We met up with Matt Rogers, at the Bowery Hotel in New York City, where the comedian, singer, and Las Culturistas co-host was staying, while in town to perform his annual musical spectacular Have You Heard of Christmas? Matt was gracious and willing to create some iconic whale tail imagery for this feature and to also answer some probing questions.
What was your first onstage comedy experience? I guess this would be when I hosted my high school talent show, which can’t possibly have been funny but at the time I thought was an absolute barnburner.
Who was the last person to make you laugh? Christine Quinn walked into a room on Selling Sunset and I did laugh.
Who was the last person to make you cry? The Survivor contestants Shan and Liana had a conversation about their bond on the last episode that made me cry.
What is your current favorite YouTube search? “Ramona Singer gets dragged.”
What was the first thing you did this morning? I “morning’d”. Which means I jacked off.
Best piece of advice? My fourth grade teacher Mr. D told me at the end of the year to “have more fun.”
Worst piece of advice? My first manager in New York told me to wear pants that were too tight because the casting directors look at your butt when you leave rooms. My pants were already too tight at the time so this can’t have encouraged good choices aesthetically and behaviorally. …
Cole Escola’s comedic sensibility transcends easy definitions. They’re brilliant at creating slightly psychotic characters, mainly female, from every era except now. We met Cole around eight years ago for a story we published online. After our chat we filmed an impromptu sketch at a deli in Flatiron where they appointed themselves as an aid to busy rich people who needed help choosing their lunch. Cole gave themselves over to the absurd character with the same gusto they’ve given to roles like the demented villain in the HBO satire Search Party and as Chassie, Amy Sedaris’s big-haired, horny neighbor on At Home With Amy Sedaris, a show they also write for. When we shot Cole for this story they inhabited our whale-tail fantasy almost immediately. Like everything Cole does, it was a joy to watch.
What was your first onstage comedy experience? When I was 11 or 12 I called QVC pretending to be my mom so I could talk on the air. Somehow I got through. They were selling a cleaning spray and I talked about how the product was a lifesaver because of “my two messy boys.” I didn’t do it to be funny, I just wanted to be on TV.
Who was the last person to make you laugh? John Early does this bit where he “accidentally” leaves me messages meant for someone else and talks through his extremely detailed plans to kill me and cook my flesh. Nothing funnier.
Who was the last person to make you cry? …
Joel Kim Booster is everywhere. From TV to radio, talk shows to stand-up specials, the actor, writer, and comedian is prolific — maybe you’ve seen him on NBC’s Sunnyside or heard him on NPR’s Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me, or perhaps the web series he co-hosts with Patti Harrison, Unsend, has shown up on your feed. For the past decade, Joel has been making people laugh, first getting his start performing comedy in the Chicago theater scene, then moving to New York in 2014, and now based in L.A., his upward spiral continues. This past summer he filmed the highly anticipated Fire Island, which he wrote and stars in, also featuring his friend Matt Rogers, as well as Margaret Cho and Bowen Yang. We managed to grab a few moments of Joel’s time to snap the accompanying pics and ask him some deep and meaningful questions. How he has time to maintain those abs of his, we’ll never know…
What was your first onstage comedy experience? The theater company I was a part of in Chicago, The New Colony, had a variety show to promote our latest play, Five Lesbians Eating a Quiche, and we had an open spot that needed filling. I said I’d do something but I didn’t really have a plan. What I ended up doing was basically stand-up.
Who was the last person to make you laugh? My boyfriend.
Who was the last person to make you cry? My boyfriend. …
Strong yet sensitive, sumptuous yet severe — the women rendered in Ana Benaroya’s paintings flex and fume in striking color.
Semi-surrealistic and with generous amounts of camp, the New Jersey-based artist’s tableaux feature herculean figures posing and smooching, smoking and drinking. Maybe they’re Titans or Amazons, perhaps genetically-modified humanoids of the future — aliens hailing from a vibrant lesbian planet.
Ana Benaroya grew up collecting baseball cards and action figures of strapping superheroes, and she saw herself in charismatic macho characters like Indiana Jones and James Bond. She also became obsessed with anatomy books, learning the body’s muscles. This knowledge allows her to push past mortal limits in her representations of the figure, adding and stacking bulging muscle definition to maximal, and often impossible, articulation.
In her latest exhibition of paintings at Morgan Presents in the Lower East Side, a two-artist show titled The Muse’s Gaze, Ana’s canvases have been worked in layers: first she uses a base of spray paint, then adds acrylics, and she finishes them off with oils. Her sense of color is on full display — neons and jewel-tones blend and glow to dazzling effect. The women in these paintings tower over audiences, claiming territory as their long hair billows in the wind. In spirit, they may act as imperfect goddesses — ultimately powerful and alluring, but passionate to a fault — moments of total synchronization and indulgent harmony paired with episodes of crippling jealousy and cruel heartbreak. Ana’s vision flips gendered archetypes, and by putting the brutish femme center stage, a new brand of hero is championed.
Ana Benaroya photographed in her studio, Jersey City, New Jersey. …
The GAYLETTER Back Page
Matthew Camp has worn many hats, but rarely a shirt. Originally from the Bay Area, the professional sexpot moved to New York City in his twenties. By Go-go dancing at downtown gay bars and starring in the 2013 pseudo-documentary Getting Go, he was canonized “New York famous” by the early 2010s. Around that time, Matthew also released an eponymous fashion line, as well as a fragrance, cheekily named 8.5, which was sold in poppers bottles. In recent years, Camp’s projects with porno juggernaut Men.com and various non-adult film work have won him a national reputation.
While Matthew initially turned down offers to act in porn, he was eventually convinced. Though many of his films are glossy and well-lit, these days Matthew prefers “the documentation of sex as opposed to the dramatization of it.” Accordingly, his recent OnlyFans content is markedly lo-fi, mostly recorded on a webcam in his home. Perhaps unsurprisingly, life imitates art. In his own words, “porn has really made me take stock of my priorities. And by priorities I mean sex partners. And by stock I mean cum.”
Nowadays, Matthew lives upstate in the relatively secluded Hudson, New York. Despite his retreat from the frenetic pulse of Manhattan, he remains as active as ever. In addition to the content he’s constantly releasing on OnlyFans, Matthew recently appeared on Slag Wars, a reality show helmed by the Cock Destroyers, Sophie Anderson and Rebecca More, as well as on Iconic Justice, a reality court show best summed up as a yassification of Judge Judy. …
With the recent release of his newest EP, Almost Blue, Brooklyn-based artist Tama Gucci leans into a new era of his already storied career. The last several years have seen the 24-year-old expand his repertoire of self-produced music, experiment with new processes of songwriting, and begin performing at clubs across the country. Almost Blue marries Tama’s roots in bedroom-pop with this recent growth, culminating in a project as experimental as it is polished.
Though since 2020 Tama has lived full-time in New York, he visits his hometown of Miami often. While he still feels fondly towards his birth city, Tama admits that his cultural upbringing took place as much in Miami’s physical communities as it did in online spaces like Myspace, Twitter, and Tumblr.
Growing up online, Tama found his footing amidst a frenetic exchange of ideas. Many of his early experiences read as canonical for an extremely-online teen in the 2010s. He was posting on MySpace at age nine — heavily filtered and throwing up middle fingers. In his later teens, working at an American Apparel in Miami’s South Beach, he would check the company’s Tumblr daily to see if they had featured his Instagram photos on their feed.
Though Tama has steadily gained exposure through sharing his self-produced tracks on Soundcloud, he’s had a handful of viral moments as well. One of the first came with the release of his Thotiana remix. The version softened the Blueface track with gentler vocals and a beat Tama originally had made for a James Blake cover. …
Knit from cashmere, a marigold sweater warns “EVERYTHING WILL BE TAKEN AWAY.” From silk, a chocolate brown T-shirt declares “TODAY WE REMEMBER OUR DEAD.” And from mohair, a tiny beige thong boldly reads “WRATH OF GOD.”
Haunting phrases like these are integral to Summon Elemental, the emerging knitwear project by writer and artist Patrick Carroll. “It’s all mourning costume,” he says of the project. “It’s how to dress for loss across scales, person to world.” Inspired by artists, philosophers, and poets, Parick’s one-of-a-kind garments range from shirts and dresses to thongs and balaclavas.
Grief served as the catalyst for Summon Elemental, which Patrick began toward the end of his father’s life. He’s since come to view knitting not only as a hobby but as a source of ongoing solace. Now, with his clothes featuring in fashion editorials and selling out in notable boutiques, Patrick’s faced with an existential question: Is he… a fashion designer?
“I call myself a clothesmaker,” he tells me, “which feels more accurate than fashion designer.” For Patrick, the distinction comes down to labor. While the fashion industry is notorious for its exploitative practices, Summon Elemental is a wildly transparent one-person operation. “I don’t design anything to be made by other people,” he says. “Ever.” The result is an assortment of intricate knitwear styles, each of which require between one and twelve hours to complete.
The garments are documented through a series of self-portraits, highlighting Patrick’s lithe frame and his remarkable skill as a knitter. …
As a teenager, Lady Bunny credits watching Dionne Warwick perform on a basketball court in Chattanooga, Tennessee as something of a turning point, inspiring the direction her life would take. Wilmington-born and Chattanooga-raised, the Southern Belle linked up with RuPaul gogo dancing in Atlanta before she made the move to New York City at the tender age of 21. There, she made a name for herself by performing at the Pyramid Club, and by throwing Wigstock, a summer drag festival, for nearly two decades. Held in its early years at the East Village’s Tompkins Square Park, Wigstock pioneered drag’s visibility outside of clubs. A certified legend, Bunny has performed and DJed all around the world, and when the pandemic halted her regular nightlife activities, she teamed up with Drag Race All Stars winner Monét X Change to start the podcast Ebony and Irony. This past November, we got the chance to kiki over the phone chatting about confusion, politics, the apps, and drag today.
How’s your day been so far? Oddly satisfying, yet confusing too. [Laughs] Yes… because you see, I live in the realm of confusion. So when I’m confused or chaotic, it’s not necessarily a bad thing. It’s a normal thing.
As a chaos creature myself, that adds up. Oh, we have a lot in common! Perhaps we’ll get to know each other better than just this interview?
I mean, anything is possible. I’m teasing you because I had an edible.
Now it makes sense. …
The scene in artist Sal Salandra’s Say Your Prayers (2020), one of his distinctive “thread paintings,” shows an orgy at the altar. Instead of priests enrobed in their vestments celebrating communion, bare-assed leathermen offer their meaty erections to kneeling submissives. A remarkably hunky Christ, also naked, hangs on the cross above the congregation, perhaps inviting unorthodox forms of worship.
Earlier this year, Say Your Prayers was included alongside 13 of Salandra’s other recent needlepoint works in Iron Halo at Club Rhubarb, a by-appointment-only gallery owned and operated by artist Tony Cox in New York’s Chinatown. Although Salandra has been stitching figurative works since the 1980s, Iron Halo was the first solo exhibition by the 75-year-old self-taught artist.
In September, Salandra spoke with me over the phone about growing up as a devout Catholic and second-generation Italian American, the liberation he found in the world of BDSM, and how he pushes the traditions and techniques of needlepoint beyond the medium’s conventional boundaries.
“Teachings Of The Devil” (2019).
“Say Your Prayers” (2020).
“Ill Beat You Whip You Love You” (2020).
“Rape Of Robin” (2021).
Can you speak a little about your experiences growing up? Were you always interested in art? I grew up in New Jersey and was raised in a very traditional family. My own immediate family was six children, three brothers and three sisters. It was a big family full of fun. There was always someone to talk to — lots of drama in an Italian family. …
She is the pop star we’ve been waiting for. The Alaska-born 31-year-old has been making music since coming to New York and dropping out of fashion school, releasing her first LP, The Lake, in 2017. Somehow channeling Stevie Nicks, Britney Spears, and Skinny Puppy all at the same time, Macy live is something special. To talk about her latest project, Unbelievable Animals!, (also chakras and star fucking) she sat down to chat with phenom and friend Charlene Incarnate.
So Macy, everyone’s excited about Unbelievable Animals! It’s all anyone can talk about! [Laughs] Oh yeah all my fans!
If I had my own tagline for your album, it would be “a meditation on desire.” I love that!
That’s my tagline for your album because it is an expression of desire so thick that it almost sent you, Macy, into an ethereal state. Like it engaged all your chakras. [Emphatically] Yeah!
Were you having spiritual experiences that inspired the sound? I was! I mean I’ve talked a lot about the 20-songs-in-30-days process, but that felt very meditative, monk-like. Were you not smoking or drinking? No, I was doing both a lot! More of a New York transsexual monk vibe. But I wasn’t talking to anybody. I was locked up doing nothing but the album, and the experiences that led up to it were very dramatic lows that shook me in a way that didn’t make sense. So when I was over them, it was such a breath of fresh air. …
In Jenna Gribbon’s paintings, life is about the intimacy of a moment, and art is about the presentation of a memory. Her pseudo-voyeuristic framing is intentional — she invites viewers “to look at their looking,” to be self-conscious of their position and feel a mix of intrigue and intrusion. Jenna explains this is what she likes about figuration, “it doesn’t just blend in. It doesn’t just sit back and behave.” Her uncontained subjects — a pair of women wrestling in the forest or a topless artist posing in her studio — are only as sexually-charged as a viewer might experience them. Accessible through layers of meaning, they conspicuously conceal more than they reveal.
Working from photographs and her own imagination, based out of her Brooklyn studio, Jenna makes textural portraits that lushly abstract personal scenes. With variegations of oil, juicy flourishes and thick patches, she renders a moment gesturally, rather than mapping it with drawn lines. She often plays with light in her paintings, manipulating the mood by casting figures in varied brightness. Her sense of color is informed by her surroundings, with perhaps the exception of hot pink nipples — always the same light, bright hue, nearly fluorescent. The pleasure of her process is evident, mirroring the affection she has for her subjects.
Jenna’s most recent exhibition Uscapes at Fredericks & Freiser in New York features a series of portraits of her rockstar fiancé Mackenzie Scott, a singer and guitarist who performs as TORRES. An obsessive devotion pervades the show as it feels evident Jenna spent much of her time during the pandemic’s lockdown reverently stalking her lover, fondly watching and translating her nuances into oil paint. …