Nylon's astrologer talks creativity and healing trauma

David Odyssey finally believes "anything can happen"

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In the third episode of the Cruel Summer Book Club podcast I talk to my dear friend—and Nylon’s astrologer—David Odyssey. I first met David in 2015 when I hired him to work for me at Time Out New York. We moved from coworkers to friends, and I watched him leave 9-to-5 life behind; become a go-go dancer in glittering thongs in many a Brooklyn gay bar; host his own podcast, The Luminaries (which I was once a guest on); write and perform his own stunning solo show; and finally become an effervescent and deeply insightful astrology and Tarot reader. (Sign up for your own reading—you won’t regret it!)

Watching David grow into himself as an artist has been an inspiring experience for me. But more recently he went through one of the most formative changes of his life: In December he entered a sexual abuse recovery program that made him feel “like there might be a way out of this for the first time of my life. I'm like, there might be a possibility of changing this. Now anything can happen.”

As we all know, change is possible. Read on for some excerpts from our conversation where David talks about the flexibility of spirituality, what it takes to just do it when it comes to creativity, and the work and gifts of finally healing decades-old trauma. In this episode I also ask an important question, inspired by Jeff Bezos: What happens to fillers in space?

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On making spirituality your own:

David Odyssey: What I love about astrology and Tarot and all of this shit is like—I actually think all religions should be like this. You can just be a student at any point. You can go to rabbinical school for seven years, you could go to medical school for seven years—I don't know that they can teach you, like, empathy or ethics. That comes from lived experience. So astrology and Tarot, it's the same, I just think this shit can mean anything to anyone. So, let it be user friendly.

Jillian Anthony: I love that outlook. Whatever helps you get through this life and whatever makes you feel good and home and centered is like, Go off, do those things, whatever you want. As long as those things don't affect me, you're good, you know?

DO: Yeah, as long as you're not, like, a men's rights activist.

On surrounding yourself with creatives who are doing it:

DO: I remember I went to Club Cumming, and this is like a legendary moment in my life. I was going to see Catherine Cohen's show at Club Cumming. She comes waltzing down Sixth Avenue in a kimono and she was like, “How are you? Are you so excited that you quit your job?” And I was like, I'm a little nervous, I'm anxious, and I started going into the thing and she was like, “Yeah, but you're making your dreams come true.” And then she just walked into the club and I was like, Okay, okay bitch—I had that moment of like, Alright, let's go, let's go, let's go. But yeah, you do need those people who are, like, doing it. I used to live in LA, and there were a lot of people who were really stuck and who weren't able to take those risks. I think it's really important to be in contact with people who are just like, I'm taking a big fucking swing. Let's see how this goes.

On listening to your inner champion:

DO: The moment always comes when I am seeing someone doing something and I'm getting angry because I'm like, you know what, I could do this better motherfucker. Okay! That's the moment when you have to take action, or else you're gonna become bitter. So usually these new ideas or new shows come into form—and you're a double Aries so I know you have this—where I'm just like, Okay, I have to do this because I can't watch this shit anymore.

JA: And I also think that that's your higher power, that's your voice inside being like, You can do this. Because if you have that fleeting thought, even with all of your imposter syndrome and everything else going on in your head, that I certainly suffer from too—that's the voice that's like, You know, you can do that. Not only can you do that, you desperately want to do that. So let's make it happen.

DO: And as you get older, I just think it gets less cute when you meet people who are like, “Maybe one day.” You and I are in our 30s, you want to know people who are at least going for it, even if it's a disaster. It gets less cute as you age to meet people who are like, “I still think maybe next year I'll quit my job and go to Sri Lanka.” It's like, I don't really want to hear about this anymore.

JA: For me in my own life there are certain people, members of my family, that are in their 60s saying that. That's always been a real sticking point for me—I refuse to grow up and have that many regrets and feel like I didn't live the way I wanted to live. I just refuse. So I completely agree.

On writing his solo show, Rebirth:

DO: There's this Superman story where the sun dies, and Superman has to go to the sun to fix it. So he basically converts his cells into solar generators. And as he's flying towards the sun, he becomes pure light. And the writing of the show is like the purest experience I've ever had. I was so focused, and I could feel everything building towards an event horizon. Of course, my entire immune system was shutting down, I lost my voice the day before the show, all of that. What was hard was the coming back, the crash, and the reaction, and the dealing, and like coming back to Earth, and hearing people's responses. That's when I fully crashed back to earth and kind of died a little bit. But doing it, I just felt so driven, and I loved that. And it was the right amount of pressure because I was like, these people are buying tickets, so you better fucking give it to them.

On joining a recovery program for survivors of sexual abuse:

DO: I think part of the reason I'm sick is because the recovery program has raised a lot. Working the steps really raises a lot of the stuff that you thought was buried all over again. It's very laborious, and I'm really having to learn I have to dedicate a lot of my life to real pleasure so that there's a balance. It can't all just be work and processing. And I know that you probably relate to that because I know that you're someone who's really in it to win it, and who's not waiting for her problems to solve themselves.

So there's that aspect, but it has definitely changed everything where there are a lot of—I just had a huge body image dysmorphia explosion, basically, over the last month, and I really had to turn it over where I was like, This has nothing to do with my body. Okay? Let's all get clear about it. This has something to do with sexual trauma from when I was younger. And that's it. And I have to turn this over now.

And I do feel like there might be a way out of this for the first time of my life. I'm like, there might be a possibility of changing this. So I do believe, and I do have a lot of optimism in a way I never have before. Because a lot of the ways that I viewed myself, my body, my career was being driven by this stuff. And now that I can kind of dismantle that I'm like, Well, now anything can happen. I have no idea what the fuck is gonna happen at this point, but anything can happen.

Listen to David's episode

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