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Katastrophe performing at 2009 Homo A Go Go music festival in San Francisco
Background information
Born circa 1980[1]
Genres Hip hop, Homo hop
Occupations Rapper, producer
Years active Since 1997
Labels Knox Records
Cherchez La Femme
Sugartruck Recordings
Associated acts Ice Cream Socialites,
The End of the World

Rocco Kayiatos, best known by his stage name Katastrophe, is an American hip-hop rapper and producer.[2][3][4][5]

Based in the San Francisco Bay Area, he began competing in poetry slams in 1997. After winning the 1998 Youth Speaks poetry slam, he went on tour with Sister Spit's Rambling Road Show tour.[6] By age 19 Kayiatos had poems on four compilation cds. He is widely credited as the first openly transgender singer in the hip-hop genre and he often incorporates his being a transman in his work.


Music career

In 2001, he recorded with Mark Schaffer the title song to the feature film Sugar High Glitter City, directed by Shar Rednour (who broached the project to Katastrophe on a Sister Spit tour) and Jackie Strano; the soundtrack was nominated for an AVN Award but lost to Snoop Dogg.[7] Katstrophe and Schaffer then formed hip-hop group The End of the World along with Ricky Lee; Schaffer subsequently began performing solo as Schaffer the Darklord.[7]

Katastrophe started making beats in 2002.[8] He raps about lives lived outside the mainstreams of education, gender, and culture. He uses his struggle as a transman and his contested place in contemporary queer and hip hop culture to discuss larger issues of community, space, privilege, sex, and self-worth.[9]

He was named Producer of the Year by Outmusic Awards for his debut album Let's Fuck, Then Talk About My Problems on the Sugartruck Recordings label, released in 2004.[7][10] Kayiatos released a second album entitled Fault, Lies and Faultlines on the Cherchez La Femme label in 2005,[11] and a third full-length release, The Worst Amazing, was released in October 2009 on 307 Knox Records. In 2008 he wrote, produced, directed, and starred in a multimedia show, HomeMade SuperHero. He also performs with Jenna Riot as the music act Ice Cream Socialites.[12]

He is featured in the documentary films Poetic License, Pick Up the Mic, and Enough Man.[13][14] He was described as one of the most accomplished rappers in the Homo hop documentary Pick Up the Mic.[15] His video for the song "The Life" was on MTV networks LOGO top ten Click List for 12 weeks. His music has been featured on Showtime's soundtracks for the contemporary series The L Word, as well as several short films. Kayiatos is the subject of a forthcoming biopic entitled The State of Katastrophe. He has toured in the U.S. and Europe.[16]

Publishing career

He teamed up with Amos Mac to partner on creating the first magazine by and for transmen, Original Plumbing, which launched in October 2009.[17]


  1. ^ Miller, Shauna (March 20, 2008), "Prism Rap: Katastrophe", Express Night Out,, retrieved November 11, 2009  
  2. ^ Marech, Rona, "Heavy handed but tender-hearted, transgender hip-hopper Katastrophe is a rebel with a cause," The San Francisco Chronicle, February 25, 2005, accessed November 6, 2009
  3. ^ Ganahi, Jane, "Michelle Tea mines her colorful past for a graphic memoir. And we mean graphic," The San Francisco Chronicle, August 25, 2004, accessed November 6, 2009
  4. ^ Marech, Rona, "Throw out your pronouns -- 'he' and 'she' are meaningless terms in the Bay Area's flourishing transgender performance scene," The San Francisco Chronicle, December 29, 2003, accessed November 7, 2009
  5. ^ Schwartz, Abby, "Queer on the mic: Is rap music the final frontier for GLBT artists?," Gay and Lesbian Times, Issue 881, November 11, 2004, accessed November 9, 2009
  6. ^ Anderson-Minshall, Jacob (December 22, 2005), "Man Enough to Take on Rap", San Francisco Bay Times,, retrieved November 11, 2009  
  7. ^ a b c Swan, Rachel (2005-02-16), "Trans-Cendent: Katastrophe joins up with Deep Dickollective, "The Godfathers of Gay Hip-Hop.", East Bay Express,, retrieved 2009-11-25  
  8. ^ Cornwell, Paige (October 28, 2009), "Katastrophe brings transgender hip-hop to UNL", Daily Nebraskan,, retrieved November 11, 2009  
  9. ^ Sawyer, Terry, "Queering the Mic," Pop Matters, March 18, 2004, accessed November 7, 2009
  10. ^ "OMA Nominees". Outmusic. 2005. Retrieved 2009-11-25.  
  11. ^ Reighly, Kurt B., "Trans-hop," The Advocate, November 8, 2005
  12. ^ Del Mar, Pollo (July 17, 2008), "Pollo Hates Missing Out on the Fun", San Francisco Bay Times,, retrieved November 11, 2009  
  13. ^ Martinfield, Seán, "Frameline 32", San Francisco Sentinel, June 27, 2009, accessed November 7, 2009
  14. ^ "Review of "Pick up the Mic"", After Ellen, October 18, 2006, accessed November 7, 2009
  15. ^ Butcher, Terrence (June 23, 2009), "Pic up the Mic: The Evolution of Homohop", Pop Matters,  
  16. ^ Barreto, Mac (2004-11-23), Katastrophe: Hip Hop Against the Grain, Wiretap,, retrieved 2009-11-07  
  17. ^ Greenfield, Beth, "Gay: Original Plumbing launches: New publication celebrates transmen," Time Out New York, October 22-28, 2009, accessed November 6, 2009

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