Can you tell me who you are, what you do, why you do it?
I’m Olly or Ponyboy, an agender Australian/Brit skater with a determination to wreak havoc globally ! An ex-semi pro soccer player, the eldest of 7 and a raging hyper-pop enthusiast. I kind of do everything and nothing… I have taken the concept of not doing anything the way it’s “supposed” to be done from existing outside the binary, and just applied it to my entire life, making up my own rules as I go. Because to be honest everything stems from binaries, therefore I don’t really “fit in” anywhere anyway. You’d be surprised how much it affects since everything is catered to for cis-hetero folks! My ultimate motivation is just to take up space in media and in anything that influences & infiltrates people’s minds. I started that journey just through modeling, but obviously I am way too chaotic to stay in one lane and am trying to weasel my way into the music industry, and tv/film ! Also life is long…. maybe even more who knows. I do it for the trans kids, that’s why I do it (though not really sure what “it” is). I want to put myself in the firing line because I know I can handle it, and it feels like a purpose and a drive. And my childhood & life would have been a lot easier and happier if I’d have had people like me in the media.
I know you’re still settling in in Los Angeles. Can you share how you ended up there and how you hope for this change of scenery to influence your art?
Oh man it’s been a journey ! Basically I have been city hopping for the last 10 years…. trying to find my purpose and my people – Byron Bay, Sydney, Vancouver, Toronto, London, Paris, New York – playing the “where can I get a visa” game. And I kinda found it all along the way! I had been waiting for my US visa since forever, and only got it last year, otherwise I’d have been here a lot sooner! NYC was my “place” all my life and still is, but once I moved there I realized that because of how my brain works, I couldn’t fully focus or “create” as much as I wanted… because I was way too overstimulated by the city and the nightlife and queer community! Which is obviously amazing and perfect, but it’s very consuming, and not exactly productive (although it can be). So I realized LA is a smarter place for me to have a base and set up some type of studio situation, because I can be in a more secluded and quiet space, and still choose to partake in the fun stuff when I want…. it’s just not on my front step. My brain is very sensitive so I intend to create a very sacred and intentional and peaceful space for myself with a partner of mine whose brain is the same…. We just got our hands on a big house in East LA, and they’re a photographer/model so between us it feels like we finally have a space to call home and work, and we intend on turning it into a queer creative sanctuary for us and our chosen family. I feel very in my habitat here too, as Australia is very similar weather and scenery wise, almost like a full 10 year circle…
Tell me about your personal journey with beauty. How do you look at beauty now versus earlier in your life, and what do you think has impacted your perception?
Beauty to me is all about energy. I find beauty in being unapologetic, and not-conforming to anything. I think the queer & specifically trans community has impacted and moulded my perception of beauty over the years. The way trans people are single-handedly defying the “traditional” societal laws of what beauty and bodies “should” be, by just being themselves, is so monumental and honestly important work. Trans people are making history every day, especially Black trans women! I have forced myself to somehow tolerate my own body and image, but it’s mainly through mind games and practice, as I don’t quite have the access I need to modify my body accordingly yet. If I consume too much of the wrong media, or surround myself with too many of the wrong people, I find myself feeling really small and not attractive. But when I am in the right spaces with the right people, and being mindful of the media I consume, I feel very powerful and attractive and influential. I don’t think I understood what beauty was early in life at all, I was honestly too busy battling my demons about what the hell was going on with my body etc, so I never felt or looked good and I was severely bullied. But that’s because I wasn’t myself, I was trying to be things that I wasn’t, like a girl, I didn’t know any better, and that weakness is a perfect target for bullying. Which is where I can circle back and say if I had people like me in the media or had even known they existed, I would have had a very different life and relationship with myself, I would have had a chance as a kid. My concept of beauty now is intersected by so many things and is almost indescribable, but it’s definitely an all encompassing word. In the same breath, I find cosmetic surgery so fascinating, especially as an affirmative tool for trans folks – which is actually less cosmetic and more reconstructive if we’re being real, as it is often a necessity, if not a matter of life or death…. when they can access it – obviously most can’t with the way the system is set up. I have a very specific interest in it and I find it very powerful and beautiful that trans people can take body autonomy and modification to a whole new level, and that there are no rules because we have never had this kind of access before. The way trans folks can utilize it is so impactful because they are literally creating their own gender euphoria, whatever that looks like for them. And that’s actually what cis folks use it for too! Maybe less the life or death part. I wish and hope for all trans folks to get access to the care and procedures they need and want. Body’s are just vessels and anyone who tries to judge or dictate what anyone does with theirs, trans or not, is madly out of line.
To you, is there a difference between ‘natural beauty’ and ‘beauty’? And can we maybe even stretch so fast as to try and cover your thoughts on – what is queer beauty?
Assuming natural just means no cosmetic surgery or modification? It’s not a “better” type of beauty by any means, because you need to take into account that it is a privilege to be born into a body that you feel comfortable in. So I think the answer is no, to me there is no difference because it is pretty much not relevant, though to classify for yourself I suppose would be fine in a neutral way if necessary haha, rather than in a superiority complex way. I think I kind of covered my thoughts on queer beauty in the previous question, clearly it’s just naturally integrated in my general concept of it! The queers are trailblazing and pioneering I’ll say that much.
You’ve talked about using your different expressions of art to create representation and awareness about otherness and existing in the world as an alien. Taking up space is a phrase you use that I love. Can you dive into this a little bit ? How and why are you an alien ?
It’s funny you use that word, I actually directed a project called Otherness a few years ago that is currently on hiatus (it was way too much work alone); it was a portrait and docu series on trans folks all over the world. I started it as an extension of myself, because I needed more documentation and evidence of people like me, so that I had an example to show my family and anyone who cared just how diverse and unique and incredible trans people are, and that I am not the only one – I know that sounds silly but I was the only (out) one where I am from haha. I evolved a lot during that three year process, and there was definitely a bit of impact in my circles / family and I felt way less alone in making it. Because yeah I always felt like an alien, and I definitely still do, in both the way of being alienated from society, but also in a more positive and ethereal way that I have really leaned into. I genuinely go about the world subconsciously convincing myself that I’m not from here, nor do I subscribe to any of it, and therefore everything that is weird and wacky and bad and scary can’t touch me as much, because I am partly dissociated and not connected to it. I am connected to the earth itself, and to a futuristic utopian version of her, but that exists in my mind and in outer space. Plus the whole concept of living outside of all binaries and rules, kinda just screams alien freak to me (positive connotation lol).
I’d love to hear more about your book. What does that project look like at the moment ?
Doesn’t look like much yet! This new space is going to be a game changer for me, I feel like I’ve had so many projects and ideas and talents I’ve wanted to put to use my whole life but I’ve never felt peaceful or safe or grounded enough to do anything that isn’t just in survival or brainless mode. And because of how my brain works it’s hard for me to focus on anything creative if there are more pressing / life things that need attending to. So ! I have so much in my head that I wanna write, and I also have notes and pages all over the place that I have written here and there. I will get started on actually collating it all as soon as my brain allows which I feel is coming – but ultimately my brain and neurodivergence are in control. I need to decide on the angle of it, but it’s ultimately going to be about gender and transness, and alternative ways of thinking, by using my lived experiences, dreams and theories. I often tell these stories at work on set or with whoever, and I can see that even hearing the stories turns cogs in peoples brains, and introduces them to concepts and ways of thinking that they just have never even considered before. I want my book to make the kind of impact that I strive to make every day in my physical life.
You’ve mentioned neurodivergence and I loved how you presented it to me as a strength – it felt powerful to hear someone share this information about themselves in such a way. How would you like to talk more about this subject ?
Haha that old chestnut, the main thing that makes me, me! It’s definitely a vast and complex subject, and wildly fascinating. And has been burdensome when I have tried to make myself conform to anything – even school etc – but it’s totally an advantage when it’s treated and nurtured right! So it’s just another reason why existing outside of the norm in every way is safest and healthiest for me. Basically I have OCPD (Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder) and ADHD, and they both tie into my gender dysphoria a lot too, kind of like a domino affect. But on my good days I have them working together, and I find they are a huge factor in my intelligence, depth, capacity, compassion and understanding of literally anything. I have spent my life trying to figure out all the “ways” I have to do things to avoid being triggered or spiraling into uncontrollable fits of any or all of the above (it’s rarely just one). But yeah, ultimately I see it as a super power!! It’s a huge part of how I am and how I experience others. The world, just like for cisgender folks, is so beyond catered to neurotypical and able bodied folks, and therein lies the problem. Because all my neurodivergence and gender stuff – which by current society would be seen as a disadvantage and have a negative connotation – is actually really amazing and complex and beautiful, I love how my brain is and works. It’s just when it’s put up against a society that is actively working against it, or I have to deal with people that refuse to understand it, is when it feels like a negative or burdensome thing. So that’s why I kind of have to make my own rules and spaces because they literally don’t exist otherwise, and I would be a severely depressed human if I didn’t, if even still alive. I am detached and partly dissociated almost always, and fully present in my own world instead. So yeah it all comes together in this massive beautiful thing that I suppose has become a lifestyle of sorts ! And in that space I am so happy and powerful and able, like my OCPD is the most fascinating thing, I won’t get into it here but every single tiny thought and action in my daily life, aka every single second, is affected and guided by it. Which is obviously very tiring and consuming, but like I said I’ve learned to live with it and even love it, and it’s such a big part of who I am. This house is going to change a lot for me productivity wise, because I am severely affected by my environment, and have extreme object permanence issues. So I need to literally surround myself with everything I need to do whatever it is I’m doing (write, music, etc), and be in a very specific kind of quiet space, and have all my little fixations around me to lean on (fidget spinner, snacks, vape, phone), so that I can get done what I need to. And when I set it all up properly, I literally fly haha.
Lastly, what are your dreams for the near future ?
Write a book, release music or be making it, get cast in a film and/or tv series, maybe do some fashion collabs or campaigns with brands that wanna be more queer/trans inclusive !! Take up as much space as possible !! Infiltrate and influence and educate and heal. Dreams !!!