MaeDea Lady LaRose
March 14, 2017
How old are you?
And where are you from originally?
I’m originally from New Jersey.
How long have you been in New Orleans?
I came to New Orleans when I was 17 because I wanted to be country singer. I became homeless and I never became a country singer. I didn’t sing again until I got pregnant when I was 25.
Why do you think you were not able to sing when you first got here?
When I left home I was just a child that created a story for myself in order to get out a really bad situation and that story gave me hope. But ultimately there was nothing to support me when I got here. I had no money, I had no friends, I had nothing and I just slipped into the streets. There wasn’t even a punk community back then. I wasn’t affiliated with anybody. I just had baggy sweatpants and a dirty t-shirt and was begging on the streets.
Was there something about getting pregnant that brought that out of you?
Being pregnant saved my life. I was completely torn apart in every way but when I got pregnant I learned how to eat good food, I learned how to take care of my body, I learned what herbs and vitamins to take. And then I got an accordion and I played for nine months while I was pregnant. I learned that I was a good musician and that I could sing and I formed a band. When I had my son I went against a lot of things that people told me I should do. It changed my relationship with his father and it changed my life.
Why do you stay in New Orleans? Why are you still here?
I had to fight to be here. I had to get a divorce. I left behind everything I owned. I put everything in a truck. I came here with nothing. I wanted to come back to a community of people that create and put creation and politics and music first and foremost place in their life. My son’s father lived in a community where everything was available to him and his was a strong, loud voice that told me I wasn’t good enough to be a mother throughout my years of motherhood. I wasn’t good enough because of the choices I made. Because I decided to be a musician and not a stay at home mom or a waitress. Because I decided to struggle. Because I decided not to compromise. It influenced the way my son saw me as a mother and as a woman. I decided that if I didn’t transform my life and his before he became a teenager, he was going to see a woman that struggles and tries and continue to break her down. So the day I decided to leave with my son, his dad took him and hid him in a motel. I got a lawyer and spent the next year getting custody and when I got him back, he was poisoned against me. I spent a long time transforming that poison and letting him see me and let him create his own stories about women and mothers and artists. This is the third year and now our relationship is so good and so beautiful and I’ve seen so many changes within him and I can only trust that this is going to get better.
When you were growing up do you remember being told or taught anything about the behavioral expectations of being a girl?
I was raised extremely Christian. I had a brother and there was a strong sense of the contrast and the difference between us. He was supported in his work, in his studies, and the things he learned were challenging for him. All I hear was, “You’re marrying that boy, you’re gonna marry that boy...” I didn’t hear things to encourage me. I only heard things telling me I was going to fit into a role and that pisses me off.
Can you define sexism as it presents itself to you?
When it’s presented to me, it’s an attack on my whole system. The vibrancy of who I am and the fullness of who I am is altered and changed. The elegance of my true nature take a different form to hide, shield, protect, guard, lock. It presents itself every time I walk out of my house in all forms, in all shapes, in all sorts of ways. It’s not just male-bodied. It’s in so many different forms. We’re all working through it.
How does being treated in a sexist way make you feel?
Sometimes I get really fierce and say, “You do not talk to me like that, that is not how you talk to me.” And sometimes I don’t have the energy for that. I’ve created this veil that I wear around me all over my body. That isn’t naturally a part of my character. I am a really soft person and I’m really gentle. But because of sexism I hold myself in this very firm, hard, defined way.
Can you recall any specific occasions when you experienced sexist behavior against you that may have stuck with you?
I was in two long term relationships with individuals who saw me and my sexuality as one particular thing and not all encompassing. I’ve been compartmentalized in relationships. What would it look like if you just erased all of those borders and you actually took me in? Could you? That’s why I’m not in those relationships. They saw my creativity and tried to dampen it, tried to make it less than, tried to change it, trying to make it theirs.
How do you feel about the re-appropriation of women’s rights terms to become negative?
This is where I look towards certain literature in which elders of this land have seen time and laugh at human perspective of thinking ten years is a long time. This particular instance that you’re talking about, it’s crunchy and it’s hard and people are figuring it out and sometimes people attack each other while they’re figuring it out. We’re healing this wound and it’s messy and it’s scary and it’s going to take a lot of compassion and space fix it.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
This is what I’m going to read at my next performance: We are the lay lines holding an ever-changing moment of perception, decolonizing lovers hold space for all the creatures that cry out in ecstasy, in relief. My body is of the earth and I carry her depth and her darkness and her life. The mouth of my vulva responds with a new song every time you visit the temple. Ever-changing cycles. Why not desire me as you would the embrace of trees, the endless sky, the roots of mountains, the clear river, the roses along the sea, the wind on your lips, the warm clay, the sharp cry of birds. My body is a mirror of the earth, my body is not a mirror of the centerfold. I am not shaved or starved or reduced. I’m not grinding down, I’m not separate from my vulva, my lips, my womb. I’m not separate from my mind, my brain, my intellect. I am the medusa who sewed her head back on. My body is the mirror of the earth, the well and the wasteland. And like the earth, my body has been broken open, mind drained, raped, left in ruins, stolen from, spit on, pissed on, and like her, I’ve been growing back in surprising new ways. Through kudzu in Japanese, not weed, and star thistle and tallow tree and all of these plants that take up the protective space that no human can raze. And I see these plants taking down the houses and the highways and growing through all the construction and destruction. And to who knows what purpose?