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E 11-2020        November 2-9th, 2020

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Environment        Election          Racial Justice         Arts + Culture        Police Brutality        Photo      


The Youth vs. Domestic Terrorism ft. Maxwell Vice

By Chase Richardson

Maxwell Vice, founder of Ice Vice Magazine, sits in the center of his baby blue room with walls covered by paintings, sketches, and polaroids of his personal artwork. Behind the scenes, polaroids of his part-time modeling gigs can be seen taped up beside his bed. 

“I just moved here like at the beginning of quarantine,” he laughed.

His rented room located in Ridgewood, Queens also functions as a personal studio where he is free to express his frustrations surrounding the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Los Angeles Free Press reporter, Chase Richardson, had a chance to sit down and talk to the New York native, performer, photographer, and all-around artist, Maxwell Vice, about how he uses multiple platforms to be politically active and help represent young queer people of color (QPOC). Besides publishing his bi-annual, all-inclusive, ICE VICE magazine, he also protests regularly and encourages others to be active in their community.

Maxwell Vice: “Originally, [Ice Vice Magazine] was made to highlight queer youth, youth of color and city youth, specifically; but now I’ve been taking my own photography on film and being out there on my own so that I can write my own narrative, the real narrative...  So many different news outlets try to interview us, but when they give us our time on [the broadcast], it’s just for two seconds right after the weather report and it’s just us saying, like,
“Black Lives Matter” and they move on, but it’s not us talking to the cameras and talking about what we want to change and what people can do to help.”
Los Angeles Free Press: Do you think that that insufficient representation in the media has an impact on the reception of the Black Lives Matter movement to those who may not rely on or consume social media?

Vice: “Yeah, my parents told me that it's dangerous out there, and they see what happens, but it's just because of so much misrepresentation in the media. [Media] is almost used as another form of

domestic terrorism

...against [Black Lives Matter]. My mom was like, ‘I can’t handle seeing you out there, being rubber bulleted, tear-gassed and beat up.’ And, yes, that is something that does happen, but that’s not even remotely every day, or every march… Back in the day, my dad and my mom were out there protesting, almost in the same parallels that we are, against police brutality, against government funding just going to outrageous things, my dad was one of the people boycotting the missile funding, back in the 90s in Bushwick, so they kind of understand.”

LAFP: So, considering the state of the world, civil unrest and COVID-19, how has that affected your mental health? Would you say your mental state and your art are intertwined?

Vice: “Definitely. During the quarantine, if I wasn’t making art, I was drowning. These are all self-portraits I did during quarantine, every single one of them. There were days where I just couldn't be in my body anymore. So I had to get it out. It’s shifted my art drastically. Before it would be finding another artist, then us thinking up a fun, cool concept, but now it’s like, ‘How can we use our art to get a huge message across that we are in pain?’” 
Vice:  “When I’m not protesting, I’m home making art. If I’m not making art, I’m resting. For the first time in my life there’s nothing to do. It’s just making art, and it’s just [promoting] change, and that’s what God gave us time to focus on. With the protests, I had a lot of anxiety about going out at first, because I was home for four months. I didn’t see what was out there, all I saw was the media. I’m small, I’m queer, I’m brown, If I go out there, with these cops, I’m susceptible.”

“How do you decompress and get some normalcy? I know how protesting can be exhausting mentally and physically. You really have to have those days off.”

Vice: “Yeah, sometimes after protesting, My friends and I go to the beach for a day and get a mental rehabilitation day in, or come [back to Vice’s apartment] and watch a horror movie, or go out and just play music on a speaker and dance.”

Vice produced a short film recently that represented the rollercoaster of emotions he (and we all) felt during quarantine. A series of dates were projected onto Vice, who appears in full makeup, as he vogued through flashing lights and visual effects. He donned various changing expressions on his face, and concluded the video with a clip of himself in a full face of dramatic makeup, bright purple wig, and what seemed to be a white dress.

Vice refers to his art as

“aggressive queerness,”

an esthetic that was mirrored in the unreleased short film. He encourages other youth in the queer community to “nourish their queerness” and strives to be the representation that QPOC needs in today's society.

We conclude the interview by rolling up a blunt and watching music videos from Amy Winehouse - Frank.