In my teenage years, there was a whole part of reality to which I didn’t have access, where my curiosity could not go. When I was 12, I moved to Avignon in south of France, a city known for its theater festival and it’s aging, right-wing inclined population. With my friends, we used to turn it into ridicule; the old racist schmuk was for us a comic character. In this conservative social landscape, which beyond its “high culture” pretenses was stuck in quite a medieval mindframe, there was barely space for gender experimentation, especially in the graffiti scene that would shape my core identity.

There is this funny division in France between college and lycée, symbolic stages that split high school in two defined periods. In college, I was a mostly serene kid. Affectionate with everyone, though my best friends were girls. This was not an issue back then. Sadly, the move to the lycée acted as a normative bulldozer, when teens saw themselves subjected to an increased social pressure, constraining them to their assigned spot. This marked for me the beginning of a long period radically segregated within the sphere of boyhood.

I was then a fairly rebellious teen. Hip hop culture was our way out from the normative landscape of lobotomized teenage, the “fashion" or "normie" people as we used to call them. Those going through their youth without a glimpse of subversive charge, mimicking the trivial sociality and conventional dress of their bourgeois elders. On the other hand, we felt that we were doing something revolutionary, challenging private property through art, turning the city into a playground, running away from police on a weekly basis.

Rap generation. Us. A movement of youth infused with black and brown culture, putting marginal voices to the front. Teenagers are instinctual tribalists because they sense the absurdity of individualist society, the school model. I had no interest in a solo trajectory. My tag name was Crime, and my crew BIG—best in group. Confronted with racist fathers, teachers, and police forces, with repressive, fusty state institutions, our reality was polarized. We chose the street.

Listening to rap music all day, falling asleep watching Hollywood movies, I didn’t measure back then how I was getting under the spell of a cultural imperialism shaping who I would become. This US popular urban culture, infused with its colonial imposition of victorian values, was indeed codified by gender on extreme measures. Put through the mill of French language, also one of the most gendered there is, as well as a macho mediterranean culture, this meant that to become a hip hop head in Avignon required a strict performance of masculinity. My friends and I listened almost exclusively to songs performed by male rappers. R&b was music for girls. If there was a singing hook in a track, we would ditch it from our rotation.

There was a lot of gender assignation and policing around, especially on me who grew up in Belgium as a kind of gender-fluid kid. I remember a guy in the street menacing me because I “walked like a girl”; I was puzzled on how I could pretend strolling more manly. I was 13 the first time I bought cigarettes, and probably because of my long hair, the old clerk lady mistook me for a girl, calling me “miss”. I was afraid that if I would correct her, she would inquire my age and refuse to sell me tobacco. And so for a couple of years, I perpetuated this secret identity for my forays into this corner shop.

Back in the days, many of my friends were making money selling hashish. We used to consume it daily. I had my own little businesses to afford my weed, alcohol and cigarettes; the rest we were shoplifting. I made most of my cash reselling stuff from Ebay, importing oversized vintage golf clothes from the US and rebranding them as hip hop attire to my buddies, or dispensing blunt cigars I was buying in batch, also online, during school breaks. At that point, I had already been arrested for tagging and state-censored for my inflammatory literature—that is for another story. I remember having no faith in adult, mainstream society. Hip hop was my religion, a radical refusal from the complacent social landscape I was prompted to integrate.

In my last year, I had to change school. I was in conflict with many of my teachers, and had no friends in my class. My mom moved me to the rich kids' lycée. There I discovered that my lifestyle was also practiced by a different tribe, the posh tribe. For them it was not about resistance but about being cool. Graffiti was just a hip hobby and testosterone catalyzer. They were listening to a different strand of rap music, more accessible, with harmless lyrics cleansed from the street slang we were practicing with my friends. Less socially conscious and more libidinal, a cultural product for a mainstream teen audience. It is also there that I decisively grasped the trickery of money, the illusion of its value. The 10 euro bar of hash I was buying from my friend in the block, I could sell for 20 to my new classmates. Whiteness secured my position as a middle-class portal.

At some point, my crew members and I started to trip on a novel aesthetic division within our tribe, a split between west-coast and east-coast identities. The east side had the harsh, sober tone of hardcore rap, cold and metallic as a New York subway wagon in grim weather; the west had the colorful sexiness of shiny cadillacs bouncing on g-funk in sunny California. My best friend A. and I very enthusiastically chose this orientation, which became a window for us to explore a somewhat less rigid gender identity, slightly more funky. It took me years to realize that our complicity in this move was the expression of a call for desire caught within the swamp of our internalized homophobia. We kept secret our tender, endless conversations on the phone at night. Suspiciously fruity.

I graduated from high school as a complete pirate, studying for a couple of weeks to catch up on years of severe disengagement. When I went to pick up my diploma, I was wearing a vintage nike windbreaker from the 80s that had a little wing on the back. Neon pink. I remember blushing when someone complimented me about this look. The only way I could justify it for myself was to classify it under the guise of a retro, ironic miami vice aesthetic. Truth is, I just vibed with that flashy pink.

Sadly, it took me quite longer to find my way into the queer world. I stayed bogged with the straights for many more years, thinking I was just a little bit more delicate or extravagant than most of my friends. I will skip here the rest of the story. Point is, today, I found my way into gayness and embracing my fem energy. I have been a fabulous fag, a bomber dyke and a transexual goddess. Within our community, I impersonate a character wearing the stigmas of gender violence, like many. That’s why today, I am feeling inclined to be expansive about my chance to explore everything I missed. All the pretty colors, the sensual music. This piece is a celebration.

A lot can be written about the complexities of the high-fem aesthetic. The influence of the male gaze. The whitewashing. Feminine and trans identities as channels for consumerist desire. Y2K nostalgia manifesting a neoliberal, eternal churning of the same. I could expand about all this, but honestly, I don't feel like it. Today, I am a fierce, unapologetic woman. It's crazy what 5mg of estrogen a week can do. I've never felt that aligned with my body before. I love the clarity of my fem libido. Hence why I am scattering gloss and glitter along my path, and if anything, mobilizing any accelerationist current for the fem revolution. This page is our territory, a safe space for the ladies, the babes and the dolls. Every dance of ours is a spell for the inexorable demise of patriarchy, this crumbling civilization and its pathetic figures. We are breaching.

The reason why I write about drug culture is because under capitalism, it has become a natural condition. Class society turns children into dealers. When accumulation is the hegemonic delirium, everything becomes patterned on the model of addiction. Illegal drugs reveal how profundly this system is flawed. In my teenage, I was smoking joints daily to escape the violence of social repression, as well as the bland reality of a provincial atmosphere imbued with small-town depression. Today, as many queers in exile, I settled in Berlin, specifically in Kreuzberg which on many aspects is a simulacra of NYC in the 90s. In my neighborhood, corporations distribute free beers in front of the subway station. On the platforms, outcasts struggle with homelessness and a crack epidemy.

I haven't escaped the US imperial simulation. I am still a junkie struggling with addiction, for twenty years now; substances change, the scheme stays. I am lucky. My middle-class upbringing and cultural position has preserved me so far from a real fall into destruction, and I evolve in some privileged corners of society. Nonetheless, I mainly try to operate in the gutters, offering care to the damaged. It is always a territorial matter. Some spaces I am done with.

I had been painting since my early teenage in the street, on trains, highways and subway tunnels. But, it is only in 2016 when I made my first website that I started to call myself an artist. On many levels, graffiti and netArt share a similar sensitivity for freedom, bypassing the structures that dictate what can be seen by creating small pockets of poetry, polluting controled spaces of property. In both cases, no need for expensive storage; it’s all out there for public scrutiny. Their common trait also relates to style, fast spontaneous gestures that evade the power restrictions art today is subjected to. Many of my friends struggle with the alienating temporalities and neutralizing tendencies of state-subsided production schemes. As in any feudal system, the artist under capital is a beggar, a fool. I operate on different grounds.

This webpage is my first internet work as Astrée. I am excited to revive my mastery of the medium to stage my writings on queerness and transition. This piece is a preview. The central dancing figures are part of my current research on generative AI and fem aesthetics, fast fashion and hypercapitalist marketing. I like to approach developing technologies on the mode of naivety, exposing how glitches and misuses can reveal some of their underlying mechanisms. Here, I am also interested in monstrosity and dance as a method for hypnosis. Of course, to become fem is to acquire a certain power to hypnotize. Trust me, I'm a club queen ;)

Thank you for reading me this far. I would like to dedicate this text to O., my bestie from collège. We lost track of each other when we were around 14. I heard she became a lesbian briefly later. If I sticked with her and didn’t fall into the macho world of hip hop, abandoning the girly side of things, who knows how many years of confusion it would have saved me.

With love,