Name: Alok Vaid Menon
residence: College Station, Texas
now alive: In a sunny two-room apartment with ample closet space in uptown Manhattan with a roommate.
Claim to fame: Mx. Vaid-Menon is a gender nonconformist artist, writer, and comedian who uses their work to redefine beauty norms, explore colonialism, and explore fluid identity. “The word ‘artist’ is one of possibilities, not limitation,” they said. “So it means I’m a little bit ambivalent about form and I’m investing more in flow.” mx. Vaid-Menon explores ideas through poetry and non-fiction, as well as fashion, virtual book clubs and live performances.
Breakthrough: This summer, Max. Vaid-Menon appeared on “Man Enough”, a podcast exploring what masculinity is; previous guests were Shawn Mendes and Matthew McConaughey. In a momentous moment, Mx. Vaid-Menon asked the cisgender hosts, including Justin Baldoni and Jamey Heath, to consider whether they were “ready to heal.” “That’s what people say to me when they recognize me on the street right now – ‘I loved your podcast interview,'” they said. “It’s just so unreal to me because it’s the things I’ve been saying and doing for over a decade.”
Latest project: mx. Vaid-Menon headlined the New York Comedy Festival last month, including two shows on November 13. “If you’ve been on one side of the joke your whole life, it’s actually quite therapeutic to be able to joke,” Mx. said Vaid-Menon. “Some of my favorite comedians are black, indigenous, colored and transgender, because we know humor isn’t about levity. In a world committed to making your life miserable, there’s something audacious and beautiful about holding on to your humor and fun.”
Next thing: This month, Max. Vaid-Menon self-publishes a book of poetry called ‘Your Wound/My Garden’. “At the beginning of my career, I was really into detailing the nature of the wound I had in the world,” Mx says. said Vaid-Menon. “I paid so much attention to the ways I was discriminated against that I forgot to pay attention to the ways I was already free.
Eyes on the prize: Fashion plays an important role in Mx. The presentation of Vaid-Menon, often mixing traditionally feminine shapes, such as bras and skirts, with clothing that defies gender categories. The same goes for their hairstyle. “Beauty for me is what the natural orientation of the universe returns to,” says Mx. said Vaid-Menon.