I had the opportunity of randomly meeting Bonafide while walking the streets of Soho over a decade ago and our curly Boriqua connection lead to a friendship. I was always very intrigued on how one person could bear so much talent but he DID! Check out what I mean….
How would you describe yourself?
Well usually I am father to a wonderful little boy named John Pablo, who almost everything I do is for him in some shape or form, I’m a loving son, a wild little brother, a loyal friend, a shit talker, a part time music snob, a poetry teacher, a rock & roller, a salesman, a retired graffiti writer, but sometimes these labels & experience of my life don’t really say enough, I’ve been considered a hurricane in a small room, a drum kit going off in a church, some feedback in a love song, but sometimes being the long haired Puerto Rican in the corner reading Baraka, Ginsberg & Neruda is fine with me.
Tell us about your books!
Well I have two, one is called “Pelo Bueno: A Day In The Life Of A Nuyorican Poet” (2004) and “When The City Sleeps” (Grand Concourse Press, 2012) & they are both poetry collections, “When The City Sleeps” is a themed collection about NYC. A love letter, a lament, an ode, a song, a complaint to the city I love & it was published by my company Grand Concourse Press, (I’m from The Bronx and was raised on The Grand Concourse, it was an obvious choice). I’m preparing to release another one in January called “RENOVATIO” which is about the beauty of reinvention through positive & negative experiences.
What’s a secret ambition of yours?
WELL, I’ve had a band called The Mona Passage for a few years now and universe willing, the debut record will be available by the end of the year & I have the extreme enjoyment of playing it live and sharing it with everyone. It’s not going to be everyone’s cup of tea but at least it’s something they can drink.
You have amazing hair! What is your hair routine (including your go to products)?
Thank you, that’s nice of you to say, it’s just there sometimes… hanging, being dragged by gravity. Hmmmm, well I’ve had “long hair” for about 16-17 years. I shaved it all off in 2001 and re-grew it out again but the routine I have now started about 6 years ago. I untangle in the shower, consciously keeping it healthy. My secret for a long time was Garnier-Fructis “Sleek & Shine” shampoo and conditioner and then after I would use Moroccan Oil but now I use an organic natural leave in Honey Hemp conditioner made by Oyin Handmade. They’re good friends of mine and I was very pleased with how my hair reacted to the conditioner, even the bees fly around my hair, lol.
What was the best compliment ever received about your hair?
Lol, well the most common is that I have better hair than most women (which is probably true, yes I said it) but when women who have amazing hair compliment my “mane”, I always think it’s a nice sign of respect. I don’t do much to my hair, I never over condition, I’ve only blow dried my hair a few times starting this year, and I haven’t braided my hair in over 4 years. You have to train your hair how you want it to be, if you constantly change it- it will be confused.
Who’s had the greatest influence on your life and why?
Wow, greatest influence, I’ll start with the Matriarchs – my mother and my sister for their different examples of independence and decisions in their lives. They are two very different women but so beautiful and so strong. I’m always humbled when I speak of my sister and her accomplishments and my mom dukes is a fighter, she only deserves the best. The rest have to be a group of poets and musicians: Pablo Neruda, Pedro Pietri, Allen Ginsberg, Willie Perdomo, Tony Medina, The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, Radiohead, Pink Floyd and The Mars Volta, those ten have had such influence on me artistically that I could write another page and a half on why, but I’ll stop here (go check everyone I mentioned by the way).
Being a Latino, what has been the greatest lesson learned?
I’ll be specific, being Puerto Rican, I’ve learned on how beautiful a history we have that has to be remembered and nourished. How everyone of us is a representation of the other, of the before and after. How if there is a lack of global exposure and sometimes YOU will be the first Puerto Rican someone has ever met. These are the things I have learned traveling all over the world, where the only Puerto Ricans people know of are particular musicians and actors but there is so much to know, to love, and to learn. I wish things were different but this is the position WE have allowed ourselves to be and it will take time to change it if the people want to change it.
Where can we find you on social media?
All over really! You Tube
Facebook: I have a personal and Artist’s page (Bonafide Rojas) & The Mona Passage page.
Website: www.bonafiderojas.com (yes everything is basically my first & last name)
Any last words or thoughts?
Remember though that substance is necessary for having a healthy balance with then physical. Cultivate your self. Cultivate your heart. Cultivate your art. Cultivate your life. Cultivate your love.