Get To Know: Johanna Dias, Activist, Model, Club Angel and @selfiegod
Like a prayer.
Name: Johanna Dias
Star sign: Aries
Where did you grow up and where are you living now?
I was born in Holland, and before moving to Australia I lived in Thailand for four years, where I went to international school. Though I had travelled quite broadly when I was young, I was truly culture shocked for the first time upon moving from bustling Bangkok to driving past kangaroos on my way to school. As soon as school was behind me, I traded out to the city where I’ve been ever since.
What impact did those places have on you?
Moving here from Bangkok was almost very jarring for me, with life here being such a slow pace in comparison! I went from living in a high rise building with the city sky line as my outlook to a two storey town house in the suburbs overlooking the Blue Mountains. Thailand is one of the most beautiful places on this rotating sphere, however you don’t have to look far to see the class disparity. While we fortunate to live a very privileged life in comparison, my mother was always focussed on making me hyper aware of how different life was on the other end of the spectrum. We often went on bike rides with the Dutch community to the slums where I would realise just how well we had it, but also able to connect with the children there, give them my old toys and hang out and be reminded we weren’t all that different.
If you had to describe yourself in five words…?
The river stage at Subsonic
I want to talk to you about sexuality, but I never know how to approach it. Do you feel powerful when you’re naked? Does nakedness even have anything to do with sexuality?
Nudity for me is not inherently sexual. While I do have the power to harness the sexual energy of my body, the beauty of this human experience is to have this squishy, amazing, organic vessel.
I am perhaps idealistic, but I do feel this has and continues to become more broadly accepted and witnessed by a lot of people, as we redefine our perceptions around sexuality. I am constantly inspired by the mounting wave of femmes celebrating, reclaiming and owning their bodies and through them reassured that a woman’s sexuality is hers alone.
You stood for marriage equality with your mum for Air BnB, did that mean special things for you?
I am truly fortunate for my mother to have instilled a tremendous sense of normalcy towards being LGBT when I was growing up, and to be able to honour that was a truly sacred experience. A lot of my friends experienced and still experience a complete inversion of that, so to be able to speak my truth and hopefully encourage at least one person to hopefully shift their perspective is the least I can do for those who did so much for me. I think it’s abhorrent that our attitudes towards people who identify different to us in terms of sexuality are still so regressive and incompassionate.
You’re obviously not afraid to be politically/socially impassioned, what else is important for you to do/change?
I am fascinated by Aboriginal culture and lore, Aboriginal sovereignty and self determination is something that I am very impassioned by. In my future endeavours I hope to be more proactively supporting that in whatever microcosmic way I possibly can, and is something I think we are all truly capable of. I love living in Australia and having the opportunity to call myself Australian, but can not remain complacent in the systemic displacement of one of this land’s traditional custodians. However, the cultural dissonance and disconnect make it impossible for us as modern Australians to determine what that looks like. I’m enjoying learning more about this, and by speaking to members of the community to understand how they envision that.
You model too. Was that a tricky job to submit to, given the fashion industry is often pretty problematic?
Some of my close friends and people I have partied with work across fashion in Sydney, so I’m lucky that the majority of the work I have done has been very much in the vein of my own approach to fashion, and most importantly has always been fun. You can’t take yourself too seriously in the fashion world, fashion isn’t about that. Not to me anyway. My mother and grandmother always loved to serve a look, and I followed suit. You create a mood, play dress ups, be fierce, fabulous or both and that, to me, is what fashion is about.
You’re a big part of Sydney’s House of Mince, right? Are music and dancing essential to your well-being?
The House of Mince saved my life. Having that space and community in which people connect and be themselves unapologetically is something I have the upmost gratitude for. My close friends and I all have the dance floor in common, and through those spaces have been able to evolve, grow and find solace in ourselves and each other. When my friends and I first started going out, I was so enamoured by the complete freedom to self express and the spectrum of imagination on the dance floor that I was changed forever.
I heard you’re really spiritual and into crystals. Do you have any rituals to protect yourself?
Drink good, clean, filtered water; a table spoon of apple cider vinegar in the morning; surround yourself with plants always, and remember; if you can’t love yourself how in the hell are you gonna love somebody else? Let the music play!
When you go on a date, what question do you always hope they’ll ask you?
‘Have you eaten?’
Photography: Chloë Nour
Fashion: Thomas Townsend
Originally published in Oyster #111