Knowledge is power
Try as her elders did to raise her up old-school, the Cuban/Mexican Oxnard-bred Christina Diaz eschewed traditional gender roles, choosing an education over what she saw as the bridge to nowhere that they were proposing. “You find a good man, you get knocked up, and you bow to him. You don’t use your brain,” she said, describing the path many of her female peers and family members chose. At 29, Diaz has a B.A. degree in English literature and an M.A. in English rhetoric and composition. She received zero accolades from the women who hoped to see her knee-deep in domestic responsibilities and did not attend her graduation. Though not barefoot, Diaz was six months pregnant when she accepted her master’s degree. Today, she is one of the lucky ones, a self-sufficient single mom working her dream job as editor of Agoura Hills-based Tattoo Savage magazine and loving every minute.

Guns and roses
Diaz’s newly christened Pistol Inc. has been operating as a nameless entity for the last year and a half, but when someone referred to her as “the chick who puts on shows,” she realized it might be time to make her venture more official-like. What began as a gesture of gratitude toward a local charity has grown into a successful venture, with the flagship body art and culture fundraiser Ink for a Cause at the county fairgrounds — which drew 5,000 people last year — and numerous art and music shows throughout Ventura County. She plans to take Ink for a Cause nationwide and was savvy enough to secure a web domain and applicable trademarks, but profit is not her objective. “I’m doing this to promote good people, to give back to the community that has made a difference in my life. I have a good job, a job I love. I have income — this is all for fun.”

The illustrated woman
At some point she lost count of her tattoos, but Diaz estimates that 60 percent of her body is inked, and at one time or another she’s had as many as 23 piercings. Facets of her personality are reflected through this expression, the most recent of which is a quill that extends from her forearm to her hand and the words “book worm” across her knuckles.

The way she communicates her identity via her body canvas is something she has spent considerable time contemplating. In her thesis “Textual Flesh: The Rhetoric of Body Politics,” Diaz explored the socio-political consequences of body modification. “You use your body as a text. People read your body. When you modify — cut your hair, pierce your ears, body-build — it says something about who you are.” But sometimes the message is lost in translation, depending on who’s reading; and despite a current trend toward social acceptance of body modification, there are still negative connotations associated with it, especially for women, she says. “Tattoos are seen as masculine — not ladylike.” Heavily modified females, says Diaz, are stereotyped as “rock stars, party animals or whores.” Yet, she posits, just about everyone is modified to one degree or another. “Technically, dying my hair red, shaving my armpits — it’s all altering your natural appearance. Losing weight, waxing your eyebrows, anything that alters your God-given appearance is body modification — whether it’s taboo or not,” says Diaz.   

Saturday, Aug. 21, Pistol Inc. presents “Ladies First” art and music show featuring Amber Foxx, The Southerners and Ju Ju Bones at Karma Lounge in Ventura. Ink for a Cause to benefit the Coalition to End Family Violence will be held Oct. 22-24 at Seaside Park in Ventura. For more information, visit www.inkforacause.com or add Pistol Productions on Facebook.

michel@vcreporter.com