In the developing of “Bedroom Diaries” as the foundation of this site, I became very much aware that many people do not, in fact, have childhood bedrooms anymore. Parents have moved, gotten divorced, turned them into personal gyms, offices… and the list of offences (how dare they!) goes on.
Anthony Maganja-Smith’s bedroom is a rare gem in the wreckage of change.
Not only does he live in the room that raised him, but it’s the room that raised his mother, too. “I’ve held onto so many photos of my mom from the ’90s, most of which are taken right here,” says the 27-year-old Ryerson University student. “So much of her history, and now mine, has played out between these walls.” Maganja-Smith now shares the west end Toronto home with his grandfather, while his mother, Suzanne, and little sister live north of the city.
I got my own landline when I was 10 and was totally obsessed. I spent hours talking to my friend Dasha. I felt like a teen in the movies.
Maganja-Smith’s bedroom is what might be categorized as “chaotic good.” It’s an archive of everything ‘90s—Tommy Jeans logo prints, the Calvin Klein Barbie, deadstock Backstreet Boys sticker packs and Madonna’s infamous Sex book—that is so chock full, it’s busting from shelves, drawers and laundry bins. There are sentimental trinkets too, including his mother’s clubbing wardrobe. “A lot of her clothing that I’ve held onto is from now defunct small labels, handmade, or self-altered. You just don’t find shit like that anymore,” he says. Not that it stops him from trying; he has continued to amass key pieces through thrifting in the suburbs. “I get this sense of satisfaction from sifting through racks of crap to find hidden treasure,” he says. With a keen eye, he’s been able to find rare Madonna merchandise (like his mint condition baseball cap and T-shirt from her 1993 “The Girlie Show” tour) for bargain prices. “It pays to know how to spot an original,” he says.
Maganja-Smith says that while his penchant for collecting is a recent development, he’s always had a hard time letting go of things. A few years back, he lost one of his mother’s earrings from the ’80s and was devastated. “Even my mom didn’t get why I was so attached to it, she was kind of like ‘So? It’s a cheap plastic earring!’ Obviously it meant a lot more to me,” he says.
“We didn’t have a lot growing up, but my mom always found a way to gift me things that made me feel loved and at home,” he says. “I guess I’ve always felt a subconscious need to honour those sacrifices by keeping aspects of her alive here. It’s pretty cluttered in here, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
If you know Maganja-Smith or his iconique meme account, @chill_papi, it’s wild to re-contextualize his irreverent sass in such a wholesome universe, but that’s just the kind of bond he and his mother have. “My dad wasn’t around a ton when I was growing up, and looking back, I have a real sense that my mom was always my partner in crime,” he says. “Everything in this room really reminds me of just how special our relationship is.”