Broke Men = Broke Women There is no > or < Human beings should have ambition.-- OG Maco (@OGMaco) June 23, 2015
BREAKING: Rick Owens have just issued this statement about the model in their show, just, and seen here: FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Rick Owens does not claim responsibility for the act of protest by a model at the Spring Summer 2016 show. This was an independent statement and does not reflect the opinion of the house of Rick Owens.
[Update 6/25/15, 3:15 p.m.: Apparently Jera has been dropped by his longtime agency Tomorrow Is Another Day with the agency's founder saying the move was "so disrespectful. I want to distance myself completely from what happened."]
Instead, I'd like to offer up five Michael Jackson videos I've discovered, or rediscovered, in the past year. Videos I can't unsee. They're not necessarily new, nor are they conclusive of anything. They're not shocking or game-changing. If you're the type to Deep YouTube Michael Jackson (as I clearly am), you probably won't be impressed. But for me, these videos add insight into Michael's personality and private life. They were all illuminating in some way, and I want to share them on this, his sixth deathiversary.
Michael Jackson + Louie the Llama, the Unauthorized Interview
That Michael Jackson would kick off an interview showing off his circus-rescued llama is not revelatory; it's no secret he loved animals. But what struck me about this interview was when it was shot -- 1983. The height of his likability and popularity. There were a number of rumors that led to the "Wacko Jacko" nickname Michael despised -- sleeping in an oxygen tank, hanging ten with Bubbles -- but this video pre-dates all of that, and Michael isn't exactly putting on airs to tamper down his eccentricities. He snuggles with Louie the Llama one minute, then pushes him around the next, maneuvering him so that the camera can bear witness to his beautiful llama eyes. He says that Louie told him he "wants to be a movie star." Later, he ditches the llama and answers questions while sitting next to a distracting water fountain in his mother's backyard. At 4:38, he responds to a question about inspiration by bursting into song, "Dancing on a cloud/soaring up so high/watch me now/I can do anything." The freestyle is awkward, but so essentially Michael, that you have to wonder why his idiosyncrasies came as a surprise to anyone.
Michael Jackson at Studio 54
If you watched the Louie the Llama interview in its entirety, you'll notice Michael riffs on his love of magic, wonderment, and escapism -- recurring themes in his art. In this interview at Studio 54, shot during The Wiz era, a wide-eyed Michael praises the nightclub for encouraging escapism and freedom. It's a sweet sentiment, and in the context of his controlled, abusive childhood, it's nothing short of devastating.
The Banned Version of "They Don't Really Care About Us"
Michael's 1995 song, "They Don't Really Care About Us," was revived atseveral Black Lives Matter protests, and for good reason -- I can't think of one song that is more direct, unflinching, and critical of white supremacy. Which is why the song was slammed by white critics, shunned on the radio, and even banned from music television.
Around the time of #SonyHacks, self-described "citizen journalist for social justice" D.B. Anderson called attention to the shady history behind the song. Jackson made two versions of the video -- one shot in Brazil (the "safe" version, which features a dancing Michael backed up by an Afro-Brazilian drum group), and one filmed in a Long Island prison, spliced with recordings of police brutality, the KKK, and an emotional Michael trashing the prison's cafeteria (above). The latter was banned in the United States, presumably because it made powerful white people uncomfortable. In 2015, we have to beg pop stars of all races to make more than a passing statement on racial injustice. The fact that the most well-known performer in the world couldn't get away with exactly that is chilling. The accuracy of this 20-year-old video, even more so.
Michael Jackson's Kids Are His: A Visual Exploration
This is one of many fan videos that feature side by side visuals of Michael and his kids -- complete with closeups of Prince's vitiligo. There's little commentary (another video includes interviews with Debbie Rowe and Michael, if you want some), but the images are compelling. There was a lot of controversy surrounding the birth of Michael's kids -- their skin was too light, no one wanted to picture Michael and Debbie sexing (it didn't help that Michael was perceived as asexual at best and a child molester at worst). But the facial features the Jackson family share with Michael's kids transcend skin color. As a white-passing biracial woman, I know just how 'white' someone with a black parent can be, and I appreciate people taking the time to illustrate that. While photos aren't indisputable evidence that his kids are biologically his, I find them a decent supplement for people who wouldn't take his word for it either way.
"The Way You Make Me Feel"
OK, so you've probably definitely, seen this video. But have you seen it... on shrooms? Because I have. And it was disturbing.
This was the first video to give me V-tingles as a kid. I wanted to marry this blue-shirted Michael Jackson. It was only later, while shrooming, that I even realized the concept of the video was street harassment. That's the storyline, and it's intentional. But what's not intentional is how goddamn uncomfortable Michael Jackson looks while doing it.
He looks 1000% more natural while dancing than he does anytime he has to relate his sexuality to someone else. This is evident elsewhere: There's also the horrifying embrace and kiss in the "Remember the Time" video (5:57), the hard-to-make-unsexy "In The Closet" video with Naomi Campbell and the cringe-y love scenes between Michael and his then-wife Lisa Marie Presley in "You Are Not Alone."
It's uncomfortable to watch him perform this persona that could not be further from his seemingly true self -- a shy, thoughtful, sensitive man who was self-critical enough without having to then embody our cultural ideas of what it means to be male. If I cringe watching these scenes, it's not because I agree with the lingering media narrative that Michael was some stunted, sexless alien -- it's because he lived and died in a time when culture was way resistant to supporting people who didn't fit gendered narratives. It's too bad that Michael never got to live in a post Jaden Smith-in-a-skirt world.
Michael Jackson remains a controversial figure, but to me he was the last true pop star -- someone who was irrevocably himself and paid the price. We'll likely never have a comprehensive picture of who he was, but these videos helped me get closer. RIP, fam.
Styling by Jessie Cohan, grooming by Amber Duarte at the RexAgency using R+Co; photo assistant: Heyward Hart
Even before the cameras come out, Cody Simpson is photo-ready, standing shirtless in his kitchen and strumming his guitar as his then-girlfriend, supermodel Gigi Hadid, watches on. (The two officially split up in early May, a few weeks after the PAPER shoot and interview took place.) He's surrounded in his West Hollywood home by surfboards and framed photos of Bob Dylan, Elvis Presley and Neil Young. While it's all picture-perfect, something much bigger is going on beneath the surface: for once in the 18-year-old Aussie singer's life, he's not living out anyone else's vision. Simpson, who recently broke away from a major label in order to start afresh as an independent artist with his latest album, Free, out July 10, is entering adulthood exactly the way he wants to. A big part of that is giving back: he recently served as spokesman for the United Nations' #HappySoundsLike playlist, and he's a donor to his friend Miley's Happy Hippie Foundation.
Later, lying across his bed, Calvin Klein briefs peeking out of his jeans, Simpson tells me about shedding his squeaky-clean image, using his platform for good and navigating the fresh challenges of adulthood.
Was there a tipping point when you decided to leave the major-label world to release an independent record?
It was an accumulation of different things. I was really young and impressionable and wanted to please adults, and when I got older I was like, Hold on a second; I don't have to do this. A&Rs are not musicians -- they don't write music or play instruments -- but they sit in the studio and tell you how to write a song. A major part of being a label artist is listening to them. So I'd be sitting in the studio writing a song and they'd say, "You can't say that." I was like, "Dude, you don't even make music. You don't know." So there would be a lot of processes you'd have to go through that compromise your artistry. The politics started to get too much -- the old men in suits selling music to 12-year-old girls that wasn't even written by [the artist] originally.
Did Miley help you transition into adulthood?
She has been a really good mate and helped do the cover art for [the single] "Flower." Coincidentally, I wrote a song called "Happy Little Hippie" for her Happy Hippie Foundation -- we're thinking of doing something cool with that and still figuring it out. I really admire the way that she doesn't care what people think. She just does her own thing. Seeing her make a cool transition showed me it could be done.
You recently worked with the United Nations.
Yeah, they had this campaign called #HappySoundsLike that promotes music being a part of people's everyday happiness. For me, if I'm stressed or down, when I pick up a guitar it all goes away. That's my escape, and it's also my job. The UN must have seen some of the stuff I was doing, which was a very fulfilling feeling -- to be acknowledged by the United Nations and play a gig for them.
When you're working with various foundations, do you have to be more considerate of your image? With the picture of weed you posted to Instagram and then took down, you're not doing anything outside of what's normal -- or even legal -- but what does it mean to be experimenting and working out your lifestyle in the public eye?
There's sort of a point where you have to stop caring. There's a balance of being a good example because you're in front of people and also showing people that you're real, which is just as endearing as not doing anything wrong. I don't think marijuana is wrong. I think it should be legal. It does a lot more good than other things that are legal. I understand laws, but I also think it's important to have your own personal laws.
Did you feel prepared for fame when it happened? You were so young.
Not really. From an outside perspective, it can look as though it happened very quickly. But there's been time for gradual adjustment. I wasn't playing big gigs right away. My first shows were like 50 people, then it was 200 and then 1,000. I will never be prepared for fame -- it's something I'm still trying to master. I try my best to find balance and not be in front of cameras too long.
Do you think you've found a good balance between your private and public life?
I'm trying. You can easily lose yourself.
Your new songs much more intimate than any of your other releases. Do you think about the separation between your private life and your public life when you're writing?
With the lyrical content on Free, there's an element about women, there's a portion that's fictional storytelling, and there's songs about the feeling of breaking free. When I started writing the album, I was still going through this transition, so I was writing for girls and then the last four songs were about other random shit. I've learned a lot from the start of the album process to the end. I love track twelve way more than track one, because I was better at the end.
What's your impression of the music industry now that you've seen it from the perspective of an independent artist?
I'm discovering the much more positive side of the industry -- something I never knew existed. Now being more independent, you see what was wrong before. It's a beautiful feeling being able to do it my way. I produced the whole album with Cisco Adler. We wrote it in Malibu and did it all on our own time. Turns out that creative environment allows people to thrive. Now I understand why I love the artists I love so much... the Ben Harpers, Jack Johnsons, and anyone back to Neil Young and Jimi Hendrix, and Miley. Now I get to walk down that road as well.
Have you thought about opening up a label to allow other artists to thrive in that way?
I opened up Coast House recordings to distribute my new album. I haven't done a lot of thinking about signing anyone yet simply because I need establish my own music and following, but it's something that I would love to do. I think that this way of doing things is so much better. And the industry is changing: record labels are becoming way less important in helping an artist's career. As long as you have a management team that shares your vision with you, the only thing record labels are instrumental in is getting your music on radio -- which isn't necessarily my priority. So down the road, I'd love to help people that want to approach music in a similar way.
When you were making the shift to an independent artist, did you have any fear about finding a new audience?
No, because it doesn't happen immediately. I'm still 18 and I know that there's at least three years before I'm really going to be able to tap into it. But at least I can play gigs, keep releasing music and become a better player. There's no rush, really.
[via Consequence of Sound]
Cruelty-free textiles, whether synthetic or organic, have made leaps and bounds in the past 50 years. Whether Shrimps' amazing Papa Puss Coat or Stella McCartney's hyper realistic-looking faux leather handbags, it's clear we've come a long way from the faux textiles of the '30s, '40s and '50s, crude imitations that hardly resembled the real thing. Whether you're a card-carrying PETA member or can't bear to part with your mink, it's hard to deny how awesome these 10 cruelty-free alternatives look...
1. Olympia Le Tan Chalk Box bag, $959.722. Free People: Slouchy Vegan tote, $68
3. Stella McCartney: Beckett Cork Shoulder bag, $966
5. Freedom of Animals: Boromo Circle bag, $300
7. Pixie Market: Facetime Clutch bag, $109
8. LeSportsac: Signature Dani backpack, $158
MTV viewers met Zamora, a vibrant and charming AIDS activist, during MTV's Real World: San Francisco, the third season of the network's groundbreaking reality show. The Cuban ex-pat tested HIV positive at 17 and devoted his life to education and research of the virus that causes AIDS. For a generation of viewers he was the first and only person they knew living with AIDS and was a part of the first same sex commitment ceremony ever shown on television, with his partner Sean Sasser. His story caught the attention and admiration of President Clinton who said of Pedro, "Now no one in America can say they have never known someone who is living with AIDS." Zamora passed away in 1994 at 22.
Perhaps no single figure is as linked to the story of gay activism, specifically during the early years of the AIDS crisis, as Larry Kramer. After a successful career as a playwright, novelist, and essayist, he founded Gay Mens Health Crisis and ACT UP in the '80s in response to what he saw as the ambivalence and inaction of the N.I.H. and politicians like Ronald Reagan and Ed Koch towards AIDS. Most recently, a Broadway revival and subsequent film version of his award winning play A Normal Heart has brought his work to a generation born after the period during which he earned a reputation as a tireless, if divisive, voice for gay men, especially those affected by AIDS.
Recent flack over tidbits in the new Cara Delevingne cover story aside, it could be argued that no one else in the fashion industry has so fiercely championed LGBT rights and issues as much as Vogue EIC Anna Wintour. From her work with 'Seventh on Sale' in the '90s, a project that brought the entire New York fashion community together to raise tens of millions of dollars for AIDS, to her ardent and very public support of same-sex marriage through television appearances and her monthly editor's letters, she has not hesitated to champion a cause so evidently dear to her.
Two years ago this week, the landmark civil rights decision of United States V. Windsor was handed down, effectively declaring the restrictive Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional and clearing the path for same sex marriage to be legalized. Over the course of the trial Windsor became an icon in the story of marriage equality and an example of perseverance and grace after decades of legal struggle.
Marsha P. Johnson
Johnson was a fixture in the Stonewall-era gay and transgender community of New York and is credited with 'firing' what is believed to be one of the first 'shots' (a thrown shot glass) during the infamous raid on June 28, 1969 that led to the riots that kickstarted the LGBT liberation movement. Often uncredited and under-recognized she (Johnson went by both female and male pronouns) was much beloved by the people she knew and the West Village community. She was immortalized in a series of Warhol portraits and a documentary Pay It No Mind, filmed just days before her death in 1992.
Before Harvey Milk, the idea of an openly gay elected official was unlikely -- if not entirely unthinkable. But his election to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1977 was an unqualified win for the gay community of the city and the beginning of their validation as a politically active entity. Known lovingly as the 'Mayor of Castro Street,' Milk was murdered by a disgruntled political rival in the offices of San Francisco City Hall in November 1978. The 2008 film Milk based on his work and the events leading to his death won two Academy Awards, including Best Actor for Sean Penn for his portrayal of the title character.
The Hollywood legend was one of the first public figures to speak up about the dilemma of AIDS in the 1980s and worked tirelessly until her death raising hundreds of millions for research and eduction through AmFAR, AIDS Project Los Angeles, and the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foudnation. Taylor once said of her work, "I hope with all of my heart that in some way I have made a difference in the lives of people with AIDS. I want that to be my legacy better that than for the mole on my cheek."
Rodwell can be credited with two significant LGBT firsts. In 1967 he founded the Oscar Wilde Memorial Bookshop, which eventually resided at the intersection of Christopher and Gay Street in the village. It was the first commercial book store that carried primarily gay and lesbian-authored books and literature. It was a center for activism and organization in the wake of Stonewall and was integral to the LGBT liberation movement. And it is Rodwell we have to thank for spearheading the organization of the first Pride Parade in 1970, to mark the one-year anniversary of the Stonewall Riots.
The award-winning actress has never shied away from using her position and voice to advocate for trans rights and issues, particularly the largely-ignored violence and bullying young transgendered men and women face. After landing the now iconic cover of Time last year she said "More of us are living visibly and pursuing our dreams visibly, so people can say, 'Oh yeah, I know someone who is trans.' When people have points of reference that are humanizing, that demystifies difference."
The White House has been notoriously, and frustratingly, cagey when it comes to LGBT rights and positions through the years. However, Obama was the first President to acknowledge transgendered individuals in his State of the Union speech this year and call for their specific protection. And in an uncharacteristically candid 2012 interview he admitted that personally he supports same sex marriage, which has led to, among other steps, the administration's formal support of the issue through a brief filed in the Supreme Court this past spring calling bans 'discriminatory and injurious.'
In Pride Week's spirit of inclusion, there's something for everyone this weekend, whether you're into dance parties, films, drag shows, art installations, or even Tarot cards. Read on for recommendations of where to celebrate LGBT pride in NYC and kick off summer.
Thursday, June 25
Duh Pride Kickoff
Get Pride Weekend off to a raucous start at Duh, which will be featuring live performances by rapper and M.I.A. protegée Rye Rye, and music by resident DJ Mazurbate, HD, and Chapman. Oh -- and don't forget to indulge in a cotton candy machine and Svedka open bar.
Up&Down, 244 W. 14th St., 11 p.m.
Fire in the Hole
The East Village's Nowhere bar hosts "Fire in the Hole," a monthly event in honor of redheads and their supporters. They have $3 whiskey gingers because, obviously.
Nowhere, 322 E. 14th St., 9 p.m.
Hump! Film Festival
Sex columnist Dan Savage curates this year's dirty movie festival at the Wythe Hotel. 18 5-minute amateur porn films will be screened and cash prizes will be awarded for the noblest efforts. Because who doesn't want to watch low-budget money shots with a bunch of strangers?
Wythe Hotel, 80 Wythe Ave., Brooklyn, 7:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m.
Friday, June 26
This dance club-meets-art gallery-meets-drag show at BAM Fisher boasts four floors and a rooftop for getting your groove on to DJs Sean B, Matty Beats, and Deputy, checking out video and art installations, and catching performances by Will Sheridan, Mizz June, The Feath3r Theory, Turnt Up Trifecta, and I Am A Boys Choir. And if that's not enough, rumor has it there'll be karaoke and Tarot readings for those tired out from all the week's dancing.
BAM Fisher, 321 Ashland Pl., Brooklyn, 8 p.m.
Mykki Blanco Presents Dogfood MG
Gender-bending punk-inspired rapper/performance artist/poet Mykki Blanco takes the stage following his long-time opener Psycho Egyptian,futuristic Berlin-based act Amnesia Scanner,Violence,and Chino Amobi. And if you miss them this time around, you can catch Mykki Blanco at the Riis Park Beach Bazaar later this summer or Amnesia Scanner at MoMA PS1 on Saturday.
Palisades, 906 Broadway, Brooklyn, 8 p.m.
Since its start in 1969 after the Stonewall Riots, The Rally has served as NYC Pride Weekend's ultimate kick-off event. The free, all-ages gathering will be held on Pier 26 in Tribeca and includes a special performance by Ashanti. Make sure to, uh, be "on time." Hudson River Park Pier 26, 7 p.m.
If you're still raring to go post-Rally, head to "Fantasy", a burlesque masquerade party at The Diamond Horseshoe. You'll be able to purchase masks at the door should you forget yours at home.
The Diamond Horseshoe, 235 W. 46th St., 10 p.m-5 a.m.
Celebrate Brooklyn!: Paris Is Burning
Celebrate Brooklyn! is holding a free outdoor screening of the 1990 documentary/bible Paris Is Burning, featuring an introduction by its director, Jennie Livingston. What's more, there'll also be a ball performance with members from House of Xtravaganza. Start perfecting your duckwalk now.
Prospect Park West at 9th St., 7:30-10:30 p.m.
Queer art collectives The Culture Whore and Factory Girls have joined forces to create OASIS, an eight-hour melding of art and music from the most talented voices in the Philly, Baltimore, and New York areas. The Bushwick event will feature music by JX Cannon and J Lamar, as well as Philly's Gun$ Garcia and Yolo Ono.
43 Scott Ave., Brooklyn, 11 p.m.-7 a.m.
Saturday, June 27
Pride's 12th annual women-exclusive dance party will feature NYC Pride veteran Whitney Day, DJ Sherock, and Orange Is the New Black's Ruby Rose spinning all day against the serene backdrop of Hudson River Park.
Hudson River Park Pier 26, 3-10 p.m.
If you never finished your Bachelor's, WE Party's "University"-themed event seems like the next best thing. Held in Manhattan's Hammerstein Ballroom, DJs Sagi Kariv and Micky Friedmann will be spinning 'till 6 a.m. So get your tickets and avoid making out with any underage co-eds.
The Hammerstein Ballroom, 311 W. 34th St., 10 p.m.-6 a.m.
Siren, a yearly women's dance party, will be held at Watermark Bar, a mod indoor and outdoor lounge overlooking the East River. DJs RosyQ, Ches, and Nikki Lions will spin into the early hours of the morning.
Watermark Bar, 78 South St., 8 p.m.-4 a.m.
In addition to the Hump! Film Festival, Wythe Hotel will be co-hosting, along with Gayletter, their annual Pride Ball. There will be special performances by House of Mugler, House of Labeija, and queer Brookly-based rapper Jay Boogie. A portion of the night's ticket sales will go toward Fierce, a charity supporting LGBT+ youth of color in New York City.
Wythe Hotel, 80 Wythe Ave., Brooklyn, 7 p.m.-1 a.m.
Sunday, June 28
PrideFest sets up camp on Hudson Street between Abingdon Square and West 14th St., with more family-friendly events that provide a tamer antidote to all the before-and-after parties throughout the weekend.
Hudson Street, between Abingdon Sq. and W. 14th St., 11 a.m.-6 p.m.
Get your lamé hotpants ready for the big kahuna of Pride Weekend -- the parade -- which kicks off at 36th and Fifth and finishes its route on Christopher and Greenwich Sts. This year's Grand Marshals include actors Sir Ian McKellen and Sir Derek Jacobi, Ugandan LGBT rights activist Kasha Jacqueline Nabagesera, and Brooklyn-based activist J. Christopher Neal. Keep an eye out for PAPER's own Mr. Mickey who will be riding Diesel's LOVE float this year alongside vogue dancers sporting the brand's new, uh, package-enhancing Hero Fit briefs.
Dance on the Pier
This Pride Weekend staple has hosted the likes of Cher, Demi Lovato, and Cyndi Lauper and this year it's Ariana Grande who's nabbed the headlining slot. Feel free to wear all the glitter your body can absorb and dance it all off during "One Last Time" for a good cause.
Hudson River Park Pier 26, 3-10 p.m.
RuPaul's Drag Race Pride
RuPaul's Drag Race is no longer confined to the screen; you can now catch live voguing by all the reality show's season 7 contestants plus some old favorites like Sharon Needles, Raja, and Pandora Boxx.
Liberty Theater, 233 W. 41st St., 8 p.m.
Pride at the Bell House
The tagline for the Bell House's annual Pride comedy event is "What if 'A Prairie Home Companion' were hosted by four Mirandas?" Comedians John Early and Cole Escola, along with author Isaac Oliver and "drag rapper" Hamm Samwich will co-host the event, with its profits going to SAGE benefiting LGBT elders. Special guests include Girls' Jemima Kirke, SNL's Sasheer Zamata, and comedian Julie Klausner.
The Bell House, 149 7th St., Brooklyn, 8 p.m.
End Pride Weekend with a bang at Frankie Sharp's LAST-EVER Westgay before Westway shuts its doors for good. The last hurrah is being sponsored by Diesel and will feature a live performance by Foxy Brown and sets by DJs Juliana Huxtable, Joey Labeija, and Cazwell.
The Westway, 75 Clarkson St., 10 p.m.; 21+; Tickets are $25 and can be purchased HERE
That's a photo of Miley and her amFAR gala date, agender writer Tyler Ford. It was taken as part of InstaPride, which is run by Miley's recently launched Happy Hippie Foundation. Sharing portraits of trans and "gender expansive" people along with their stories, the series aligns with a major part of Happy Hippie's mission -- giving disenfranchised youth the opportunity for expression.
Happy Hippie's slightly unconventional approach to supporting at-risk youth goes back to its origins: the name of the foundation came from Cyrus' celebrity/artistic BFF Wayne Coyne, who has a company called Wicked Hippie. "Wicked Hippie is, like, taking a shot before you go to yoga," she told Petrusich. "It's like, yeah, you're a hippie, but you're a fucking freak also." Her organization applies the same logic. "We're trying to make people happy. It's just kind of an extension of what we're already doing."
Her commitment to this cause spills out into all areas of her life, including her Backyard Sessions videos -- most notably in an adorable performance with Ariana Grande, which was part of Miley's attempt to reach a broader audience. "Maybe it makes it a little less insane," she said.
But perhaps the deepest source of inspiration for Miley's renewed commitment to her cause came from her reaction to the death of Leelah Alcorn, a trans girl who took her own life last December. In an essay published on Medium, she writes that, "It hit me as hard as if I had known her. I felt connected to her." In short, "Every life is valuable, and we should make sure those who question their value feel protected."
She burst into tears at the memory while performing at the Adult Swim upfronts party back in May: "I was like, 'Fuck, I can't start crying here,' but I did because I'm standing there with this butterfly and my tits out and this little baby, beautiful little girl, fucking killed herself because of the way that she was being discriminated against."
The popular kids convened at the event of the evening, a group show that spanned between both Gladstone gallery locations, bringing together a multi-generational group of artists to paint directly onto the gallery walls. Sol LeWitt, Kara Walker, Raymond Pettibon, Lawrence Weiner, Jeff Elrod -- the roster was as impressive as the turn out, most of us lurking around the large scale works trying to fit in, hoping no one noticed we felt like crashers.
At Feuer Mesler, the new cross-breed gallery between Zach Feuer and Joel Mesler of Untitled Gallery, we felt at ease with paintings and installations from Jane Corrigan, Dasha Shishkin, Meredith James and Gloria Maximo. The works had a cheeky humor, with semi-crude but beautifully executed surrealist paintings of naked creatures and farting ladies by Shishkin and James' tiny room built into the wall with a running faucet.
The group moved down the street to Louis B James for a multi-level group show titled Colors, an ode to the brightness and bleakness of summer. On the top floor, black, white and grey works, like paintings from B.Thom Stevenson and Bret Slater, cooled us off from the encroaching season, while the bottom level was a carnival style color explosion of radiant works, like Andrea McGinty's sweater wearing humidifiers. We realized, as the night drew to a close and this would be about the time that a '90s pop punk song about "our generation" started playing in the movie credits, that we don't have to say goodbye for summer, because we actually have nowhere else to go.
As a reality TV veteran at the age of 22, Sophie Simmons is wise beyond her years. She co-starred in A&E's Gene Simmons Family Jewels (yes, her dad is Gene Simmons of Kiss) starting in 2006 when she was only 11 and in 2014 she starred in another reality series with her mom, model and actress Shannon Tweed in Shannon and Sophie. Along the way she's launched two clothing lines for the Style Club, one of which she tells us was inspired by Coachella. We chatted with Sophie and her style and about what it's like keeping work all in the family.
Zodiac sign: Could care less ...
Hometown: Los Angeles, CA
School: Eric Morris Actor Studio, Sharon Chatten Actor Studio, Pitzer-Pomona (for Religious Studies and Computer Science, although I've been out of academic school for years)
Discovered: On Reality TV
What's it like working with your Mom?
I've worked with my Mom since I was 11, so it's very normal for me. She is also my best friend! Who wouldn't want to go to work with their best friend every day.
Do you feel like you two are very much alike or do you take more after your Dad?
We have the same sense of humor and pretty much the same style. When it comes to men, we have very different tastes. I'm still trying to get my family to like the guys I date. So far, very little luck with that. They are a tough crowd.
How did you get into fashion design?
I really fell into it out of frustration. Why can't I find anything that's on trend that also fits and flatters me!? So I just made the clothing I wanted to see, and for a way more affordable price. It's a new passion project and so far I'm loving it.
Tell me about the first time you ever went to Coachella?
The first time I went to Coachella I was probably 12/13 and my Dad sent a body guard with me. His name was George and he was really nice, but it kind of cramped the free spirit thing. I have always loved the new music and overall friendly vibe of music festivals, and I think the newest SophiexTheStyleClub collection really embodies that.
How would you describe your personal style?
My personal style really depends on my mood. I think I choose who I want to be that day and dress the part. Very actor of me. If I know I have big meetings or press I wear empowering pencil skirts and button downs. If I was to just have a relaxed day it's jeans and a T. But you will probably never see me in denim cut offs or too many crop tops. I have issues with showing under boobs and butt.
What would the soundtrack to your life sound like? If you're Elizabeth Harper, it'd sound pretty damn superb, and perfectly fit for a Lynch film. Four years after her debut album, the songstress also known as Class Actress has finally blessed the pop universe with a new EP, Movies. This time around, Harper worked with Casablanca Records labelmate, the legendary producer Giorgio Moroder, and while these days Moroder may be best known for his recent tracks with Daft Punk, his work on movie soundtracks like American Gigolo and Scarface, makes him a particularly appropriate collaborator for the collection of dark, dance-y synth-pop that finds much of its inspiration in the glamorous facades of Hollywood. On the heels of the album's release, we had the chance to speak to Harper to hear her thoughts on everything from working with Moroder to why sometimes it's necessary to start unraveling in the name of art.
Your debut full-length, Rapprocher, was released in 2011. How has Class Actress grown since then?
I think the songs are more accessible on Movies. I took my time writing them and getting things in order. It has its own spell, it's the real me. I was a little in my own way with Rapprocher, caught between still trying to be erudite and wanting to be commercial. I listen to it now though and think it's an incredible record and it's all just me and Mark [Richardson] in my apartment, getting to the root of stuff, laying it down. No one can touch that synth work. But Movies is special. It's an event.
You worked with legendary producer Giorgio Moroder as well as emerging producers like Mess Kid and Neon Indian. How was that?
It was an exciting experience to work with someone like Giorgio, but also up-and-coming producers because we all wanted to do vintage Giorgio. Giorgio wanted to do current dance music, so meeting in the middle was really liberating. There was definitely a little push and pull with me and Giorgio in the beginning, but then he let me do my thing and trusted me so it all turned out how I wanted it.
Are there any Hollywood starlets who have influenced the EP?
Like most sad, suburban girls, when I discovered Marilyn Monroe, I thought I found a friend. I used to watch her movies and practice and imitate all her expressions, her voice, her movements in the mirror. Yet the story behind the smile was so heartbreaking. It has always been something I can deeply relate to. Giving too much to the wrong man. Now I act like an ice queen but underneath it's straight fire.
You say Movies is your soundtrack... Walk us through it.
Movies is the story of addiction told from my shifting perspectives. I'm at once the dealer, the addict, and the substance itself: love. You get to watch me spiral into addiction -- trading in reality for fantasy -- until I transform completely. By the end of the EP, I'm more apparition than flesh, more dream than real life.
While you were working on the EP in Hollywood, you were also visiting your ailing father. Did your father's passing influence your songwriting on the record?
'Movies' was the first song I wrote for the EP because I was definitely feeling real and raw just after my dad died. The vocal performance is one take. It was pure magic... destiny. You never know when all the pain is going to make sense. But one day it just does and that box of darkness becomes a gift. 'Love My Darkness' was similar. I was so numb. I thought why can't darkness be love? Why can't I love my own darkness and isn't real love when someone loves yours? We are so afraid to be vulnerable and show our dark side, but hiding it will only add to your pain. Shine a light there, create a shadow and one day that shadow, the unconscious part of you, who is acting out and making bad choices that hurt you, will show you all the answers.
Can you break down the six tracks for us in a few sentences?
1. "More Than You"
"More Than You" = Béatrice Dalle in Betty Blue. One of the lyrics in "More Than You" is "So whatcha fear? Cause there's a little poison in all of us." It details my helplessness in the face of desire -- an intense, obsessive craving for this guy. He's a drug I can't get off of.
2. "The Limit "
I make a pact with myself: instead of going to him, I'll wait for him to come to me. It's an attempt to get some power back.
3. "High On Love"
We see that my attempt to get power back has failed. I'm in even deeper, and he has all the control.
I transform myself into a luxury item, an object, for this guy to enjoy and consume. It's my ode to the escort, to the geisha. I'm not a girlfriend, but a simulated "girlfriend experience" -- now I'm the drug.
5. "Love My Darkness"
It goes even further. I'm not even an object anymore. I'm "darkness." Like the result of a star collapsing into itself after it exhausts its fuel.
I admit I created myself from the movies, which are, after all, something projected in the darkness. The EP's arc is revealed. We now see how everything I've done and the addictive love reduces and reduces me until there's only darkness. But there is a purpose: movies, like fantasies, need darkness to exist.
Most Insane Invention: You know how in the future, we will be using flying discs to get around? Lexus has made that supposed fantasy a reality. With the help of scientists and engineers the car company has released the Lexus hoverboard: a skateboard sized device that can hover in mid air. -- Juliette Kang
Best Tattoo:What do you do if you can't choose between two possible tattoo ideas? You combine them. A guy in Toronto recently got a tattoo of Bart Simpson as Drake running through the 6. -- J.K.
Most Outrageous Nightclub Act: A guy (possible performance artist?) at a Chinese nightclub in Hunchun lit a string of fire crackers off. Inside his pants. He was safe, but it looked pretty painful.-- J.K.
Best Art Crossover: A hilarious and brilliant museum goer combined images from Kim Kardashian's selfie book, Selfish, with paintings from New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art. The outcome was beautiful. -- J.K.
Weirdest Music Video Featuring Cats: From Atlanta heavy metal outfit Mastodon, an animatronic cat battling the forces of evil amid a sea of epilepsy-inducing neon lighting.-- Victoria Lin
Photo via Vanity Fair
Most Ironic Headline: An 811-word news item from Vanity Fair titled "Sarah Palin is Finally No Longer News." -- V.L.
Best Way to Avoid FOMO: Resident Advisor's new app, RA Guide, that gathers users' recommendations for the best concerts, DJ sets and warehouse parties around the world. -- Abby Schreiber
Photo via Style.com
Most Bizarre Fashion Moment: Rick Owens punching a model at his Paris men's show after the model came on the catwalk with a sign that said "Kill Angela Merkel No."No, really. -- V.L.
Chill Out Song of the Week: "Round Whippin'" by A. Chal. Makes ya wanna grab a Camaro and ride down the Pacific Coast Highway. -- A.S.
Best Science Fair Project, Like, Ever:Two British middle schoolers are developing technology for a condom that can detect STD's. Yes, MIDDLE SCHOOLERS. Even better, the condom would change colors depending on what disease it comes into contact with.-- Taylor Silver
Most Random Squad: Kanye, Zayn Malik, and Joe Jonas sat front row at the Louis Vuitton show in Paris this week and it's delightfully confusing. -- T.S.
Coolest New Exhibit: The Museum of Arts and Design will unveil a new exhibit tonight called Night Paving: The Aural History of Jackie 60 & Motherabout the famed '90s club and its famous patrons like Marc Jacobs and Debbie Harry. -- T.S.
John Early is, well, just that -- prompt. Or at least running ahead of schedule. Which is astounding given the young performer's robust calendar as an in-demand comedian, writer and emcee around town and also the fact that, on the day we are scheduled to meet, he completed that mundane but nonetheless horrifying gauntlet of New York experience: moving apartments. He politely asks to push our dinner at Gemma up about an hour and I agree realizing this guy does not waste time if his protean creative output in the past few years is any indication.
You may have encountered Early at one of his regular gigs in New York, be it Ars Nova where he hosts Showgasm with his friend, the witheringly droll drag queen Hamm Samwich, or perhaps at Cake Shop downtown where he leads a rotating group of stand-up comedians. Or there is his one-off show this Sunday, , that he's putting on with friends and performers including Cole Escola, Samwich, and Isaac Oliver.
"Our friendship as a foursome debuted on Instagram a year ago during a very Love! Valor! Compassion! trip to Connecticut. I'll never forget the day we decided to do the Pride show. It was over email and someone said 'we should do a Pride show,'" he recalls when I ask him later how the group came together. The evening will also feature SNL's Sasheer Zamata, comedian Julie Klausner and Girls' Jemima Kirke, among others, and the proceeds will benefit SAGE, a group that works to improve the lives of LGBT elders.
If you can't make it this weekend there is no dearth of his work to be found online. We particularly recommend the videos of him playing his various uber-selves, often, and most successfully, with his arch comedic foil, Kate Berlant. Their short about two self-obsessed travelers waxing romantic about life in Paris (aptly titled "Paris") is nothing short of flawless (and makes you hope to never encounter ex-pats like that abroad). "This girl sent us a video of herself lip synching the whole ["Paris"] video. Kate and I were like, 'well, we've made it.'" he says. Another, based on a filmed reunion between two television stars who shall remain nameless, is a masterpiece of self-delusion and confounding passive aggression called 'Reunion'. Google it now.
Early is one of the more exceptional players in a new-ish paradigm in comedy. It's one where performers and writers who make their own work in sketches and self-produced videos are able to gain momentum from their own followers, publishing directly on their YouTube channels and Tumblrs and cutting out the historically career-stifling instruments of larger network and cable productions and comedy clubs. The videos usually promote some kind of live act but are in and of themselves a fully realized narrative short, as though his nights at Showgasm were just a vehicle to make the promotional videos.
That's not to say he works entirely outside of established mediums. He's also a writer for Billy on the the Street and has a featured role in the upcoming Wet Hot American Summer update out in July, playing a musical theater alpha teen, clashing with Amy Poehler on the artistic direction of the big (original) camp show, 'Electro City.'
"It's me being super rehearsed and polished like a dick and I sing 'Corner of the Sky' from Pippin. Like full out," he beams. Belting out a Stephen Schwartz number is not too much of a leap for the Tisch grad. He's happy to talk about his more earnest moments working on his 'craft' doing very serious (but absurd) theater as a 20-year-old freshly-arrived from Nasvhville, like appearing in an original musical called Only Children about a pedophile. He played a role that required him to perform nude from the waist down.
His intense NYU training is evident in the sharpness of his characters. There is a reptilian precision to how he moves within his comedic personas, their exact gestures and glances are so fully realized, down to the breath. With his tufts of downy blonde hair, one imagines a cross between Dennis the Menace and Christopher Guest in his level of commitment to the character and the world he's creating. But all with an air of boyish charm cut with mischief.
Being that it's Pride Week, I ask John after our talk more existentially about the state of LGBT comedy. "I think the LGBT sensibility [in comedy] is in chaos right now. Limitations aren't good for people but they are good for art. So everyone right now is looking out into the abyss and is like, 'Welp! Guess I'll make a show about me and my friends! The twist is that we're bored!'" Funny given that boredom is the last thing anyone feels watching Early's work.