Beefy bodies, green-juice and Elizabeth Taylor drag in the new video
“Riding in your car on the road straight through to nowhere.” So sets the tone for Ssion’s latest single “At Least the Sky is Blue” off the forthcoming album O. The opening line is miserable at best; a cliché sung by teenagers, that has been metabolized into a cultural phenomenon of sorts — who hasn’t dreamt of driving away from it all with the windows open nowhere in front of you?
Cody Critcheloe — the artist behind Ssion — is a mastermind of this kind of banal beauty. He made his name as a singer, making music off his laptop, but has since re-focused on directing. After his music career took off in late-2000s, Ssion’s been on musical-hiatus since 2012’s Bent. The name hasn’t completely gone away though. His film-treatments, which dabble mostly in surrealism, has found him working with the likes of indie-stars Perfume Genius and pop-icons like Kylie Minogue.
When we heard Ssion was coming back with an album it was easy to say ‘yes’ when Cody asked to collaborate on some pages for GAYLETTER Issue 8. In conversation with Bruce Labruce, Cody said that “At Least the Sky is Blue” is a very honest song, inspired by his time spent in L.A. doing ketamine, which he confessed is “such a fun drug.”
On a lyrical level, “At Least the Sky is Blue” indulges in that revery, but the music video has it’s own narrative breakdown. Just under six minutes of footage amount to a pulpy, tacky and totally far-out storyline that includes beefy bodies, an in-house green-juice bar, an 80s Mercedes-Benz, and a dream sequence staring Ariel Pink as a white-haired Elizabeth Taylor. …
Ho Ho Ho Ho and a bottle of rum!
Universally infamous and an inspiration to baby prostitutes everywhere, Willam Belli is back with a new music video for the Christmas season that’s sure to land her on the naughty list. A parody of the iconic ho anthem “Once Upon A Time” by Mariahlynn, Willam’s song “Ho Ho Ho Ho” tells the tale of one lucky lady’s close encounters with the most generous man of legend: Santa. Throughout the bitter months of decay in the wind-tunnel also known as Manhattan, I keep myself going with the insight imparted to me by legend, icon, and total star, Cardi B: “a ho never gets cold.” While I can promise you that sometimes a ho definitely does get cold, in this song Willam affirms Cardi’s wisdom by detailing the many hot gifts to come from Santa’s sack — money, cookies and a questionable serving of milk.
In the video, Willam is a vision in red and denim. The look is at least halfway Christmas inspired and tinged with a familiar dominatrix touch. She might have been going for a Louboutin endorsement by becoming… a red bottom. Willam exercises that sometimes the point is to wear not anything at all, and of course, bill your promiscuous expenses. Unfortunately, viewers are asked to sign in to watch due to YouTube’s age-restrictions. The uncensored (and super spicy) version, however, is available on Willam’s Patreon page for the staggering $1 dollar. You won’t see Willam’s milk and cookies, but the sexy cast of dancers and Santa himself leave you with plenty to unwrap. …
Hot off her forthcoming EP, Lepore's first single is fabulous as usual.
Amanda Lepore — nightlife starlet; model; muse, and the world’s most expensive lady — is back with with “Buckle Up,” her first single out since 2011’s EP I… Amanda Lepore brought us several camp-anthems like “My Pussy,” “Champagne,” and “My Hair Looks Fierce.” Premiering exclusively with GAYLETTER, “Buckle Up” is off her forthcoming EP Lepore. (Due out Feb. 16.)
Seeing Ms. Lepore perform live is quite the thrill. Her over-the-top outfits, usually featuring a considerable amount of shimmering jewels, and high-brow nipple tassels, has been captivating audiences since the 90s when the store-clerk turned model took the New York nightlife circuit by storm, and began appearing all over the world, blowing kisses and drinking champagne with her fanbase. With a penchant for all things fabulous, Ms. Lepore continues to brings old time flavor to the rapidly evolving club scene.
“Buckle Up,” returns Ms. Lepore to her post as the reigning vocal-star of all things nightlife. (Though if you’re partying in New York, you know that Ms. Lepore is a permanent fixture, a real working woman; she appears weekly at several of the city’s most sultry parties.) With a playful, retro-swing, it will be no time before Ms. Lepore is up on stage performing “Buckle Up.” She sings about taking the night, and taking a mister home, lyrics that will surely serenade her usual audience of club-kids, queers and celebrities. Ms. Lepore knows how to strike up applause from the world’s most glamorous audiences. …
Fatima Al Qadiri creates a queer vernacular in music forbidden in her homeland
Senegal-born, Kuwait-raised composer and producer Fatima Al Qadiri enchanted a sold out crowd this past Saturday night at Bushwick’s Secret Project Robot. DJ’s Skyshaker, Sharp Veins, Asmara, and Rabit warmed up the with their hip-hop tinged sets as the cavernous venue brimmed with a diverse crowd of fans and dancers.
As Al Qadiri ascended to the stage at 1:00AM, the conceptual artist donned a long wig with bangs — a familiar trait of femininity — but after a few songs into the set, Qadiri snatched it off her head, revealing the signature short coif and sporting a warm grin. Refuting any kind of hetero-normative standards, the queer artist proceeded to dominate the crowd with a dynamic repertoire that included tracks from her recently released five track EP, Shaneera.
A stark departure from her previous solo efforts that include collaborations with Future Brown and GCC, Shaneera (Hyperdub) is a bold move by Al Qadiri to create a queer vernacular in music that is forbidden in her homeland of Kuwait. Al Qadiri’s earliest works — 2012’s Desert Strike, 2014’s Asiatisch, and 2016’s Brute — capture her experience with queer identity and political upheaval, wrestling content fished from her childhood during Saddam Hussein’s 1990 invasion.
Desert Strike is the sonic story of a child, video game obsessed and contingent to the trauma of Iraqi occupation, while Asiatisch imagines a China painted through themes of Western appropriation, and Brute, whose artwork shows a Teletubby in swat gear, symbolized Al Quadiri’s insight into the Occupy! …
It’s been a hot minute since Jake Shears (of the Scissor Sisters) has been out and about playing music. At least that I’m aware of. I apologize if he’s been performing all over the shop and I’ve just missed it. Anyways, back to the point of this post. Jake is performing this Sunday at 7pm at Elsewhere, which is a “new music venue & arts space in Bushwick, Brooklyn, built by the team behind the former Glasslands Gallery.” There is scant information about this event, but if you’ve ever seen the Scissor Sisters live, then you’ll know that Jake puts on a fabulous show. When I was a baby gay I saw them perform in Melbourne, Australia. I was so jet lagged after flying back from Vietnam the day before. I had a terrible cold which I made worse on the flight back by drinking a lot of whiskey (I thought it would be antiseptic for my sore throat). Needless to say when I got to the show I didn’t feel like dancing, then Jake got on the mic with Ms. Ana Matronic and the rest of the band, and my symptoms and complaints disappeared. I had so much fun, and I’m sure you will too this Sunday at Elsewhere. Also, listen to his latest song Creep City.
Suburbia's new track for the dance hall queens
Thee Suburbia is a Brooklyn-based drag performer with enough sass, attitude and talent to own whatever stage she appears on. She has been a performer in the drag circuit for about two years now and, as a result, has been lucky enough to travel the country for shows. Her weekly karaoke party was one of the East Village’s best kept secrets, and when GAYLETTER collected some of our favorite queens makeup swipes for Issue 7, we put her at the top of our list.
Earlier this week she released a hot new house track titled “BitchWitch.” The song is a mixture of comedy, wit, and a whole lot of reading from the point of view of a diner waitress. Some customers get pancakes and syrup while others get pancakes and poison. Produced by Lorant Duzgun (DJ Lorant), the song highlights Suburbia’s flow of lyrics on top of a dance heavy beat. “BitchWitch” is a track I can easily see myself voguing to at the club. And the energy she serves while reading her audience makes the need to learn every word pretty hard to resist. Every time I hear the song and all the elements Suburbia brings to the table, I get more and more curious about the creative process behind it. To get some more insight, I sent Suburbia a few questions which she was kind enough to answer.
Have you always had a passion for music or did it stem from your love for performing? …
The independent rapper Jay Boogie places self-acceptance first
The first time I listened to Jay Boogie’s latest mixtape, Jesus Loves You Too, I had to make sure that I was doing all I could to give it the appropriate atmosphere. Going off of his previous tracks like “Body” and “Hear Them Howling”, I decided that the best time to hear his new stuff was while I was getting dressed to go out to the club. And let me tell you, listening to these songs put me in the perfect mood to have one of my best nights out. On one of the songs “Venti” he talks about life as a twenty-something year old, offering relatable lines like “enjoying my twenties I’m lit and I’m sexy and who’s gonna check me?”
The first time you listen to a new song is absolutely crucial. The music may speak to you differently depending on how you’re feeling, what you’re doing or who you’re with. This first listen becomes the memory that will attach itself to the song and whenever it plays, you’ll think back in time, so it’s important that you get it just right, like I did!
The independent Brooklyn rapper has always emphasized self acceptance over everything, but every track on this new project is overflowing with lyrics that are bound to have you feeling like “your shit don’t stank.” With clear influences from his ballroom days, the songs not only inspire youth to love themselves but gives them some hot tracks to vogue to while doing just that. …
The official meaning of “Afropunk” goes as follows: “AfroPunk refers to the participation of African Americans and other black people in the punk and alternative music cultures, especially in the United States, where this scene had been overwhelmingly white.”
Most people, when they hear the term AfroPunk think of the Afropunk Music Festival which “was founded in 2005 by director James Spooner and Matthew Morgan.” The festival has quickly grown to include one of the best line-ups of musical acts and this year is not exception. Taking place at Commodore Barry Park in Brooklyn, this year’s headliners included: Solange, Anderson .Paak, Thundercat, Kaytranada, Gary Clark Jr., Macy Gray, Michael Kiwanuka, Soul II Soul, Dizzee Rascal and SZA.
I shared an Uber Pool this weekend with two well-dressed attendees who had flown all the way from L.A. for the festival. I was telling them that our photographer Myles Loftin would be taking street style photos at the event and that they should look out for him. “How will we recognize him?” they asked. “That’s easy, he has bright orange hair and a polaroid camera, you can’t miss him!” I replied.
Please enjoy a few of Myles shots from the weekend, below:
Hell hath no fury like Adore reborn
Released with an accompanying music video last Monday at midnight, “Negative Nancy“ is a loser anthem by our grunge goddess in residence, Adore Delano. This über well-edited video is another production by Geek Mythology (the team behind “Hello, I Love You“ and “I Adore You“), and it’s clear by now that they know how to help Adore shine. Or, in this case, rage.
The video depicts a baseball game between a bunch of norm-resistant cuties and a gang of ultra-standard white boys. As pitcher and captain of her squad, Adore channels the type of vengeful spirit born in sissy boys who are forced by their fathers to go outside and buck-up for some sport and bat. Deliciously, she opts to rebel, totally untucked in a teensy black banana hammock and a punk take on drag that is all body, face, and filth. (I mean that literally—her socks are super dirty, and you can tell she loves it.) She later goes full-on locker room Botticelli, tightly gripping a wooden bat while glam-fans blow out her hair. She faces the camera head-on like this right here is the Emancipation of Nancy.
The song itself is totally divorced from the electro-pop spirit of her previous releases. Its grungier sound is a bit left field for the RuGirl scene, but so is Adore. It’s pretty exciting to hear a drag superstar wrestle this Guyville-founded genre to the ground. With American masculinity in a state as juvenile and spittle-mouthed as our shellfish-in-chief, Adore going so tomboy-fish feels like a fresh corrective. …
A lesson in hairology
Product placement has never been so gag-worthy. Celebrating the release of their debut EP, Access All Areas, The AAA Girls are back with a video for their song, “A Lacefront Like This.” Directed by Kain O’Keeffe, the video transports us to a pastel hair-heaven where Willam, Alaska Thunderfuck, and Courtney Act (all stark bald à la Sasha Velour) passionately serenade us about the wonders of Wigs by Vanity, the iconic Australian wig company founded by Vanity and the AAA Girls’ very own Courtney Act. All I can say is that this was not the Kelly Clarkson comeback we wanted, but it was the Kelly Clarkson parody we needed.
The video highlights the mission of Wigs by Vanity: Wigs for drag queens by drag queens. Featuring cameos of Vanity blessing each queen from above with various hair-hats to complete their baby pink and jeweled looks, the video interestingly points towards the spiritual experience of a queen fully realizing the fantasy when she puts on her wig. Visuals are kept simple for this video, but since hair is the main feature, it makes sense. This project strikes poignant notes of the struggle to sustain the expense of drag, with the lyrics detailing methods of acquiring the coins for an original wig by Vanity. As a more or less broke New Yorker, techniques that rang the most tragically relatable were in the vein of pulling a fast one on an unsuspecting straight guy, signing up for sugar baby websites, and selling organs. …
The RPDR S9 top four contestant is more confident than ever
Here we are on the eve of RuPaul’s Drag Race Christmas and a top four contestant, and my personal favorite on season 9, Shea Couleé, has released her new video for “Cocky.” For the three of you not on Grindr, Shea premiered it on the app exclusively. It features trans rapper, Lila Star, and Chicago queen, The Vixen. “Why y’all gagging so? She bring it to you every ball?” Shea raps on the summer bop that has me yaaaasing just in time for another glorious pride weekend in New York.
With clear inspiration from vogue beats, the trap track professes a message of unapologetic confidence that would have had the iconic Pepper LaBeija wagging her finger.The release is impeccably timed and sure to be played on repeat for the rest of the summer. Unlike a lot of music released by drag race alumnae, this song is not only bearable, but it’s actually… good. Not to mention Shea’s fashion in the video feels like a natural continuation of the looks she’s turned out each week during the show.
You can really carry during this song as long as you shake your ass (or whatever else you want to shake) with plenty of cockiness. The track speaks for itself, and she can be sure we’ll keep a strong eye on her if this is the post-drag race direction Miss Couleé is headed in. We’re still curious about the Shea we met on the reunion special — it seems she’s given us more to chew on. …
It’s Pride Month, which means we all need a soundtrack to get us through the next few weeks of drinking, dancing and living our best lives as queer cunts and fabulous freaks: Yasss qweeen, werk, sashay away, no wait, shantay you stay, sissy that walk, GURL, oooooh, hunty! Sorry I just had to get that out of my system. Where was I? Oh music. And do we have a Pride Soundtrack for you! While planning our upcoming parties for next week we discovered a DJ named Byrell The Great. Let me tell you, I have been listen to his Vogue Workout mixtapes on Soundcloud for the last few hours and it is giving me all the motivation I need to push through this day that is most certainly wearing my last nerve! I don’t know what it is about this time of year, I should be all filled with pride, but I often get a case of the summertime sadness. It’s a fucking pain in the butt, BUT, Byrell the Great is really helping me pull my shit together and stop feeling sorry for myself. Thanks Byrell. If you’re in the mood for a pick-me-up, head on over to Soundcloud and search for BYRELL the GREAT. He goes inti!