Universe Of: Ungelbah Dávila - October 11, 2012

"I’m hoping to find someone with a barn who will let me hang photos, host a fashion show, and have an all around dango-rific hillbilly shindig"

Photo: by Minie G

Ungelbah Dávila’s lineage can be traced back to the outlaws of the American West, the Spanish land-grant settlers, and the Ashiihi clan of the Diné. She is a writer, poet, photographer, videographer, model, and muse—she is a queen of all trades who draws inspiration from her own multiculturalism as well as punk rock, honky tonk, and the likes of Dwight Yoakam, Lydia Lunch, Bunny Yeager, and Viña Delmar. Dávila is the creator and editor of the online publication La Loca Magazine.

Icons And Heros

And Willie sings, “My heroes have always been cowboys, and they still are it seems....” An AM station plays rhinestone cowboy, urban, 80s honky-tonk, Straight, Brooks, Jackson, and Yoakam, bedtime stories, lullabies, coasting down a dark I-40 night, lit up by occasional cities, towns, headlights, and I’m small enough to fit on the floor of my parents’ Chevy, tucked between feet, and a black kitten perched behind my mother’s head. Images of whiskey bottles, neon moons, and blue eyes crying in the rain follow me. I see trains everywhere.

Makeup, Dress-up

I never met aunt Rose, but I imagine she must have been quite a lady. Nana would visit her in San Francisco and come back to the ranch with trash bags full of costume jewelry and vintage high society hand-me-down dresses. We didn’t have electricity in our cabin, two miles into the pasture from Nana and Grandpa’s ranch house, so I made up stories and acted them out with the cats and my dread-locked poodle in aunt Rose’s old clothes. At the age of six, I was the only kid around who could put lipstick on perfectly, without a mirror. I loved becoming the characters in my imagination, in sagas that I’d often carry out for days. I’ve always felt that life is too boring being yourself all the time. Once in a while you need to be a princess, Marilyn Monroe, or Hunter S. Thompson.

Dive Bars And Music

I’m obsessed with neon. When I was putting together my book "Effigies II", which Salt Publishing UK is releasing later this year, I realized that 90 percent of my poems contain the word "neon." I remember being very little and hearing Brooks and Dunn’s “Neon Moon.” The imagery in that song has always stuck with me, just as the imagery in a lot of old country songs continues to influence me. There are so many poignant lyrics in those songs by the greats—Johnny Cash, Patsy Cline, Chris LeDoux, all three Hanks, Dwight Yoakam—that take my breath away, that achieve a profound human response that awes me. There are very few poems that affect me as deeply as, say, Yoakam’s song “1,000” for which I wrote a poem by the same title. Other people sit in their basements with a swinging light bulb and a typewriter and have poetic “conversations” with their favorite dead poets. I get more out of sitting under a neon moon and having conversations with Elvis on a cocktail napkin.

La Loca Magazine And Pinup-ology

I created La Loca Magazine two years ago. It’s New Mexico’s only rockabilly and vintage lifestyle magazine. We cover music, cars, burlesque, tattoos, shows and more. Even though it’s marketed as a “rockabilly” magazine, it transcends many subcultures. It’s online and it’s free, so go look at it here. We shoot and feature a pinup girl for La Loca every month, which is how La Loca Linda Pinup-ology came about. Carrie Tafoya, from Santa Fe, who is the most exceptional, multi-talented individual I know, is my main partner in crime for the pinups. We have expanded on the pinup genre, doing what I call post-pinup, and Carrie builds sets and costumes for the shoots. She’s done a Toontown set, a Mayan calendar for which she painted the model to match, an entire ballerina outfit, an incredible Aries the Ram costume, and right now she is working on welding a flying saucer together out of car parts and building a gargoyle costume that will make the model look like she’s made of stone from head to toe. By February we will be ready to start hustling galleries for a show, otherwise I’m hoping to find someone with a barn who will let me hang photos, host a fashion show, and have an all around dango-rific hillbilly shindig.