Letter to my 17-year-old self.

Sup Chazmen,

Life’s been rough since day one but at age 17, you start to see a silver lining. That’s not it though. You learn that the silver lining doesn’t exist. Well, at least not in your world. There is no escaping the darkness. Yet in those solemn times, you’ve always remained optimistic. Never lose that. That six figure silver lining doesn’t pan out. Yet, you do find your way out of Florida. It won’t be to an Ivy League school up North but niglet you do make it out of Hell.

You’ll learn to surprise yourself. By stepping out of your comfort zone and expressing yourself the way you see fit. You’ll find your voice to speak up about your troubles. You’ll learn to be vulnerable.

You’ll eventually learn to embrace your blackness.

You won’t always be called an Oreo.

You won’t always be the only black gay male in the room.

You won’t always feel alone.

My God, you’ll disappoint yourself over and over again. You’ll be disappointed in others. Cry & move on.

You’ll continue to live life backstage in Florida. But remember, a stage is a stage and you can shine from anywhere. Your moment will come.

Also, magic IS real, not like the Harry Potter stuff. You create magic every time you smile. Never stop smiling. It’ll continue to bring you justice in complicated situation. So, smile on!

There’s magic in your creativity. Trust yourself and the abilities you have earned. Use them wisely. To create art, community and self love.

Call Granny more.

Never stop dreaming. Those dreams becomes foundations for artwork. Pain is an emotion meant to be felt and expressed. You’ll learn to express your pain. You’ll learn to share it with the world. They’ll even understand. There is power in being vulnerable.

So keep smiling. Keep dreaming. And be patient.

Your time to take center stage will come.

-Big Chaz

The Garden of Sonique

The first seed was in 2017 as House of Sonique. The House grew to become a powerhouse name in DC nightlife, headlining shows and producing one-of-kinda-balls at the Hirshhorn, Spy Museum, The National Portrait Gallery, and Echostage.

​Fast forward to 2021, The Garden of Sonique has blossomed. The mission is simple: community over profits. We have pledged ourselves to do our part to support the community in a time of desperation.

That is why 15% of all sales go directly back into DC. Local artists, businesses, and individuals whose finances and dreams have been crushed due to the pandemic will receive relief every day. Our goal is to grow sustainably and to increase our community donations to 60% by December 2021.

DC fam, friends, artists, and business owners who have been negatively affected by the pandemic and are currently seeking relief please email AllThingsChaz@HouseofChazmen.com to schedule a 30-minute free consultation to learn more on how you can receive benefits. Feel free to anonymously submit someone, we also love surprises!

Meet the Gardeners
Business Operations
Jaq Palmer

Logistics and Operations
Laurel Johnson

Resident Artist
Cresent Hayes

Meat Mom/Owner
Chazmen McCarter

Veggie Daddy/Chef
Alex Bradley



Pain this world gave me

Pain of not caring

Pain of rejection

Pain of love

Pain of life

Pain of suffering

Pain of confusion

Pain of oppression

Pain of depression

Pain of madness

Pain of sadness

Pain of now, hurts

I can’t stop thinking about this life called pain

Through pain I gain confidence strength and patience

Without it I’m useless

-Arneteria Benford




Shot & styled by Chaz Sonique

Muse | Cresent 

See more portraits





Headpiece by Chaz Sonique

Shot & styled by Chaz Sonique



You are my flower
My world my life my hour
You are my strength my hope and my dreams
You are my colors dashed against a wall
You are creative in me
You rise
You fall
You grow up and fall
You sleep but never stop dreaming
You see yourself beautiful to me
You see yourself being held in my hands
You see me taking pictures of you by the sand
You see shapes and shadows make you
You see love and like as the same
You see storms before they come
You smell water before it falls
You get to see me through lens of all sizes
You see me crying right before your eyes
You see my personality changed for the better
You see mending broken pieces together
You see me at concerts
You see me in hospitals
You see me at funerals
You see me at parties
You see me with friends
You see me with family
You see me from a distance
You see me close up and personal
You see me hiding when I don’t need to be
You see me gazing at my lost of memories
You see at the beginning and you see me at my endings
You see me being loved, cared for, rejected and hurt
You see me smiling, laughing and coping
You see me posing with your family pictures
You see me with your friends in the next door store window
You see me being watered with your love
You see me being fed when I just ate
You see me changing for better when I thought it was a mistake
You see me winning when I thought I was failing
You saw me failing when I thought it was winning and worth it
You saw me cry when I was mad,  sad, angry and confused
You saw me get back up to be knocked down again
You saw my strengths, my wrongs and my rights
You know me better in the end
You are my flowers of my life

–Arneteria Benford





Ready me for

Another day of battle,

Yearning to sometimes just get by.

Each day, I rise, swords honed.

Ready to face the externalities of life.


🔹A Floral Affair 🔹


Peacock 🦚



Poetry is like this

You can find love and love can’t find you

You can have a house and you can lose it in a blink of an eye

You can have happiness and happiness don’t have a hold of you

Sometimes you don’t have to experience pain and pain don’t have to experience you

Written by Arneteria Benford aka Mother

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