kris kidd, the poet and calvin klein model exposing fashion’s dark side
The native Angeleno talks to i-D about his new book, "Down for Whatever," and writing with Jaime King.
photography paige silveria
"Under the influence, I am easily influenced. I try to keep my pants on, but some things are easier said than done," says Kris Kidd, the 22-year-old LA-based writer and model who's making a hard play at bringing poetry into the mainstream.
Kidd's new book, Down For Whatever, is a collection of visceral, unrestrained, and self-reflective poems and blog posts that capture the confusion and chaos of his youth. Kidd began blogging on Tumblr around eight years ago, after his father took his own life, and not long after he first started modeling (you can see him lip-locked with another male model in the recent #mycalvins campaign). Wracked with angst and painful self-awareness, this sophomore book (which follows his collection of essays, I Can't Feel My Face) recounts Kidd's experiences with his eating disorder and the darker sides of the modeling industry, and unabashedly brings you into the author's most personal moments.
"Kris Kidd masterfully hands over to the reader his giving in, his growing up of sorts, in a way that is profoundly simple and utterly riveting," says Kidd's new writing partner, the actress Jaime King. Here, Kidd tells i-D about sharing his sexual experiences, growing up feeling alienated in LA, and working with King.
How often do you write?
Every day. Even if it's just some rambling stream of consciousness. At this point, writing feels like something I need to do in order to stay sane. It's an emotional outlet just as much as a creative one.
You've said before that you often take notes on your phone?
Oh god, yeah. My iPhone notes are a nightmare. I guess I'd look like a more dedicated writer if I carried around a notebook. But I lose everything. At least if my phone goes missing, all of my writing is backed up. If I lost a physical equivalent to the amount of work I have stored on my phone, I'd have to put out an Amber Alert for it.
In addition to the themes of drug use and eating disorders you address in your previous work, this collection sheds light on some particularly disturbing sexual encounters; was this a difficult topic to delve into?
I definitely shied away from discussing sexual trauma in my earlier work. At the time I didn't feel like I possessed the vocabulary or the emotional capacity to depict those experiences in the way I knew I eventually wanted to. My original attempts were all very dark and heavy-handed. So, I threw all that shit at my therapist until I figured out how to write about it.
When you look back at some of the pieces you've written in the past, do you still feel a connection to them?
Of course! Those were my teenage years. They sucked but they happened. Rereading my older stuff is kind of like looking at photos from my childhood. I don't remember a lot of my adolescence, so no matter how ugly and painful most of it was, I'm really glad I wrote it down.
How did growing up in Los Angeles inform your work?
LA is so weird. It's magical. I profess my love for this city and declare my hatred for it almost every single day. Growing up here definitely lent a specific voice to my writing. I'm highly emotional but I'm also really jaded a lot of the time. I try to expand on that voice as often as I can so I can deconstruct it and find the heart beneath it.
What impact does your modeling career have on your writing?
It's funny. I talk a lot of shit about this industry, but I'm honestly so grateful for the opportunities I've been given. I get to travel and meet so many incredible people. I feel like all of my experiences as a model, good or bad, have had a profound effect on my work as a writer.
You recently spent some time in Japan for work. What was it like living away from home?
Tokyo was amazing. I think I finally developed a work ethic. I mean, you're on set or driving around to castings for 17 hours a day sometimes, and nobody ever complains. I've seen people in LA complain about waiting in line at Starbucks. I've been one of those people. The whole experience really taught me a lot about myself and what I'm actually capable of. I'm trying to get my agents to send me back as soon as possible.
You just had a poetry event with Jaime King. How was that?
I'm not going to lie. It was nerve-wracking. Jaime and I are working on a collection of poetry together and she had this idea to do a live, interactive writing session at The Evil Rock N Roll Cat. I love Jaime, but I also get horrible performance anxiety. She literally had to pull me upstairs and talk me off a ledge 10 minutes before we went on. I'm happy she did though. The audience was so responsive and engaged. The entire event was lovely; it really couldn't have gone better.
Text and photography Paige Silveria