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” My nationalities are Algerian, Austrian, English, French, Israeli, Moroccan, Polish and Russian. I was raised practising Judaism but never felt connected to it, and I believe in the Universe’s power and practice Witch Craft.”
DT 500 ZINE: – It is always fun to follow you on your Instagram; there’s the easy-going mastery again! Hey, tell us the story of your interest to design come from?
CHEEKY MAA: – My grandparents greatly influenced me, although I didn’t see them very much. My father’s parents worked in the fashion industry and owned a suit store in Queens, NY. They would take me shopping every time they visited and introduced me to fashion at a very young age.
” I would flip through fashion magazines and rip out pages of inspiration which helped develop my passion for style.”
DT 500 ZINE: – Did you choose to design when you were already a child?
CHEEKY MAA: – When I was 6, I started customising my clothing by cutting and layering pieces. I became interested in modelling at a very young age as well. My dad is a photographer; he would set up the seamless backdrop and would style my friends to shoot.
DT 500 ZINE: – Cheeky, what is about your artist-freak character?
CHEEKY MAA: – I genuinely believe I was just born this way. It’s who I was meant to be. Even when I didn’t recognise it, others did. I remember one time at recess when
” I was about 8, and this girl, Alyssa, wanted to play with me. Her friend told her she shouldn’t because I was a “loser.” Alyssa said she thought I was cool, but her friend disagreed and replied: “Yeah, she’s cool to FREAKS” “
CHEEKY MAA: – I was so hurt at the time, but hey, she was right, And I couldn’t be more proud. I believe we are all freaks in our own way; some just choose to show it on the outside. My inspirations are unique people; I love seeing crazy humans doing the most ridiculous shit on the streets of NYC. Many of my friends inspire me as well.
DT 500 ZINE: – How unique? What is the message of Cheeky Maa?
CHEEKY MAA: – I hope to be a part of the movement for change in social structures, the current beauty, and queer acceptance.
” We are all connected, especially now with social media platforms. So many have fought for the freedom of self-expression, and now is the time to educate the ignorant and to shamelessly be true to who we really are.”
DT500ZINE: – What’s a specific role of an artist?
CHEEKY MAA: –
“ We are the underground prophets and here to inspire each other and create the guidelines for future generations.”
DT500ZINE: – ALL TRUE! Let’s talk back to your design; you have a lot of statement outfits, images, styling, etc..; pls, tell us more about that source of inspiration?
CHEEKY MAA: – My style is constantly evolving!
” If I had to describe it, I’d say it’s a new-age, punk alien with a touch of elegance.”
DT500ZINE: – What comments are you getting from New Yorkers walking along the streets?
CHEEKY MAA: – The most common question I get asked on the streets is:- “Did you come from the future?” almost everyday piece I’ve collected over the years, I’ve picked up from a thrift store.
– When I go thrifting, I’m like a kid in a candy store; I’m running all over the shop, smiling with much energy. I could sort through racks for hours and never get tired.
DT500ZINE: – so you’ve got your technics?
CHEEKY MAA: – My technics is simple; something will stand out for me either because of the construction or pattern. I’ll try it on; if it looks good, it’s done. I also love to reconstruct clothing, take it apart and make it into something new.
” I learned how to hand sew in middle school, and about 3 years ago, I taught myself on the machine. “
DT500ZINE: – What’s happening in your neighbourhood? Who’s your crew?
CHEEKY MAA: – I recently moved to the Lower East Side of Manhattan. I live with 2 of my favourite people in the world, Nicky Ottav, a NAR.
” We all live in this cute little box with murals on the wall painted by Nicky and lots of punk! “
DT500ZINE: – The Club kids.
CHEEKY MAA: – Our apartment is packed with the most freak club kids in NYC every weekend.
DT500ZINE: – Any mint manners?
CHEEKY MAA: – We all pre-party at the crib before we head out to Flash Factory, where Nicky Ottav has created a space for everyone to get crazy and feel the love.
DT 500 ZINE: – here you are; what’s up there?
CHEEKY MAA: – The atmosphere is beautiful; everyone comes with such individual looks (freaky or not), and there are many delightful personalities.
” It’s where you can feel free to dance to the music with no judgment. This party has become a second home to me and many others.”
DT500ZINE: – Did you find yourself?
CHEEKY MAA: – I had social anxiety for everyone. Coming here has helped me to go out of my shell and be more open and expressive.
DT 500 ZINE: – What kind of music do you listen to?
CHEEKY MAA: – I can get down with any genre of music except for country, and I also like to listen to old and new hip-hop and rap. The music I connect with the most is alternative, underground artists like Space Jesus, Desert Dwellers, Beats Antique, Liquid Stranger, Paradiso and others artists on their vibe.
DT 500 ZINE: – What sparks you in NYC today?
CHEEKY MAA: – Literary everything and anything. This city is always moving and progressing. Sometimes it can be exhausting, but it keeps me thinking and experiencing the many layers of life.
” Good or bad, I always try to find a positive outcome and use it to learn and create something new.”
DT 500 ZINE: – What is a typical day of CHEEKY MAA’s like?
CHEEKY MAA: – There is no typical day for me anymore; I do something new and exciting every week. I meet new people and find new ways to collaborate.
DT 500 ZINE: – Babes, what’s on the calendar?
CHEEKY MAA: – every Friday and Saturday night, I host a Flash Factory; every other Tuesday, I host at ACME for STRUT. The rest of my days are filled with photo shoots, running around town, creating looks, drawing, and having play-dates with freaky friends.
” I like to try and to live in the moment, not to think about the future.”
PHOTOGRAPHER MATEUS PORTO
DESIGNER -CHEEKY MAA
Interview ARTHUR SOPIN