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These Badass Women Forge Beautiful BDSM Weapons

Rozliubit co-founders Sasha Pharoah and Sua Yoo craft custom blades and armor that are beloved by Chicago's hip-hop royalty.

by Ryan Filchak; photos by Alexa Viscius
Feb 14 2018, 9:00pm

Rozliubit daggers

Dressed incongruously in a camouflage hoodie and chrome shin protectors, Sasha Pharoah wheels a serving cart holding a live king crab through the busy dining room at Cai Fine Dining and Banquet in Chicago’s Chinatown. The co-founder of handcrafted weaponry company Rozliubit brings the still-wet crustacean to a table where Vic Mensa holds court with fellow Chicago rapper Valee, creative director Daniella Deluna, and Sua Yoo, Pharoah’s co-founder and creative partner. Sporting a shimmering monokini and bright yellow Mongolian lamb’s wool coat, Yoo languidly wields a 24-inch diamond studded katana sword at the dinner table like it’s the most natural thing in the world.

If the scene seems surreal, that’s the intended effect. Pharoah and Yoo aren’t guests at a particularly decadent dinner for Chicago’s rising hip-hop royalty. On this night, the restaurant is serving as a guerrilla soundstage where Mensa is hard at work shooting the music video for a forthcoming single. And as they did in the video for the rapper’s 2017 single “OMG (ft. Pusha T),” Rozliubit is contributing luxe, bejeweled blades and armor to Mensa’s visual identity.

The earlier video featured Yoo and model Angel Harrold in the backseat of a Bentley convertible in Swarovski-studded hockey masks and lingerie, with Yoo brandishing a snow-white katana like a pinup bodyguard. The new shoot is more Blade Runner kitsch, but Pharoah and Yoo’s styling and weaponry lends the video a vicious sensuality that you might call Rozliubit’s hallmark.

Rozliubit katana and dagger

Pharoah and Yoo became weapons dealers in 2015, building an inventory of meticulously crafted blades and delicate BDSM armor that they sell to Rozliubit’s international clientele. “What we define as a weapon is pretty open. For example, we’ve talked about working with boxing gloves before, which is both a weapon and a piece of armor,” Yoo says. Themes of glamour, danger, and playful detachment run through their work. The name Rozliubit comes from the Russian term razbliuto, which translates as “the sentimental feeling you have for someone you once loved but no longer do.”

The self-proclaimed “maids of honor and guardians of virtue” control every aspect of their production process, mutually collaborating on designs and prototypes and splitting their profits equally. They cast and carve their intricate knife hilts by hand, incorporating embellishments like Swarovski gemstones bought at auction and vintage crucifix parts. Pharoah and Yoo affix the custom handles to prefabricated knife blades sourced from suppliers, making each piece completely unique.

Sua Yoo (L) and Sasha Pharoah (R)

The language and craftsmanship behind the Rozliubit brand draws on Greek mythology, classical architecture, BDSM, and kawaii culture to achieve a dark and enticing aesthetic. “Hinting at danger and being aggressive is interesting for us, and when people find out the weapons are made by two girls, it adds to this,” Pharaoh says.



Not afraid of corrupting the “sacred,” Rozliubit also satirizes the links between commerce, religion, and sexuality. Their “maids of heaven and guardians of virtue” tagline is an explicit reference to this connection. “We both kind of agree that religion is an amusingly obvious scam and that a lot of it is basically just a cover for kinks and controlling sexuality,” Pharoah adds.

Rozliubit dagger and gorget

To push the uniqueness of their brand even further, Rozliubit is moving away from limited runs and one-off designs to a singularly commission-based operation. “We’re not catering to any existing product base, and commissions allow us to step further outside of the space of an internet brand,” says Pharaoh. Rozliubit recently completed a custom dagger for drag queen Katya Zamolodchikova, a former contestant on RuPaul’s Drag Race and current star of The Trixie & Katya Show on VICELAND. Zamolodchikova collaborated with Pharoah and Yoo to design a grotesque knife with eyeballs covering the hilt and a blood red blade, the first time Rozliubit has introduced color to their blade palette.

Rozliubit dagger

Based on the success of their partnerships with Mensa and Zamolodchikova, artistic collaborations are quickly becoming the cornerstone of Rozliubit’s business model. It’s a creative existence that suits Pharoah and Yoo’s enterprising, experimental nature.

Back in Chinatown, the Rozliubit co-founders exit Cai Fine Dining and Banquet into below-freezing temperatures. For the next scene in Mensa’s video, a white Ferrari waits parked outside the same Chinatown strip mall. Neon lights running the length of the building read “Yin Wall City,” and mixed with the snow, they cast a warm red haze over the parking lot. Though it’s late, and cold, and Yoo is scantily clad in her glittering costume, she and Pharoah appear relaxed. Rozliubit is well on its way to manifesting realities of its own design.

Rozliubit katana
Sasha Pharoah (L). Rozliubit dagger (R).
Rozliubit katana
Rozliubit dagger (L). Sua Yoo (R).

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