Suzy Exposito On How To Be A Tropi Goth

Suzy Exposito’s career has changed quite a bit since she became the first Latina to write a cover for Rolling Stone earlier this year. Right now, she’s at home in Brooklyn. But when the world met her Bad Bunny Rolling Stone cover – her first –, she was in Miami, staying with her Cuban abuela, where she’d plan to stay for a short time. It turned into months as the coronavirus pandemic raged worldwide. 

For a double Virgo who thrives on perfectionism, this kind of uncertainty is unsettling. “The solitude of quarantine is something I wasn’t prepared for,” she says. 

Exposito grew up in Miami as the daughter of a Cuban father and a Belizean mother. She always loved music like the Buena Vista Social Club and Fania All Stars that paired well with the tropical backdrop of her childhood in South Florida. But there was also her goth side, which she started showing by age 8, gravitating to black clothes, astrology, and shows like Sabrina The Teenage Witch. At 30, she’s comfortable with calling herself a “freak.”

“I’m someone who isn’t bullied easily,” she says. “I think that comes from my mindset of, ‘Oh you think I’m scary? Wait until I scare you more.” 

Today, Exposito works as the Latin music editor at Rolling Stone. Although she’s in charge of the Latin music section, she says she was hired because she can “write about everything.” Her two main beats, she says, are Latin and Emo music. But can she write about Taylor Swift? “Um, yes,” she says. She’s equipped herself with music knowledge that surpasses her writing. In 2010, she was the lead of a punk band called Shady Hawkins, which played songs about “ex bad friends.” Exposito also volunteers at Girls Rock! Camp every year. (Unfortunately, this year’s edition was canceled due to COVID-19.)

Most astrologers agree that the Sun, Rising, and Moon signs are pivotal to understand a person. Exposito adds that Venus is also in there, as well as Lilith. Venus represents the feminine energy. The Lilith represents the “dark side of the moon.” Exposito says both of hers are in Libra, which means that, while she has a very strong feminine energy, her dark, mystical side is equally present in her personality. 

Throughout her life, she struggled with this duality. Think about it – a Cuban Belizean woman attending school in Jacksonville, Florida, dressing up in mostly black but loving salsa music. She says she was obsessed with becoming a witch as a kid, but also threw herself a quinceañera party at school a few months after Daddy Yankee released Barrio Fino. (Spoiler alert: she loved it.)

This contrast is a staple of her “tropi goth” aesthetic. She might be caught wearing combat boots and a leather jacket one day and a delicate black dress with red lipstick and hoop earrings the next. “The thing about goths is that people think we have to wear a lot of makeup and all this jewelry,” she says. “But that’s not true.” 

In fact, Exposito does as little as she can with her beauty routine. For skincare, she relies on Clinique Facial Soap, CeraVe moisturizer, and Burt’s Bees Targeted Spot Treatment. For makeup, nothing. I gasp when she reveals her lack of makeup usage, saying she often looks like she’s applied a VSCO filter on. “Not even your eyebrows?” I ask. “Nope. I was just born with very Disney villain eyebrows,” she says. 

Evil? Not at all. Possessed? Maybe. That’s actually the vibe she wishes to achieve – a doña aura of self-possession that defines her version of “emperifollá.” 

Frances Solá-Santiago

Born in Puerto Rico, based in New York City. She is the editor-in-chief on Emperifollá. Her work has been published in The New York Times, Rolling Stone, NPR, Glamour Magazine, Numéro, Refinery29, Remezcla, and Bustle.

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