Some 30-plus years ago, my love affair with cats began with a Siamese cat named Sushi, whose life changed mine and fostered my exploration into the world of cats. As chronicled in my book, The Love Story of Sushi and Sashimi: A Cat Tale (published by Capri Press), Sushi meets and falls in love with an adorable Siamese kitten, Sashimi. Their Zen wisdom is told in their own voices as the relationship evolves.
Nothing can be more fun than hanging out with my two cats and photographing them. Fast forward: Out of this, my photography morphed into new directions—fashion and Cat PURRRTIES. One never knows where life will take you.
In 2016, I designed and trademarked the JacCAT® jacket with a large, black cat silhouette that immortalizes my cat, Ari. After launching an Indiegogo campaign to fund its production in New York City, I decided to create the First Annual NYC Cat PURRRTY. (Over the last 30 years, I’ve organized Universal Peace Day and enjoy creating events and bringing people together.) On the evening of September 30, 2016, guests arrived dressed as their cats, enjoyed live PURRRformances, and danced to cat tunes as they tried on the JacCAT®. The event’s co-sponsors were local cat rescue organizations including the Mayor’s Animal Alliance, Animal Care Centers of NYC, and KittyKind.
On October 29, 2017, in celebration of National Cat Day, I hosted the Second Annual NYC Cat PURRRTY at the Westbeth Community Space. There, I premiered my new red-and-black velvet Happy JacCAT® and the launching of my online shop, www.SuSu.nyc, featuring apparel and home goods for cat lovers.
As guests entered the PURRRTY, they were greeted by a face-painter who transformed them into cats, with whiskers and cat-noses. Adding to the feline festivities, cat-themed music played—“We Are Siamese If You Please,” “What’s New, Pussycat?” and tunes from the Broadway show CATS.
A highlight of the party included live PURRRformances by singer/actress Louisa Bradford, who sang “Stray Cat Strut,” followed by jazz diva, Eve Zanni, who got everyone meowing as they accompanied her singing “Everyone Wants to Be a Cat.” Projected on the backdrop was a slideshow of guests’ cat photos along with photos of Ari, Gato, Sushi, and Sashimi.
Helping to support the cat rescue cause, donations from sales are given to KittyKind, a nonprofit, no-kill, all-volunteer, cat adoption group located in Petco at Union Square; that is where I adopted my two black cats, Ari and Gato.
If you missed the Cat PURRRTY, I’ll be participating in the High Line Open Studios on March 10th and 11th from 12:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. Please also join me at my Westbeth studio where I’ll be displaying my fashion, photography, books, and more. All are welcome!
SuZen is a longtime Westbeth artist, known for her 40-foot by 25-foot painted mural, which has graced Times Square for more than three decades. Always pushing the boundaries, her photography expanded into the public arena with installations and performances in the World Trade Center Lobby, Staten Island Ferry, and JFK Airport. In the 1990s, SuZen began designing artwear, patenting the CatWrap™ and designing the SuSu. Her newest collection for cat lovers, as well as her photography, can be viewed at: www.SuSu.nyc and suzennyc.com, respectively. To contact SuZen, write to: hello@SuSu.nyc.