Kanithea Powell

Text JF. Pierets    Photos Beverli Alford


‘Well, these aren’t your typical flannel, mullet, boot wearing butches. This new art book pushes the Butch-definition beyond its seams. Packed with fashion forward pictures that are vivid, dramatic and provocative. These gender- bending bois will make your heart skip a beat. It is a feast for the eyes and the coffee table. You will fall in love and never again judge a butch by her cover.’ Kanithea Powell, Author.


Tell me about that gorgeous book of yours!
I wanted to do something that would get people talking about people like me. Sometimes I wear lipstick and make-up and I’m not as masculine as some women would like me to be. But I am who I am and I’m tired of people saying that I’m not butch enough, I’m not this or that enough. So I decided to create something that shows people that it’s ok to be exactly the way you are. Whatever that is. To get out of that box because I’m so tired of boxes. 

You have a problem with the typical butch identity. 
What’s typical? I wouldn’t say I have a problem with it. I would say that people love to put others in boxes. Whether it’s about the color of your skin or your sexual preferences. And if you don’t fit inside that little box, they get very uncomfortable and they don’t know what to do. This book forces you to remove the blinders and see how things have changed.

Isn’t the word ‘Butch’ also a box? 
When you look at the book, it pushes what that definition means. This book is a popped collar, high fashion buffet of beautiful women who redefine the term. It gets you to rethink the word as a whole.

How did people react?
The reactions have been great. We are in over 16 countries right now. One person who bought the book actually slept with it for four days. It’s been very well received and we’ve been up for a few awards so that’s pretty awesome. People have embraced the work and I’m grateful for that. 

And where did you find your models? 
A lot of them I worked with in the past. I do a lot of filming for professional photographers and for fashion shows. I was at my friend’s apartment one saturday and we got on the phone and called the models we knew and got them down to DC to film. Let me tell you: it has been great! It’s good to know beautiful people. 

You started Qwest Films? It’s television, movies, books,..  You don’t want to stick to one thing. I’m an artist and I don’t like being confined. Whatever I feel I want to create, I create. Whether it’s a show, a film, a book or a theatrical play. Whatever I feel inspired to do, I just do it. I created the company to be able to do all these sorts of things. It’s important to be open. When you think about a major player like a Sony or a Paramount, or what have you. They’re in every single bit of entertainment business. They’re in distribution, publishing, TV, they’re in everything. So… I like to think of myself as a big company. 


‘definition of butch: adj; Exhibiting stereotypically or exaggeratedly masculine traits or appearance….’

And why do you want to do these things? Do you have a mission statement to change the world? Make things different? 
I would like to show the world that we are more alike then we are different. We’re all the same. We’re all just humans being. Whether you are gay, straight, bi, whatever that is, we all love, we all hurt, we all get angry and feel pain. So, I want people to see our humanity versus just passing judgment.

How do you succeed in showing that without the ‘boxing’ that we talked about? 
If you look at any of my films or the current work that I’m doing right now, it’s all about life experiences and how we handle/deal with them. Stripping away the stereotypes.  Tearing down the walls of homophobia and all that crazy stuff that’s going on out there. I just want to do my part.

Do you have the feeling you can make some change?
Of course! I have a lot of straight people buying my books and films. That tells me that there is a desire to learn and understand who we are. And with those small moves we can open eyes and get people to become more accepting of people who are not like them.

Your new film is completely different? Tell me all about it.
It’s about a woman who sees too much, and has to play a deadly game of survival against a backdrop of greed and revenge. There is a beautiful lesbian couple in the film. I love it! Everybody in the film is acting out of desperation. It’s amazing to see how far a person will go and the things they will do when they’re desperate. Those moments speak to your character. It’s an item that’s quite right now in America. How they deal with immigrants and all that jazz. I thought it would be kind of interesting to shed a little light on it.

Is it also an experienced story? 
I know quite a few people who deal with the topic and hearing their stories inspired me to write the screenplay. Hopefully we can pull off an authentic film that people can relate to.

You don’t stay into the LGBT interest field?
No, I do what inspires me, whatever that is. I’m eclectic and I enjoy being open to ideas.  As long as it tells an authentic story I’m in!

What do you want to accomplish, as a person?
I would love to own a television network station where I can put out 24 hours of entertainment, and I can pick and choose what ever I like. I think that would be my ultimate goal. I’m working on a television show right now and hopefully that will give me another leg into that dream. Fingers crossed!



Related articles

Femme Space

“If you don’t see femmes as queers, it’s because you choose to not see us. You are invested in our erasure. We are here. We have always been here.” A strong quote, coming from Dulce Garcia, AKA Fierce Femme, one of the participants in Femme…..

read more


Belle Ancell is a queer community photographer living in Canada. Amongst her series there is “Unveiled”, portraits of the Vancouver Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. In-depth photographs and representations of people who are, just like…..

read more

Chubby Vogue Divas

Chubby Vogue Divas is an ongoing photography project by artist and activist Charmain Carrol. Her being an activist started in the 90s when black lesbians went through a phase where their parents were not accepting their children’s sexual orientation…..

read more


Danish-born Arrevad spent five years documenting the international, subterranean world of male performers, burlesque, go-go dancers, cabaret singers and porn stars. The journey would take him to New York, Berlin, Paris,…..

read more


Born in Chile, raised in Europe, and with an advanced training in photography, Claudia González has spent the last 2 years working on her project called Reassign. In order to make this series, Gonzàlez joined forces with Mariela Castro’s sexuality…..

read more

Meg Allen

In her series ‘Butch’, photographer Meg Allen shows a variety of women who fall under the category of more masculine than feminine. Over the years people have been given different names to lesbians, and being butch is yet another flavor…..

read more

Gay in America

Scott Pasfield celebrates diversity in this first-ever photographic survey of gay men in America. Stereotypes are laid to rest and an intimate, honest picture of contemporary gay life is revealed through stunning personal portraits and narratives of 140 gay…..

read more


From 2003 until 2008, Charlotte Lybeer photographed gated communities and actual “theme parks” in the US, South Africa, Europe, China and the Arab Emirates. ‘The success of these ‘enclaves’ proves that in a society without boundaries, we still…..

read more

Sworn Virgins

Northern Albanian women, faced with a culture that subjugates females, live and dress as men in order to provide for their families. These sworn virgins took a vow of chastity, wear male clothing and live as men in the patriarchal northern…..

read more

Masked Superstars

For thirty years photographer Lourdes Grobet has penetrated the world of one of the most popular sports and deep-seated traditions in Mexico: Lucha Libre-wrestling. She documented the lives of the fighters inside and outside of the ring. Lucha Libre…..

read more


Heavily set, rugged and fiercely hyper-masculine, these are males who convey strength, identity and are an ever-growing subculture of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (lgbt) population. Welcome to the “bear” community. Evolving in the…..

read more

The Tokyo Hotel Story

Photographer Nathalie Daoust first broke onto the scene in 1997 while photographing the themed rooms of the Carlton Arms Hotel in New York. This project, her first solo exhibition, was published into a book, New York Hotel Story. Since then…..

read more




Et Alors? magazine. A global celebration of diversity.