Rocco “Katastrophe” Kayiatos is an artist, entertainer, activist and educator. He started his career at the age of seventeen in the San Francisco performance poetry scene by competing in the second annual Youth Speaks Poetry Slam. He tied for the win and was hired as a Youth Coordinator, where he facilitated workshops and after-school writing programs as well as performing in over 80 Bay Area schools. From there, he had shows in black-box theaters all over San Francisco including several bay area street festivals. He was featured on four compilation CDs and was one of the main features of the documentary film Poetic License, all by the age of nineteen. Kayiatos was invited on the 1999 Sister Spit Rambling Road Show, a six week nationwide tour, where he took the stage every night.
After Sister Spit, Kayiatos had a taste for the road and he decided to continue to tour and travel. He began to combine his love of the word with his love of music and started making beats, writing and recording rap. In all his work, Rocco weaves dense and beautiful tales of lives lived outside the mainstream of gender, class, education and culture. He released his first full length record “Let’s F#*K, Then Talk About My Problems” under the moniker Katastrophe in 2004, becoming the first open FTM transgender musician to release an album. He was awarded Producer of the Year for “Let’s F#*K...” by The Out Music Awards. He toured the US and Europe extensively and continued to be outspoken about the intersection of his art and identity. He was a feature in the 2006 documentary Pick Up The Mic, the (r)Evolution of Homo Hop, a film that captured the burgeoning scene of openly out LGBTQI hip hop artists. Katastrophe released 3 other full length CDs. His music has been featured on independent film soundtracks, documentaries and Showtime’s The L Word. He has had singles that charted on college radios and LOGO’s The Click List.
He has spent most of his adult life on the road touring colleges, offering performances and workshops that focus on educating about trans identities and how to make campuses more hospitable for transgender and gender variant students. He combined his music with a mixture of motivational speaking and comedy to further engage young people in the discussion about identity, self worth and love. He is also co-creator (along with photographer Amos Mac) of Original Plumbing Magazine, the world’s first trans male quarterly magazine. This magazine is dedicated to showing the multidimensional lives of men who happen to be transgender.
Rocco Kayiatos aims to change the world for the better through art and expression. If he sees a gap in understanding, it is his principle desire to explain. If he sees an injustice, it his aim to correct it. If he sees a life lived outside the mainstream not being respected, he will put forth his greatest effort to shine light on the idea of shared humanity and the due respect that it should be granted. In all his work, Kayiatos shows kindness, patience and understanding. He is a voice for those that have been silenced and for those who have never had the opportunity to speak for themselves.
He currently lives in Los Angeles and recently led the video education department at BuzzFeed, where he trained all the interns and fellows in what it takes to make a BuzzFeed style viral video. In his time there, he hired and trained over 200 content creators, helped launch hugely successful education programs and content verticals. He continues to work on many creative projects and events.