In Conversation with Artist Bryan Villalobos and Her Muse Martine Gutierrez on the 21st Century "Dream Girl"
Film by Bryan Villalobos
Interview by Bryan Villalobos and Martine Gutierrez
Dating and navigating your twenties is kind of a nightmare... It's more of a horror story when you transcend the gender binary. After meeting over a year ago through mutual friends, creatives Bryan Villalobos and Martine Gutierrez formed an instantaneous artist and muse connection. Inspired by their collaborative film, Dream Girl, they talk relationships, dating apps, and fitting and breaking societal ideals in twenty first century New York City.
Dream Girl is for that girl who feels like she's not enough. For that girl whose emotions and feelings are incredibly overwhelming. For that girl who is made to feel crazy, delusional, unstable, unworthy, ugly. For that girl whose heart has been broken time after time and will continue to be broken. For that girl who has always known who she is even when everyone else is in disbelief. For that girl who, through all of it, will manage to get back on her feet. Dream Girl is me. Dream Girl is you.
Bryan: So we’re recording now. Hi this is Bryan.
Martine: Hi, Martine.
Bryan: Wait, how did we meet?
Martine: I actually don’t remember.
Bryan: Wait, I do.
Bryan: We met at The Gateway. And there was like a drag show.
Martine: Oh no!
Bryan: Yes. And you came—I remember you were wearing like this, your waist trainer, and I was talking to Lao, Yuki and Third.
Martine: Yes. I came to see Third perform.
Bryan: Yes, yes, yes! Third was performing that night.
Martine: And it was so good.
Bryan: Yeah, so good.
Martine: What did she do? She did—
Bryan: I forgot, she did a really good song though.
Martine: Yeah it was really good. She had like a fringe hat on.
Martine: OMG I love how you remember I had a waist trainer on.
Bryan: I only remember because Third was literally like, "If you’re not waist training, you’re not trans." And I was like “I guess I’m not trans.”
Martine: I’m waist-training right now.
Bryan: OMG hot. I’m definitely not.
Martine: But you have real pants on.
Bryan: Yeah but literally the button fell off today.
Martine: So I guess you better start training your waist!
Bryan: I guess so! Oh my gosh. What was your first impression of me?
Martine: Honestly, I wasn’t there to see you, so…
Martine: ...We didn’t meet then because I like knew of you. But I remember seeing you I think it was at Happy Fun Hideaway. Or it was at Secret Project Robot and you were like in the backyard with your friends. And I was like hi, and we didnt—
Bryan: This was after we met?
Martine: This was after we met, but I remembered meeting you and I wanted to talk to you, but we had nothing to talk about. But I remember really liking you and being like—
Bryan: I was like, oh my god, okay like damn. It was a little intimidating, I’m not gonna lie.
Bryan: A little bit, but then like you started talking and I was like “Wait, she is so sweet.” I was like I need to photograph her, or I need her to be like—
Martine: I didn’t even know! I remember when we did photograph, I had no idea. I had no idea how much fun it was going to be.
Bryan: Neither did I. I loved directing you.
Martine: I loved taking directions from you.
Bryan: So easy. It’s so easy, cause you get it. I’m like do this, and... then you do it.
Martine: For quotes what she just did was suck cheeks into mouth, put hand on forehead, like a fan of feathers.
Bryan: And she did it.
Martine: And I did it. I did that, exact thing.
Bryan: But yeah, that’s [where] the inspiration for this video kind of came from. I don’t know, well I mean I knew that I wanted to shoot you. And I was like "She’s a dream girl." Then I was like, let’s call it "Dream Girl." ... When we were making the video I was kind of thinking of how intense it is, dating, but also being trans. And how just crazy it gets. How overwhelming it is. And how emotional it is. [The] strong heartaches that we go through because we’re either fetishized or turned away. There’s never—it’s very rare to find something that’s real or what you feel is real.
Martine: Right. Something that feels like someone connecting with you on a personal level regardless of what your genitalia is. And It’s hard, cause I feel like, well we were just talking about Tinder. And... it’s very much that. Like two circles that kind of overlap in a very small area. Decent guys that actually ask you questions about yourself and not questions about your body.
Bryan: Right like they genuinely want to get to know you. But then there comes a point when they are like, “So like what’s going on down there. And like what’s happening.” Which gets very overwhelming and you’re like “Um, I’m not ready to talk about this.“ Cause I mean it’s just like so many aggressive guys on there too, that really will just be like “You’re a fucking man, you’re a man. Stop fucking, like I don’t want to fucking swipe with you. Blah, blah.” And it’s like dude you swiped right.
Bryan: Like you didn’t have to swipe on me...
Martine: You didn’t have to engage with me at all.
Bryan: Yeah, actually. Like you really didn’t. And just because you’re so desperate to have that validation of having connections, getting those notifications of "You got a match!" Like they are so desperate for it, that they swipe right, literally on everyone, and then from there whoever they match with, they filter through. Which it’s just like more work. Like what are you guys doing?
Bryan: Which doesn’t make sense.
Martine: It doesn’t make sense. I feel like that’s the biggest, I think the most consistent way I’ve found Tinder to work. I only say yes—I literally look at a guy and [think] “Would I kiss him?” That’s like my first question... and if not, I’m like “Sorry, no.” And it’s already like, I want to say the word vain, but I feel like that’s the wrong word. It’s just very like a narcissistic kind of app.
Bryan: Oh Yeah. Well yeah. It’s fully based on looks.
Martine: Your appearance.
Bryan: You’re just judging someone by their looks, and like, yeah you can swipe up to read their bios if they have fun.
Martine: Right, but has that ever really swayed any of us?
Martine: Like maybe four percent.
Bryan: Yeah. I’m not like "Oh, this guy is not okay looking, but let’s read his profile to see if his personality is great." Cause nine times out of ten it’s probably shitty.
Martine: Yeah, sometimes. And sometimes there is a clever one and I’m still like “Would I kiss him?” Nope.
Martine: And then, I don’t know, that doesn’t mean that I wouldn’t kiss him in real life if I met him. The reality is that if that person, let’s say he just chooses bad photographs or something. If we were to be in a bar and he was like really charismatic and funny and charming I’d probably be like "Oh, like whatever." But that’s not Tinder. Tinder is something very specific.
Bryan: Yeah, I feel like a lot of the time people think they're going on there to find the love of their life.
Martine: OH NO!
Bryan: Like that’s not what it is. It’s like Grindr for straight people.
Martine: That’s exactly what it is.
Bryan: That’s what it is. And it’s just like, I mean there’s that but then like, it’s just a strange universe in itself. And it’s just like trying to date straight men and dating straight men is just already a nightmare, but then like—
Martine: Already a nightmare.
Bryan: Yeah, such a nightmare.
Martine: I was going to say that like label dating I haven’t even gotten to. Like it’s just seeing. Like seeing straight men. And that’s about all we can do.
Bryan: Yeah, I mean dating gay men is also not fun.
Martine: Oo talk about it.
Bryan: Well, it’s just like... it gets weird. I feel like I spent a lot of time after I started transitioning trying to be in romantic relationships with straight men, and I spent so much time trying to make myself feel like I looked very feminine, so I would look like somewhat passing. But then, when I’m attracted and try to date gay men, I find myself trying to look a little more butchier and a little more masculine... It's just like, such a weird in between. Cause it’s like well you’re gay so you’re obviously attracted to men, but like you know, It just gets really complicated.
Bryan: And like how many people are out here like “Oh, I’m pan-sexual. I date everyone." Like there’s literally, it’s like a diamond in a row.
Martine: Yeah that’s true. A diamond in the rough
Bryan: What did I say? A diamond in the row?
Martine: Are you making like bread diamonds? Like pastries! A diamond in the row. It’s a new kind of day at the dead bread.
Bryan: I work in a bakery.
Bryan: Yeah, dating can be "oh so complicated."
Martine: It sucks. It sucks cause I know that I feel very safe and comfortable around gay men.
Bryan: Yes, absolutely.
Martine: Like whether we’re seeing each other romantically or not... Because [the] pressures you said, the pressures to confine yourself to this very femme ideal are just, they’re not. I don't feel them and I don’t feel like I’m making him uncomfortable by not following them... He already likes people that have facial hair. I don’t have to worry about not shaving.
Martine: I don’t have to worry about like, I guess that’s it. That’s the biggest one.
Bryan: Yeah, I feel like that’s what I mean—
Martine: —wearing make up.
Bryan: I can be butchier and I could just be like lazier, almost.
Martine: Yeah, it’s lazier.
Bryan: I don’t have to worry like “Oh shit, I need to shave or otherwise."
Martine: Right. But it’s also, I guess it’s like clothing has so much to do with it. Like how we dress our bodies, whether the clothing is really gendered itself or like the silhouette creates our gender.
Bryan: Yeah. Exactly.
Martine: And I feel like there’s a huge like—
Bryan: I mean it’s easier for cis girls to dress in a butchier, boyish look and still look really femme... But for us I feel like sometimes it’s not. I mean at least for me. It’s a little harder because I do have a broader build.
Martine: But we still do it.
Bryan: Oh yeah, no I definitely do it.
Martine: And you make it look cunt sis. You look great. I would call this a butch look and you look fantastic.
Bryan: This is what I wore to work today.
Bryan: Yeah. Thanks.
Martine: I was in pajamas for most of the day on my computer.
Bryan: Are you still not?
Martine: Ummm. SHADE!
Bryan: But I love what you do.
Bryan: Your work is amazing. It’s like "Hi!" but like weird at the same time.
Martine: Oh my god, Thank you!
Bryan: I love it though. It’s so like, It’s very you, you know? What inspires you?
Martine: What inspires me? I think the same thing that inspires most non-binary people, which is ourselves. Not to toot our own horns, but I just think there’s so much that we have to grapple with in terms of one coming to terms with how we want to identify, or how we perceive ourselves, and then to ask the world to also perceive that. Whether it’s validation or whether it’s just loving yourself, which sounds so corny, I feel like that just makes for a [much] richer person.
Bryan: Revolve around your identity.
Martine: Yeah. But also how do we construct identity at large?
Bryan: Yeah, absolutely.
Martine: Because all these questions like how I am framed or how you’re framed or how anyone who is not binary is framed is, it’s just like easy to swallow and those questions don’t have to be asked nor would they come up. Cause it’s not like you leave your house and someone verbally abuses you, you know what I mean?
Bryan: As opposed to when we leave our house. I mean I literally was on my way to a concert last night and some guy who is like probably on drugs or something literally came up to me and my friend was like trying to talk to us and he was like “Hey ladies" and then he looked at me and he goes "Oh sorry, you’re a dude.” And then like sat down. And we like, I was trying so hard not to talk to him and say anything but he just sat down was like “You know, if you’re going to do this lady thing, you should shave your legs and cross your legs when you sit. You shouldn’t put your feet up. Blah blah.” Like all this fucking shit and I was just like “Are you fucking serious?” Like it was so —
Martine: Oh my god! You didn’t tell me all that.
Bryan: Yeah it happened last night like before I got to the concert.
Martine: You just told me that a crack head verbally assaulted you.
Bryan: Yeah... I’m pretty sure he was a crack head. Cause his eyes were blood shot crazy and he was just weird.
Martine: I’m so sorry. I remember not too long ago an incident like that. I actually started a note in my iPhone of like when I’m presenting or like when I make an effort to present femme verse, when I guess I am presenting masculine, or make an effort to butch it up, to be more anonymous. So I don’t have to warrant the attention of men. And it’s crazy, all of the femme comments were either like “YAS, SLAY, GODDESS" or like “FAGGOT”. Oh god where’s my phone. I don’t remember all of them. I guess I am trying not to remember them.
Bryan: It gets so wild. And it’s just, I mean I feel like what I do, just for my day job, I work as a delivery driver. And I show up to work in clothes that I’m comfortable in and don’t have to worry, don’t have to worry about messing up or anything. And my call times are so early that I don’t have time to, I’m not going to put on make-up and do my hair and bother doing all these things just to go fucking get dirty all day. But the amount of times I get called sir, it just like—
Martine: Fucks with you!
Bryan: It fucks with me. And it drives me insane. And it’s just like, our turn around rate for employees is kind of like, you know people are in and out basically. So it’s not like I have to tell people, but it’s a thing where they’ll call me “he” for a few weeks until someone is like “Oh, she goes by she.” Or they get really confused when I walk into the women’s locker room. And they are like, "Why are you going in there?" And it’s like, um because I’m a woman. I don’t know what else to say.
Bryan: I don’t know it’s a constant struggle. To just like be, you know, feel comfortable like everyone views you the way you view yourself.
Martine: I can’t find it. And I hate that I’m looking for it, cause my attention is split.
Bryan: Yeah... it’s not easy.
Martine: No. And It’s not easy for a lot of people who are living a lot of different lives regardless of—
Bryan: I mean I feel like we are both very lucky. In certain ways.
Bryan: I mean we don’t need to turn to like sex work or anything like that to stay alive. Which is really unfortunate cause a lot of trans women do that. And it’s like, you know, if that’s what you have to do, then that’s what you have to do. That’s okay, but it’s also very dangerous. And it’s scary... Even if it’s just for fun, it’s still scary cause you don’t know what they are going to do to you. Anyway. What do you think dream girl is? What does it mean to you?
Martine: The title or aspirationally existing as?
Bryan: I think just more the short film. What did it mean to you to be a part of it?
Martine: I love coming into a project, especially when it’s not my own work, cause I am so analytical or have so much mapped out before even starting that the process itself feels like less of an exploration almost more of just getting to a destination. And working with you, I had no idea what your work was like and I had no idea what it would be like working with you, let alone what I would be doing that whole day. Like you just had me bring a fuck ton of shoes,
Bryan: Yeah I always make girls bring shoes cause it's just easier.
Martine: Yeah. And I was just like “Okay” and you were like “You’re okay with being wet right?” And I was just like “Yes.” “What’s gonna happen!?” “I can’t wait.” Like “throw me off a cliff.”
Bryan: But that’s the thing you were so ready to be like “Okay.” I love that cause I mean I understand that some people... have their reservations and they are very uncomfortable about certain things, so that’s why I had to find the need to have to ask cause I know a lot of the time people show up to shoots and aren’t asked to do things pre-shoot. And then they get there and they feel obligated to do it even if they are uncomfortable.
Martine: Oh my god, this sounds like having sex.
Bryan: YES! Oh my god.
Martine: You just explained my last date. “ Am I obligated to give him a blow job?”
Bryan: Yeah, I mean you’re not.
Martine: “He bought all the drinks?”
Bryan: Yeah, but you’re not obligated to do that. But it’s like you feel this weird uneasy pressure that if you don’t he’s going to probably attack you or something is just going to go wrong.
Bryan: But God forbid, you fucking like try to put your finger in their asshole. That’s when all of a sudden they know what consent means. They’re like “Oh I don’t like this, no you’re not doing that.” Okay, yeah. Put your dick in my ear, it’s fine. Like what?! Guys are disgusting.
Martine: That’s how I feel about dick pics. I feel like if I didn’t ask for it, I don’t want it! And if I want one I want one nice one. I don't need like seven of the same moment like at different angles. I don’t need to see your sphincter.
Bryan: I don’t need to see your ashy dick like that’s, it’s just so ehh. The amount of disgusting dick pics i’ve received, unwanted like 98 percent of the time, and they are always like not cute. And like even if they were cute, it’s like I didn’t ask for this. Like there’s this time, I was at work and this guy messaged me on Grindr, and was like "Hey you work here, right? Every time I see you my dick gets hard." And then sent me a dick pic.
Martine: That’s kinda hot.
Bryan: Okay, but also like I don’t feel okay about this. Someone is clearly watching me, they know where I work and they’ve seen me there, like they’re watching me, that’s really creepy. I don’t know and then like the person who works in front of house was like, I like went in the back to tell a manager cause I was like “Hey just so you know, I don’t really, like I just want this to be aware, like I just don’t feel safe at the moment." And when I went back to talk to the girl at front of house, she was like someone who fit the description of that guy was in the store and it's not one of our typical customers that comes in the morning. And I was just like “Yikes.”
Martine: And what was the description of this guy? Tall? Handsome? Mysterious?
Martine: One eye?
Bryan: I didn’t know what he looked like... But either way don’t send me a dick pic. I just need to know what your face looks like I need to like, try to like—
Martine: Ugh, that’s the other thing, I want to see your face, I want to see your whole body.
Bryan: I want to see everything.
Bryan: Not starting with your penis.
Martine: When are men going to learn there’s like a narrative to seduction, and it doesn’t start in your pants.
Bryan: It also starts with consent. Guys. Consent. Huge one. Making that aware. Just in case for those in the back. But yeah. Anyways.
Bryan: i feel like, not to change subject, but here we go. Dream girl as a concept was kind of like all those feelings of rejection and being overwhelmed by feelings. And being made to feel like you’re crazy or like you’re mentally unstable, by these scared cis dudes who don’t know what they want. But like you got to trust your intuition, girl. And if you feel something you feel something. I don’t know.
Martine: I think that’s T.
Bryan: That’s fucking T. Okay we’re done.