0020: Fervor Friday With Kat Toronto, aka "Miss Meatface"
Becoming comfortable with in your sensuality- whether that means taking up sexual power, lifestyle power, or both can be a challenge. Although some lucky girls have never lost their magical sense of their own power and glory, too many woman have had the authority crushed out of them at an early age. It is important to always go back to the original feeling of play, of the power of your fantasies and reclaiming your feminine authority. Explore you sensual archetype, perhaps you are femme fetal woman, a goddess, the enigma, a governess or a girl next door type which ever way you choice to play never lose sight of your organic glory and freedom of sexual exploration.
“Most power is illusory and perceptual, You have to create an environment in which people perceive you as having some power. ‘ - Carri Saxon
Ladies & Gentleman it is with great pleasure on this fervor Friday to bring to you the phenomenal Kat Toronto, aka "Miss Meatface. Miss Meatface, is a multidisciplinary artist hailing from the San Francisco Bay Area that works in performance based photography. She uses her often unsettling and surreal images to explore the cultural ideals of feminine beauty and the objectification of women in a feminist society by toying with the push and pull of dominance and submission and the act of revealing and concealing. Diagnosed with a rare form of cervical cancer in 2010 that eventually led to a full hysterectomy in 2013, Kat uses "Miss Meatface" as an artistic catalyst to delve into a complex set of questions about where she now fits into society as a woman. Kat currently resides in London, England.
First of all, I want to thank you for taking time to do this interview, my first questions is, who is Kat Torontoaka Miss MeatFace?
It’s a pleasure, thank you so much for reaching out and inviting me!
I look at Kat Toronto and Miss Meatface as two separate entities that nurture one another on an artistic, spiritual, and emotional level. Kat Toronto is a photographer that works in performative self portraiture using digital and vintage Polaroid cameras, while Miss Meatface is a constructed character that lives in her own fantastical world and is the photographic subject of most of Kat Toronto’s images.
Moreover, at this moment, how do you spend your days?
I have pretty routine days for the most part. Usually I get up and start off my morning drinking cup after cup of green tea whilst doing admin (replying to emails, filling web shop orders, etc.). If I have a shoot planned it will usually be in the evening so I will spend most of the day prepping for that. I also help my husband run our performing arts space, Resistance Gallery, here in East London.
How would you define yourself and what purpose inspires you?
I’m a minuscule organism in this crazy mixed-up world trying to survive and make a difference through my art.
Can you tell us about your up bringing’s?
I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area with two very eclectic and artistic parents that always supported my interest in the arts. They divorced when I was about 4 years old and with both parents working full time I spent a considerable amount of time with my grandparents. My grandmother played a huge role in my childhood and I think it was through this childhood nostalgia that my Miss Meatface persona evolved.
Miss MeatFace I read that you where diagnosed with cervical cancer in 2010 and subsequently had to a full hysterectomy, what events lead up to your diagnosis, or, how did you discover what you were suffering from was cancer?
The scariest thing was that there were absolutely no signs whatsoever that there was anything wrong with me. The cancer was discovered through my routine pap smear. If I hadn’t gone to get a pap smear I don’t know if I’d have found it until it was too late. Frightening!
Cervical Cancer is not often spoken about due to the focus on breast cancer (I myself am a breast cancer survivor), are there any tips and or preventative tips you can share with us?
My #1 words of advice are: ALWAYS get your routine pap smear.
Tell me the story behind Miss Meatface. How soon after your diagnosis did she come to life?
In 2013 soon after returning home from the hospital after undergoing the hysterectomy I found myself standing in my bedroom with questions frantically racing through my head, the most pressing of which being - “What does it mean for me as a woman to no longer possess the organs that are needed to carry a child?”. It was these first questions that sparked something in me and eventually led me to delve into my feelings towards my sexuality, my body, and the world around me via the medium of photography.
Art is therapeutic, I understand that your artistic expression is spiritual journey? Could you share how your exquisite photography has allowed you to heal?
The Miss Meatface persona has allowed me to explore parts of myself emotionally, mentally, and physically that I don’t think I could have explored on my own as Kat Toronto. Miss Meatface enables me to step out of the person Kat Toronto and become someone and something so completely different and interact with the world around me in a totally different way. She acts as my confidante, my imaginary best friend, my ghostly grandmother, and my therapist.
Can you explain your creative process? How did you end up elaborating such a strong persona as Miss Meatface?
Inspiration for a Miss Meatface shoot usually begins with the discovery of an object. I am a regular at thrift shops and am always on the hunt for bizarre and inspiring items to incorporate into photo shoots. For instance, today I found a bright magenta angora sweater dress and I am now going to plan a Meatface shoot around that. It’s all about stumbling upon the unexpected that inspires me and gets my artistic fires burning. The Miss Meatface persona is a continuously evolving thing. She began as a much more sexually raw organism than she is today and I expect her to continue to evolve into something completely different in a year - or five years - from what she is right now. She adapts to my emotional states and the way I portray her in the images is quite often a direct reference to what is going on in my own life as Kat Toronto.
How do you think or want other people to respond to your art?
I would love for my art to inspire people to ask questions of themselves and of society. At first when people see my work I think they are bewildered or titillated with the bizarre subject at hand, but from there if they choose to delve deeper into what is going on in the image a whole set of questions may begin to pop up in their mind and inspire them to further inquire within themselves.
Have you always been a Kinkster or feel this is just a form of art expression for you?
BDSM and Fetish culture has consistently played a large role in both my artwork and in my personal life as well. Back in 2014 when Miss Meatface first began to evolve I felt drawn to the BDSM/fetish aesthetic because through the fetish masks and attire I was able to take away my own identity as a woman and become a blank canvas, or in some cases, turn myself into a doll. I was able to transcend the black and white world of male/female and become an object. It was this concept that peaked my interested and made me want to explore these ideas further through my Miss Meatface persona. I found that the more I delved into Miss Meatface, the more I actually got to know about myself as Kat Toronto and about my own sexuality and feelings about being a woman in a society that places so much emphasis on physical beauty, having children, etc. There is a definite line between Kat Toronto and Miss Meatface when it comes to my personal sex life though and the two may, on very few occasions, cross and become blurred but for the most part I keep Miss Meatface scenarios/shoots and Kat Toronto personal BDSM play scenarios very separate.
Do you create your own latex hood masks, and if so do they each bring out something unique to your creative projects?
Back when I first started shooting Meatface I would sew my own masks from fabric and leather but I’ve found that the aesthetic of latex suits my vision for Miss Meatface better so I purchase my latex hoods. In the future I may start making my own, it just depends on how much time I have to devote to it!
What would you like to say to women who are, or will be going through the same thing you went through?
Be kind to yourself. Take care of yourself. Never be afraid to ask for help or for support from friends and family. LOVE YOURSELF. Take life one day at a time.
What are your thoughts on recent reports of Instagram shadow-banning sex-positive post?
It’s not surprising, sadly this is where things appear to be heading at the moment but that is where the role of the artist comes in: to help break down these ridiculous policies and rules set upon us by society.
Why do you think Instagram is targeting woman’s sexual empowerment?
Women are being targeted everywhere at the moment - all of the recent abortion bans throughout the United States for instance - and Instagram is no exception.
Tell me about how these challenges have empowered you as an activist?
These challenges are what make me get up each and every morning and continue my work as an artist. Simply by doing what I do - by challenging gender stereotypes and our views on sexuality - I hope that maybe I can help make positive change.
Do you think we’ll ever over come this- will sexuality ever be accepted by mainstream?
Sexuality has been such a taboo subject for so long I don’t know if it will ever be openly accepted into what we consider mainstream - but with that said, it has come quite a long way since the Victorian era, for instance. Will all forms of sexuality ever be fully accepted? That’s an incredibly tough question.
What does sexual empowerment mean to you? Moreover, how do you believe sex educators and pole fitness/dance can empower others to find their sexual authenticity?
I think that getting to know yourself and what makes you happy is the first important step to sexual empowerment. Being in an environment where you feel you can truly be yourself is of huge importance to being sexually empowered and it is through the work of sex educators and pole fitness/dance classes that this environment is able to exist and thrive.
What led you to embrace your sensuality and why is doing so important?
It took a diagnosis of cancer and an incredibly unhappy first marriage to make me open my eyes and realize that I needed to follow my heart in order to be happy. It was this realization that also ultimately led me to fully embrace my sexuality and it goes without saying that I am a much better person because of it. Everyone has the right to be happy, everyone has the right to love themselves. It is only through this self love that we can access our sexuality and become comfortable with, and accepting of, who we are.
Sex, self-pleasure, deep intimacy… are topics that don’t seem to be as readily or openly accepted by society yet. Why is this?
Society still seems to be struggling with this, and I imagine it will be a continuous ongoing struggle. I think it has to do with outmoded forms of ideologies that a large section of the world population still adheres to and refuses to give up. We need to move forward with our thinking but it feels that lately all we’ve been doing is moving backwards.
When you are caught up in your head or just really busy/distracted in life, how do you get back to earth (and into your body)?
Often if I’m feeling depressed or stressed or overwhelmed I’ll shut myself away in a room and do yoga. Tending to my garden is a wonderfully grounding, meditative exercise too.
Do you have a favorite ritual?
Every night I take a steaming hot bath in the dark.
What do you want to tell woman who are seeking to take on their own passion projects, and make them their career?
I would tell them to take the leap and do everything they can to make it happen. It will probably be one of the scariest things you will ever do in your life but there is a lot to be said for following your heart and your happiness.
Kat, thank you for sharing your time and energy with us where can the Kinktra lovers find you?
Instagram - @missmeatface
Twitter - @missmeatface
Facebook - http://www.facebook.com/missmeatface