Above: Cover and sample pages from “Charlie’s Best Work Yet” by Ris iRAWniQ Anderson. Illustrated by Liser. Click to view as slideshow.
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Grace Jones and Grandma are Heroes in
“Charlie’s Best Work Yet”
a vibrant new children’s book by nonbinary author
Ris iRAWniQ Anderson
For most people, gender rebel icon Grace Jones is not the first person to come to mind when one thinks of a children’s book. Then again, most people aren’t L.A.-based nonbinary author, alternative hip hop artist, mother and activist Ris iRAWniQ Anderson. The just published “Charlie’s Best Work Yet,” in which an androgynous fifth grader finds a hero in Jones, is the latest in a career aswirl with colorfully avant-garde projects.
In the vibrantly illustrated book, iRAWniQ tells the semiautobiographical story of Charlie, a shy, artistic young girl who is uplifted and empowered to be her true self by the women in her life. Star basketball player Devin encourages her to enter the school talent show. A photo of Grace Jones fires her imagination. Bus driver Ms. Bobbi compliments her on her “rad” outfits and dismissal of bullies. Her unconventional grandma inspires her to create, be unique and dress as she pleases.
“I wanted to write a book that I would have loved as a child, one that was safe enough for my Christian mom to buy, but also abstract enough so that kids like me would gravitate toward it,” says iRAWniQ of “Charlie’s Best Work Yet.”
“Charlie’s Best Work Yet” by Ris iRAWniQ Anderson is published by Charlie Girl Publishing LLC and widely available on major platforms, including Amazon and Barnes & Noble and to order at independent bookstores everywhere. Follow the author @irawniq and book @charliesbestworkyet.
Below, expanded press release with more about the book, Grace Jones, and iRAWniQ’s top surgery, hip hop music, co-starring in the films of J.B. Ghuman, Jr., and working with at-risk teens.
“Charlie is inspired by my life as well as the synergy I have with my friend Liser, who illustrated the book (Charlie is Liser as far as looks go),”explains iRAWniQ. “I actually embody Devin, who physically and spiritually portrays how I always wanted to look as a kid. Devin is Charlie’s conscience in human form. She is ahead of the game and equipped with a sense of self; the manifestation of everything Charlie wants to express. (I use Devin as my Starbucks name.)”
It’s Devin who wows Charlie with the photo of Jones, telling her, “Grace Jones is one of the most iconic artists ever. I mean, look at her style. Her hair. Her awesomeness. She wears whatever she wants. Her hair is chopped off like a boy’s, but she doesn’t care because she is living her truth.”
“I remember the first time seeing her on screen,” recalls iRAWniQ of Grace Jones in “Conan the Destroyer” at age 14. “The fierceness! The total dichotomy between gender as I knew it and what she represented! To see someone on the big screen who effortlessly defies gender norms in her everyday existence was groundbreaking for me. And a Black woman at that! I’ve been intrigued with her since that very day.
“So, when I decided to write ‘Charlie’s Best Work Yet,’ I chose to include her influence, because just like Charlie and myself, we lacked fluid feminine/masculine energy in role models growing up. Grace is someone I take pride in because she is very much a familiar narrative. She represents a culture that I represent. Our community. And she will forever remain an icon for BIPOC everywhere.”
Growing up as Carissa Anderson in Grand Rapids, Michigan was not easy, but by tapping into themselves, iRAWniQ began to look at the world through a new lens, to see humanity as one. A move to Los Angeles ten years ago to pursue a music career sparked the activist in RAW. From advocating for potable water for the folks back in Flint, to defying gender norms, iRAWniQ is on a mission to uplift and empower all people to speak out while remaining proud of their chosen identity.
“I’m right smack dab in the middle when it comes to the gender spectrum!” says iRAWniQ, who in 2019 chose to have top surgery as a means of aesthetic non-binary self-expression. “It’s important that my nonbinary-ness is not umbrellaed under ‘Trans.’ I never identified with breasts; they were always in the way or mad uncomfortable. I believe nipples are a construct, which is why I didn’t have mine reattached. It’s funny how boobs are glamorized in cis culture, but looked down upon if a woman pops her titty out to feed her young.”
Hip Hop Artist
As an eccentric hip hop artist, iRAWniQ speaks truth to power. Their trippy “Alien Pu$” (“Alien Pussy”) video, from the 2016 “Black Girls on Skateboards” album, co-starred Tatum O’Neal and featured iRAWniQ as an alien Rosa Parks. (“Not too many indie dikes are uplifting Rosa Parks in an avant-garde way!”) In “No One Said it Would be Easy,” a glammed up iRAWniQ rhymes about perseverance in the face of adversity. And in “Cunt,” they call out bullshit, while pointedly reclaiming the slur. (“When you call me a ‘cunt,’ don’t forget to capitalize the ‘C’!”)
America’s Next Top Model
iRAWniQ’s newest video, a collaboration with longtime friend Lisa D’Amato, the winner of “America’s Next Top Model: All Stars (Cycle 17),” is an anti-bullying ditty in which the two artistically shed light on the shade suffered by the shows contestants.
As an actor, iRAWniQ co-starred with Cazwell, Jake Shears and Mayhem Miller in innovative director J.B. Ghuman, Jr.’s visual-sonic journey “The (ART) oF BE(i)NG,” which screened at OutFest and the Sundance Film Festival. They return as the voice of Tickles in Ghuman’s forthcoming “The Crown with a Shadow,” an animated short about a fish who can morph its gender, also starring the voices of Paul Rubens, Jerri Halliwell, and Tatum O’Neal. Ghuman, who is known for his 2011 film “SPORK,” also directed iRAWniQ’s “Alien Pu$” and “No One Said it Would Be Easy” videos.
iRAWniQ can also be seen in more down-to-earth projects such as playing a bartender on the Starz series “Vida,” being featured in the forthcoming Facebook Nonbinary Pride ad directed by Rhys Ernst (“Adam,” 2019) and appearing with their son in the Ad Council’s High School Equivalency Campaign ad, for which iRAWniQ an ambassador. They shot the ad, which was just renewed for a third year, after answering a casting call for a high school dropout.
iRAWniQ has since completed their GED, earned a BA in Sociology and Psychology, and is currently working on their Masters in Social Work at California State University in Northridge. For the last 10 years, iRAWniQ’s nine-to-five has been as an intervention specialist for at-risk 9th to 12th grade students at a high school, working with school police, counselors and probation to mediate and deescalate issues when they arise.
iRAWniQ lives in Los Angeles and can often be found skating with their 12 year old “shy, yet brilliant boy.”
“Charlie’s Best Work Yet” by Ris iRAWniQ Anderson is published by Charlie Girl Publishing LLC and distributed by IngramSpark and widely available on major platforms, including Amazon and Barnes & Noble and to order at independent stores everywhere.
Publisher : Charlie Girl Publishing LLC
Language : English
Hardcover : 74 pages
ISBN-10 : 057881367X
ISBN-13 : 978-0578813677
Reading age : 7 – 11 years
Item Weight : 1.18 pounds
Dimensions : 8.5 x 0.31 x 11 inches
Below, the many faces of iRAWniQ. Tap any image to view as slideshow with photo credits.
Go to the “Charlie’s Best Work” project page.
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