Sierra McKenzie & Kate Starling
Freelance Filmmakers & Couple, Seattle
Sierra McKenzie and Kate Starling are the founders and creatives behind Peach Pit Productions, a video production company specializing in video portraits, and music videos, based in Seattle, Washington. Together, they create a safe and positive space for queer people and anyone who doesn’t fit into a box of gender, sexuality, or expression. Partners in both life and work, Sierra and Kate have a love for nudity and the freedom you reach while living naked, they share with us a few glimpses of their daily life, being in the moment, sensual and overjoyed with love.
Who is pictured?
We are Sierra McKenzie and Kate Starling. We have lived and made art in the apartment pictured for the last two years together.
You guys were some of the very first ones to contact us about Nude, why was that theme inspiring?
Sierra: We reached out because of the concept of the magazine without knowing the theme, but we found theme very fitting. Nudity is something we were very comfortable with individually, so it expresses itself in our lives and work often. We love cooking naked, going to nude spas, hiking without clothes, and being in any space where nudity is allowed sits really well with us. I think it is absolutely ridiculous that leaving your house in the body you’re born in could land you in jail. I love clothes. And I love bodies. For ten years I lived as a full-time freelance model and I shot nude often. It was a great excuse to really get to live in my skin. Kate and I have always shot photos and videos of each other naked. We have instax going back to the beginning of our kink play together, and I have been posting nude photos they have taken of me on my social media for years.
Kate: We are both analog fans and grew up shooting 35mm so the concept of Disposable Magazine is appealing. We didn’t know about the theme when we first reached out but when we found out Nude was the issue we would be featured in it felt quite fitting. Sierra and I are both nudists. I’ve worked at nudist resorts and always find ways to wear as little as possible. I absolutely love the feeling of my skin in the sun and on soft sheets. I long for a clothing optional world and think we’d all be better off if nudity were separated from sexualization of the body.
How did you feel shooting it?
Sierra: It was really lovely to try to capture the real us. I think an issue with a lesser theme would have had to absolutely censor the reality of our everyday life. We didn’t have a photoshoot. We had the cameras with us in our real lives. The photos are in the apartment we’ve decorated together and the park closest to our house. In some ways I was in a very transitional mental headspace during the weeks of this roll being shot. It is really beautiful to look back and see the sweetness of that imperfection. Kate and I really celebrate each other through everything and capturing something visually lets you pay such close attention to it.
Kate: Shooting the roll was both fun and fulfilling. We decided to keep it personal as opposed to featuring our clients, although much of our work includes nudity. Through the week we stayed mindful of the opportunities we have to capture one another nude. The film being disposable helped give me the feeling of not taking myself too seriously. Most of these shots are just from our regular, everyday.
How did you start with the video production and why Peach Pit?
Sierra: A few years ago I had a friend call me out that modeling was my day job. I knew immediately what I was drawn to: making videos. I ended up being gifted a high-end video camera, and that set every wheel in motion. When it first arrived, it had a lens- mount stuck on the front and I didn’t even know how to get it off to put my lenses on. That is actually what one of my very first conversations with Kate was ever about. It was the day I first talked to her. She stepped in to help me finagle a food situation for the house party I was throwing, and working together just felt so exciting and seamless. I dragged her away from the party to my room just to show her my camera and try and get her help with it. Peach Pit was actually the nickname of that apartment. To me, Peach Pit has a meaning of openness, excitement, inclusivity, reflection, and caring because of the atmosphere of that space where I started learning how to film and working towards my life today. I had no idea how to make movies. I had made a few movies for class projects on a VCR in highschool, and that’s it. I knew I wanted to shoot people. But I really had no ideas beyond that. I didn’t really want to direct. So I started shooting my roommates. My friends. Friends of friends. Lovers. I would shoot them doing exactly what they wanted, sometimes in their own rooms. I love looking at faces, at hands. And so I would just let the camera be my eye. I started calling these video portraits, and the idea has stuck. We now get paid to make video portraits of people, often in our own bedroom. It is really beautiful to capture someone being exactly who they want to be and being able to reflect that back to them. Kate and I work together in such a flow on set when we are shooting, collaborating on lighting and set design. She also takes all of the digital photos for all our productions. And our mission with Peach Pit is really to have safe positive creation space for queer people and people who don’t fit into a box of gender, sexuality, or expression.
Kate: When Sierra and I met she was just getting started on the filmmaking journey. I’ve always been a storyteller and interested in film from and early age. I also love technical creativity, working with my hands and running projects so it was a mashing of interests. Add to that a strong attraction to each other and an ability to work well together, PeachPit became a real thing. We started with clear ethics and aesthetics and let the rest develop and flow from there.
We meet you in 10 years, where are you and what do you do?
Sierra: A city or maybe two: air-renting out one furnished space while living in the other. I still shoot and edit video but Peach Pit also has a zine, a podcast run by Kate, and live events with video projection and performers. Kate: In 10 years we’ll have at least one full-length feature that we’ve written, directed and produced, along with several short films and a multitude of music videos and portraits we’ve produced over the years. We hope to amplify queer voice for its complex ways of loving and connecting to each other.
If not yourself, who would you be?
K: I grew up in the country and although there are many, many things I dislike about small town life, I have a longing to live very simply, working my own land and being in balance with nature.
City me is driving the bus though, they are in charge of this vessel so city life is my reality.
S:If I wasn’t myself maybe someone who is a gifted singer. It seems pretty magical to create such vibrations of sound an emotion. No person I’d trade places with though.
S:Dorothy Parker, Frida, Rosie O’Donnell.
K: Oof! Any queer, POC, femme, or otherwise marginalized person who has the ability to leave the house and attempt to deal with a society that is openly hostile toward them.
What is your present state of mind?
S: Satiated. Calm. I’ve had a lovely day walking around in the sun on a search for mugs that are perfect enough for me to love, and while I did not find the one or seven that I need, but I came home with other treasures and any treasure is a win.
K: Reflective, relaxed, overjoyed with love.
Bedside table books?
K: Ursula K LeGuin’s The Left Hand of Darkness and Dare to Lead by Brene Brown.
S:No One Belongs Here More Than You - Miranda July.
What are your plans for this weekend?
K: Sneaking away to a mutual lover’s cabin for nudity and debauchery in the wild.
S: We will be going to a cabin for the weekend with someone we have been playing with together for a few months. I’m very excited to soak in the hot tub and maybe tie some rope.
Right or left handed?
What is the best dish you can cook?
K I make a very good red sauce for pasta and pizza alike. I’ve also perfected fried egg and cheddar sandwiches.
S:Probably pierogi or anything with cheese sauce.
What do you do in your free time?
K: I write, shoot film, check out my local movie theater and hit up museums. I also love solitude and will spend the night with just myself and no plans.
S:I like to draw faces with too many eyes, smoke weed and do anything, watch music videos, read out loud, rent out dance rehearsal space to dance alone with full-length mirrors.
What inspires you?
K: The sheer power of nature, humans sharing empathy, people willing to do the work necessary to change their habits and try new paths.
S:Invisible forces, time and space, human brains.
Your idea of happiness?
K: For me it’s finding equanimity within a moment. There are times in which I’m overtaken by feelings of peace both with the beauty of being able to connect with other humans and the acceptance that one day I will no longer be conscious. It reminds me to be loving and kind.
S: Being in the moment.
Your idea of misery?
K: I’ve had times in my life in which resource scarcity prevented me from being able to thrive and be generous with others. I felt disconnected and withdrawn because the struggle to make ends meet was overwhelming at times. Those periods in my life are pure misery.
S:Repeating yourself without knowing how to stop.
What do you do if you can’t sleep at night?
K: I try and tune into the thoughts that may be keeping me up to see them clearly. Reading is also a go to as well as meditation.
S: Jerk off or play dress-up games on my phone.
Do you collect?
S:Not anymore. In elementary school I collected Princess Diana stamps for some reason.
Tea or coffee?
K: Coffee, coffee, coffee.
S:Usually coffee, although lately I’ve been drinking a ton of breakfast tea.
What is the strangest thing you believed as a child?
S:Embryos got nutrients by putting a bottle in the mother’s belly button.
K: I was pretty sure that when puberty started I was going to grow a penis. I’ve felt like a boy most of my life and was confused and a bit crestfallen when my genitals didn’t continue to develop externally.
K: There is a gradient of pink/orange/yellow that makes me weak in the knees.
S: Lilac, seafoam, gold.
K: Seattle has a huge piece of me right now.
S: Havana. Kate and I took our first trip anywhere together to Cuba and every time we talk about traveling anywhere new I beg to go back.
What do you do for money?
K. I’m a shipbuilder.
S: I shoot and edit video portraits and music videos for Peach Pit. I also evaluate for an academic competition that is research and problem solving based.
What do you do for pleasure?
K Eat, dance, fuck, buy nice things.
S: Rope top. Smoke weed. Eat everything.