Raven-haired Christina Loza, black bustier showcasing her silver chain mail necklace and winged chest tattoo, sits on a bench under a leafy maple tree and removes her large horn-rim glasses.
Her look – you can call it Alt or Goth, she doesn’t really care – attracts a lot of attention.
That necklace has a tiny silver sword.
When a big guy stops to stare, Christina, who is 5-foot-3, gives it right back to him, searing him with her blue-grey neon eyes.
After a couple of moments, she politely asks him what he wants.
Mumbling something about not speaking English, his jaw drops and he walks away in a daze.
The encounter reminds her of Clark, the township in New Jersey where she was born and spent most of her 34 years.
“I couldn’t wait to leave there,” she says. “I felt like I was being held in a bubble.”
Christina, who got her first tattoo at 16 (it was the yellow Pokemon character Pikachu; she doesn’t know how many she has now, but she’s guessing it’s about 40), didn’t fit in, and for that she’s eternally grateful.
A child who started drawing the minute she could put a marker in her tiny hands, Christina always assumed she would be an artist.
Indeed, after graduating from duCret School of Art in Plainfield, New Jersey, an institution she calls “Hogwarts for artists,” she figured she would have a career as a video game concept artist.
Instead, she ended up getting married (they met right after high school and made their union official in 2014) and working in the accounting department of a plumbing company, where she kept her tattoos and artistic endeavors under cover.
A year later, she and her husband moved to Astoria when he got a job in Manhattan.
“I wasn’t sure whether I could get a good job because of the tattoos,” she says, adding she applied at places where she knew her look would be an asset.
About those tattoos. For the most part, the images spring from science fiction, horror movies and video games.
“Getting a tattoo doesn’t hurt because it just scratches the surface,” she says, adding that she applies a lidocaine patch before the procedure. “But I am afraid of needles – I fainted after I had my Covid shot.”
After working for Harley-Davidson (she doesn’t know anything about motorcycles and is rather afraid of riding them) and the Fred Perry fashion boutique, Christina decided to change course.
Since she loves children and had experience taking care of them when she was growing up, she decided to become a nanny.
Right now, her charges are an 8-year-old sister and a 4-year-old brother in Astoria who, along with their parents, think her tattoos are cool.
Art still plays a prominent role in her life.
Her anime-like acrylic-on-paper works, which she describes as “playful sacrilege,” feature monsters, alt styles and sci-fi themes.
“It’s a hobby at this point,” she says, “but I also do commissions.”
If Christina’s look and art are unconventional, so is her lifestyle.
She lives in an apartment with her husband, a roommate, a ferret named Moon and cats who answer (if you really beg them) to Hades and Thor.
“We are a New Age couple,” she says. “We have an open marriage, and we have other partners. “I date whomever I click with – men, women, trans people. I know it’s not for everyone.”
Christina, who prefers the pronouns she and her, consciously cultivates fantasy. She loves to dress up as other characters (she has a very realistic robot mask).
Recently, she did a photo shoot in Astoria Park dressed in a 70-pound suit of armor.
“I love the medieval era,” she says, adding that the suit was really, really heavy, so heavy that she doesn’t know how anyone, especially someone as petite as she is, could do battle in it.
Although Christina isn’t looking to change anything in her life, she’s open to new experiences and opportunities.
Because they are what makes everything exciting.
There will lots of time to try out new things.
And undoubtedly to add tattoos.
“I love what I do,” she says. “Right now, I’m content.”
Copyright 2022 by Nancy A. Ruhling