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04 Oct

Meet our Bikini Muse, River Johnson

Posted by Bikini Owner in Bikini, festival, interview, L.A., muse, River Johnson

Once in a while, we come across stellar gals like River Johnson on the 'gram who capture our beach-distracted minds. Get to know our latest bikini muse, a self-described magic princesa, pop-techno light-warrior and rainbow-goddess with this intimate chat about her fairy-like life.

White Moth Super Rainbow from Third Eye Princessa Productions on Vimeo.

BIKINI: Where are you from? 

RIVER JOHNSON: I was born and partially raised in Panama, and grew up moving back and forth between Texas and Germany. 


BIKINI: Why is that — did your parents love traveling?

RJ: My mom is a nurse and works for the army, but she’s not in the army. The reason I was born in Panama is that my mom is from there, and when my parents first met in Austin in the '70s after my mom graduated, they decided to move to Panama. They owned a house there and had kids, and then my mom's job ended because the base she was working at closed after the war. So we moved to Texas. 

BIKINI: Are you fluent in Spanish? 

RJ: I used to speak it fluently. Now I'm not fluent, but I understand and speak a lot of it. 


BIKINI: So are you American-Panamanian? 

RJ: Yes,  I have dual citizenship with Panama. My mom is American, but she was born and raised in Panama. She has blonde hair and blue eyes, but we’re all Latinas at heart. 


A post shared by River Johnson (@opium_dreams) on


BIKINI: When did you move to L.A.?

RJ: About three and a half years ago.


BIKINI: Why did you decide to move to L.A.?

RJ: I was going to school in Austin and became uninspired, and wanted to pursue modeling because I know that modeling is a time-sensitive thing. I also knew that this city is a city of creatives, and I wanted to expand creatively and meet people all the time, collaborate and expand my horizon. Austin is really great, and I loved it for the time being, but since I moved around so much, after a while I get an urge to pick up and move again. I never thought that I would move to L.A., but I knew California. I spent time growing up in the summer visiting my aunt in San Diego. It all made complete sense to move here. 


BIKINI: Where do you hang out in L.A.?

RJ: The thing I really love about Los Angeles is that there is always something happening. If you want to take it easy, you can go to Venice Beach, hang out out at the beach, walk up and down the boardwalk, meet up with friends and join the drum circle on Sundays. Honestly, I don’t really go out in L.A.; if I do, it tends to be to a forest or out in nature. I don’t go out to clubs much — it’s a really different vibe than mine. Everyone is looking at everyone else or their phones, so I try not go out to those places.

There’s a beautiful community I found in L.A. that’s conscious, supportive and full of artists, doers, dreamers ... just magic makers and people who are shifting the reality of what is, and it feels really good to be a part of that. I feel really grateful for the people I’ve met and for the opportunities that come my way.  I just have to be open-minded and open to receiving the opportunities. Say yes to the flow! Also, with modeling, I'm constantly collaborating with artists. I was an easy transition for me when I first moved here because I was meeting people every day, then they would introduce me to people. It was an ongoing newness. 


A post shared by River  Johnson (@opium_dreams) on


BIKINI: Do you remember your first modeling gig? 

RJ: The first gig I got was shooting for this Japanese magazine called Honey. I got it through my agency at the time, Elite Management. It was the biggest job I had ever gotten. I was so excited because I’ve been so fascinated with Japan and the culture, and so it was so rad that that was my first job. We shot in Malibu on the beach, and I couldn’t believe I was getting paid to do that. 


BIKINI: What's your take on the modeling industry?

RJ: I think if you want to be successful you have to remain authentic to yourself — there’s going to be a million people telling you to lose weight, whiten your teeth or change your hair color. I’ve had so many people and agencies tell me to change myself, and I almost fell for it. I remember buying a self-tanning lotion, and I went home started opening the package and couldn't get it opened, that's when it all came to me — like, why am I doing this? It's not me! I don't need to do this, and I returned it. I'll never forget that moment. You can't let people tell you who you have to be; you just have to be you. So that's the most important thing — stay true to yourself. 


BIKINI: Do you find it hard to be in the modeling world?

RJ: Yes. I think it was harder when I was younger. I think I've always had a strong sense of who I am and been confident in myself. When I was younger, I was more easily swayed by other opinions, but also you have to deal with so much rejection. When they tell you no, they don't necessarily give you a reason why — that's the frustrating part. I've found myself asking, "What am I doing wrong to not get the job?" But it's truly based on looks and your vibe. 

They want someone on set who will have fun and have a positive attitude. I remember earlier this year, one of my clients that I worked with — now a friend of mine — said that as soon as I walked in, they immediately loved me so much. It was all about my vibe. All the other girls came with no vibe and were super shy. Sure, they were beautiful, but it's about your vibe as well. 


BIKINI: Your look is unique — how would you describe it? What influences your style?

RJ: I draw inspiration from so many cultures and style and really inspired by the '60s and '70s love movement. These days I find myself dressing very comfortably. I don't like wearing tight clothes as much as I used to. My style is always evolving and changing. Festival wear also influences me. I love clothes, and think fashion is amazing because that's how people express themselves without saying anything. They also make you feel super good. If you're wearing a bomb-ass outfit, you're going to feel good, and then you're going to look good. It radiates from the inside out. I would describe my style as so many genres going into it — river magic, princesa pop-techno, light-warrior, rainbow-goddess. 


A post shared by River Johnson (@opium_dreams) on


BIKINI: It sounds like you love attending fests. What do they mean to you? 

RJ: They bring me so much joy and inspiration. It's the community that is shifting this generation of consciousness. Everyone is so accepting, kind and open. People who don't go to festivals may think that it's just a major rager where you go to party, but it's so much deeper than that. There are so many experiences that you can have there. I go to these festivals because of the magic that happens and the synchronicities. I find myself asking, "Why did I come here?" Some of it is partying, but there's also deeper moments of truth that are mindblowing. This is what life is about — happiness, friendship, finding your community, inspiring others through music. Also, the workshops they offer in yoga, movement, holistic healing, healthy eating and juicing. It's really a learning process. It's about living to your fullest potential, expressing yourself and putting yourself out there. 


BIKINI: Did you go to this last Burning Man? 

RJ: I did not. I missed out, but you can definitely find me frolicking on the playa next year. I didn't go because I chose Oregon Eclipse Gathering instead. I had to choose one or the other because they were back to back, with only four or five days between each. I need time to reflect, decompress and integrate back into normal life and compartmentalize everything that I've learned at the festival. The Global Eclipse Gathering was in honor of the eclipse, which I thought was a once in a life opportunity.


BIKINI: What makes you tick the most? 

RJ: Living my truth. I really want to inspire people to awaken to their purpose and know what their calling is, not just do something because other people tell them what to do it. 


A post shared by River Johnson (@opium_dreams) on


BIKINI: How do you live up to your truth?

RJ: You really have to find what makes you happy and find what sets your soul on fire. Get inspired by nature, art, cultures, your friends and the world. Emerge yourself. Pay attention to what makes your heart beat faster, the things you get excited about and make you start talking really fast — those are all signs. What makes you feel grounded and centered? That's another sign that you're on the right path. And then when you're on the right path, things happen easily because you're in alignment with your calling. 


BIKINI: Do you have anything exciting coming up?

RJ: I've been working on music, with a couple of different producers. I'm releasing two different tracks later this year. One is a folky indie alternative, and the other is a house track with my vocals and my lyrics. I'm also very excited because I just got my first paid gig as a photographer shooting for a brand. I shot film and create videography; I like to call them visual diaries. I love bringing my vision to life.


BIKINI: Are you a self-taught photographer and videographer? 

RJ: I did teach myself. I've always had an interest. Ever since I was a little girl at age seven, I would have my disposable camera with me. I would take pictures of friends, snapping away in elementary school. I got my film camera a few years back and have been playing with that, and back in high school, I took a videography class. 


BIKINI: What's your take on social media?

RJ: I think that it is amazing and also there's a dark side just with anything in life — there is a yin and a yang. It's also awesome because it brings so many artists and people in general together. I've met some of my favorite best friends on Instagram, so I have to be thankful for that. But sometimes it takes a lot of my time, but that's on me to have the discipline to focus my time on something better. It's my work too — it's a representation of who you are. Reality and social media have to line up though. You can easily spot who is authentic, and I admire those people. I also think Instagram killed the supermodel — everyone these days is an Instamodel. 


A post shared by River Johnson (@opium_dreams) on