whether they be about body image, race, self-acceptance, or relationships. This Friday, bae will be hosting Combination 5 as a part of ORL dance-curators, TMD. Happy Valentine's Day everybody.
matthew warhol: So … I don’t really know what to ask you, because I know you so well. So, how are you involved with the TMD event?
Alexia Clarke: I’ll be hosting TMD Combo 5 this Friday. This event is different because they’re trying to kind of expand their community and the people who attend it. TMD for so long was just like, straight white guys, so now we’re finally incorporating in a female DJ who is also a person of color and all the proceeds we make are going to Planned Parenthood.
matthew warhol: And Alana is involved, too.
Alexia Clarke: Mhm! Alana’s going to be selling zines and art and I will also be selling zines!
matthew warhol: Are you nervous because you’ve never hosted anything before? Do you know what you’re going to say?
Alexia Clarke: I’m really excited because I’m good at things like that.
matthew warhol: Like what?
Alexia Clarke: Like, getting up to a mic and saying whatever I feel like. I like the power in it, also.
matthew warhol: What are you going to say?
Alexia Clarke: I don’t know. I think i’m going to plug my friends a lot. Make it known that this show is different, and we’re kind of taking it over.
matthew warhol: What do you think the importance of it is?
Alexia Clarke: I think it’s important for everyone to feel like they’re included for once. I think it’s important, because like when I go to events and I don’t see other people that look like me — like other girls of color or just black people in general, it sucks. I feel like this event is the beginning of seeing other parts of Orlando and other parts of this giant scene that has only belonged to this one specific demographic. It’s just the fact that we need the right people. And I think that’s why I’m really into being included. Like yes, I am this person of color, and yes, I am incorporated in this scene, but I still don’t really feel like a part of it in some way. This event is kind of my way of saying, “I’m here! I’m doing this! I can’t be ignored!”
matthew warhol: When was the first time you were more than just a bystander in the Orlando art scene?
Alexia Clarke: When I did spoken word. For once in my life, I felt like I was being heard and people are finally understanding the way I feel. After that, I got involved with Tittie Thyme. We put together an event to showcase women, called Ladies Get Lit. I put out my first zine then.
matthew warhol: What made you want to do it in the first place?
Alexia Clarke: I was really sad. And I just needed a positive and productive way to put my time.
matthew warhol: Why were you sad?
Alexia Clarke: I don’t wanna talk about it. [smiles]
matthew warhol: But, you’re not sad about that anymore? So why did you continue making zines?
Alexia Clarke: I think because Phosphene Girl has always been a safe haven for me in the last two years. And even if I don’t feel sad, it’s a way for me to put all of these thoughts that I’ve had into one cohesive book. It’s kind of like a yearbook for me, I can like look through them and just be instantly transformed back into that time where I felt exactly like that. And it’s cool because those are the important things that I need to remember, you know? Like when I felt like the lowest of the lows, and when I didn’t like my body or thought no one loved me. I think it’s really important.
matthew warhol: What are the themes that you explore in your zines?
Alexia Clarke: Most of the topics I cover are about me coming to terms with my body, um, basic relationship things, uncertainty, my attitude, and my own personal vendettas.
matthew warhol: Do you ever go back and look at them?
Alexia Clarke: Yeah, always.
matthew warhol: What do you feel when you do that?
Alexia Clarke: I feel good because I don’t really feel the ways that I did when I was writing those things. I feel like I grew from it. I feel like that’s why people write in the first place. I like that it just stays on the page because I don’t want to hold on to it anymore. I just want other people to see it and relate to it, and that’s it.
matthew warhol: How far apart were the zines?
Alexia Clarke: All of them are six months apart.
matthew warhol: You’ve obviously matured as like a writer since you’ve started. Can you tell the difference?
Alexia Clarke: Of course! It was so hard to find things for the third one because I wasn’t as sad. And that kind of made me disappointed in myself. I didn’t know how exactly it would work out. Because that was my thing, you know? Sad girl work. From the first one to the second one — because the first one wasn’t me — Phosphene Girl was transformed into I diary for myself.
matthew warhol: So the second one you think is also sad?
Alexia Clarke: Yeah, the second one is a year’s worth of work put together.
matthew warhol: There’s stuff about when we weren’t together?
Alexia Clarke: Yeah, there’s a poem in there that is from when we were together the first time.
matthew warhol: Oh …
Alexia Clarke: Yeah, the one about me eating.
matthew warhol: So what do you think the next one will be about? Do you think it’ll be another six months?
Alexia Clarke: I like the idea of them coming out every spring and winter. And I want it to be more light-hearted, but I’ve never been like that. I think I’ve always been seen as this light-hearted person, but anyone who really knows me knows I’m not.
matthew warhol: You just take it as the feelings come to you. When I see you work on stuff, it’s in the moment.
Alexia Clarke: Exactly, everything is in my notes, my notebook. When I sit down to put the zine together, it’s me looking through my tumblr, my twitter, my notes.
matthew warhol: Is it more difficult when you try to do it after the fact, after the feelings have passed?
Alexia Clarke: Yeah, it’s way harder. I’m the same way as you; I only think of the bad things when the bad things are happening. When I’m happy it’s so hard to create work. I don’t like being that type of artist, but it’s when the best work comes out.
matthew warhol: I want to go back to the Orlando art scene for a second. Do you personally feel included in it?
Alexia Clarke: I feel like I’ve never really felt completely comfortable in wherever I am. I feel like I’m always the token, or this or that. Even though we have amazing friends who understand who I am, I’m still never going to be completely comfortable within my own community — until we get to the point where we can completely merge.
matthew warhol: Where do you feel most accepted?
Alexia Clarke: I think like Harry or Harryson, anything that they throw, because those two are the most well-rounded people who can reach every kind of person. Wherever you go that they are, it’s like this is where everyone should be, because this is the perfect amount of different people. So I would say Talk Yo Shit, definitely. Anything by Retro Neon. Anything B8TA.
matthew warhol: And how do you think people can make their events more inclusive?
Alexia Clarke: I think just having more people of color. Have them show their art. Make sure you’re paying them for their art. Make sure they’re there and they’re present. That’s the first way to make people comfortable.
matthew warhol: Representation.
Alexia Clarke: Exactly, if their friends are there, they’re going to go.
matthew warhol: What else? Should we talk about us?
Alexia Clarke: Uh, I don’t know what we should say.
matthew warhol: Oh, what about the zines we’ve done together?
Alexia Clarke: Oh yeah, our color zines! We’ve done Red, Orange, and Yellow so far. We’re doing Green soon. We planned out the next few on a plane ride to Arizona. And yeah, it’s really fun.
matthew warhol: I’m really happy with the reception to it. It’s been like super organic.
Alexia Clarke: It’s been super easy. I think we’re just really good at thinking of weird things that work together. Because we pay such close attention to detail. And it’s getting more intricate, like how we put the word search in Yellow.
matthew warhol: It’s just fun. And it’s so quick that it doesn’t get daunting.
Alexia Clarke: And it’s just another excuse to do something together.
matthew warhol: Aw. Okay… I love you.
Alexia Clarke: I love you too.
matthew warhol: Happy Valentine’s Day. :)