K-Pop Crossover: Naked Rockstar Ona Artist Tells What Makes Hallyu Hot [EXCLUSIVE]
By Tony Sokol | March 29, 2016 12:40 AM EDT
Ona Artist is living and heavily breathing proof that a woman can be sexy and an artist at the same time. In the self-produced music videos for "Boy Love So Good" and "In Your Life," Ona uses creamy subliminal imagery to bring the back of her mind into the listener's hyper-conscious through arousal. Under the name Sarah White, Ona has been getting into men's heads for the past five years by giving Naked Therapy sessions. Naked Therapy engages sexual arousal as a "vital part of thinking."
Ona revealed herself exclusively to KpopStarz a few weeks after premiering five music videos off her first EP, "Sex Rock," at the first ever all-virtual music release party on February 24, 2016.
"It was amazing, it went so much better than I thought," she said.
"Me and my fans chatted, listened to music, I danced around, and then later there was a Snapchat after-party and a naked swag bag (videos and photos) for my website members. I premiered my naked music videos that night too. I think I'm the first to do that. Is that right?"
Ona composes on piano, but also plays flute, guitar, and drums. Most of her songs build from soft acoustic openings into ejaculations of full throttle grunge. She lists some of the most melodic and musically adventurous bands as her influences.
"I love Nirvana, The National, Pink Floyd, Lana Del Rey, The Beatles, and, of course, various K-pop groups," she said.
The sexually self-aware songstress said she fully appreciated the sensual side of Hallyu.
"I've always enjoyed K-pop. I love how open and sexy the aesthetic is," Ona said, and listed her favorite Hallyu artists as "Girls Generation, 2NE1, Sistar, Brown Eyed Girls, and more."
"I love "Warm Hole" by Brown Eyed Girls and Girls Generation's "The Boys," she said about the music videos.
Ona described what first grabbed her about K-pop.
"The phenomenal production," the artist said.
"Both the men and women look amazing. And it's such a beautiful fantasy land."
"I think the main difference is that whereas K-pop is often produced by studios, I produce completely DIY. Also my music leans more towards rock 'n' roll. But my first album will be a great mix of pop and rock 'n' roll," she added.
The self-proclaimed "extreme selfie model" co-produces her music with Kevin Blackler of Blackler Studios in the Bushwick section of Brooklyn, N.Y. Blackler has worked on projects by Billy Joel, K'Naan/Mos Def, Nikolai Fraiture of The Strokes and The Prodigy.
Ona doesn't believe that DIY sensibility will hinder her from hooking Hallyu fans.
"I think, similar to K-pop, my image is super sexy and super welcoming to the opposite and same sex to enjoy," she said.
Ona sees similarities between what she's putting out and what's coming out of K-pop.
"I think both of our visual aesthetics are really open to arousal and desire and playfulness," she said.
"Also I think in the lyrics there is a play with appropriate societal roles for both genders. The musician's image and attitude really affect how the music is received."
Since the bobby soxer teens of Frank Sinatra's day, women have historically been sexually aroused by male musicians. Rock and roll was a euphemism for sex and Elvis Presley was as much a sex symbol as he was a rock star. Ushers reported cleaning wet seats after performances by the Beatles. Men don't turn to female musicians for sexual arousal. They turn to the porn industry. Ona Artists offers an alternative.
With her breathy vocals, heavy bass and selfie-stick music videos, Ona hopes to encourage male arousal and open the door for a "Female Elvis."
"Well, as Elvis shook his pelvis for women, I shake my stuff for men," she explained.
"Women felt sexually liberated by Elvis because he aroused them. I hope to arouse men in the same way as he did women. It just takes a different approach, since men find different things sexy from women."
That sounds less like a mind game than a mind science.
"Sure, the psychology of desire as it relates to each biological gender," she said.
"Well, as I've said in my 'Why I'm A Naked Rockstar' article, I think sexiness in music is linked to men in clothes, but sexiness in music for women is limited since women have to go a bit farther to be supremely sexy to men. That's why as a part of my music I also have a naked paysite where my fans can see me naked. I just want to be really sexy for my fans and give them the 'sexy rockstar' experience."
The Naked Rock Star believes that female musicians like Madonna, Rihanna and Beyoncé are sexually empowering but there is still a stigma against sexuality and music.
"Well, if you look at Spotify listener data, for instance, men aren't really listening to those women," Ona pointed out.
"There's no 'frenzy' around them the way there is for women around various male artists. That's because frenzy is always about being sexually excited, and for that men turn mostly to porn. Female musicians like you mention are primarily listened to by women because they sexually empower women.
"If a man took his clothes off and tried to be a pop star, it wouldn't hook more into female arousal. But no female musician has every really done it for her male fans, due to the potential social stigma that comes along.
"For me it just makes sense. To have that rock 'n' roll excitement, you need to be sexually aroused by the performer, and to do that for men, you need to be naked. I think that the Internet and listener data and porn usage proves that. You can try to wish the fact away, as some people do, but I'm fine with reality."
"Sure," she said. "The psychology of desire as it relates to each biological gender."
Schrager has a Masters in Fine Art, rather than a therapeutic background, but she said "my family is very therapeutically inclined so I've been talking things through from a psychoanalytic perspective all my life, and since becoming the Naked Therapist I've had my mentors, clients, and self-study."
The artist says Naked Therapy is not really the same as fantasy roleplay.
"Well, it can be at times, but there's more to it, because it's not always about fantasy," she said.
"It's often about talking about reality, becoming aroused, seeing where that takes your thoughts and feelings."
A recently published piece called White the Naked Brainwasher and accused the artist of "hypnotizing men with nudity."
"Aren't all celebrities brainwashers?" she asked rhetorically.
"I am no more hypnotizing men than Freud was hypnotizing women, which in a sense he was, as he came out of that tradition. But for him it was about getting women, which most of his early patients were, in touch with their unconscious. I do the same with my patients, who are primarily men, but we do it through arousal."
We asked what behaviors she was most called on to modify.
"Addictive porn use, guilt, shame, depression, repression, fear, confusion, frustration, impotence, anxiety, sexual dysfunction, the list goes on and on," she said.
Music may not replace the therapeutic setting but it has been known to calm the savage breast. Ona believes she will relieve more tension by taking on the double standard that slows female artists from using naked sex appeal creatively.
Ona says K-pop is on the right track to bridging that gap.
"I do. I think they celebrate happiness and positive sexuality, and that's very therapeutic," Ona said.
A lot of men are looking at Ona like devotees. She has an Instagram following of over 300k. Ona Artist and Sarah White are both pseudonyms for Leah Schrager, a 2015 MFA in Fine Art Graduate from Parsons School of Design. Wired.com named her Top Ten Sexiest Geeks 2010. She is featured in a documentary on 4th wave feminist artists, called "The F Word," directed by Robert Adanto in 2015.
As Sarah White, The Naked Therapist, her work was featured on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno," "The Jeff Probst Show," CBS News, ABC News, The NY Daily News, Fox Business news and Playboy Radio. As Leah Schrager, her work has reviewed in Vice, New York Magazine, Slutist, Bullett Media and DNAinfo.
Listen to Ona Artist's "Boy Love So Good" here.
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