What Janet Mock Can’t Travel Without


Janet Mock was already famous for her work as a magazine editor and trans-rights activist when she added writer, director and producer to her résumé with the debut of “Pose,” a TV show about the lives of gay and trans people in New York in the late 1980s. The second season premiered June 11 on FX.

Ms. Mock divides her time between Los Angeles, where “Pose” is written, and New York, where it’s filmed. She’s a New Yorker at heart, she says, but L.A. feels more like Hawaii, where she’s from. She goes back once a year to see family, and to eat her favorite comfort food.

“I’m so basic, I go straight to Zippy’s, which is a chain in Hawaii, and I get a chili chicken mixed plate. It has a scoop of rice and macaroni salad, which is classic Hawaii mixed plate local food, and then I get the fried chicken with a side of the homemade chili. I scarf that down within 15 minutes and then I go straight to Leonard’s. It’s a local spot where they make these Portuguese doughnuts. My grandfather is Portuguese so it’s very much comfort food for me. So those two things paired up, and I’m good to go.”

When she takes a vacation, she prefers an all-inclusive resort, where she can unplug, lounge on the beach all day and, as she puts it, “just get my life off of me.” She limits herself to two piña coladas per trip, though. “They’re too many calories. You have to be disciplined; you cannot gain weight on your vacation!”

Here’s what she can’t travel without.

“I stopped subscribing to magazines because I was just becoming a hoarder of them all. I was like, I have to save journalism! I have to keep all this paper! So I stopped subscribing, but my one treat is to buy five or six of them when I’m traveling back and forth, so usually it’s Vogue, Vanity Fair, The New Yorker, and then sometimes Essence depending on who’s on the cover, and Harper’s Bazaar depending on who’s on the cover, and then Elle depending on who’s on the cover.”

“There’s a company called Lunya which has these washable silk sleep masks and it really is the best, best sleep mask. I have one in black, I have one in gray, I have one in soft millennial pink which I love a lot, but I travel with my black one usually because it really just shuts out all the light. And it’s very big and it’s very soft and cushy, almost like a pillow for your face.”

“I think my bikinis take up more space than anything else.”

“On the plane, I’m listening to podcasts. ‘The Read’ is my number one. ‘The Read’ is my everything. It’s with Crissle and Kid Fury, they talk about the week in pop culture, they’re very, very black and they’re very unapologetic. They usually keep me cackling. I’m definitely an evangelist for that; I’ve told so many seat mates about it because they heard me laugh.”

“A lot of my flights are red-eyes from L.A. to New York, so I have my silk Slip pillowcase, which I put on the pillow they give you on the plane.”

“When I went on my first book tour, a Native woman gave me a little turquoise fringed leather pouch and it has these little crystals in it. She said she prayed over them because she wanted to protect me. I think it was the way she presented it to me, it seemed like she had put such care and such thought into it and she just talked about the idea of the energies and the idea of all of these spaces that I’m going into, and none of them are necessarily my own spaces.

The reason we pack all these different little items when we’re traveling, it’s usually to create some kind of a sense of sanctuary or safe space in a world that’s not necessarily safe. So the fact that she recognized that, and recognized the vulnerability it takes to go out into the world to talk about my stories, and my experiences, and my communities … I’ve kept it in my carry-on ever since, it’s the only sentimental thing I have.”

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