A conversation with our latest cover star on the queer influences that shaped him, the joy of rock climbing, and what he wished he'd done when he met the president (not this one, the last one).
Intuition is a big word for Frank Ocean. It’s been a guiding star in his uncharted course to success. His trust in it has led to various awards, beloved albums, even a surprise magazine filled with two years of globetrotting adventures.
Believe it or not, intuition also told us that one day Frank Ocean’s path would cross our own. So when the opportunity arose to collaborate — on the cover story for our 10th issue, no less — we were, on some level, not surprised. We were, nevertheless, nervous, excited and well aware that we needed to create something special. Frank is one of those people who makes you want to be your best.
As Collier snapped her frames at a furious pace, we stood by trying to take it all in. At one point, Frank looked over and, for whatever reason, we responded with enthusiastic thumbs-up. A cheesy move, yes, but once we chatted a few days later for the interview, we quickly realized that Frank is not the kind of person looking for a slick performance from everyone he encounters. He was thoughtful, open and earnest. It was a delight getting answers to the questions we’ve wanted to ask him for years.
Hey, Frank. How is 2019 treating you? Everything’s cool. Everything’s good. Been keeping busy.
What’s been filling up your days lately? Same old: making things, a lot of time in the studio between here [New York] and L.A. I split my time. …
A field trip to Austin, TX, with creative superhuman Paul Soileau
Back in 2012, I saw Christeene perform at her very first gig in Brooklyn at Glasslands Gallery. It was a high-energy terrorist drag show with lots of mooning and stage diving. The crowd went wild. By that time, I was already familiar with her music, videos and filthy lyrics:
I am your new celebrity
I am your new America
I am the piece of filthy meat
That you take home and treat to yourself
— “African Mayonnaise” (2012)
But it’s Christeene’s live show that won me over and left a real impression. The audience interaction I found poignant and sincere; same with her no-bullshit approach to issues of gender politics, censorship and the policing of our queer community. It was raw, dirty, entertaining and enlightening, all at the same time. Enchanted, I decided I’d never again miss a chance to see her perform.
Christeene and I met socially a number of times, in typically late-night affairs, before or after her appearances. We’d even had our pictures taken together. But I knew very little about the person behind the act, an Austin-based native of Louisiana named Paul Soileau. So when an invitation arrived from the Museum of Human Achievement in Austin, I knew right away that I needed to go on a field trip with Christeene, to document and investigate.
When Paul and I met on my first night in Austin, it felt like déjà vu, like maybe we were separated at birth. …
A party presented by Susanne Bartsch & Linux at 3 Dollar Bill
In pursuit of pop stardom, the German-born singer left the suburbs of Cologne for the promise of Los Angeles. Soon, she’ll need no introduction.
“It’s crazy to think my first single came out only a year ago.” Kim Petras took a breath to consider the whirlwind. Six years ago she left Germany and headed to L.A., where, like countless others before her, she assumed her celebrity status awaited.
She wasn’t wrong. Within the last few months alone, she attended the MTV Video Music Awards for the first time, performed her very first stadium show (at Arthur Ashe Stadium) and took the stage at Billboard’s annual Hot 100 Festival. Now, her full-length debut is set to drop in 2019. This may all sound like the candied precursor to a glorious pop career, but despite the synthetic, sugary goodness of her music, arriving wasn’t a cakewalk. “What I have,” Kim said, “I worked for it.”
Following an absurdly busy August in New York, Kim returned to L.A. in time to celebrate her 27th birthday, at Disneyland no less. She spent the day with close friends and a bunch of gummy edibles, shutting off her phone for an adventure in the park. She needed to unwind before what might be an even busier autumn, including an upcoming tour with Troye Sivan. “It felt great to just be a person,” she told me, remembering the edibles. “I just needed a day to be stupid.”
She says all this without an ounce of irony — a key facet of her brand. As we chatted, she called herself “basic,” citing her abiding interests in Pumpkin Spice Lattes and ramen noodles. …
Celebrating the grand opening of 3 Dollar Bill!
The Black Party is back again on April 6th, but this is not just any year of the Black Party — the international fetish party known the world over — it’s the 40th anniversary of the event. And it’s taking place at The New York Expo Center. People pack their leather and dildos and harnesses and gimp masks and travel to NYC from all over the world for a night, and morning of gay fetish and dance. The party usually draws a crowd of around 4000 people. This year the party is being called Rites XL: The Black Party CALIGULA. Caligula was a Roman emperor who ruled from AD 37 to AD 41. He was the son of a popular Roman general and regarded as an insane leader who “turned the palace into a brothel, and most famously, planned or promised to make his horse, Incitatus, a consul, and actually appointed him a priest.” I’m not drawing any parallels between The Black Party and the palace of Caligula, but let’s just say that things will most likely get a little wild this Saturday. I heard that the party really gets going past 3:00AM, so take your time getting there. Music for the night is by Byrell The Great, Roi Perez, B2B, Ryan Smith, Boris (Berlin), Mike Servito and DJ Harvey. Plus, they’re promising “strange musical acts.” We wouldn’t expect anything less from this legendary party. Play safe, have fun.
The artist Brian Kenny, a friend and contributor to our publication, has found function for his reimagined vision of late icon and inspiration Gilbert Baker’s rainbow flag featured in GAYLETTER Issue 7 as a homage to Baker. The story asked that several visual artist from different backgrounds pay homage to Baker by presenting their take on the rainbow flag. Kenny’s submission took form in a new rendition of the flag — blending together a rainbow gradient to create his own interpretation. Kenny explained: “We are starting to move beyond separate sexual labels into a more fluid notion of sexuality and gender, where our own unique expressions or identities fall somewhere on a spectrum between gay and straight, male and female, and can change over time.”
As a reminder of this year’s celebration to the 50th anniversary of Stonewall, World Pride will be held in New York City this year, which means we gotta start early looking for those rainbow looks. For the occasion he’s created a t-shirt that utilizes his “Spectrum” design. Start getting together your short shorts, glitter, and sunscreen for what’s going to be a memorable Pride extravaganza and pair it with this t-shirt.
James Bidgood moved to Manhattan in the 1950s and began taking his colorful, dream-like photos of men in his cramped Hell’s Kitchen apartment. The Museum of Sex’s new exhibition, James Bidgood: Reveries curated by Lissa Rivera, explores the artist’s unbelievable photographs. There was nothing quite like his work at the time; ornate nudes and semi-nudes taken with props and backdrops to give the illusion of a photograph taken underwater, in Paris, or in some other dream landscape. The creativity in Bidgood’s work is stunning. In my favorite photograph of his, Lobster, a model wears a sparkling seashell thong and holds two lobsters in his hands. The camera points up toward his crotch and face; the model’s body and hair are glimmering, and you can see stars in the night sky above him. The photograph is from Bidgood’s photography series, Water Colors, which was his first attempt at erotic photography.
Also on view from Water Colors, is Trunk, which depicts a man effortlessly floating in the ocean near a treasure chest. Bidgood went through an elaborate process to create this scene, covering model Jay Garvin’s body with “mineral oil, glitter, sequins, and small seashells. To create the illusion of weightlessness, Bidgood balanced Garvin on a foam-padded-café-table pedestal, hidden behind his leg through forced perspective.” Bidgood was formally trained at Parsons School of Design, and spent years designing gowns for wealthy New Yorkers, most notably for the annual Mardis Gras Ball of the Junior League. Little did the society girls know, after designing their gowns Bidgood would take the dresses apart and use them as costumes and set design pieces for his photographs. …
With the release of “Orange Trees” and its accompanying video, Marina (née “and the Diamonds”) has completed the three-song annunciation of her upcoming album, LOVE + FEAR. The LP will be split into two eight-track halves — “LOVE” and “FEAR” — but unlike Marina’s ultra-iconic Electra Heart, these songs are not delivered by crafted personae. They’re Marina herself, unshielded, offering hard-won visions of calm. The long-term stan will immediately pick up on the lack of sharp tension in Marina’s voice, which defined earlier songs like “Oh No!” from The Family Jewels, “Homewrecker” from Electra Heart, and “I’m a Ruin” from Froot. Although she sounds at peace, these songs are not boring. She’s left the sparser production of Froot to return to a banging electro-pop backing, but with none of the friction of her first forays into the genre. She’s come full-circle, unblonded, at ease with her own electricity.
“Orange Trees” braids her voice with a mellow acoustic guitar, rippling synths and a syncopated breezy beat, like a way chiller version of her collaboration with Clean Bandit, “Baby.” It’s summery as all get-out. “Handmade Heaven” starts in alienation — “I carry along a feel of unease / I want to belong like the birds in the trees” — which changes to relation, with the repetition of “birds of a feather fly together.” The singer reconnects with nature in the handmade paradise of the song, which offers the rest of us a glint of the same feeling. Finally, “Superstar” is an ode to a love that transcends the dark, empty matter of distance: “All of the days that we spend apart / My love is a planet revolving your heart.” The bright vocals are offset by a roiling trap-pop beat that drives the song into its explosive post-chorus. …
I opened the press email about this item fairly quickly after reading the subject “…Dick at Your Door!” I opened my eyes wide and read the details. For those of you that get easily excited the chocolate dick appears bigger in this photograph than what it is in real life, although it’s still an exciting size — something like a good 6-inch rocket. This gives you an idea of how deceiving dick pics can be, photography can do wonders for the appearance of your penis.
The chocolate dick was an item originally developed as a prank, “a way for people to anonymously tell their friends, office colleagues, frenemies… to “eat a dick” without the repercussions” the inventors tell us. I mean sure, but receiving a dick at the door for me sounds funny and perhaps it’s more suitable to cause a few giggles, than freak anyone out. The company is pitching this item as a “perfect April Fools and Easter gag gift.” I can certainly see it for Easter, if they have chocolate bunnies and eggs, why not a dick? “One dollar from every order is donated to the American Cancer Society to help fund Prostate Cancer Research.”
It’s a nice gesture to send a chocolate dick to anyone who loves a light joke or maybe someone who’s super conservative? The dicks come in different types of chocolate, just in case you are picky about your flavors. Send a friend, a family member or anyone who could appreciate the joke. …
Call 1-833-HELL-YES, it’s not phone sex it’s Helmut Lang.
Here’s the freshly released Slava Mogutin x Helmut Lang collection — Slava, our friend and collaborator (remember the Katya Zamolodchikova feature from Issue 6?), paired up with artist and South African creative director Jan Wandrag to create a new edition in the Helmut Lang ‘Logo Hack’ collaboration. The series features a variety of artists that bring their own taste to the classic Helmut Lang staples. Known for their reimagined uniform and workwear, Helmut Lang keeps it’s classical construction with tinges of new embellishments brought to you by Mogutin and Wandrag themselves.
This wouldn’t be Slava’s first time working with Helmut Lang, the collaboration is derived from a decade old project under the same title, “Helmut Go-Go” where then studio manager of Helmut Lang, Joakim Andreasson, gave Slava the opportunity to photograph his personal archive. Slava’s known for his hypersexual photography so you should already know he fashioned cheeky go-go boys and rough trade in the rich archive that ended up being too raunchy for the fashion industry. The original Helmut Go-Go images can almost exclusively be found in his most recent book from 2017 entitled ‘Bros and Brosephines,’ which you should definitely add to your collection.
The other imagery accompanying the Helmut Lang archive in ‘Bros and Brosephines’ caught the eye of current creative director Thomas Cawson who enacted the ‘Logo Hack’ collaboration. The designs also made direct reference to Mogutin’s 2008 book titles ‘Stock Boyz’ which balanced the line between the hypermasculine financial sphere and the feminine trials of sexuality. …