Lou Stoppard: Firstly, can you just tell me a bit about your look and who you are.
Chulo: Well basically, I go by the name Phoenix or Chulo, and my look is just… well, it’s not different, I think a lot of people do dress like this. I think the photo shoot is going to introduce that to people and probably open their minds up. When we go out or whatever, we get weird looks from people thinking, ‘is that a girl or a boy?’ and things like that. It’s just a casual, comfortable look.
Lou Stoppard: You said you get weird looks when you go out, how do people react to you and why do you think they react in that way?
Chulo: Probably because they don’t know how to take it in. First they think, ‘is that a girl or a boy?’ It’s probably because they’re not used to it. They’re confused about it basically. So I do get a lot of shocked, confused faces and stuff like that.
Lou Stoppard: Do you get annoyed with people's expectations of how people should look, whether it’s how women and men should look, or how young or old people should look?
Chulo: I think that difference is good, we can't all just look like each other. The world’s changing these days as well, everyone has their own look about them and their uniqueness. People might say, ‘why have you got so many tattoos or piercings?’ But at the end of the day, I’m different and I’d rather be different than look like everyone else.
Lou Stoppard: Do you find that tattoos and piercings are very central to how you express yourself? Is there a particular statement you want to make with the way you dress or do you find that this comes quite naturally?
Chulo: I don’t think I dress like a female or male. I’ve always liked tattoos and piercings, especially as I’m a tattoo artist as well. It’s a big part of my life.
Lou Stoppard: You say you don’t dress like a female or a male, do you think of the ways in which women and men dress – do you tend to switch between the two or do you tend to just think of it as your sort of individual look?
Chulo: No, not at all. It sounds a bit individual but I don’t think that people should think males or females should dress in a certain way. You should be able to wear whatever you like and feel comfortable in your skin as well as the clothes that you’re in. So I don’t think that anyone should be like, ‘yeah, females should dress this way, and males should dress that way.’
Lou Stoppard: What is it that draws you to more traditionally masculine clothes, or clothes that are associated with men, whether that’s right or wrong?
Chulo: I like to be comfortable, so yeah it’s being comfortable. It's also basically to stop male attention, but I still seem to get it. And it’s obviously because they don’t understand what a Stud is, so they just think, ‘ok she’s a bit tomboy-ish,’ they don’t actually know, until I’m like, ‘this is how it is and this is how I am’. Then they’d get why I’m dressed the way I do. But I think it’s really perfect, me doing this shoot, as it’ll open everyone’s minds and they’ll see people similar, then they’d be like, ‘oh ok, that’s a Stud’ and they won’t be so confused.
Lou Stoppard: I’m interested that you use the term Stud and you’re quite comfortable with it. I know some of the other subjects I was speaking to, some are really happy with identifying themselves with Stud, Femme or Butch, where as others are quite reluctant to associate themselves with that. Do you ever find it annoying - this kind of categorization?
Chulo: There are a lot of people who like no labels and they’ll be like, ‘I don’t put myself into a category.’ I actually do put myself into a category though, so I’m comfortable with saying that. I know some don’t label themselves so, I know a few people who are ‘Stemmes’ – Stud and Femme put together – and who do basically the half and half. But yeah I cast myself as a Stud.
Lou Stoppard: What does Stud mean to you? People seem to take different approaches to it.
Chulo: Basically to me, it’s masculine butch or a tomboyish female who is a lesbian. But it’s got people who have no labels, who dress like Studs but they like both, so I don’t know. In this circle that we’re in, it’s confusing to some people and everyone just takes it as it comes. They take it as it comes but I just stick to my label.
Lou Stopppard: Who are the kind of people who you look up to?
Chulo: To be honest, I haven’t really got any role models or anything like that because it’s kind of hard. These days, a lot of people come out, but I can’t really say there’s anyone that really makes me want to be myself at the moment, apart from my mum.
Lou Stoppard: Was coming out difficult for you or something that was really comfortable?
Chulo: No I was comfortable. Everyone accepted it.
Lou Stoppard: The way you dress and the way you look, the clothes you enjoy wearing, did that come about after you became much more open about your sexuality or was it something that’s always been?
Chulo: No it did come after, but I’ve always been the way that I am - just boyish and stuff like that.
Lou Stoppard: What are you looking forward to in the future? What do you hope to do and accomplish?
Chulo: In the future I’m hoping to own my own tattoo parlour with hopefully three to four other tattoo artists. I would actually like to get more involved with LGBT modeling as well, so I’m glad I’ve got into this as then I can say that I’ve done and experienced a little bit of it, so hopefully that can help me in the future as well.