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Church of Trouble: How an Ex-Dominatrix Started an Interdisciplinary Studio in Bushwick — Arts & Culture on Bushwick Daily

Church of Trouble: How an Ex-Dominatrix Started an Interdisciplinary Studio in Bushwick

After many odd jobs and a corporate gig, Rachel Music founded a sex-positive and feminist studio for all kinds of creatives.

Becca Beberaggi

beberaggi.rebecca@gmail.com

Rachel Music is the Chief Creative Officer of a Bushwick-based interdisciplinary studio called Schadenfrau, who has made a career in utilizing professional experiences to enhance her artistic life.

After graduating from NYU’s Tisch Drama Program, she worked odd jobs such as a dog groomer's assistant, dominatrix, nanny, and eventually as an executive assistant, which is where her hard work was recognized in an unexpected way.

“I became close with my last boss, the CEO of Group SJR. He gave me a lot of creative assignments when I showed myself a strong writer and we got to talking about my projects,” Music shared. “One day I left the pilot script I was working on in his office, and a month later he called me in, tapped the script and just said, ‘What the fuck are you doing here? This is good.’"

He then connected Music with a colleague; the colleague’s assistant would later become Schadenfrau’s co-founder, Kelli Reilly. Creative sparks flew immediately.

Behind the scenes of "Yes, Mistress."

Music intended to use this newfound collaboration to complete her pilot script about a workplace comedy set in a sex dungeon, “Yes, Mistress.” The show is loosely based on the experience she had while in college.

Later, Music shifted gears after realizing that the funding gathered for the pilot would be better utilized to start a company, “The greater vision was to make a content hub—shorts, articles, podcasts, live shows—all feeding into one another, powered by a tight coalition of hungry creatives.”

Schadenfrau can be loosely translated from German as "suffering wife" or "trouble woman." Music loves the duality of this and the idea that someone can transition from one to the other, “I mean, I did. It's a little prophetic because a lot of our content is female-driven and sex-positive, but always with a sense of play nearby.”

The company’s mission supports unique perspectives and stories that haven't had the opportunity to be showcased. Comedy is a huge priority for Schadenfrau, “I'll be pithy and say that the comedy spectrum includes tragedies minus time. We cast and hire sex workers whenever possible and that's a core tenet represented by a lot of our slate.”

Music performing burlesque.

Music, who is currently taking over the core responsibilities of Schadenfrau, due to Reilly departing to pursue other artistic endeavors, has an ambitious yet exciting goal in mind for the company. She plans to have two live shows a month, and at least one episodic project in production at a time, along with writers who will help expand a social media presence.

“The team will be growing and I would be delighted and thrilled to hear from folks looking to get their work created in the playfully defiant and collaborative atmosphere we affectionately call the Church of Trouble,” Music said.

Her creative pursuits all stem from her desire to create, learn, and grow. Music has expressed that though her professional corporate career sometimes felt like a chore, she wouldn’t have changed those experiences for the world, as they helped her develop a more disciplined approach to her writing and creative pursuits.

“I dragged my feet on a lot of writing projects,” Music shared. “But the skills and business sense I got, not to mention building the muscle of simply showing up, served to prepare me a lot more than most parts of art school. Sometimes you just need a freaking spreadsheet.”


Cover photo courtesy of John Christou. All other photos are courtesy of Rachel Music and Schadenfrau. 

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