Cardi B Dominated the VMA Pre-Show

She’s gone from rocking Love & Hip Hop to rocking the Video Music Awards.

On Sunday afternoon, during the VMAs pre-show, budding rap star Cardi B commanded the internet’s attention with her stunning white dress, her ~ fire emoji ~ performance and her playful interviews with Charlemagne tha God.

Twitter was obsessed with the rapper behind the summer’s surprise hit song. For looks, she served a creamy white dress with a Madonna-esque cone bra aesthetic.

Aside from serving you goddess in white, she also brought the laughs during a pre-show interview with Charlemagne tha God, where she kinda-sorta addressed rumors that she and rapper Offset are engaged.

Cardi B did get some minor criticism for lip syncing during her performance.

But others thought the performance was great, regardless.

Cardi B is sure to dominate even more internet conversations as “Bodak Yellow” continues its domination of the Billboard Hot 100.

Essential Queer Authors You Won’t Learn About in High School

As the summer winds down and you scramble to complete that pesky summer reading list, there are a few authors who likely didn’t make the cut. Although the works of Harper Lee, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and John Steinbeck are seminal pieces of literature, they often overshadow a certain niche.

Although queer representation has only reached new heights in recent years, many fought to have their voices heard before the digital age. The 20th century birthed some of the greatest queer literature, works that constantly pushed the boundaries and tore down societal constructs, providing a platform for today’s queer voices.

These are some of the essential literary figures that your high school won’t teach you about.

Alice Walker

Born: February 9, 1944
Must-read: The Color Purple

Having grown up in the racially divided south, her activism during the civil rights movement inspired much of her work. She continues her work as a writer and activist today.

Armistead Maupin

Born: May 13, 1944
Must-read: Tales of the City

Born in Washington, D.C., Maupin served in the Navy before moving to San Francisco, where he worked for the Associated Press. In 1976, he began publishing his Tales of the City series in the San Francisco Chronicle.

Audre Lorde

Born: February 18, 1934
Died: November 17, 1992
Must-read: Sister Outsider

A New Yorker born and raised, Lorde fought a long battle against cancer, which influenced a lot of her later work. Her writing focused on her identity as a mother, a woman of color, a lesbian, and a feminist.

Christopher Isherwood

Born: August 26, 1904
Died: January 4, 1986
Must-read: A Single Man

Isherwood lived a privileged youth in England, and he was a pivotal member of the Leftist literary ‘30s generation. Living in Berlin during the ‘30s, he fled the Nazis, making his way around Europe and through China before ending up in the US in 1939.

Edmund White

Born: January 16, 1940
Must-read: A Boy’s Own Story

Edmund White spent much of his career bouncing around New York, Rome, Paris, and San Francisco. An important member of the gay writers’ group, The Violet Quill, he’s long been open about sexuality and his HIV-positive status in his writing.

Gore Vidal

Born: October 3, 1925
Died: July 31, 2012
Must-read: Myra Breckinridge

During his long career, Gore Vidal was known for his outspoken, witty commentary on politics. He developed an interest in literature and politics as a child, and he wrote his first novel while serving in the military.

James Baldwin

Born: August 2, 1924
Died: December 1, 1987
Must-read: Giovanni’s Room

Born in Harlem, New York, Baldwin had a religious upbringing with his mother and stepfather, a Pentecostal minister. As a young writer, he moved to Paris, where he felt more creative freedom to write about his life as a black man.

Rita Mae Brown

Born: November 28, 1944
Must-read: Ruby-fruit Jungle

A New York Times bestselling author and an Emmy-nominated screenwriter, Rita Mae Brown was expelled from college in Florida for participating in the Civil Rights Movement. In addition to her activism and feminist writing, she also wrote the screenplay for Slumber Party Massacre, a film parodying the slasher genre.
Sapphire

Grindr Users Sound Off On Who Should Win at the VMAs

This Sunday, music’s biggest names will descend on Los Angeles to find out who will take home MTV’s highest honor: the Video Music Award. In anticipation of the evening, INTO asked Grindr users who they think should take home the coveted award in the major categories.

Alongside their predictions are INTO’s own thoughts on who might be taking home the award. And you will be surprised at how different these turned out to be.

VIDEO OF THE YEAR

Kendrick Lamar, “HUMBLE.” 23%
Bruno Mars, “24K Magic” 28.55%
Alessia Cara, “Scars to Your Beautiful” 15.02%
DJ Khaled, “Wild Thoughts” 23.95%
The Weeknd, “Reminder” 9.47%

Who Grindr Users Think Should Win: Bruno Mars (28.55% of the vote)

Who INTO Thinks Will Win: Bruno Mars

Bruno Mars’ impact on music in the last year has been inescapable. That’s less the case for Alessia Cara and DJ Khaled, even though “Wild Thoughts” is an amazing song with a Rihanna-soaked video that is eminently watchable. While The Weeknd is now a pop mainstay, this last year was not his zenith.

The only person who can give Bruno Mars a run for his money is Kendrick Lamar, whose song “HUMBLE.” and album DAMN. have been undeniable forces in a sleepy year for the music industry. Not to mention the fact that “HUMBLE.” is probably the best video in terms of quality among the nominees.Though MTV’s brand is trying to be more woke, expect “24K Magic” to take home the trophy for its feel-good infectiousness and by-the-books visuals.

ARTIST OF THE YEAR

Bruno Mars 21.85%
Kendrick Lamar 19.03%
Ed Sheeran 16.22%
Ariana Grande 23.99%
The Weeknd 11.26%
Lorde 7.64%

Who Grindr Users Think Should Win: Ariana Grande (23.99%)

Who INTO Thinks Will Win: Bruno Mars

While Ariana Grande would be the most deserving winner, without any nominations in the other major categories, it would make little sense for MTV to give it to the starlet. While Grande released only two videos this year “Side to Side” and “Everyday” she also became a symbol of resilience in the last year after the May attack on her Manchester concert. Given the ubiquitous year he’s had, Bruno Mars will probably take the statue, even if we (and Grindr users) hope for a Grande-sized upset.

BEST NEW ARTIST

Khalid 27.07%
Kodak Black 10.34%
SZA 18.37%
Young M.A 8.44%
Julia Michaels 16.73%
Noah Cyrus 19.05%

Who Grindr Users Think Should Win: Khalid (27.07%)

Who INTO Thinks Will Win: SZA

Khalid definitely wins in terms of sheer name recognition, even though Noah Cyrus has the benefit of the Cyrus dynasty. But, SZA’s fire debut album Ctrl has made her an online sensation. Shout out, of course, to Young M.A, an out lesbian rapper from Brooklyn, New York, who came in last in terms of the vote but is still an artist INTO is excited to watch.

BEST COLLABORATION

Charlie Puth ft. Selena Gomez, “We Don’t Talk Anymore” 13.24%
DJ Khaled ft. Rihanna & Bryson Tiller, “Wild Thoughts”30.41%
D.R.A.M. ft. Lil Yachty, “Broccoli” 5.00%
The Chainsmokers ft. Halsey, “Closer” 20.95%
Calvin Harris ft. Pharrell Williams, Katy Perry & Big Sean, “Feels” 13.24%
Zayn & Taylor Swift, “I Don’t Wanna Live Forever (Fifty Shades Darker)” 17.16%

Who Grindr Users Think Should Win: DJ Khaled ft. Rihanna & Bryson Tiller, “Wild Thoughts”.

Who INTO Thinks Will Win: Given that Khaled’s “Wild Thoughts is the only video here nominated for Video of the Year and that Rihanna in the video is the best thing caught on camera in 2017 “Wild Thoughts” should have no problem snatching this trophy.

BEST POP VIDEO

Shawn Mendes, “Treat You Better” 14.46%
Ed Sheeran, “Shape Of You” 25.41%
Harry Styles, “Sign Of The Times” 8.65%
Fifth Harmony ft. Gucci Mane, “Down” 13.11%
Katy Perry ft. Skip Marley, “Chained To The Rhythm” 21.08%
Miley Cyrus, “Malibu” 17.30%

Who Grindr Users Think Should Win: Ed Sheeran, “Shape of You”

Who INTO Thinks Will Win: Ed Sheeran, “Shape of You”

Despite not being a great video, “Shape of You” has 2 billion views on YouTube. The song’s monster hold on radio means it should be a relatively easy coup for Sheeran over the rest of the competition. Not even Perry, who is hosting the show and released the overstuffed “Swish Swish” video this week, should pose competition.

BEST HIP HOP VIDEO

Kendrick Lamar, “HUMBLE.” 34.51%
Big Sean, “Bounce Back” 8.97%
Chance the Rapper, “Same Drugs” 8.83%
D.R.A.M. ft. Lil Yachty, “Broccoli” 4.35%
Migos ft. Lil Uzi Vert, “Bad & Boujee” 15.22%
DJ Khaled ft. Justin Bieber “I’m The One” 28.13%

Who Grindr Users Think Should Win: Kendrick Lamar, “HUMBLE.” (34.51%)

Who INTO Thinks Will Win: Kendrick Lamar, “HUMBLE.”

Much like Beyonce’s Grammy win for Contemporary R Album, Lamar may be short-shifted in the night’s two big categories Video of the Year and Artist of the Year and may only take the win in the hip hop category, even if he deserves more.

BEST ROCK VIDEO

Coldplay, “A Head Full Of Dreams” 34.28%
Fall Out Boy, “Young And Menace” 19.24%
Twenty One Pilots, “Heavydirtysoul” 24.53%
Green Day, “Bang Bang” 13.55%
Foo Fighters, “Run” 8.40%

Who Grindr Users Think Should Win: Coldplay, “A Head Full of Dreams,” (34.28%)

Who INTO Thinks Should Win: Coldplay, “A Head Full of Dreams”

It would be nice if Coldplay didn’t win any more awards, but was anyone really watching any of these videos this year? Coldplay may win on mainstream appeal alone, though I’d love to see Fall Out Boy take the stage and get any award ever. (Sidenote: Doesn’t “A Head Full of Dreams” sound like it could be the title of any Coldplay song?)

BEST FIGHT AGAINST THE SYSTEM

Logic ft. Damian Lemar Hudson, “Black SpiderMan” 10.01%
The Hamilton Mixtape, “Immigrants (We Get the Job Done)” 16.37%
Big Sean, “Light” 15.56%
Alessia Cara, “Scars To Your Beautiful” 36.94%
Taboo ft. Shailene Woodley, “Stand Up / Stand N Rock #NoDAPL” 4.60%
John Legend, “Surefire” 16.51%

Who Grindr Users Think Should Win: Alessia Cara, “Scars to Your Beautiful,” (36.94%)

Who INTO Thinks Will Win: Alessia Cara, “Scars to Your Beautiful”

Unfortunately, the way this year’s nominations shook out, almost each category had one video that made it to the Video of the Year category. Given Cara’s slot in the top category, it’s hard to argue with the logic of her win.

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We will be doing live-coverage of the VMAs all Sunday evening here at INTO. Tune in here or on Twitter.

Twitter Got In Formation to Mock Taylor Swift’s New Video Before It Dropped

Taylor, we’re gonna let you finish but Beyonce had one of the best videos of all time.

After dropping her new single, “Look What You Made Me Do,” on Thursday evening, Taylor Swift followed up with a sneak peek of the video, which she announced would debut during Sunday’s MTV Video Music Awards.

Though Swift may have been looking to eclipse her musical rival Katy Perry, who released the overstuffed video for “Swish Swish” Thursday morning, the strategy backfired.

Despite the preview being 20 seconds long, there was only really one shot that mattered to the internet. In one spitter, she’s flanked by her squad. Except this time, white women don’t comprise her squad. Instead she’s flanked by a group of men mostly men of color, including RuPaul’s Drag Race judge and YouTube content creator Todrick Hall.


But rather than bringing up bad memories of “Bad Blood,” most people thought that Taylor and her melanin-infused squad were trying a bit too hard to imitate another cultural landmark Beyonce’s Black-Lives-Matter-themed “Formation,” and her Super Bowl performance of the song. And thus, a meme was born.

A lot of people riffed on the chorus of “Formation.”

Others chose to invoke Beyonce’s recounting of her heritage:

And, perhaps the song’s most quotable line, “When he fuck me good I take his ass to Red Lobster.”

Taylor’s video, which is already behind the pop culture eight ball, will premiere on Sunday during the VMAs.

Superhero Fetish Is A Real Thing, And It’s Time To Suit Up

Have you ever found yourself watching a superhero blockbuster movie at the megaplex and wondered if you were the only one in the theater who got more than a little aroused by all the muscles in spandex? Or maybe you even thought to yourself: Damn, the things I’d like to do with that sexy man (or woman) in that skintight costume?

I am sure you have comic fan or not but for a few of us, the appeal of superheroes runs much deeper. Because for some of us, we want to really get into it with a hero, and for him to get sexual with while we both wear the capes and tights. And this desire even has a name: superhero fetish, and it’s very real.

I’ve had one ever since I got my hands on issues of the Superman and Spider-man comics as a boy. In my teens, I knew that I liked Green Lantern, Wolverine, and Batman beyond the point of mere entertainment. In particular, I loved the covers where the hero was dominated or bound by a brutish villain. But throughout my twenties, I kept these desires to myself and hidden from my sexual partners, even though I was fully out of the closet and proud to be gay in my public life. I had a lot of acceptance in my life, but I still had a second closet that was suffocating a part of me.

Let me be clear about this: My desires have never been vanilla. Even as I was suppressing my fantasies about superheroes in bondage in my twenties, I was still willing to explore my attraction to leather, rubber, and the culture around BDSM. I was drawn to kink, and I educated myself on what leather communities were all about. I read a lot of books on BDSM culture, and eventually, I took a deep breath and walked into the Eagle in Chicago in 2002. That was my first leather bar. And yet, inside these fetish and BDSM spaces, I didn’t see my superhero and spandex fetish reflected.

There was no such thing as a superhero themed party, or much less a spandex night at these bars. To me, the superhero gear was just as powerful and seductive as a full leather uniform, but I didn’t dare speak up about my desires at some of these bars.

During this era in the aughts, however, an interesting phenomenon started to happen online. Some fetish websites, like the now defunct Gearfetish, did encourage superhero fetish, even if it was only online or in a chat room. I joined these sites, and I discovered that there were a good handful of guys who were into the same kink for superheroes, but when I attended leather events in the physical world, I was always left wondering: why doesn’t someone take this fetish more seriously? At that time, no one was doing so.

Back around 2005, I met a guy about my age on Gearfetish, who shared my superhero fantasies, and who wanted to meet up with me on his next trip into town. I couldn’t believe that he understood my fetish so well, and at the same time, I couldn’t believe how muscular and handsome he was. I mean, he really wanted to dress up and role-play, and wrestle, and have sex with me? He had the chiseled shape of a superhero, and his dark hair and brown eyes gave him a quality that reminded me of a younger Warren Beatty. My stomach curled into knots as I pulled up to his hotel, and what happened next simply changed me forever. We played, we dressed up, we got sensual, we got rough, and we had the encounter of our dreams.

That meet-up validated both of our fetishes about superheroes, but for me, it was like a star going supernova. That hotel encounter validated my imagination, my heart, and my soul. It was at that moment in which I understood that there was nothing wrong with me or my superhero fetish. In fact, I started to understand then that my superhero fetish (and also its opposite energy of supervillain) could help me learn more about who I am.

In 2012, I was living in New York City, working long hours as an editor, and like a lot of journalists, I wrote lots of fiction on the side. I had already published a book of my short stories in 2010, and I had written three sci-fi and fantasy novels that had not yet been published at that time. That year, I began writing a new series of interconnected short stories about Roland, an unusually feisty but introspective nurse in Kansas City. When I was done with 12 short stories about him, I understood that what I was really writing was a novel about Roland, and not just erotic stories about superhero fetish.

At that point, I decided to publish it as a book titled How to Kill a Superhero: A Gay Bondage Manual. I went on to publish two sequels after that first volume, and the fourth book in the series will publish later this year. I chose a pen name of Pablo Greene to publish the How to Kill a Superhero serieswhile I also published thrillers under my real name Cesar Torres. Nowadays, I publish with pride using both names.

How to Kill a Superhero is like Harry Potter for kinky gay and queer men, and over time, it’s become a cult favorite. It’s not for the faint of heart — my books depict graphic sex, rough sex, and costumed sex. Kinksters and leather communities have become particularly fond of the books, and some of my biggest book signings are at leather events. I am grateful to have met so many sexy and warm-hearted kinksters in all the years I have been writing and publishing the books. And that’s why I am more like Tony Stark than Clark Kent: I don’t mind if you know my alter ego. In fact, revealing my dual identity only helps you to understand me better.

I, with leather community member Brian Bolt Donner, organized POW! The Superhero Fetish Meetup at International Mister Leather, a newly added event on the official schedule, which welcomes newbies and longtime superhero fetish enthusiasts and enables them to meet each other and connect. But there are many other key players and organizers in the scene who are also focused on welcoming people with a sense of openness, sexiness, and a sense of humor.

Jon Maunz from Baltimore is an articulate member of superhero fetish community. He has organized meetups at events like Mid-Atlantic Leather in Washington, D.C.

“I entered the world of superhero fetish probably the same way a lot of people do, being a gay comic book reader,” Maunz says. “Superheroes left quite an impression on me from a very early age. Comics like the X-Men, who were portrayed as outsiders, always interested me. Especially when all the male characters wore skintight spandex and had chiseled proportions. There is always a bit of fetishism in superhero comics. Big muscular guys put on their skin tight leather suits and punch each other. I mean….it’s not subtle.”

Being attracted to the colorful and impossibly skin-tight costumes of superheroes is not all that different from being attracted to the homoerotic art of Tom of Finland or other iconic images of leathermen. Both display heightened versions of the male physique, and they push the envelope of reality into the fantasy realm. The big difference is that the aesthetic of leathermen is informed by uniforms and technology from world wars I and II, as well as photography.

The comic book, on the other hand, was a new printed medium of the early 20th century that was marketed to children. The comic book was considered to be silly entertainment, never serious or with depth. It’s only in the past thirty years or so that it’s been elevated to a new literary status, and I think it makes sense that now, writers and filmmakers, as well as readers and viewers, are able to celebrate exactly how much eroticism comic books have generated, from their very early days. Just picture it — big muscled men in tights, often bound and gagged; Comics created images that are more powerful than most people realize.

Just this past February, the leather contest Leather Pride Belgium launched the first ever title of Mr. Superhero Fetish Europe. The winner was Captain Europe (who prefers not to share his real name). By my count, this makes it the first time in the world that a superhero fetish category has appeared in a leather contest.

“Truth be told, superhero fetish is something I got into by accident,” says Captain Europe.” I got into wrestling a year or so after I came out as gay, so you have the spandex there; I grew up with the 1960s Batman and Robin TV series with all of its homoerotic subtexts; and I guess exploring the two led me to the superhero fetish scene, such as it is. Superhero fetish is a way to let your imagination and creativity run wild, beyond the usual dom/sub role play.”

Adam Fairris, a UK native who recently moved to San Francisco and married an American, has been part of the superhero fetish communities in both countries, and he notes some major differences in the superhero fetish scenes across the ocean.

“The superhero scene in the U.S. is very much separated from the generic spandex scene,” Fairris says. “In the UK the two are inextricably linked. Which paradoxically means [that in the UK] you’ll have the [somewhat socially accepted] cosplay of dressing up as your club’s star player next to the unusual dressing up as Superman in the same [fetish] club night. In the USA, they’re still very much separated. And the acts of getting into character and roleplaying in the public settings are significantly more important in the U.S.”

Right now there isn’t a single place for superhero fetishists to meet, and dating apps don’t have a superhero category to indicate this kinky interest. I run a Facebook group for POW! and though the group is mostly geared toward the event in May, it’s a good place to meet other superhero loving people.

Instagram and Tumblr tend to attract a lot of superhero fetishists, and they can also help people find each other. Even though we are hard to find, you’ll find that superhero fetish community tends to be friendly and open to newcomers. And when it comes to hookups, the same guidelines from the kink and BDSM world apply: communicate your interests and limits often and upfront, and use consent as the basis for safety in the encounters you get into.

If you’re looking for events this year where your superhero fetish and cosplay will be welcome, I recommend Folsom Street Fair in San Francisco and Dragon Con in Atlanta, both of which will take place in September. Folsom a perfect place for you to gear up and meet other superhero fetishists in the street and Dragon Con is a great place to try out your most daring cosplay, thanks to the con’s geeky element and history of safe spaces for LGBTQattendees.

According to Maunz, the small size of the community shouldn’t stop anyone from finding others who get off on superheroes and villains. “My advice to first-time superhero fetishists is to have fun! Wear a skintight spandex suit out to a leather/fetish night at your local bar. Do DIY cosplay at home or wear it out. Find some like-minded individuals for some fun play sessions to find out what it is you like the most out of this particular fetish.”

Superhero fetish has helped me explore who I am through direct access to powerful archetypes of human psychology. Superhero stories contain power exchange, betrayal, love, death, and rebirth, all of the elements of the erotic. And superheroes are in no way just kid’s stuff. Their erotic potential is infinite, and one which very few writers have ever actually explored.

Yes, superhero fetish is real, and if you believe in love and imagination, you too can suit up and find new dimensions of your own soul.

Photo credit: CesarTorres

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Cesar Torresis a book author, journalist and filmmaker. His novels include the thrillers 9 Lords of Night, 13 Secret Cities, and the cult book series How to Kill a Superhero, which he writes under the pen name Pablo Greene. His new documentary film Beyond Built, launched this month on his YouTube channel.

Lilly Wachowski’s ‘Say Our Names:’ Recovering the Most Vulnerable Among Us

Many faces and many stories are among them. Take, for instance, Dee Whigham, who had recently begun her medical career as a nurse at a medical center in Hattiesburg, Mississippi.

A definition of the word “diva,” was kept on her Facebook page: “A lady who does NOT allow any other passengers on her plane.” Rae’Lynne Thomas from Columbus, Ohio was a performer and “fashionista” and wanted to look her best at all times, “dressed to the nines to clean the kitchen.” On India Monroe’s Facebook page, titled “India thedarkvixen,” she declared about herself that “it is just the beginning, don’t count me out yet, I am a work in progress.” She lived in Newport News, Virginia.

All of them are transgender women from around the country, 27 in all, and all of them brutally murdered throughout 2016. It wasn’t the end, wouldn’t be the end for any of them, however.

Instead, all of these hopeful, bright, shining human beings now hang along the walls at Chicago’s Center on Halsted, rendered in dozens of lovingly painted portraits. “This list is from recorded homicides,” says Wachowski, “though I’ve taken the liberty of some additions due to suspicious circumstances. It is partial and by no means considered complete.”

The Wachowskis have long made work that famously functions at the intersections of philosophy, artistic representation, ideology and self, sex and gender identity, with technology and a healthy dose of reflections on the necessities of jouissance thrown in.

At times, art-making as a social and cultural discourse can reflect positive shifting political realities. Many ardent fans of their Netflix series Sense8, for instance, saw themselves in the multivalence of character consciousnesses and understood it as an explicit attempt to represent users of newly emergent plural, gender-neutral personal pronouns in our culture.

But while they were celebrating alterity and difference onscreen, there was simultaneously a creeping, undeniably persistent, grim march forward of violence against transgender people taking place across the country. Ferocious and bloody, the violence has seemingly taken place unchecked.

Unlike other frontiers of the civil rights movement, such as with the enshrinement of gay marriage and other rights into law, there remains a lack of proper juridical and legislative protections to sufficiently safeguard the rights of transgender people and a widespread, pervasive establishment of bigoted cultural norms that push back against that from happening. In fact, these lack of protections emboldens violence against them.

After coming out as transgender herself in March 2016, Lilly Wachowski took a break from working on the popular series, so wrenched by the violence that she began to explore her reactions to it in paint, producing a series of portraits shown collectively in June 2017 at Chicago’s Center on Halsted in an exhibit titled Say Our Names.

“This series of portraits began toward the end of July 2016,” says Wachowski, “an outlet for the overwhelming emotion I was feeling in the relentless waves of mortal acts of violence against trans people over the course of the year. With each headline, each murder, I felt wanting to connect, to remember, to honor.“ It was in the Center that she found a safe haven for sharing her series of portraits, works that painstakingly memorialize those whom so many continue to regard as less than human.

It’s inarguable that sex and gender fanaticism has enjoyed a generalized resurgence in 2017 America, with evidence of its hateful revanchism everywhere. It’s also unsurprising, in a nation founded on a roll-call of atrocities, whether slavery, the Indian genocides that preceded the Westward Expansion or the refusal to accept the citizenship of those Chinese who helped build the railroads afterward, that America today continues to persist in its long history of supremacist leanings. Those leanings are influential and wide-reaching.

Indeed, it’s clear that Nazi lawmakers planning the drafts of their own Blood Laws determined that American juridical stances on racial purity in anti-miscegenation laws were too severe, even for them (we claimed a “single drop” of racially-tainted blood was enough to invalidate superior identity; for them, you needed to have a few grandparents worth of tainted blood in the lineage).

So, whether it’s Anglo-Saxons over black, brown and yellow people; or straight, cis-gendered sexual relationships over LGBTQ people, there’s been no shortage of demonstrable nationalist argument for these hierarchies of nature in which some people are deemed superior to a wide range of inferior others. It’s truly sickening.

And, whether in President Trump’s specious arguments about transgender service in the military, or the overturning of the “bathroom bills,” and on and on, transgender people are today more and more often at the center of that nationalist backlash.

In fact, Trump’s willingness to stoke the fires of that supremacist fanaticism was a major motivation for the portrait series, and an inspiration for the defiant footing that necessitated it.

“I write this the day after a Trump presidency was confirmed,” Wachowski notes, seething with indictment of the President’s divisive rhetoric. “We LGBTQ collective must fight for and protect our own against the tide of ignorance and hate. Fight for and protect first, then educate.”

In the very same month when Lilly Wachowski announced her transgender identity, 16-year old dancer Kedarie/Kandicee Johnson (who identified both as transgender and genderfluid, and who went by both names), was found shot to death in an alley with multiple entry wounds. They had only just moved to Burlington, Iowa, where they were killed, in an attempt to escape the gun violence in their hometown Chicago. Among the 27 portraits painted by Wachowski, Johnson’s was among the first deaths to occur after the filmmaker had become a publicly-recognized transgender figure.

That her portrait, like that of the others, is rendered in the art-historical vocabulary of naive figuration lends to its earnest, heartfelt quality in a way that syncs with the abject and assigned “inferior” status by populist narratives of its subjects. This embrace and alignment of the perspective with the abjection of form, technique, and subject is itself an act of defiance. Colors are at times blocky, chiseled, then explode against one another, flaring up in raw purples, oranges, reds; what matters most is the person revealed in their movement through time.

“I utilized a color palette with the hope the portraits could offer a vibration of the subject’s life and humanity so that the viewer would also be able to connect, to remember, and to honor.”

Wachowski’s portraits evince a desire to reconnect them with the world beyond the populist social and cultural elements that rejected them, past the hatred and bigotry, to reconnect them with the world they’ve left behind. It’s a choice reflected even in the surface of the materials Wachowski chose to work with: “Acrylic on wood panels. The organic fibers of the wood felt apropos of the organic nature of these lives and our interconnectedness.”

And that interconnectedness is crucial not only for understanding the project but for understanding the importance of equality in society: without it, those supremacist delusions can grow and spread like a malignant virus, tearing society apart from within the belief systems of its members.

Ultimately, each individual attempt to restore each of these 27 slain women to our cultural memory through portraiture is an act of subversion against those in the culture whom would see them erased, wiped out and forgotten.

“We must recognize these murders for what they are; a genocidal project,” Wachowski explains. “Trans people are under attack and trans women of color specifically are being singularly and systematically wiped out.” There’s only one antidote, she writes, summing up the need to build a more salutary, inclusive culture in one short, poetic refrain:

We, the dead and
We, the living
Will not be erased; Say Our Names!
Say
Our
Fucking
Names.

Katy Perry Needs to Pivot From Video

Katy Perry dropped her “Swish Swish” video today and with the amount of ~stuff~ happening, I thought it was American Horror Story: Basketball.

The video takes the song’s central metaphor, stretches it into a painful 6 minutes and crams it full of celebrity cameos. A quick list from memory everyone who’s in “Swish Swish”: Molly Shannon, Terry Crews, the “Shooketh” viral video girl, the kid from Stranger Things, Gronk and the backpack kid from Perry’s dragtastic Saturday Night Live performance.

Like several of Katy Perry’s other videos, the video is a big budget ode to wasted potential and wasted money. Perry spends the equivalent of some developing countries annual GDPs on an overstuffed video that only quits being laborious when Nicki Minaj shows up for her windswept half-time performance.

When it comes to videos, Perry needs to take a cue from Coco Chanel and edit. Take off one gimmick. Cut a cameo. Minus a ~look~. Take away a costume. Subtract the cheese. Why did she need to dress up in half a dozen different outfits and crash people’s birthdays for “Birthday?” Why did she need to be prepared, boiled and consumed for “Bon Appetit”? Why did she unleash myriad racist tropes for “This Is How We Do”?

One of the video’s most cringe-worthy moments comes when Perry turns a failed attempt to shoot hoops and turns it into the #NickiMinajChallenge shooting star meme that gave her video co-star a truly viral moment. Cramming her video with viral stars like Christine “Shooketh” Sydelko shows that Perry followers meme culture, but the video’s overall forced feel bets on that virality being replicated. But, if Twitter is any indication, the effort was more cringe-y than shareworthy.

Sure, plenty of her pop peers are guilty of the “more is more” aesthetic Lady Gaga, mostly but at least with them, all the ideas seem to be herded in the same general direction. Perry seems like she can’t seem to shepherd her ideas together into a unit, making her videos come off sloppy and aimless, which is sad given that she can command so much time and talent behind them.

5 Facts You Need to Know about Young M.A

Buried among the big names lined up for this year’s Video Music Awards Katy Perry, Miley Cyrus, Pink there’s one smaller name who has nevertheless been making a major splash in the rap game: Young M.A.

The 25-year-old rapper scored a hit with 2016’s “OOOUUU,” which includes lyrics about a queer relationship and lesbian desire. Here’s what you need to know.

1. She reps Brooklyn.

Young M.A was born in Brooklyn, New York, and began rapping at age 9. moved around a lot and then eventually landed back in the borough when she was 16.

Brooklyn was also the subject of her first viral hit. According to aVogueprofile of the rapper, her song “Brooklyn (Chiraq Freestyle),” caused an online sensation after Dr. Boyce Watkins, an author and commentator criticized the song’s “violent, negative, genocidal energy.” In an interview withVladTV, Young M.A eventually thanked Watkins for the critical post, which actually garnered her more publicity.

2. Her most popular track is “Ooouuu.”

“Ooouuu” came to life because, as Young M.A toldGenius, she needed a “feel good” record.

“This is a record where I just wanted to be cool on the track,” the rapper said. “I’m chill, I’m humble a lot, I needed one of those records.”

The strategy paid off as the song racked up several accolades.Rolling Stoneranked it #11 on its list of the best songs of 2016, andBillboardnamed it the 16th best pop song of 2016. It also landed on year-end best lists atPitchforkand theVillage Voice.

Earlier in her career, M.A told Vogue, she was told to rap in a “more feminine” way, but eventually left that behind and decided to rap openly about her sexuality on her tracks, as she does on “Ooouuu.”

“The nerves was actually then,” she remembers. “I held in being sexually attracted to women for so long that once I got that out of me, the music became easy.”

3. Actually, a lot of her lyrics discuss her sexuality.

The lyrics on “Ooouuu” are not a one-time phenomenon. On “Hot Sauce,” off her EPHerstory, Young M.A raps:

“My girl getting on my nerves, I ain’t going home
Ain’t got time for this shit (I don’t got time for this shit)
I ain’t got time for this bitch (I don’t got time for this bitch)
Big brown bone, she look like Babe Ruth
She let me hit it out the park like I’m Babe Ruth
Then I hit my dougie, ooh I’m pretty though
Bring that Hilfiger back and I’m jiggy though”

4. Young M.A has also been criticized for her misogyny.

In an essay inThe Root, writer Samantha Master took Young M.A to task for recreating some of the worst parts of toxic masculinity culture.

“Her success, and the success of her gender-fluid counterparts, including Young Thug, are partly rooted in an affirmation of and nod to the old guard of gangsta rap: heterosexism and misogyny,” Master wrote. “ Young M.A, in some ways, has used the cultural space largely created by black women to promote the re-enactment of elements of toxic masculinity.”

Several outlets have since discussed whether Young M.A’sdecidedly queerlyrics would be considered misogynist if they were being rapped by a man. Most people have concluded yes.

Young M.A responded to these accusations in an interview withFader, saying: “At the end of the day, men can be described the same way as men describe women,” she says. “A man can be a ho, just as much as a woman can be a ho. And I’m a woman myself! I respect women. I respect my mother.”

5. Her mother tried to help her come out.

Young M.A toldHigh Snobietythat she tried to dress more femininely to please her mother.

“Man, my mama already knew,” the rapper said. In “Quiet Storm,” Young M.A raps: “Mama wondered why I never liked to wear a skirt / Or wear a purse, I tried to be girly once / But fortunately it didn’t work.”

But, little did she know, her mom was trying to help her come out the whole time.
“I used to throw little clues for her to just say it,” her mother toldFader, “because I knew once she would have said it to me, she would feel comfortable and she would be able to live her life the way she wanted to.”

On a freestyle track, “Ether,” Young M.A encouraged other LGBTQ people to come out, too.

“To all my gays struggling, still stuck in the closet / Just come out, be you, never try to disguise it.”

Janelle Monae’s Undiscussed Queer Legacy

It’s hard to believe that it’s been 10 years since Janelle Monáe blessed us with Metropolis Suite I: The Chase, the first in a series of concept albums which went on to score Grammy awards and critical acclaim. Based on the 1927 sci-fi epic of the same name, Monáe’s “Metropolis” hones in on the character of Cindi Mayweather, an android dangerously in love with a human named Anthony Greendown.

Although the EP was the first official chapter of the saga, Monáe hinted at what was to come on the 2003 album, The Audition. On a track entitled “Metropolis,” she sings of a world which would later go on to become fully-realized – one where “a cyborg can love and a cyber girl is still a queen.” These references led many to dub the album as Suite 0 of the series.

While the Metropolis albums have their inspirations clearly rooted in the works of sci-fi legends like Fritz Lang and Octavia Butler, the character of Cindi Mayweather is used by Monáe as a vehicle, through which she articulates a distinctly queer narrative. “When I speak about the android, it’s the ‘other,’” she explained in a 2013 interview.

“You can parallel that to the gay community, to the black community, to women – we have so many things in common, and we sometimes don’t know it when we allow small things to get in the way,” Monáe continues. “So this music is meant to inspire and bring wings to those who are weak and grace to those when they are strong.”

Mayweather’s own fight begins on the opening track of The Chase, entitled “March of the Wolfmasters.” “Good morning, cy-boys and cyber girls,” announces a disturbingly chirpy voice over a radio. “Android 57821, otherwise known as Cindi Mayweather, has fallen desperately in love with a human named Anthony Greendown. You know the rules – she is now scheduled for immediate disassembly!”

This interlude opens a story of forbidden love which, to queer people in the 72 countries worldwide which still persecute homosexuality, will doubtless sound extremely familiar. Mayweather may be hiding in the Neon Valley District from bounty hunters with chainsaws and electro-daggers, but her story represents the real plights of queer people worldwide forced into exile or deported from Western countries back to oppressive governments determined to snatch their freedom.

These elements of humanity are alluded to later in the EP, specifically in a spoken-word breakdown at the end of “Many Moons.” Lyrically, the track itself explores the complexities of living under surveillance and the illusion of freedom: “You’re free but, in your mind, your freedom’s in a bind,” she sings. Again, this relates to queerness – none of us are free from the world around us, which can condition us to think or believe things we may not otherwise.

Queer theory as a movement came about to destabilize these ideas, encouraging us all to think outside limits and create our own subjective realities – something which Monáe facilitates within her fantasy world by encouraging escapism and exploration.

Elsewhere, the star articulates this message in bleaker terms during the song’s closing minutes, name-checking ailments like breast cancer and HIV alongside racialized stereotypes and likening them to Mayweather’s own problems in her fictionalized world. Still, she ends with a beautiful closing lullaby which references the importance of community, role models, and self-created queer families: “When the world just treats you wrong, just come with me and I’ll take you home, no need to pack a bag,” she sings.

The “Many Moons” video adds a visual companion to these lyrical explorations, depicting an android auction soundtracked by Cindi Mayweather. Themes of gender, beauty, sexuality, race, and class all permeate the short film: we see androids having their hair groomed and primped to more accurately fit the standards of femininity desired by buyers, whereas Mayweather herself drags up in a tuxedo and a pompadour.

This is queer in itself; these are non-humans conforming to “human” beauty standards, therefore highlighting that anybody can artificially assimilate with beauty. We all understand this as “dragging up,” a term which, thanks to pioneers like RuPaul, is slowly bleeding into mainstream consciousness.

The fact that Monáe places these themes in the context of an android auction – which, for obvious reasons, can be likened heavily to American slave auctions – sparks an interesting conversation around wealth, hierarchy, and the hoops through which marginalized people must jump to assimilate.

Other small but subversive nods to queerness in the video are also worth exploring. In one segment, Mayweather rips off her jacket and throws it into the crowd to be caught by a delirious, screaming woman. Here, she mimics the frenzied reaction to rock stars like Bowie, Elvis, and Prince and hints at traditionally “masculine” traits within Mayweather.

In a sense, it’s feasible to argue the alter-ego as a drag personality of sorts: in “Cindi,” a track which appears on The Audition, Monáe sings about feeling like an outsider and finding purpose through constructed identity.

“As I search for a home and a place to belong, I find it hard to fit in,” she sings. “I meet lots of pretty girls in this fantasy world waiting for their time to shine / So I try to be Cindi in hopes that they’d notice that I wasn’t their cup of tea It’s so lonely when I’m only being me.” In a moment of unusually personal introspection, the star here seems to reference her own experiences of isolation while also aligning herself with the queer community; while some turn to drag to explore and subvert their outsider status, Monáe created Cindi.

Naturally, these continued themes have led to press speculation around the star’s own sexuality. Various publications have read into her tweets, lyrics, and interviews, feeding into swirling rumors which the star addressed most eloquently on Sway In The Morning.

Instead of creating clickbait, Monáe revealed the queerness of her own mentality by saying that love has no religion or sexual orientation before explaining that she makes a point of not discussing her personal life.
“Categorize me / I defy every label,” she later sang on “Q.U.E.E.N.,” seemingly reinforcing her point. By declining to talk about her own sex life, the star presents herself as label-less; she essentially queers media perceptions of her by choosing to remain anomalous, toying with identity politics and, most importantly, turning the focus on her personal life into an opportunity to highlight the actual struggles of queer people.

As the Metropolis saga developed, various other references to queerness were made more explicitly. She sings about “undercover love” in “Givin’ Em What They Love,” about Blueberry Mary (a girl who is crazy for Mayweather, who “comes in her dreams”) on “Mushrooms and Roses,” and about queer astronaut Sally Ride, to whom she dedicates an entire song. Maybe the best moment, though, comes in the form of a radio station skit hosted by DJ Crash Crash. He takes callers, all of whom are disgusted conservatives designed as almost exact replicas of those who still balk at queer people: “I think they should just do Whatever they do to people like that,” says Peggy Lakeshore of Neon Valley.

The last caller, however, issues one final explicit statement: “Robot love is queer!” Only here, towards the tail-end of the fifth suite does Monáe deliberately underline the shared discrimination faced by Mayweather and the queer community, adding a late new dimension to an already comprehensive story.

These countless coded references are refreshing in the context of a corporate world – one which is increasingly dominated by lukewarm ally-ship and transparent messages of disingenuous support for the LGBTQ community.

By steering clear of weak, literal statements of solidarity, Monáe has created a masterpiece which humanizes queer identities through the story of an alienated android. She also spotlights the ways in which sci-fi often does the same thing – throughout the albums, she makes references to pioneers of Afrofuturism like Octavia Butler, whose works featured bisexual characters and alien races with three sexes.
It may seem avant-garde, but, despite the futuristic setting of Metropolis, Monáe has consistently used her individual voice to highlight the human story of those who still face real persecution in 2017, as well as offering up Mayweather as their musical messiah.

Feeling the Femasculine Fantasy in Hawaii

Most fail to realize that Hawai’i is much more than just a tourist trap and weekend get away.

Our islands are inhabited by a diverse, cultural melting pot of people who are often portrayed poorly in the media and entertainment industry. The true voices of locals and the stories of our people are rarely heard of. Many know nothing about our stolen kingdom, our history and our rich, beautiful culture that goes beyond the stereotypes we’re associated with.

Within this beautiful culture is a lost history of our drag queen community.

In the 60’s and 70’s, many drag performers worked for the formerly world-renowned Chinatown club, The Glades, which was notorious for their elaborate showgirl-esque drag performances. During this era, performers were required to wear “I’m a Boy” buttons on the streets by law. The buttons originally served as a way to prevent arrests but resulted in rampant violence and death. Around 30 girls were said to be murdered at this time. Things were much different during the days of the Ancient Hawaiians.

When one was māhū– an individual who embodied both feminine and masculine spirits– they were looked up to. Embodying both of these traits were thought to empower them as caregivers, teachers, and healers. All of these things heavily influenced Hawai’i’s drag culture and the style of drag in Hawai’i for generations. Recently, these norms of drag have shifted as the younger millennial generation has come about.

During my research and time spent with O’ahu’s current drag queen community, I’ve learned that there is little to no trace– both visual and written– of this beautiful subculture.

Many of their stories have gone unheard and many queens of the past have become only memories. I decided to document the different aspects of O’ahu’s current drag queen community in hopes of changing that. I aim to inspire others with their boldness, bravery, artistry and unapologetic individuality.

Since then, I’ve been working on several different projects with them, with one of them being Femasculine. The main goal of Femasculine is to unveil what lies beneath the painted faces and how they embody the Ancient Hawaiian concept of māhū.

This project both explores the depth of their onstage persona, as well as who they are as Hawai’i locals. I interviewed and photographed 14 different queens for this portrait series to help provide a range of insight.

Sarina Sena Daniels

How does your drag persona differ from who you are outside of drag?

Sarina is different than my real identity. Sarina is the hero I always knew when I was young.

Nobody stood up for me when I was getting the shit kicked out of me, so I created Sarina. She’svastly different than me. She’s a protector.

How does it feel to be a part of Hawai’i’s drag community in comparison to the mainland?

I feel like Hawai’i has a lot more history as far as showgirl­ism and stuff. I feel like it can be alittle more picky and the art itself is more refined and detailed, whereas on the mainland I feellike it’s more open and just purely a celebration. Over here, it’s a little bit more critical, but also
welcoming.

Janna Del Rey

What does drag mean to you and how has it shaped you as a person?

Drag, to me, means that you can be who you want and never have to ask for forgiveness.

How would you describe the type of drag that you do?

I look like the girl you’ve seen leaving the club at 5am [laughs]. I would say crazy, fun anddefinitely in your face.

Does the drag community here reflect the values of Hawai’i’s local culture?

I think the drag community here does reflect local culture because we’re all about accepting youfor who you are, doing what you want and eating that good food, honey. It’s not Hawai’i’slocal culture without food.

Candi Shell

How does your drag persona differ from who you are outside of drag?

In most every way. I’m like a hairy dude who’s kind of quiet and draws in my man life. As CandiShell, I’m super bubbly, and if I wasn’t so sweet, I would just be kind of obnoxious. I’m also not singing a whole lot these days in my man life, but Candi’s constantly singing. I literally feel like when Candi takes hold­you know, once I’ve got the wig on and her voice starts coming outI feel like I’m riding in the backseat and someone else is driving the car. I feel like doingdrag is probably an ancient impulse. Especially in this patriarchal society that we find ourselvesin that’s sort of gone so far in one direction that it’s shutting down and breaking apart. We’re missing all ofthisgoddessenergy. We have the god energy, but we don’t have the goddessenergy and that’s what drag queens do: we summon the goddess.

Marina Del Rey

What does drag mean to you and how has it shaped you as a person?

Everybody will say drag is their alter ego, their super hero, their inner strength, their dreamprincess form. And yeah, that’s true. But for the most part, drag remains fantasy. I think for people in general, drag is the avatar of the millennium. You don’t have to commit to it because you can put it away when you want to and it’s ever-evolving. I like the chameleon bit about it, but it’s nurtured by how people kind of respond or don’t respond. I mean, drag isn’t drag if you don’t have someone looking at you. Because that’s not fun. The whole reason you put the shit on is because you want people to be like “Oh.” That’s the whole point. You are nothing without a crowd.

Witch of Waikiki (Victoria Li)

What does drag mean to you and how has it shaped you as a person?

Drag is artistic expression and it’s fucking with gender because it’s bullshit and made up. It’sshaped my life because I can wear pieces like this either as a boy or as a girl. And I like theattention. It’s a creative outlet.

How does it feel to be a part of Hawai’i’s drag community in comparison to the mainland?

Oh my god, so awesome. My family’s from here and I started drag in DC. I could never get anybookings anywhere in DC, and not for lack of trying. The community is so open and welcominghere. Mind you, the audience knows what they like, but they’ll still watch you if you do somethingdifferent. There’s more respect here for what we do.

G Dolce & Jason Victorino (Married)

How do you think Hawai’i’s drag scene has evolved over the years?

Jason: It has changed dramatically. I look at drag history in Hawai’i and it was more abouttranssexual dragthe women wanted to be passable. And now I think we’re celebrating all types of drag. The club kids are coming out again and I’m liking that. I just want to see more diverse things, and it is starting to change slowly. Hawai’i will always continue to evolve. There’s room for all, there really is.

G: That’s actually a hot topic right now on social media. People talk about how dragin Hawai’i is dying as an art form. They say you don’t see the queens that you saw before andthey criticize a lot of the Tropical Fish [Drag competition held at Scarlet] queens. It’s hardbecausewe’re in the middle generation and the older queens think the younger queens don’tput in enough work. They think they just try to get here without the steps because ofsocial media and try to jump from one thing all the way to the other.

Lolita

How does it feel to be a part of Hawai’i’s drag community in comparison to the mainland?

Hawai’is drag scene is very reflective of the culture here in Hawai’i. We have a very strongsense of family here, one that runs deeper than blood. I’m sure they have somethinglike that on the mainland as well, but I think the thing that really separates our drag from thedrag in the rest of the world is that here in Hawai’i, there truly is the spirit of Aloha. And Aloha isso many things. It’s not just hello and goodbye. It’s this concept of love and of­I don’twanna say givingbut Aloha is so unique that I almost can’t really put it in anEnglish waybecause there’s no English way for Aloha. That sounds really cheesy, but I feel like every dragqueen coming from Hawai’i embodies a little bit of Aloha in her.

Lala Benét

What does drag mean to you and how has it shaped you as a person?

To me drag means expression. It means going down a path that’s your very own path. I started drag late because I had other goals and things I wanted to accomplish. I also have aspirations of going to law school and making achange, making a difference. I loved drag performances, but I didn’t think the two worlds could meet. I just had a revelation that, you know, who cares? It doesn’t matter. It’s my life. It’s my path. Though it may not seem to be a clear path to do the two different things that I want, I can be that explorer that goes down that path and clears it for other people to do the same. So for me, drag is path clearing.

Water Melone

How does your drag persona differ from who you are outside of drag?

I’m really shy outside of drag, but in drag, I’m very outgoing and I’m a lot morefriendly. I’m more reserved outside of drag and I tend to keep to myself. In drag,I’m more in your face. I’ll be everyone’s best friend in drag, but outside of drag I’m like, “Whoare you?”

How does it feel to be a part of Hawai’i’s drag community in comparison to the mainland?

I think the drag community here is a lot closer than the mainland. Obviously, there arefriendships on the mainland like there are here, but here it’s an island so it’s so small. You builda connection­your connections, your networkand you make so many more friends. Everyonebecomes like your sister or your aunt or grandma or something. It’s more friendship and lessrivalry and who’s better than the other person.

Everyone’s growing together and learning together.

Aria Del Rey

How would you describe the type of drag that you do?

I’m an emotional queen. I don’t dance, I do more ballads. I’m very effeminate and I just wantemotion to be shown on stage. I want people to feel how I’m feeling in that moment.

How does your drag persona differ from who you are outside of drag?

Cunty. I’m a cunty drag queen. Outside of drag, I’m super friendly, and insideof drag, I’m friendly as well, but I’m definitely a bit more cunty.

Apple Aday

How does your drag persona differ from who you are outside of drag?

Tim is very different from Apple. Apple gets to do whatever she wants, be whatever she wants,and Tim is very just boring and likes to relax and watch whatever and play video games and be a dude. Apple definitely pushes the boundaries more and isn’t afraid of what people think as much. She’s just unapologetically herself.

Does the drag community here reflect the values of Hawai’i’s local culture?

Yes, the community definitely represents the local culture. That feeling of Ohana isreally strong in the drag community. We all help each other out, we’re all there for each other.There’s always that pettiness in the gay community and people being superficial overthis and over that, and the drag community is a little bit more together. We are those misfits andthose weirdos, those artists that didn’t fit in into any of those tribes.

VV Vixen

How does it feel to be a part of Hawai’i’s drag community in comparison to the mainland?

I was in the scene in California for a bit, and there’s just not a sense of Ohana and Alohabetween all the girls. It was all about competition and cattiness. I swear to God, my Hawai’i sisters­, it’s just love and being excited for each other and you know, supportive. That’s the kindof sisterhood that I always wanted to experience and I’m so happy to have it here in Hawai’i.

How do you think Hawai’i’s drag scene has evolved over the years?

I think we’ve just been seeing more queens come out of the woodworks. Before, it used to be asmaller group of queens and now, there’s a lot more to choose from and a lot more to seearound the island so that’s awesome.

Lilith Satana

How would you describe the type of drag that you do?

I’m that one girl where she looks great, but you know she’s a little problematic. I mean, straightto the point, I’m problematic. I’ve done things like fist people on stage and vomit blood, but I also do a lot of high energy numbers too. So I’m that girl with a little extra problems.

How do you think Hawai’i’s drag scene has evolved over the years?

I think the kids are getting wilder. Hawai’i has an image where if you’re getting into drag, you become transsexual. Because back then, it was a lot easier to pass as a real woman versus being in drag. So now that drag has become much more acceptable, you start to see the lines kind of blurred. We have our trans girls and trans is who they are, drag is what they do. And we have all the other butch queens/drag queens, and they’re starting to express themselves even more. I think it’s evolving even more so because ofRuPaul’s Drag Race now being a thing. Kids are starting to recognize drag characters from television, so it’s all aesthetics, creativity­. Drag in Hawai’i is getting louder and more colorful and I think it’s a great thing.

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Retouching: Jessica Gallagher

Check out more about the project here:https://marieerielhobro.com/femasculine/