A friend said to me recently: "Do you know about Carré Otis Sutton? She's doing amazing work." Then another friend. And another. OK, Universe, I am listening... I looked her up online and found that I recognized her iconic face from her career as a "supermodel." Then I read a powerful article featuring her story and current work raising awareness about eating disorders, sexual abuse, domestic violence, women's empowerment, and ethical standards in the modeling & entertainment industry. She exposes the dark cracks in the glamorous facade of the fashion world that so many young women dream about. She tells the truth about the toll on her body.
Carré ultimately pursued a path of healing, joy, and spiritual discipline with a fierce dedication, leading her to find true inner beauty and all that really matters most in life. And she put it all into a profound, intimate, and courageous memoir, which enchanted me from beginning to end. I love how Medicine-Spirit-Dharma is working through her to help heal our society's relationship with beauty.
I was delighted to have the opportunity to ask Carré some powerful questions, and I hope you enjoy her transmission as much as I did...
PLEASE SHARE as inspired!
You've written a powerful and very intimate memoir, Beauty Disrupted, about your personal journey from disempowerment to empowerment, trauma to healing, and silence to finding your voice. You openly share about surviving anorexia, sexual abuse, domestic violence, and exploitative work in the (often glamorized) modeling industry. The authenticity and vulnerability in your story was so striking. It clearly took great courage to reveal so much.
How did you come to receive the calling to write the memoir? And what kinds of difficulties or challenges did you encounter along the way?
The calling was loud and clear. It was actually unavoidable. There was a moment that all of the voices telling me I needed to SHARE were everywhere. Subtle and not so subtle. I began to tune in to the cultural norm of women, societal expectations... both within my industry and without. I began to see the pervasiveness of abuse and objectification that I had grown up with and become so accustomed to. There was this common thread of avoidance and sugar coating and minimizing predatory and abusive behavior. Having been deeply submerged in an industry for decades that does just this—while normalizing these dysfunctional behaviors, it was already well on my radar.
Becoming a mother… a mother to daughters, was a game changer. I awakened to a deep sense of responsibility. I understood quite clearly and literally that my mission was to be a voice, use my platform and be an advocate for change.
All of these pieces were a perfect storm to ornament me with the courage to step out and into the voice and message I maintain today. In the earlier part of my life, I subscribed to being a "victim" of the patriarchy that defines and dictates many women's stories. It was the belief system I had grown up in, without questioning its validity as it pertained to defining MY Story. This construct really shattered in its entirety when I stumbled across my ex-husband being interviewed by Barbara Walters. As he again recounted his version of our time together, it became crystal clear that it was time for my story to come forth.
I am so grateful for the spiritual foundation I had under my belt. The many years of practice and discipline. The steps I had taken to fortify my relationships with family and friends. From Tibetan Buddhism to the shamanic path, I had a team of angels to guide and protect me. But that didn’t make the lifting easy or light. There were many tests. Obstacles. Wrath. Scorn. I really saw every shade of the human response towards me being a woman with a voice. It was as if there was some silent unspoken contract I had signed when I came into this body that I would be the KEEPER of secrets and sorrows. And I really had to consciously rescind that. A well behaved woman never makes history. I can relate. I am not well behaved. And proud of it.
Image from Carre's TedX talk. LINK BELOW.
Would you say that telling our personal stories can be healing for the collective? How so?
Absolutely! I truly believe that as we step up and do our part and participate, whether its finding our voices, telling our stories, or healing ourselves through therapies, we contribute to healing the Global Archetype. We are part of a collective. Together we rise. Together we can also fall. Its really time to rise. Other women's stories have given me so much courage and inspiration. We are safer in numbers. I encourage women to share their stories. Its cathartic. Its empowering. It also can take the "charge" out of the wounds. One thing I am ever cautious about, however, is that I have been very clear that I am not my story. My evolution and place on this planet at this time has been informed by my experiences, but I am so much more than my story… I am not a victim, but a survivor. I am careful with what I identify with. Without the work I have done I could easily identify with the violence I have experienced, or the betrayals… and on and on. I chose to not be defined by these experiences but to be empowered and it does enable me to relate to so many on their own journeys.
Photo by Bill Curry featuring Carre with Robert Mirabal, Taos Pueblo flutist
Your story offers great perspective for women who many be suffering from emotional abuse and domestic violence, as we get to walk in your shoes over the course of many years and a lot of personal healing. This can be illuminating for those women who may recognize the same abusive patterns in their relationships & who may not see a way out when they are in the thick of it.
What advice would you offer to any women out there who realize that they may need to get away from an abusive relationship?
Ah…. I recall the day that I truly felt immobilized. Paralyzed by fear. I could not fathom or dare to imagine the path forward. There didn’t seem to be any way out of my situation, which really is a text book feeling when one is in an ongoing abusive violent situation/relationship. I look back and can see that there were angels that graced me. There were women that came and spoke with me. Not with an agenda or objective, but to share their own stories of struggle, abuse and then freedom. One such angel was Ally McGraw, the wonderful and talented model, actress, author, and yogini. She had been married to Steve McQueen, the beautiful and dangerous rebel actor. Their situation was so similar to me and my then husband. She took the time to visit with me when I was deep in my despair. I couldn’t imagine at that time that I could be free like she was: accomplished, strong, and solo. She represented a female archetype that I had yet to have modeled in my life. I was awe struck. Of course it wasn’t anything instant but she planted a seed of possibility for me. One that I hadn’t ever considered: what would my life look like if I were to stand on my own, in my power, in my glory and grace and confidence? What would life look like if I lived and operated from my heart? A whole, healed heart.
It takes a village. It takes a tribe. It takes sisters and aunts and mothers and grandmothers. I had to learn to reach out and take the hand that was extended to me. I had to learn to ask for help. These were basic principles foreign to me but truly the movement and freedom in my life has come by way of support from others.
In the beginning, in preparing and making a plan of exit from my abusive husband, I sought therapy. I had to focus on myself, my goals, and a cohesive plan of departure. It was a terrifying time but with the support from my "team," I was able to make my exit.
What kinds of spiritual practices or healing modalities were a part of your healing journey?
I relied heavily on yoga and my meditation practice. My connection to the Dharma and Buddhism played a big part in my healing. It was a time for me to slow down and really allow myself to notice, to feel everything that was coming up. Nature has always played a big part in my mental health and feeling heart centered. Long walks in the mountains and on the beaches of Southern California were true medicine for my soul.
How has your relationship with food and nourishment changed?
Food today is nourishment. Its fuel. When I was recovering, not recovered, I had a very fractured and frightened relationship with food as well with my body. Today I am grateful. I am turning 50. I take nourishment very seriously. From food for my body to the nourishment of my soul, my spirit. I live in balance and harmony with food and nourishment, and I try to model this with and for my daughters who are 10 and 11.
In your story, you speak openly about a very taboo subject: faking orgasms. Where do you feel that this phenomenon of faking arises from? How can we heal it? Why is it so important for women to be completely authentic in our sensual intimacy?
I believe and have experienced first hand that often our identity and sense of "self" is intertwined in our sexuality. Like a job: who are you beyond what you do? Our one reference point for "self" is this human body, and often times our identity is also wrapped up in it. Why? Because unless one is on a spiritual path, one doesn’t tend to dig deeper.
It’s a big question… Who am I? It can be an uncomfortable question.
For me, being the performer and faking my way as this wild completely aroused woman was a persona that conveniently kept me away from experiencing true intimacy. It was a creation by my own design, but also one that I believe was placed upon me through societal expectations. Lets face it, modeling is performance art. Sex sells. The more that I could build up that character, the more I was sought after.
The irony of it! It took me a long time to even ask myself… "What do I like? What do I dislike? What feels good?” It wasn’t until after a five year vow of celibacy and diving deep into my own healing that I was able to arrive at a place where I was ready to name what it was I wanted as well as ask for those conditions in a relationship. And that is now where I am… with my husband of 13 years and 2 daughters.
For me, the "faking orgasm" was also wrapped up in my conditioning to serve others and to perform. There was a mistaken view that another's pleasure and arousal was more important than my own. There was also a big disconnect for me when in a situation that I could potentially feel vulnerable. There was fear in feeling vulnerable. I hadn’t yet tasted the sensuality of it. The magic of it. The potency of being in that open place.
Granted, certain conditions need to be in place to feel safe in our vulnerability. Like a safe lover, a safe physical place, and trust. These were not qualities I had previously asked for nor cultivated in relationship.
I truly believe we magnetize exactly where we are at. If we are in the wounded archetype, thats what plays out. When we are in the sacred feminine, empowered in our divinity, this too is what we magnetize.
You are a mother of two girls now. How do you help them to have the healthy boundaries that you didn't have as a young person?
Its amazing to me that I spent the majority of my life, all the way through my mid thirties, just learning how to say NO. I had never been empowered to use that word. I didn’t receive that initiation in my early years. Had I known that I could say no, defend myself, question, tap into my intuition to navigate which road to take, life would have been very different. Just simple body awareness, that my body is mine, was never instilled in me. My body was for others. From childhood through my career as a model. I was very disconnected and disempowered.
With my daughters I have had such an amazing opportunity to empower them with all that was not uploaded to me. They are aware that their bodies are theirs. If something doesn’t feel right, they get to speak up. I actually remind them that they will be their own most fierce protectors, but they must exercise that muscle. Because it is a muscle that gets stronger the more we use it.
In my family, we speak about food being fuel. We never speak about "diets" or shame other humans shapes or sizes or ethnicities. I actually make it a point to celebrate diversity in our household. We speak about different cultures whose values go beyond a Western aesthetic and celebrate aspects of strength, courage, and wisdom. I think we own every Strong and Courageous women's story book that there is to own. My daughters have grown up with conversations about the sacred feminine. They have grown up around Tibetan Buddhism and the strong women and mentors and surrogate mothers that I have had in my life. They have been part of sacred ritual around full and new moons as well as ways of our indigenous brothers and sisters. I am extremely grateful to have such a strong spiritual family in our lives. And, of course, these young women will find their own rhythm and ways. But it has felt truly important to have had them supported in the magical fabric that is our family life.
How as a society can we help young women have a healthy body image?
I believe that we do need to address what has become the norm within media. The massive subversive messaging that we all receive from TV, movies, commercials, video games, internet, music… it's impactful. An impossible, inhuman standard has been perpetuated within our culture, and quite frankly, it's reckless. Its negligent. Its abusive. It desensitizes us, as is the goal I believe. Coming from the entertainment Industry, I see the premature sexualization of our youth, the normalizing through advertisements of a rape culture, a violent culture. If you can consider that our average young male is receiving their first sexual encounter via internet exposure, porn, or video games—no wonder our statistics of rape has skyrocketed. Look at those images. Look at what messages are being perpetuated.
The change will take a big force, but there is headway after the #MeToo movement has unfurled. I am working with Model Alliance and change is under way from legislation to protect entertainment industry workers from sexual harassment. Programs like RESPECT will hold industry accountable and require healthier standards for our workforce.
But as it boils down, the discussion we can have amongst ourselves is so important. Part of empowering our young women and men is to demystify the images that they receive from media. I have a program where I walk through what actually takes place to create images in magazines, from airbrushing, lighting, photoshop, makeup, hair, clothes… etc. Essentially these images are extremely doctored. I also believe in the power of discussion. Intention. Celebrating diversity. Noticing when covers of magazines just pick apart the women and men on their covers. Also noticing how as women we are engaging in this dialogue as well. When are we criticizing and judging? From bodies to clothes to color? We all do it. How can we bring mindfulness into our conversations and consciously celebrate diversity and humanity? It feels so much better to do so.
What kinds of activist work are you currently involved in these days?
My work with Model Alliance. Recently I flew to State Capital Sacramento to testify before the labor commission to create stronger laws that would protect models from sexual harassment and sexual assault. I continue to educate and advocate for reform in our industry to safeguard its workers. Its appalling to me that the one industry (modeling) that employs our most vulnerable sector (youth and young adults) does not yet have laws in place to prevent sexual assault and abuse in the workplace. So far these crimes are not and have not been punishable under the law and many cases go unreported. I also am an Ambassador for the National Eating Disorder Institute and Project Heals.
What are your next creative projects?
I am in the process of recruiting a team to help me share my story through a documentary film. I had been on the fence as to whether the next project is a book, however after some thought, I realized that the medium of film will be the best.
The Blue Lotus Foundation will be my focus over the next year, an organization which supports eating disorder prevention through educational workshops and presentations, as well as getting my business moving forward with its projects.
Photo by Bill Curry
Have shamanic plant medicines and ceremonies been a part of your personal healing & development? How so?
I have been a practicing Tibetan Buddhist for thirty years. My spiritual path has been my guide and savior. My connection to my teachers, the discipline from the practices I have been so blessed to receive, have shaped who I am today. Yet my path has evolved over the last decade. I have been initiated into several shamanic lineages where sacred plant medicine is part of the path. My direct work with these teachers has been a game changer, catapulting my healing and supporting even bigger growth on every level. Where I stand today, the view I have, and the freedom I have, has come through being graced with these teachings. I continue to dive deeper. Our work in these bodies will never be "done." At least mine. I am here to learn. And support others on their path of exploration.
WATCH CARRE'S TEDX TALK
She opened her lips... and children suddenly became quiet, guests took a deep breath and forgot their names (and everything else outside of the present moment), heartbreak revealed its sweet side, fairies smiled somewhere, and portals opened to celestial realms. I will never forget that first time I heard the music of Marya Stark. She is a divine siren and wise woman, who's songs spark awakening, love, prayer, peace, magic, myth, dreams, and everything beautiful about human life. That was over a decade ago, and since then, I have watched in awe as she evolves, deepens, and expands in the realms of music, performance, sound healing, addiction recovery support, and teaching...
How did you come to understand that music could be a healing modality?
I think a part of me always knew intuitively. When i was young I would sing to my pains, I would sing to ease the children I worked with. I would have moments of ecstatic singing where I would feel to myself "wow, there is a multi-dimensional gate opening to the mystery," and I could feel myself remembering codes of sound. I could feel the power of music in the choirs I sang in to move us all to tears when it hit just right. Even as I began writing songs as a part of my own developmental journey, I could feel like something mysterious was going on that was profound, but it wasn’t defined for me until I took my first class in music therapy. That was a game changer.
What was your inspiration for pursuing a degree in music therapy?
You know, I think it was more kismet than anything particularly inspired. The only thing I had really been into was music. I knew Chapman University had a music therapy program, and I think on some level my soul knew before I did that I was going to do it. I chose to take the class once I was there cause I was curious about the relationship between music and spirituality—and that seemed like the gateway. Once I landed in that field, everything shifted in my worldview, and it felt more like I was coming back to something I had always known
How would you say that music can be a vehicle for self-realization?
I can speak to my own process. Once I got into writing songs for my healing, I kept a close chronological track record of them. I now have access to hundreds of songs from the last 20 years of life, and I have realized much about myself through both the process of writing these songs, how they come in, and looking back and seeing bigger cycles of emotions and themes that run through. I think of songs as time-capsules, as tools for my own souls embodiment. Having powerful experiences with music, getting to reflect and be able to tap into different states of being and stages of development has been incredibly insightful as I’ve come to know my psyche a bit more. Sometimes I have written songs, and it takes me years for my nervous system to integrate the energies carried through those muses. Those songs feel like gifts to my future self, that carry codes that help me open to deeper states of presence. Also, just from an emotional integration perspective, I can’t tell you where I’d be without the formative songs of my youth. Hearing songs from older songwriters who could articulate my felt experience helped me to go to deeper layers of understanding and feeling, mourning, and expansion. Its like we pull through clues for each others process, and can then journey together back home to where ever it is this awakening train is guiding us.
Did you have any reference for a "coming of age" stories, songs, or ceremonies before writing your own?
Not at that time. Receiving those songs on the Fork In The Road felt like a special initiation into learning about the hero’s journey. I only had a reference for that in hindsight, and then began seeking out other "coming of age" stories, learning about the architecture of mythology. It emerged spontaneously.
Did you ever come up against the limitations of classical music as you were discovering yourself as a musician?
The main limitation I found in studying classical music was the relationship I had to "performing," and, as a child, it wasn’t an issue. I found classical training to be amazing and helped me to learn music faster, but in a music conservatory environment, I could intuit the inherited structures of our value being our ability. By that time I was having a complete existential breakdown, and had no capacity to find myself within the hierarchy of the opera reality—so the muse grabbed me by the hair and life became my master teacher. I find myself now coming back to classical training, but from an intuitive embodied perspective. Classical structures are like good yoga teaching: once the body is flexible, movement is easy.
What are “song lines”?
What I call song lines are energetic threads I envision run through our souls. People talk about the earth having lay lines, an energetic grid; it is the same with humans, we have channels where energy moves through. There are times when I vision songs coming through us, traveling on similar lines of energy—from other dimensions, star systems, universes, timelines, multi-dimensional star light passage ways where universal poetry and magic comes in like some potent alchemical force. I like to picture myself as a vessel, standing at the center point of a constellation of these lines catching songs through my being.
Could you tell us more about "Scarlet Moon" and the archetype of the shadow feminine?
When I was in college, and receiving many of the visions I still hold today as part of my life's work, Scarlet Moon was an archetype that kept coming in. I knew that I would be going within to learn about the feminine mythos. I think our culture really elevates a few versions of the feminine: the beautiful one and the kind, gentle, loving one. The raw, angry, wrathful rage filled one, not so much. She is demonized, and so there is a whole spectrum of emotional range and nuance that goes under ground. This is one small piece of the pie on this conversation—and Scarlet Moon is where she comes alive in me to dance and find her voice.
Who is Magdalene, to you?
I have come to embrace Magdalene just recently in my life. There is a potent narrative I've come across where "Mary Magdalene" is spoken of as a female counter part to Jeshua, one who holds the keys of the lineage of sexuality that she and Christ held together. I appreciate the ways that the remembrance of this aspect of her archetypal fits into the grid of what is emergent right now within the collective reweaving around sacred sexuality and feminine empowerment. So, I've been aware of these perspectives, and considering where that energy lives within me. Many folks come up to me with dreams that I am of the "Magdalene lineage." And I love the energy that I experience when feeling into those dimensions.
In recent years I have gone deeper into healing my womb stories, activating the energetic creative blueprints of the womb, and opening the possibilities of a greater collective story at work within my psyche. I wrote the song Child of Magdalene after watching the film Magdalene Sisters about the Magdalene Laundries, which is a totally wonky piece of recent European history. Seeing how the name of the feminine was dragged through the mud in the religious structure I grew up in burned something raw in me. I could feel the historical oppression of female sexuality carved in my bones, and this song came as an apology and honoring of that aspect of the Mother, the one who went underground, into the shadow with her magic. I keep finding this story over and over. Claiming Magdalene now, poetically speaking, is reclaiming my own sexuality as sacred, rather than the prostitution-sin situation that we need as women to spend the rest of our lives apologizing for.
What is your relationship to the witch burning times?
My interest in the burning times is a spectrum, from having personal recollections, visions, dreams, and soul connections with others where I have experiences of us all having been from that time. I’ve written songs inspired by that period of history, and it feels like an aspect of the collective epigenetic unwinding that comes through inside of the cauldron of exploring music and storytelling as an opportunity for healing on a DNA level. Currently I have a special interest in grief work, and the power mourning as a vehicle for emotional freedom. The burning times to me occurs as a huge piece of our history that has gone largely unmourned in a way where the quality of life and breakthrough can be felt at a cultural level. Our Western culture, I think, is resonating in a state of collective amnesia and PTSD around not only the burning times, but slavery, genocide and many other historical archs where numerous people suffered unimaginable horror, and then certain infrastructures that are a part of our system of operation came into play to organize the peoples. There is one in me who tracks this in my own nervous system, and the nervous system of the collective woundology and heart. When I chose to create art about it, my prayer is that these stories can be told in a way where repair can happen and we can begin to rework the narrative of oppression and violence from our bloodline, and make space for a more coherent way of relating to come online, one where we are not afraid of differences, and where we are honoring again of the mystery and our relationship with all of life.
Do you ever feel that the music industry pressures artists to fit neatly into a specific niche or genre, for commercial success? If so, how do you navigate, as an artist that cannot be contained by a niche or genre?
Ha! totally. I have navigated it by both trying to fit inside a box, completely ignoring the box, pretending I’m not part of the music industry, and then deciding firmly to dissolve within me the places where I’m playing into hierarchical art making. I’m choosing to live more intentionally as a multidimensional being who makes art and expresses my profound love for life. Wholehearted expression. What does this look like? This is the question of every day. I will continue to receive visions of music and do my best to make them happen. I feel myself more and more in devotion to the muse with less attachment to how its received. Before, when more "industry" based in my strategies, I was much more concerned about being "successful" as an artist. This internalized way of seeking feedback externally is something I'm tracking in my ego process. As an artist, of course we want to reach as many people as possible. I also don’t want to change my tune to do so.
Fork in the Road is a therapeutic concept album as well as a curriculum for people working with addiction recovery. Can you tell us a little about your own journey with addiction?
When I was in college studying music therapy, I was in a deep process of substance use as a way to numb out and manage the complexities of interfacing with the impact of traumatic experiences. After recognizing the impact of my behavior from years of use, I started therapy, and began working to heal these edgier places in my psyche. I was looking for the first time at family of origin fractures, sexual experiences in my coming of age that were imprinted with fear and intensity, and sorting out the cultural trances of being an empath, shutting down the deep feels, silencing my own voice in order to survive and stay in good social standing. The songs and vision of Fork In The Road came through during this period of detox. My experience with addiction didn’t stop there, but this body of work helped to orient me towards a path of resolving and healing.
There is a big stigma around addiction. I didn’t formally come forward with my story even though my first album was about addiction because I didn’t want to talk about it with my family, didn’t want it to have a negative impact on my "brand," and I really hid from it. It's coming forward more and more now, because I think its really important for us to have community dialogues about how we are managing our pain. I was in a lot of pain as a youth, and I felt alone in it. I long for greater conversations around the impact of rites of passage, and how badly we are missing that in our culture. Once I began having rites of passage, finding my tribe, and being held spiritually by the elders in my community, and once I had that level of being seen, celebrated, and tracked, my need for substance use shifted.
Have entheogenic (visionary/psychedelic) medicine been a part of your journey? If so, how?
My experience with entheogenic medicine has played a critical role in my healing and creative journey. When i was in high school, I had my first experiences with mushrooms, and MDMA. These experiences opened me up to multi-dimensional reality, as well as had an impact on my capacity for empathy, shadow work, emotional intelligence, and intimacy.
In college, I formed some daily use habits with more addictive substances. When I went to my first Burning Man at age 20, I sat in my first ayahuasca ceremony (at Burning Man.... seriously) and that experience changed my life. It played a major role in my awakening, I had a full cosmic soul rebirth experience, which purge my system of the toxicity of my addictive patterns, and of the substances i had formed dependency on. This was a cornerstone of my journey with writing The Fork In The Road, as the songs and vision of this album came directly from that first sit with Aya.
My last semester of college, and the time shortly following graduation, I sat with Aya several times. I traveled to Hawaii for a 3 week Aya cook. I experienced things there that seeded my life's work currently with women and womb healing. In fact the story I told at the Yoniverse Monologues last year was about my journey to Hawaii, and sitting with Aya, and the clusterfuck of drama that occurred on a hilariously mythic archetypal level in my relationship to my blood and the moon time mysteries. I also received visions of creating children's meditation based albums at this time.
I have not sat with entheogens since that time, over 10 years ago, as my guides in the esoteric trainings I continued with after graduation requested me to abstain from uses of any substances, including entheogens, so I chose to walk the way of cultivating visionary states through meditation and qi gong practice.
The truth is that entheogens helped me heal from addiction and cracked me to be open enough to receive visions of my life's work, the destiny threads I continue to walk to this day. I feel grateful for those times and experiences, and how they have informed my hero's journey.
VOICE OF MY WOMB
Online course starting Nov 7, 2017
ANCIENT VOICES RETREAT
Feb 15-20, 2018
I had the pleasure of meeting Rachael Madori at a talk that Chor Boogie and I offered about the iboga medicine with the Aware Project in Los Angeles. At the time, this polymath was exploring her expression as an adult film star, in addition to other gifts such as writing, activism, culinary arts, and fitness education. I would come to know Rachael as a multifaceted and compassionate being; she shared her inner world and raw struggles on her blog and social media platforms as much as she did her physical form and fire. It's a paradox: in the world of mainstream professional erotica, it is supposed to be about "revealing," but it generally only goes skin deep. Personally, I find the holistic, honest view of an artist far more compelling than any marketing mirage. (And yes, erotica can be art.) Through Rachael's journey and authentic unveiling, she has helped educate and inspire many people about mental health, mental illness, suicide awareness, psychedelic medicine, creative freedom, and what it means to be a real, whole person...
Rachael Madori resides in Hollywood, California. She is pursuing opening a restaurant on the east coast. Both her and her fiancé, a chef in Beverly Hills, plan on combining their love of food and service to own their own establishment. Currently she’s learning skills at a fine dining restaurant on Sunset Boulevard and taking classes with Ashworth College.
Rachael is a mental health advocate and social activist. She is a suicide survivor and has been diagnosed with Bipolar 1 and Borderline Personality Disorder; she helps to educate people about these issues. She volunteers with and fundraises for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) and the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).
Rachael advocates for alternative psychedelic medicine. She supports the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), a research and educational organization that develops medical, legal, and cultural contexts for people to benefit from the careful uses of psychedelics and marijuana. She also attends events put on by the Aware Project in Los Angeles. Their mission is to “balance the public conversation about psychedelics, spread accurate information and give a new face to psychedelia”. A self proclaimed psychonaut, Rachael tries to teach the world through her understanding and years of experience using psychedelics as healing medicines, not only for her mental health but her overall well being.
A passionate writer, Rachael has published articles at sites such as SimplySxy and AVN. She is also a contributing author at Consumer Health Digest. She has accomplished her first written piece of fiction which will be published by Cleis Press in a book curated and edited by Asa Akira. Rachael continues to blog as an outlet for her advocacy and creativity.
A former adult film performer, Rachael holds multiple awards including 2015 Inked Awards Starlet of the Year and 2016 Inked Awards Best Scene of the Year. Her proud and unadulterated voice as a pervious sex worker sheds light and dismantles the stigma associated with the sex industry.
Her blogs pertain to many different subjects but the main objective here is voice. The point of a voice is to be heard, she writes not only to be heard but for anyone out there to find comfort knowing that someone is listening.
Do you feel that living with transparency helps us, as a collective, to heal?
Absolutely. I look at humans as this one large organism and we all, whether we recognize it or not, affect and feed off each other. Not always in a bad way. Truth, transparency and honesty will feed truth, transparency and honesty. Facades will feed facades. Negative will feed negative. It’s all about whether we choose to heal or poison. I want to be on the end of the spectrum that is helping society find what it means to be real again.
What do you feel are some of the gifts of being bi-polar?
Being bi-polar creates this completely altered reality that I live in and because of this I’m creative, different and expressive beyond words. I feel hard, I feel deeply. Sure it’s all over the place but there’s some kind of beauty in the constant chaos inside my mind. Honestly all I’m trying to do is focus on manifesting that chaos into beauty. I feel like we’re all trying to do that in one way or another.
How can people be sensitive and supportive for loved ones who are dealing with mental illness?
It's not easy loving someone who has a mental illness but patience is key. I think the best way to be supportive is to be open and frank about it. It's not something anyone should be embarrassed or ashamed to struggle with so their loved ones shouldn't feel that way either. I can't tell you what a difference it made to finally have an open dialogue between my family and friends about my diagnoses. Sometimes when I was having an episode they could tell when I couldn't. I need that. I don't want to be treated any differently, I just want to know someone will be there when my mind fails me.
What drew you to the adult film world, initially?
I was always fascinated with pornography. I used to envy the women I would watch in videos because I found it so amazing that they had the confidence to show to the world an intimate action that most people shy away from even talking frankly about. I wanted to know what that position of empowerment was truly about.
What did you like about it?
I loved that I had a safe environment to practice and learn about myself and other people sexually. I enjoyed how much emphasis is put on safety and consent. It honestly helped me appreciate how we are all sexual creatures with our own likes, dislikes and boundaries. It let me develop a confidence and sense of self worth I didn’t know before.
What didn’t you like about it?
I didn’t like how political it can all be. Whether it be award shows or the aspect of “Who you kiss up to”. I think all the arbitrary ideas and cliques take away from the industry what it should be about which is creating amazing content.
What changes would you like to see in the industry?
I would like to see performers act more like a family of coworkers and less like competitors. Pursue being the best, win awards, become a top tier performer but leave your ego at the door. We all face enough stigma from the outside world, to create drama within your own industry due to ego is unjustified.
Why did you limit it to three years?
I always heard this saying that three years is the best time frame for a female performer. I didn’t go into sex work for the money, I did it because I felt drawn to it and ended up falling in love with performing. I knew it was a side step off my path so I figured giving myself a time frame would keep me headed towards all my other life goals.
What did the adult film world teach you about human beings?
The good things it taught me about humans was both physical and mental. I learned ways to please and be pleased that I think would take a lifetime of experimenting with different partners and I’m proud of that. I learned about having pride in yourself as a sexual creature and holding steadfast to that. We’re all organic, developing beings and the adult film world taught me never to be ashamed of that.
I also learned that ego can destroy people without them even knowing it. I found out very quickly that to some people - how popular they are, how many followers they have on social media, how many trophies they hold and what they see in the mirror is all that defines them. And it’s sad.
Have you ever encountered judgment and/or discrimination from people in reaction to your work in adult film? How so?
I’ve experienced people who were caught off guard by how frankly I talk about adult films and sex in general. I’ve gotten hate mail from religious people, I’ve gotten called countless slurs because I did publicly what people do behind closed doors. It even took a long time for my family to see me as credible because they feared this industry, clouded in mistruths and taboo, had destroyed a part of me. My love and life partner has been harassed online by people who cannot see sex work as work. I’ve been misjudged as unintelligent and have been discriminated against far enough that I’ve been told my choice to be a performer was due to my mental illness. At first I ignored it but to be honest it started to hurt me. Not my confidence or sense of self worth, but I hurt for all of the people who have developed such a distorted view because that kind of tunnel vision leaves zero room for growth of your inner self.
Most porn stars I’ve seen tend to create a very slick, one dimensional, “adult fairy-tale” image for marketing purposes that appears to have few real world human challenges. Yet, while in the adult film industry and beyond, you have been so open about your full-spectrum human self, sharing about your experiences navigating mental illness, psychedelic medicine, personal relationship, dreams, and multi-faceted creativity. You started this intimate expression on social media, then it expanded onto your blog. What made you want to break that mold?
For a while I marketed myself the way everyone else did. I only posted what I was told to, I never kept my presence online too serious and conveying a brand like that and separating it from your true self is successful for some people. I just don’t happen to be one of those people. People have been trying to fit me into boxes my whole life and I wasn’t aware that there were boxes for pornstars too. I have this innate and deep conviction to bare my true self to the point were upholding a manufactured image of myself online wasn’t even possible. I am sexual and filthy and heated, all the things a sex performer should be, but that’s not even half of me. So I decided I wasn’t okay with only being seen as that. It’s just not in my personality and I had this deep feeling to throw my entire self out to the world. Whether I lost or gained fans because of that didn’t concern me. This became a movement to show the world something much more intimate that me having sex.
What kinds of feedback (positive & negative) have you received from your adult film fans after revealing more about yourself?
I received some negativity. I was told to stick to the basic frame work of a pornstars internet presence because I had no business being anything else. I was told that people weren’t there for me they were there for my body. Which I’m all well and good with. My career was of the human body. However, that doesn’t negate my right to express every other aspect of myself.
I got a lot of positive feedback too. There were people struggling inside and outside of the industry who reached out to me because they knew I wouldn’t judge them or they knew that what they saw is what they got. I have lifelong fans that started watching me because they loved my videos but now they follow me on my life journey because at some point sharing my humanity became just as entertaining.
When did you start your public blog?
I started it two years ago. My website has always had my blog section because I love to write. I’ve been writing ever since I could spell. I used to have links and such to my adult films but once my fan base started growing from outside of porn I made the decision to make my site completely PG about a year ago. Not because I wanted to hide my career, I embrace it fully. I did that so now my words could reach a wider range of people who may need to hear something that touches them.
What kinds of people follow your blog?
All ages, genders, interests. A lot of young women and men. Fitness and wellness is one focus on my website so a lot of people looking for tips or motivation tend to follow along. I also converse with a lot of people who struggle with mental health or live with someone who is struggling and I’ve been told I help them by putting into words that they otherwise cannot to describe what’s happening to them or their loved one. There are still fans of my adult films that continue to follow my life and my blog which I think is great. I broke this barrier where you can enjoy my sex work but also the rest of me as well.
What kinds of feedback have you received about your blog from your readers that are not necessarily your adult film fans?
Some people call me brave. I’m not sure how I feel about that word because I just feel like I’m doing what I have to do to help. There’s a few particular fans of mine who live with wives struggling with Bipolar Disorder and they’ve let me know how much my blog has helped their understanding and their marriage. I feel like some people are taken aback that I went from a one layer pornstar to such an open advocate for many things personal to me but the feedback has been mostly positive. If I can make one person feel even a little better, I think I’m doing my job as a human.
Now that you’ve retired from adult film, you are onto other projects and visions. What is next for you? What are you excited about?
I’m focusing on my position in the restaurant industry and opening one of my own. I’m working in a great company at a fine dining restaurant in Los Angeles until I move back home to New York City to pursue a second degree in Culinary Management. Another creative endeavor I’m working on is a streetwear line called Feel Hard where I’ll be donating a percentage of the proceeds to non-profit mental health organizations. I’m also trying to dedicate whatever free time I can find to compiling my first book.
*Check out the DONATE section on the website with links to the organizations that Rachael fundraises for including the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, and the Multidisciplinary Association of Psychedelic Studies.
Support Rachael's Fundraiser:
Streetwear Line for Mental Health Awareness
Dancing for people is all well & good, but don't forget to dance for the many other honored guests... the sun, moon, the sacred plants, the spirit of water, fire, earth, air... the ancestors... the many nature spirits... nagas, yakshinis...
Temple dancers, offer the these secret performances, and venture ever deeper into what it means to be a sacred vessel.
Photo by the maestra & women's empowerment coach Robin Clark.
My beautiful husband, artist Chor Boogie, continues to amaze and delight me with his prolific creativity and professional dedication. Check out the solo show, "VISUAL JAZZ," featuring over 20 original works on canvas, on exhibition through June 3rd at Monarch | Arredon Contemporary art gallery in La Jolla, CA.
There is a deeper story here...
The critically acclaimed spray paint maestro returned to his roots in the San Diego area after circling the globe to share his latest body of work—and to offer a percentage of the sales to benefit Writerz Blok, a youth arts program, where Chor Boogie found community, support, and inspiration as a young, emerging artist.
VISUAL JAZZ celebrates the creative power of the human spirit—and art as the intersection between the physical and the metaphysical. Vivid colors and multidimensional designs reverently embrace classic figures of jazz maestros. The composition and forms are unpredictable and yet harmonious, like jazz itself. The audience is invited to feel the music through the soulful works.
MONARCH | ARREDON CONTEMPORARY is La Jolla's exclusive gallery of emerging art founded on respect, passion and trust. The Gallery offers high-quality crafted artworks along with the category expertise and individual-focused approach to collectors, art professionals, and art enthusiasts. Monarch | Arredon Contemporary is located at 862 Prospect St, Suite A, La Jolla, CA 92037. Hours: Thursday through Sunday 11 am to 5 pm, and by appointment Monday through Wednesday. For more information, please contact the gallery at email@example.com or 858-454-1231.
Read the exhibition review on ARTSY.
Recently I had the pleasure of visiting the Santa Cruz flagship store for Synergy Organic Clothing. Here I found a thrilling selection of clothing for women that is fashionable, luscious to wear, and ethically produced. The elegant designs hug curves in all the right places, creating a tailored appearance, yet they allow for a delightful range of movement.
I've been disappointed to find that most fashionable women's clothing is binding, fragile, and often created in poor conditions with exploitative wages. Thus, most fashionable women's clothing is literally disempowering—and a burden to the earth.
I want gorgeous clothing in which I can run, dance, go to a fancy party, AND practice yoga or martial arts—all made with sustainable materials and fair wages. I thought that was too much to ask until I found Synergy.
In addition to being invested in ethical production and fair wages; Synergy is also a Green America Certified business, which means its textiles are spun with organic fibers and employ non-toxic dying methods. Synergy also partners with the San Lorenzo River Alliance and the Waterwheel Foundation to protect local and international communities.
Synergy was recently featured in this article on Refinery29.com:
A few of my favorite items...