Artist Benji Morino (benmorino.tumblr.com) was on his way to the 45th Annual Chicago Pride parade and festival in Lakeview.
How would you describe your current style?
Rave girl / motorcycle daddy / club punk baby.
Is it important for you to be distinctive?
It is important to me in terms of how it’s not cute when everyone wears the same thing. I like to find pieces in the most random places I can, and incorporate them just as randomly. So my outfits never look like I pulled them straight off a mannequin. I will wear jeans and t-shirts, but I don’t think you’d ever catch me in khaki shorts and a polo with flip-flops. I see fashion as always trying to push the envelope, and I try to do that. Subtle things: dressing gender ambiguously, dyeing my hair, wearing S&M gear on a Monday afternoon… I think it’s funny when you get reactions out of people just by what clothing and accessories you wear.
What inspires you right now?
Influences like eighties and nineties punk, new wave goth, club kid, leather, fetish and athletic gear. Honestly I get inspired from little things. Ideas pop into my head from I don’t know where and then I realize I can either make it, or find it on the Internet. I incorporate a little bit of everything into outfits and they sort of alternate in different ways.
Where do you like to party in Chicago?
Wherever the music is, really. Any place that has good music and room for me to dance is a-OK with me. The Empty Bottle, The East Room and Beauty Bar are places where I usually go out to. Some friends of mine throw parties there and you’ll usually catch me with my camera. DIY places, any seedy party in someone’s basement, loft or warehouse—I’m there. Mostly because that’s where the new music emerges, and usually make great places to take photos.
What makes you want to live here?
I love Chicago. Being in a large city is great. I’m inspired by things and people I see on the streets every day; there will always be something new to see and new faces to meet. And I believe it’s a city where anyone can make things happen. Even though it’s a big city, it’s still a small world.
—Interview and photograph by Isa Giallorenzo
Journalist Isa Giallorenzo was born in São Paulo, Brazil and has elected Chicago as her beloved home since 2009. She runs the street-style blog Chicago Looks and wants to see this town become one of the fashion capitals of the world.