New York is a city people flock to from around the country and the world. For the allure of nightlife. For the arts. For the music. For the people. It manifests a circular motion of influence. People inspired by its characters move here to partake in a creative world in the making. In doing so, they become characters themselves, inspiring the next generation of influential personas. Juliana Huxtable is one such dignitary.
Born and raised in Bryan/College Station, Texas, Juliana’s path to New York started with a teenage passion for the art and music emerging from the club scene. Now a DJ with her own party (Shock Value), Juliana’s personality, her selfies, and her prolific attitude have already left an indelible mark on NYC’s underground queer club scene. If you’re not already one of the thousands of people following her on Tumblr, Instagram, Soundcloud, and Twitter, even a quick glance at her various feeds and timelines will have you coming back for more.
While Juliana’s exquisite outfits, (previously) long braids, and imaginative DJ sets are exciting and deeply considered, she often gets pigeonholed as simply a nightlife personality. In fact, her work and interests extend far beyond the club scene. She is a published writer, an accomplished performer, a visual artist, and a provocative thinker.
Her reflective artwork was a part of the the House of Ladosha’s joint art show “The Whole House Eats” on February 7, 2013 as well as at the group exhibition “Neuromast: Certain Uncertainty and Contemporary Art” at Franklin Street Works in Connecticut in February 2014. Some of her portraits ran in Artforum and Mousse Magazine. Juliana’s loosely autobiographical piece “Real Doll” was recently published in Future Perfect, an anthology of queer writing and art, edited by Andrew Durbin. A book of her own writing is scheduled to come out early next year. Juliana is also a performer, recently seen at the White Columns Annual last May, and at a show tributing José Estaban Muñoz at the Whitney Museum in April of this year.
Earlier this month, Juliana sat down with us to discuss her path to New York, her fascination with reimagining past and future, and making her own place in a world impatiently boxing queer people of color up into ‘personalities’.
What was your path to New York like? When did it start?
I hated high school, and a lot of other things about growing up. After having a rough academic passage in junior high, I realized that I would be able to get out if I just did well academically. I was obsessed with college. I took all the Princeton Review quizzes. In my hometown, everyone went to churches and played football. There was a lot gay-bashing, anti-abortion and racial tension. I was basically looking for the opposite of my hometown, a place that would be super liberal and creative. Bard kept popping up on the list.
My time at Bard was good and bad. I often felt racially isolated and creatively stifled. The teachers there didn’t really know how to deal with people like me, with people of color generally. It was very foreign to them, especially in creative majors. So when I did take painting classes or writing classes I felt like I was either trapped in my identity or ‘focusing too much’ on my identity. The financial gap between me and many other students also became really clear to me at the end. I worked 30–40 hour work weeks on top of a hectic school schedule. By the end of my time at Bard, I felt pretty crazy.
But I’m glad I went there.I’m generally not the type of person to have regrets. I took a lot of classes in human rights and gender studies. Although there was lot of things I didn’t like, it was good place for identity exploration and general experimentation.
Right after I graduated I went home for a while, and then I got a job [as legal assistant] at the ACLU. Two weeks after I found out I got the job, I moved to New York.
You eventually quit your job as legal assistant at the ACLU, which you've talked about in previous interviews. Was that a difficult decision to make?
I knew I just had to trust my instincts. I had enough money to pay rent for a couple of months but that’s all I had. At that point I had been making supplemental income through nightlife but not nearly enough to survive.