CREDIT: Luigi Bencosme
As I write this, I listen to Joni Mitchell’s “Blue” in a candlelit room surrounded by plants. Yes, the plants may be fake and the candle is electric, but as I’ve learned from my time at this publication, it’s all about the illusion.
Rowdy Magazine first slipped into the smooth crevasses of my cerebral cortex — look at me trying to be a pretty writer. Who am I kidding?
I first heard about Rowdy Magazine when I was just a small Miami high schooler. Not small at all actually, according to my nutritionist. I was aimlessly scrolling through TikTok, as one does while awaiting the impending doom of a global pandemic, when I saw a silly little video about a group of friends starting a magazine at their college.
“Wow. That’s so cool,” I thought as a newly admitted political science major at the University of Florida.
It took me another few weeks of following these blue-haired liberals (JOKES, they mostly had red hair for some reason) before I realized that this “so cool” magazine was based at UF.
I even DMed the account on Instagram:
“hiii sorry to bother lol but are there only positions available for photographers/models? i can be like the fun intern who gets the iced coffees and makes a couple of jokes”
It is from this DM (where I asked to model) that you can begin to see how badly the pandemic was starting to affect my long-term cerebral functioning.
Nothing happened. I mean, I did join the now-deceased exclusive Rowdy Clubhouse, but applications were essentially closed and I had to wait.
Then, I got a life.
After a pretty lackluster, sad and lonely freshman fall, I saw that Rowdy posted applications for the upcoming spring semester.
Without a single ounce of experience and a whole lot of gained confidence from a high school capstone teacher, I decided to apply as a staff writer for Rowdy’s online blog.
To this day, I still don’t know why Rowdy took a shot at me as a writer. I only had a few research papers, random think pieces, and a few silly tweets to back my name.
I started my position in January of 2021 and my life forever changed.
Yes, it sounds cheesy, but it’s genuinely true. Rowdy gave me a little family.
It was here where I fell in love with writing and expressing my opinion unabashedly. It was also here where I was taught the fundamentals of journalism (which ended up temporarily being my major).
Surrounded by a talented team and an amazing editor, I was always being uplifted in a way that allowed me to make mistakes and not beat myself up for it. I knew nothing about being a cool and artsy writer; yet, I was given an outlet that taught me just that.
Don’t get me wrong, I still CRINGE badly at some of the pieces I wrote. I mean, to this day one of the first results after you Google my name is my “Gay Son or Thot Daughter” piece.
When I harassed my editor in chief about starting a podcast, I truly just wanted to shit talk for a minute. This is where “Shit Going On” was born.
Having no experience once again, I applied for the producer position — which, as the fans know, I ended up securing.
While I could go through all the things that being a producer taught me, I’m honestly really hungry and EIC wanted this column to be done by last night.
During my one-year and three season-long tenure of being the SGO producer, I was given a leadership position that came with its many ups and many downs. As any other executive member of the team knows, it can get very stressful and overwhelming at times.
Were you even a part of Rowdy if you didn’t shed at least one tear at some point?
Eventually, Rowdy came to define who I was as a student at UF. It gave me another family and something to look forward to every week. The only “Luigi” before Rowdy who I remember is a sad and lonely one who latched onto the hope of friendship from anyone he could find.
As I said before, the past 17 months here have all been about the illusion, for me. This sounds like a read but, truly, it’s not. I didn’t know shit about being a writer, nor being a producer or a competent leader, or simply just existing within the “artsy” scene in Gainesville. Yet, with love, patience and a highly skilled team of people, I was taught to live past the illusion and actually be those very things I was scared of failing at.
Except being in the artsy scene — I’m sorry I don’t know how to dress in a drippy manner or overcome the fact that most of you scare the living shit out of me. Arrest me! There is nothing that brings me more joy than knowing I’ll never have to go to a single magazine event in this city ever again.
That was a joke… I love those events… like so much…
There is no illusion, however, behind how extremely gifted this group of people is. Everyone at this publication puts their sweat and tears into making Rowdy what it is.
There is also no illusion behind the bonds and friendships that you cultivate at Rowdy. The type of friends that you randomly go on a shit-talking Opus date with; the type of friends who you go to UC with on the night that your ex is there; the type of friends who you drag to a magazine launch party; or even the type of friends who work at Condé Nast whom you visit when traveling to New York City.
Rowdy is within me and always will be. It gave me a family, a good portfolio, a lot of life lessons and even an idea of a career path.
Rowdy took me in as a toddler with a stepping stool, and I left as a middle schooler who just broke their leg playing Little League soccer. While I’m still far from perfect, Rowdy has allowed me to grow into myself and given me the tools to achieve greatness in the near future.
As I leave this publication behind me, I lose a part of what has come to define my identity in college. Being that bitch. Yet, if Rowdy has taught me one thing, it’s that even when your crown starts to slip a little, there will always be a group of people ready to lift it back up again.
I’ll love you, forever and always.