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Structural Experiments for the Human Body

Drink Purple Milk

January 24 2016, 0 Comments
Alexandra Roxo and Natalia Leite are the brains behind the creative powerhouse Purple Milk.
Together they produce films, webseries, and video content that have become a cult phenomenon within certain internet circles. Alexandra and Natalia's projects shine a floodlight on how our generation is experiencing sexuality and spirituality and playfully drags us with their uncanny characters and eerily familiar plotlines-- forging a whole new terrain for untold stories to be told. 
Purple Milk's impressive body of work includes popular web series Be Here Nowish, a Vice documentary feature called Every Woman, and their latest film Bare, written and directed by Natalia starring Diana Agron and Paz de la Huerta.

We brought Chromat, Natalia, Alexandra, and photographer Kelly Kai together for a day under the California sun and talked about their experiences as queer women in the film industry, finding self love and acceptance on both coasts, and making amazing things happen by being true to yourself. 


On Natalia: Neoprene Sports Bra and Ponte Garter Pant | On Alexandra: Perforated Underwire Bralette and Mesh Running Pant

The second season of Be Here Nowish plays off of the spiritually 'woke' + fit LA lifestyle—how does being physically active impact the rest of your life? 

Natalia: Definitely! Being physically active means I have more energy throughout the day. In New York, everyone walks a bunch, so you are constantly moving, which I love. When I'm in LA, Alexandra motivates me to go on runs and do spin classes before meditating, which was the best way to start our day together.

Alexandra: If I’m not exercising, meditating, and orgasming on a regular basis, I turn into an evil Medusa! Exercise is really grounding, so those of us with a lot of air in our astro charts need it to not fly away! I actually started dancing when I was a kid and always did physical stuff—kickboxing in middle school, cheerleading, soccer in high school, yoga and more dance. Part of moving to LA for me was because I really need daily exercise and sun.  Also I love to eat, so if I don’t work out I can’t eat as much. Boring!

On Alexandra: Neoprene Tri Top and Mesh Running Pant | On Natalia: Neoprene Sports Bra and Double Stripe Biker Short

What kind of physical activities do you like to do and why?

N: I love kickboxing and yoga. I used to bike everywhere when I lived in San Francisco but now that's less practical in New York. I'll still go on bike rides with friends when I can. 

A:  I do a bunch of different stuff so I don’t get bored. Yesterday, I did a spinning class to Justin Bieber and George Michael, then I hiked for two hours this morning with a friend, which was also talk therapy. I’ve also been doing stoner yoga at this place Wanderlust with another friend. I love the adventure of all the weird classes in LA–I do Class Pass which is perfect for a Gemini rising who can’t just do one thing.  It’s all fun to me. Exercise classes are part of my social life after moving to LA and I love that.  “Let’s get coffee and then work out!” 

How do you think living in LA vs NYC affects your artistic work? Do you see yourself ever moving back to NYC?

N: There are reasons to love both cities, so for me, I never wanted to choose one or the other. It's been a dream to be bicoastal so I'm trying to make that work now. So far, it's been possible because we've managed to create work that takes us to New York & LA. In New York, I'm inspired by being around all different types of people and the movement of the city, but the pace and the weather can also be overwhelming so it's nice to escape to LA where there's more space and nature, especially for writing new material. It literally feels like time moves slower in LA than New York. 

A:  Last year I was super bi-costal.  And living out of a suitcase just got too intense for me. And also dating in two different cities was a little intense, and my friends never knew where I was.  So I made the LA leap!  And I’ve been LOVING it.  Natalia is back and forth, and with Facetime we can work together easily. For me, the sun and space really feed my inner artist. I get up early, watch the sun rise, meditate, exercise, and feel calm. I'm an empath, so in NYC I absorb a lot of energy and get really exhausted.  Here I can recharge quickly! But I think I’ll be back and forth to NYC a lot because some of my besties are there. 


On Alexandra: Perforated Leather Underwire Bralette and Mesh Running Pant | On Natalia: Neoprene Sports Bra and Ponte Garter Pant

In the second season of Be Here Nowish, Karley Sciortino's character Aurora encourages Natalia’s character Nina to be "a strong feminist who's in control of her destiny." What does that mean to you? 

N: In that scene it was a joke, cause that word "feminism" get tossed a bunch now and it's meaning becomes elusive. But for me, that statement is about taking charge of your life and owning your choices, realizing that you are the only one that is responsible for your future, and that is be very empowering. It was also something that was reflected in Bare. 

A:  To me, that means being yourself and allowing yourself to live in the fullest you, and recognizing when and why you don’t embody the fullest you, what people you dim yourself around and what people encourage you to be the brightest you—if you can let your light be as bright as possible, to me thats living your destiny.  Cheesy but true.

At Outfest this year, Natalia described her film BARE as “a story of a girl who is finding out she can break out of whatever box she was born into.” What life experiences enabled you two to take agency early in your career? 

N: The script was inspired by my own experiences discovering my sexuality and moving away from home, and realizing that I didn't have to be limited to the choices that were presented for me at birth. When I was in my late teens, I met someone like the Paz de la Huerta character who influenced this view and inspired me to create change. 

A: I’ve always been a self-starter.  I started working when I was 12, and came from a family with not a lot of money, and I had to figure out how to do what I wanted: take dance classes, how to get to college, get the shoes I wanted.  If I wanted to do something, I knew it meant a lot of hard work and if it meant two jobs full-time to make the art I wanted to make, I would just make it happen.



Perforated Leather Underwire Bralette and Mesh Running Pant

If you could say one thing to your 21-year-old self, what would you say? To each other?

N: The advice I always give myself, and also to Alexandra and our partnership, which is to just be true to you. To make choices that are true to your heart and learn to listen to that more than any other influence. 

A: To myself I would say, "Love yourself!  And your body.  Don’t look for external validation from partners and don’t waste your precious energy dieting. You’re perfect!”  (It took me until literally 2015 to accept my body and love it for all its glory.  Which means I wasted so many of my mega-hot years worrying about calories and if I was fat.  MAJOR BUMMER. But better late than never! )  To Natalia, I would say, “Dang girl!  You’re cool as hell! I wanna be your friend!” 

Neoprene Bustier and B-Ball Short (coming soon!)

You described the making of your first feature film BARE as “2 young queer women running the show, having to deal with some people who weren’t used to women being in charge and we had to learn quickly how to put our foot down.” What has your experience been like as queer women in the film industry?

N: We both learned a lot in making Bare, because we were shooting in a small town in New Mexico and dealing with crew that had never worked with us before. And we were in charge, as two 5'4" women, and some of the men clearly were not used to that. One day, this guy from the crew called me "little one." I corrected him immediately and pointed out that he would never call a director "little one" if that director was a man. In these situations we have to always step up and call people out on the bullshit, cause most of the time they don't even realize that what they are doing is demeaning. 

A:  Being a woman in the industry can be tough.  Just today we got an email “Love the show but we have a ton of female content now.  Sorry!”  Really?!  Would you say to a man.  “Love the show!  But we have a lot of male content!”  No.  That stuff pisses me off.  We have both had to pull out some whoop-ass on-set.  We’ve both screamed/protected ourselves and our art at times when people were being terrible.  But this year–on-set for Be Here Nowish season 2, a commercial we did, and our Vice pilot–people really respected us and it felt easy.  

Full Arc Sneaker and Sport Lace-Up Sandal

Favorite thing about the other person?

N: Hard to pick one cause there are several! But I would say that her sense of humor is a big one–laughing together is such an important part of the work!–and her constant support and love for us as collaborators; she is incredibly attentive. In Bare, I was directing a feature for the first time and there were so many hurdles. But we overcame each one together, and Alexandra was just a constant pillar of support through it all. 

A:  I love Natalia’s sense of inner calm and strength.  She can be as cool as a cucumber in any situation.  I’ve known her for three years and we have been in some VERY stressful situations together and Natalia will stay strong and calm and together and it’s really really noble, admirable, and beautiful. Like a queen.  And the great part about that is the flip-side of her that I love that’s like “Oh no girl.  Now it’s time to let loose!” That’s when we sing in the car at the top of our lungs or get drunk and pull out mad samba moves at parties.  It’s a beautiful combo in her.

What are some ways you challenge each other?

N: I think we challenge each other in the sense that we really help each other grow in both our professional and personal lives, which are so tied together. It's like, if someone is going through a tough relationship or having a family issue, then we are there to help us see the truth in those situations, and we can really push each other to overcome them, or let go of patterns that are blocking us from being our best selves. 

A:  We push each other in ways that no on else can.  Well maybe family, but with family it’s different.  They aren’t in your creative life.  Creativity is like a baby and we’ve been sharing and parenting that baby together for a while. We’ve spent so much time together in the last three years, working in extremely close proximity, sharing space, money, creativity—all VERY personal things.  And when you have someone with you through those moments, you can’t hide from issues, you have to face them.


On Alexandra: Uniform Top and Bouloux Short | On Natalia: Neoprene Bustier and B-Ball Short (coming soon!)

Are there any other women in your life that give you life? If so, how integral are they to your creativity and work?

N: Many. My sister is someone I always really admire. And my girlfriend, who is a big source of inspiration and motivates me to think big. Also so many wonderful friends in my life, some that I've collaborated with, like Dagmar Weaver Madsen, who was our Director of Photography on Be Here Nowish. 

A:  Yes!  My mom always is challenging me and encouraging me and she is always amazed at my work which is really awesome.  Sometimes you just need a great cheerleader from the side line.  She is always there SO excited about the work. And my ex-girlfriend Orian Barki, who is a best friend, has been so integral in the Purple Milk journey–we met right before we put out Be Here Nowish and Every Woman and she also came and worked on Bare–so she was an intense supporter during the last two years, always listening, encouraging and telling me not to give up.  She is one of my dear soul mates and I think we will always be creatively connected.  My circle of lady friends (you know who you are) give me so much life on a daily basis.  I’m super grateful.

Purple Milk has come so far since filming the first season of Be Here Nowish in 2013. What do you think the biggest takeaway is from creating this body of work together? 

N: Its been such an amazing journey. We took some risks in the content we created–being vulnerable (and sometimes naked) on screen, creating an HIV+ character, making a comedy out of situations that most people take so seriously, like in the plant medicine ceremony–and the response has been so rewarding. I think the big takeaway is just to be ourselves in our work always, and the right people will connect with it. 

A:  That we can do anything.  Literally, we had no money coming into this.  No agents or connects or anything.  And we would just go talk to people together.  Encourage each other.  Say “We don’t give a fuck!  We are just gonna do it!”  Of course, we pissed some people off along the way (Sorry!),  but we did it.

On Alexandra: Perforated Leather Underwire Bralette and Mesh Running Pant | On Natalia: Neoprene Sports Bra and Ponte Garter Pant


On Natalia: Neoprene Bustier and B-Ball Short (coming soon!) | On Alexandra: Uniform Top and Bouloux Short

What has your experience been sharing your work with the world?

N: It's scary at times, because we all naturally have moments of worrying about what other people are going to think. But it's always worth doing. 

A:  It’s been intense.  Gratifying.  Terrifying.  Exhilarating.  The letters and tweets and emails and messages we get SLAY me.  I’m like “Thank you Goddess!”  ‘Cause no matter how “successful” you are as an artist, you always need encouragement.  So getting that feels really good.

On Alexandra: Uniform Top and Bouloux Short | On Natalia: Neoprene Bustier and B-Ball Short (coming soon!)

What article of clothing or way of presenting makes you feel powerful?

N: I've been really into tailored high-waisted dress pants lately. Like Marlene Dietrich inspired. 

A:  I love heels.  Platforms mainly cause lets be real, walking in stilettos sucks.  I like to dress in a way that embraces my curves.  I spent years trying to make my body skinny and wear skinny girl clothes.  It’s just not my body!  And in order to look like that, I basically have to starve myself, which is awful.  So I said, “fuck skinny jeans unless they have mad stretch and a high waist!” and now I wear things that accentuate my ass, which I love dearly, and my waist, and I like to feel like a woman, which makes me feel powerful.


Cortex Performance Mesh Bra and Sheer Arc Biker Short

What's your favorite Chromat piece and why? 

N: Love the Underwire Bralette. So sexy and versatile. 


Underwire Bralette

A: I just got some Chromat lingerie, which I am very excited about–it's gonna look great with some ropes and leather in the bedroom.


Harness Bra

What was your experience shooting with Kelly Kai and (Alexandra's) mom?

N: So fun! We love Kelly's work. We know even if we are doing a pretzel yoga pose for the camera, it will still look hot if Kelly's shooting it. 

A: Kelly has shot photos of us for years!  Since the first Witches parties in Bushwick.  She is the best.  We had a lot of fun on-set.   Mom kept giving suggestions, which was pretty cute.  Stage mom ;) It was really sweet to have her there.

On Alexandra: Cortex Performance Mesh Bra and Aaliyah Running Pant | On Natalia: Cortex Performance Mesh Bra and Sheer Arc Biker Short

What’s next for Purple Milk?

N: We've been creating new content with Vice lately, and also developing new scripts. 

A: We have bunches of other ideas for things and wanna make more episodes of Be Here Nowish so if anyone out there wants to fund more give us a holler ;)

On Alexandra: Neoprene Tri Top and Mesh Running Pant | On Natalia: Neoprene Sports Bra and Double Stripe Biker Short



Watch Be Here Nowish Season One on Youtube and Season Two on Vimeo (Enter promo code “Chromat” after you click “rent” to watch for free!)

Rent BARE on iTunes

Watch their VICE documentary

And follow @drinkpurplemilk with @alexandraroxopm and @natalialeitepm on Instagram!

All photos by Kelly Kai, Jewelry on Alexandra by Ruby Star

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