I forget how I was introduced to Contessa Stuto, but I do remember the first time I photographed her. It happened at my house when I was still living in San Francisco back in 2010, I think? She was in town to throw a party, took BART from her friends place and had to walk really far in some major heels after getting off at the 24th street station. She tried to hail cab after cab until realizing she was in San Francisco not New York, and in reality there were no cabs. Contessa is 100% New York. Or is New York 100% Contessa? That afternoon we shot in my bedroom and realized we had the same day of birth (December 14th, hello). When I moved back to New York, she was the broker who found me my current apartment.
Contessa Stuto is a lot of things. Style icon. Culture maker. Queen Mother behind the CUNTMAFIA label. Raging Twitter poet. Paper magazine’s Nightlife Personality of the Year. Ex-Real Estate agent. I caught up with my birthday twin on a day too wintery for our Brooklyn photo shoot to be outdoors, so we stayed in and had a nice coffee talk about Trap Metal, appropriation and major Twitter drama!
HOVER OVER IMAGE TO SEE CONTESSA’S THOUGHTS ON EACH LOOK
AMOS MAC :: How do you take your coffee?
CONTESSA STUTO :: Two sugars and milk. And the cup has to have this specific black lid, I don’t know why. It’s a Dunkin’ Donuts Long Island thing. I gotta wake up, I didn’t sleep well.
AM :: Why not?
CS :: I was up all night Twittering crazy ass shit.
AC :: You Twittered all night?
CS :: Pretty much, I live on Twitter. You know I got hacked, lost all my followers … some one stole my phone. They unfollowed and blocked hundreds of my followers.
AM :: Blocked your followers? Sounds personal.
CS :: But it woke up me! And it made me realize I’m that bitch. People really can’t take me.
Now I’m at almost 1800 followers in three months and I’m only 700 people away from where I was at originally, and then I’m good and back to normal. Then I wanna have a million followers. Well, actually I wanna be verified. How do you get verified? You know what all the LA girls are getting verified and we know how it is in LA. Its like some cute LA girl took a trip to Twitter headquarters in SF, sucked someone’s dick and now they’re verified. Is that what I have to do?
AM :: So you were born —
CS :: I’m a Long Island New York Italian, born and raised.
AM :: Tell me about this fur? [referencing black fur number from look #1 with red hat]
CS :: [Does a million poses on her bed with the fur] I always call this my Diddy fur. This is my “Bad Boy Entertainment Lil’ Kim got her record deal” moment. “Just got my record deal … feelin’ myself. And my bed’s on the floor because my $5000 frame is coming, hand-built by Egyptians from BC.” Like, “Yes oh my god I won the lottery, I’m a millionaire! I’m moving to the LOWER EAST SIDE!” I’m Anna Nicole after her husband died!
AM :: Who are the members of the current CUNTMAFIA family?
CS :: The current CUNTMAFIA family is Cakes Da Killa, J Boogs, Quay Dash, Meaghan Helene, Kay Rizz, Joey LaBeija, Franceleslia, WC KIDS.
AM :: What was your inspiration for the song “Reign in Ratchet“?
CS :: “Reign in Ratchet” was inspired by my wants of incorporating metal and trap music (trap metal). Paper Magazine called me at the “helm” of nu metal. But the producer Proper Villains came to me with the beat after I told him “trap metal” and he was like, “hmm … I never heard of that before.” But then he came to me with a sick Slayer sample “Raining Blood.” “Reign in Ratchet” was just funny, but also the word ratchet [is often] taken out of context, and I was re-defining the term [in terms of] female empowerment. I’ve been called ratchet for many years, and it can be insulting when you’re just living life … I was just taking the word back.
AM: The video for “Reign in Ratchet” was shot in your neighborhood of Bushwick, Brooklyn. Were the extras in the video people you knew?
CS: Yes, it was shot on my block actually, and in front of my house. The waterfront scene was in Greenpoint. Yes, the extras were the people from the bodega to people on the block — it was a block party — and then a lot of my friends which are listed in the thank you’s. From Cakes da Killa to Quay Dash to Whatever 21 to Angelina Dreem to Vivian Scarlett even a quick shot of Antonio from House of Ladosha. Directed by Ursula Mann.
AM: When your video screened at MIX Festival in NYC, I heard that the audience had some feelings about the content of the video, some claim that you were appropriating culture of hip-hop or people of color. How do you respond when that claim is being made towards your work?
CS: You’d have to be the biggest idiot on the planet to think that my video was appropriating. They probably were just confused because the video was on mute, but I consider those people richly funded water-washed queers with no grasp on actual urban culture or hip-hop, so it’s cool. And the vegan food was okay… but I don’t eat food like that. It was free.
Isn’t the foundation of hip-hop political? I found [the MIX Festival crowd] anti-woman and appropriating a queer film festival, so look at that. We disagree. I love to offend though, and I don’t think Azealia Banks would have made a song about me if I was some racist white girl twerking appropriator.
AM: What will your next video be, and when will it be released? What aesthetic can we expect from the video?
CS: “Horny Lil’ Slut”. It’s a secret. Expect ultimate HAM-NESS… but SHIELD YOUR CHILDREN! SHIELD YOUR QUEERS WHO CAN’T TAKE REAL CUNTS! AND SHIELD YOUR LIFE!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR Amos Mac lives and works in New York as a photographer, writer and publisher. His images have appeared in The New York Times, Interview, Vogue Italia, BUTT Magazine, and OUT. He is a founding editor of Original Plumbing, the seminal quarterly print publication documenting the culture of transgender men. He really enjoys Instagram.