Alex Black Practices The Erotic Art of Self-Destruction In ‘Gutter Streets’ Music Video

Last year, L.A.-based synthpop artist Alex Black released the Baby EP, a shimmering collection of 80s-flavored nocturnal jams. Today, he debuts the first music video from the collection, an Xavier Hamel-directed widescreen visual for the white-hot disco track “Gutter Streets.” 

The video explores the intersection between queerness and the Freudian death drive, pursuing destruction as a generative force. According to Black, “The death drive is usually thought of as this toxic negative force, but so much of my growth as a person and an artist has come as a result of my self-destructive tendencies towards addiction and self-loathing. The death drive isn’t just negative. And there’s something very queer and powerful about that to me.”

Australian singer/songwriter Sam Sparro found Black on Gchat to discuss his lush, seductive ode to masochistic desire.

Sam Sparro: So I realized we’ve known each other about 15 years now. Do you remember how we got our nicknames for each other “Sprinks” and “Soyinka?”

Alex Black: I think more than 15 years! Pretty sure we had our blind date in 2001 lol.

SS: Oh yeah I totally forgot we had a blind date. I was living in London until 2002, so it must have been right after I moved to LA.

AB: And yes, of course I remember. We had a side project around that time called Rainbow Sprinkles. Our only song was “My Cell Phone, I Lost It” and it was a hilarious mess. Rainbow Sprinkles became “Sprinks,” and then a fateful autocorrect turned it to “Soyinka” at some point.

SS: Yeah our little side project—I remember we were really inspired by Fanny Pack and Le Tigre.

AB: Hahahaha, I forgot about Fanny Pack. Yes we were.

SS: So you were studying cultural anthropology at UCLA when I met you. Do you think your education has affected how you make music and the way you present it visually?

AB: Hmm that’s a good question. I was taking a lot of ethnomusicology classes at the time and was interested in a lot of different types of world music. It definitely made me a voracious listener and collector of music, I became obsessed with all these niche subgenres of music I was discovering at the time like Ethiopian Tizita and stuff like that. So I think it taught me how to listen to and absorb music in a way that has stayed with me.

SS: I definitely think of you as someone with a broad taste and knowledge of music. What were the biggest influences on the Baby EP, which I absolutely love btw.

AB: Aw thanks Sprinks. Baby is really a product of about a decade of obsessive music consumption and collecting. I ran this music blog Death Wears White Socks for many years, something I started back when music blogs were first having their moment. I’d post lots of lost cuts from cold wave, neue deutsche welle, italo disco, postpunk.

SS: Yes! I remember!

AB: I would obsessively track down lost stuff on vinyl, rip it to MP3, and upload it to the internet so people could hear it. So a lot of those genres—minimal synth, Belgian new beat, German new wave—you can definitely hear those influences on Baby.

SS: It’s interesting to me how we have so much A.I. trying to predict what we like and presenting us with what it thinks we should like. It’s really taken the human element out of musical selection. You have to be vigilant in curating your musical diet now. How do you find and hear most of your music these days? I have to admit I’ve gotten a little complacent.

AB: Same. I used to spend so much time researching and discovering new music. This was before algorithms were serving it to us, so you really had to work for it. People prided themselves on the unique stuff that they and they alone would discover, and sharing that felt really special and valuable. Now everyone has access to everything, which is great, but it has definitely changed the experience of discovering music.

SS: Haha. “Discovering” what an algorithm is presenting to you…

AB: I also rely on the young Gen Z kids I work with to keep me up to speed lol. “Teach grandpa about the cool music of today” type of thing.

SS: The thing is there’s so much fantastic music being made today but the mainstream playlists are pretty terrible. Anyway, not going to start bashing radio music. It’s futile. Tell me about the concept for the video.

AB: Yes, the video. So I worked with this director Xavier Hamel, who I know loosely through CalArts, where we both studied. He’s done videos for Bebe Huxley and some other cool queer folx and he liked the song, so we got together and just started kind of comparing notes on the various things we were into. We quickly discovered that we were both absolutely obsessed with the Duran Duran video for “Chauffeur,” which, if you haven’t seen it, watch it—it’s gorgeous.

SS: That’s so weird. I was in a side project with Mark Ronson called “Chauffeur” that we named after the Duran Duran song and we performed it with Duran Duran and I totally fucked up the lyrics and was mortified.

AB: Hahahahah. Of course you performed it with Duran Duran, NBD! And I’m sure you killed it. The video is sort of like this surreal brutalist love triangle between these two incredibly stylish women and a male chauffeur who are all headed for some sort of rendezvous. When they arrive in this concrete parking structure, the chauffeur suddenly becomes a topless woman and they all engage in this mesmerizing sapphic dance. It’s really chic and beautiful, but also very much a product of the male gaze—essentially the straight male fantasy of lesbian love, which we didn’t love. So we decided to put our own queer spin on it and give it a bit more agency.

SS: There’s kind of a Pierre et Gilles feel to some of the shots and kind of a Gregg Araki/Jim Jarmusch ‘90s indie cinema feel as well.

AB: Xav (the director) and I both love all of those references, and I’m sure they crept in, but our visual inspirations were definitely more ‘70s/’80s. In addition to “Chauffeur” we were channeling the films of Rainer Werner Fassbinder, especially The Bitter Tears of Petra Von Kant, which has these sort of lush, faded, tragic interior settings. We really wanted to juxtapose those velvety interiors with the ’80s concrete brutalism of “Chauffeur.”

SS: I find it strange that queer people have more visibly and acceptance than ever before but we have so few cultural superstars, especially in music, these days. Why do you think that is?

AB: I mean, the closet for one, and also this sort of retrograde notion that coming out can kill your entertainment career. If anything, the opposite feels true right now!

SS: Lol

AB: I also think that a lot of our most talented queer artists haven’t always played to the masses, and so sometimes they achieve a sort of cult status instead of mainstream stardom. Which is great, but it’s also nice to see some really visible queer superstars coming into their own.

SS: Well, I’m super excited for people to get to see the video—it’s really gorgeous. The EP is so perfect and I’m so honored to have shot the cover photo!

AB: Thanks Sprinks! It feels good to get it out there. I work full time as a writer so it took a really long time to get this project out there into the world—hence the name Baby lol.

SS: Totes. See you at my wedding bitch.

AB: SEE YOU AT YOUR WEDDING BITCH!

www.alxblck.com

EXCLUSIVE: Aja Premieres ‘I’m Kawaii / Ayo Sis’ Music Video

Aja is making room for themselves in the music industry whether you like it or not. The queer artist who released their first EP, “In My Feelings,” in May 2018 is not slowing down anytime soon.

Today they’ve released their fourth music video — a joint venture for the songs “I’m Kawaii” and “Ayo Sis.” We were lucky enough to chat with Aja about the music video, using drag as a medium, and their upcoming album.

 

Was there a specific reason that you wanted to pair these two songs for a video?

When I had made the EP, at first I was kind of neutral about all the songs. And obviously as I released it, I started to like certain songs more and I started to like certain songs less. I felt like both of those tracks on the EP were the more hyper-feminine tracks and that’s what I wanted, but I also really hated the chorus of “I’m Kawaii” so much.

So, I kind of came up with the idea that it’d be funny to kind of double up and make the video have sort of a beginning sequence where it’s doing the first song, “I’m Kawaii,” but it’s kind of like a weird wet dream gone wrong. And then it’s like waking up from a nightmare, where you’re like, what the hell just happened? That was terrible. And then it kind of goes on to the next song. “Ayo Sis” is sort of like a feminist anthem that pays homage to feminine energies. Icons and stuff like that.

So, was the nightmare part of it supposed to be your own reaction to the song that you didn’t like?

Well, yeah. The negative reaction is really, yeah. It’s basically, a joke is that the chorus is about to start and then the second it starts [it changes].

Was the idea to go from more a kiddish aesthetic to a more a regular rap aesthetic?

The transition is me showing that I can — cause this my fourth music video. I’ve done a lot of very highly produced, big budget music videos that have a lot going on and a lot of costuming. And I feel like the “Ayo Sis” part was very toned down and a little more realistic, and a little more like a regular rap aesthetic in comparison to not just the beginning of the video, but to my other videos.

So this video is really different, and I think it’s important to keep showing different sides. I was really inspired also by two people. One being Missy Elliott, because I remember in the beginning of the 2000s she would come out with these videos. And I remember being like, half one song half another song.

But the other artist being Jennifer Lopez. I remember when Jennifer Lopez was making all these videos, getting out seven or eight music videos a year. And every single one of her music videos was completely different. It’s fresh, and it keeps people thinking, what are you gonna do next?

I wanted to talk a bit about the two bedroom scenes in the video. What were you trying to get across?

Okay, so there was an underlying message there with all the bedroom scenes. To the normal eye, it looks like two man-woman relationships that are completely heteronormative, like normal bullshit. But what I’m trying to prove to people there is, I’m trying to normalize queer relationships.

I feel like sort of pushing the narrative of feminine being powerful. I’m also pushing that there’s nothing wrong with a straight man who wants to be with a trans woman. That’s not weird at all. Or for someone who is hyper feminine to be with a trans man.

I remember when we talked a few months ago, you talked about wanting to do more “boy looks” [in your music videos]. “I Don’t Wanna Brag” had more and there was also a lot in this one. Did you want to intentionally keep adding more boy looks to this? And does it feel different to have your fans see you in this way?

Well, I never really planned it. It just kind of happened. For me, I never really think about the gender presentation, it’s just whatever gets put into the artistic direction. It really just depends on the narrative and the points of view we’re going for and the storyline of each video. And every single one of my videos has a very important message, and a storyline behind it. It’s more than just visuals.

For me, in terms of my art form, [drag is] more of a medium and expression. Because my art form is music. Either way, you’re getting the same person, same character, same everything. Sometimes it’s just wearing something different.

Right. So it feels almost like a tool that you can access to express yourself in a certain way. Basically what you’re wearing doesn’t change who you are.

It doesn’t. For me, I feel like staying in drag would kind of limit me as an artist because, drag is not an art form. I just had lunch with Aurora Sexton, who is this gorgeous trans queen. Amazing drag artist who comes from the continental pageant system. I was telling them, I love drag art, and I love drag artists, but there’s a reason why I don’t say ‘oh I’m a drag artist.’

I don’t describe myself as a drag artist because I don’t want to take away from someone who is doing drag as their art form. And there’s, you know, when you hear about Drag Race you hear about drag as an art. But you don’t really hear about the difference, that some people are doing drag as a medium for their comedy. Or their acting. Or their music. And some people are doing drag because it’s their art form.

For example, in season 5, there was that big dilemma between Roxxxy Andrews and Jinkx Monsoon. A lot of people shaded Roxxxy and they pretended like she was a bitch. I don’t think she was a bitch at all. I think she was defending the fact that she was a serious drag artist, and I think she had every right to. But I think Jinkx was not invalid either.

I think the only thing that was happening was that the conversation was never brought up; Jinkx is an actress and comedian who used drag as a medium. And Roxxxy was a drag artist. And I feel like it’s important to draw a differentiation between the two. We’re all doing drag, but it’s not for the same purpose.

How do you feel about people focusing on your gender presentation in your music? Do you wish people would just get over it and let you do your thing, or is it a conversation that you like engaging with?

The only thing that really pisses me off is when people don’t see me as an artist, or they don’t see me as a musician. “You are a drag queen, who was on RuPaul’s Drag Race. That’s what you’re known for, and that’s what you’ll always be known for. You jumped off of a box. Is she gonna jump from there? You look like Linda Evangelista.”

I hate that so much. It puts you in a box. When people do that to me, I snap back. People are like “Is she gonna jump from there?” No. “Are you gonna keep jumping off of boxes?” No, that’s not what I do. I am a musician. I don’t jump off of boxes. I don’t backflip for fucking coins. That’s not my gig.

Do you think Drag Race has kind of been bittersweet almost because obviously it helped you gain a bigger fan base, but now it’s kind of been limiting?

I feel like Drag Race is sort of a double edged sword because it’s amazing in the sense that it has opened up a career for a lot of people and it’s given people a platform. But, I think that also, a lot of the appeal is comedy, and not every drag queen wants to be a comic, and not everyone wants to look like a clown. The show kind of teaches people that if you’re not funny while you’re acting, you’re a bad actor or celebrity impersonation needs to be funny. There’s a lot of people that have been impersonating celebrities for years, doing it seriously and they do it amazingly, and it’s not funny. It’s just a good illusion.

When Sasha Velour went on Drag Race, people were looking at her like, “Oh, she takes herself too seriously.” And I was just like “well, yeah, she’s an artist, and if you really are doing your art, you take your art seriously, what is the problem with that?” Not everyone is in on the joke. Not everything has to be funny.

What’s going on with your music now? Where’s your album? When’s it coming out?

My album is scheduled to come out early 2019. I am working on it as we speak. We have some cute features from some of my favorite artists. I have reached out to everyone I know, you know most of my teachers are outside of the drag world, I’m trying to give light to other artists, like artists of color. Queer artists.

Like people who I’ve listened to for years, so it’s just like I’m really excited to share a different side to the world. I think “In My Feelings” was like a cute moment, but honestly like after working on stuff for my album now I just like cringe. It’s sort of like when you paint a picture and then you paint another picture, and you look at the picture you painted before. You’re like, “Mm. It was cute, though.”

What do you think’s changed between “In My Feelings” and what you’re doing now?

Well I completely 100% have avoided the mentioning of anything drag or Drag Race related. Like my music is really coming from just like me as an artist, coming from me talking shit. Rap is about talking shit, it’s about throwing shots, and it’s about bragging. It’s about expressing your life and talking about your struggles, and your successes.

And I do a lot of that. In my album. And you know, a lot of people like, even from just the EP were like, “Oh, wow! Aja loves to brag! She loves to talk about how much money she makes.” And I’m like, “Well get over it bitch, ’cause I’m not done.”

Check out the music video for “I’m Kawaii / Ayo Sis” below. The video was directed by Assaad Yacoub and the songs were produced by DJ Accident Report and Wnnr (“I’m Kawaii”) and Mitch Ferrino (“Ayo Sis”).

The Kiki Investigates Why RuPaul’s Drag Race Keeps Making All Stars Seasons

Let’s review how RuPaul’s Drag Race‘s All Stars seasons have fared so far:

  • All Stars 1: Infamous failure, stopped the show from doing another All Stars season for years.
  • All Stars 2: Masterpiece, arguably the best season ever (certainly up there with season 5 of the flagship series.
  • All Stars 3: Somewhere in the middle, but decidedly not a great season.

Considering these mixed results, why does Drag Race keep churning out All Stars seasons? We’re getting another in 2019, with more surely on the way in future seasons. And if we’re going to keep getting more, is there a way to make them more consistent in quality?

That’s what The Kiki hosts Kevin O’Keeffe and Mathew Rodriguez are here to find out.

In the latest installment of INTO‘s Drag Race analysis series, the hosts get into the three All Stars seasons to determine what the spinoff series needs to keep and dump in order to make future versions a success. Along the way, they talk about the backlash to Bebe Zahara Benet in All Stars 3, why Ongina hasn’t been cast as an All Star yet, and why Mathew himself is dreaming about being on Drag Race.

Watch the full episode of The Kiki below. (And after you’ve watched, subscribe to INTO‘s YouTube channel for more episodes of The Kiki and other great content!)

Queer Women Go Head-to-Head in The Butch Off

Through fun and competitive challenges, co-hosts Brittany Ashley and Laura Zak poke fun at historically “gendered” assumptions about who excels at what, and explore what it means to be “butch” or to have butch energy.

The Butch Off is an homage to those with a butch identity, where they encourage an interpretation of butchness that defies binary gender and exhibits an ability to take care of others, be emotionally vulnerable, considerate, confident, resourceful, and strong. 

Watch the new INTO video below:

What Happens When You Can’t Fit Into Any Grindr Tribe?

Ben King has a problem. The young video producer doesn’t know which Grindr tribe he fits into, and needs the assistance of Grindr employees to help him. But he doesn’t want a filtered answer, so he takes the step of showing them his photo anonymously — mixed in with plenty of other guys’ pictures.

Does he figure out his Grindr tribe? Not exactly. But he gets information far more compelling along the way.

What makes finding your tribe especially tough is that there are so many. Surely one should fit for you, no? Surely one is the glass slipper awaiting every Cinderella who logs on to the app?

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But as many as there are, not everyone fits into one — or, rather, just one. As Ben finds out in his journey, sometimes you sit just outside of multiple tribes, with different parts of you filling different roles. As video producer Shane Whitaker notes, “There isn’t a clear slot” for Ben.

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The journey’s not over for Ben, nor should it be for those who don’t quite find a place for themselves on the list of tribes on Grindr. “I may not have found my Grindr tribe,” Ben says at the end of the piece, “but I’m gonna keep looking.”

Watch the full video below.

What Makes for a Great ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ Snatch Game?

To win RuPaul’s Drag Race‘s most signature challenge, Snatch Game, you have to be smart. You have to have a good sense of the celebrity you’re impersonating. You have to put together a convincing makeup look. But perhaps most importantly of all, as RuPaul himself constantly reminds us, you have to be funny.

Yet despite any delights it may bring, Snatch Game remains a controversial challenge. Many complain that, for all the hype, most of the impressions that queens haul out for Ru’s Match Game parody are pretty bad. Others think it’s an unfair test of a skill most drag queens will never need to know, and eliminates too many promising girls before it’s their time. Think of season 7’s Max, or season 5’s Lineysha Sparx, who both won challenges before Snatch Game but were tripped up by the improv-heavy challenge.

Still, despite its flaws, Snatch Game sticks around. In the newest episode of The Kiki, INTO‘s Drag Race analysis series, hosts Kevin O’Keeffe and Mathew Rodriguez dig into why.

 

Along the way, we also hit on what makes a great Snatch Game impersonation, and do some speed round judging of impressions from across the series. Press play below and watch the new episode.

A Definitive Ranking of Jennifer Lopez’s Music Videos

Jennifer Lopez is a music video queen. She’ll cement her status as one of the genre’s forerunners when she accepts the Video Vanguard award at Monday night’s MTV Video Music Awards. Since she’s about to take the VMAs’ legacy honor, let’s take a look back at her several dozen visuals and separate the “I’m Real”s from the “Let’s Get Loud”s.

The Skippable

 

39. “Let’s Get Loud”

It’s not an actual music video, so much as it is a recording of a performance of the song, so this is an easy last place.

38. “Alive”

A slog of a ballad to get through, this cut from her film Enough doesn’t offer much visually. Just Lopez sitting at piano while clips from Enough play in the background.

37. “Que Hiciste”

Few artists come across as effortlessly vibrant on camera as Lopez does. That being said, far too many of her videos rely on her looking into the camera in some remote location just to pull off the visual. This Spanish-language video is one of the worst offenders.

36.  “Same Girl” 

Another straight-to-the-camera face fest. This time with shots of the Bronx and violins!

35. “Hold You Down” 

Though the video pairs up Lopez with Fat Joe, the two sleepwalk through the video, barely acknowledging each other or the camera.

34. “Emotions” 

This is once again just Lopez at a piano, but this is the DEFINITION of face acting. Her look is also ON POINT.

33. “Hold It Don’t Drop It” 

Another low-budget wonder only saved by the fact that Lopez’s outfits and smolder really save a barely-there visual.

32. “We Are One (Ola Ola)”

This World Cup visual doesn’t do much beyond shots of people playing soccer and Lopez enjoying some Brazilian dancers. “Waka Waka” outsold.

 

Watchable Only Because J.Lo Is on Screen

 

31. “Baby I Love U!” 

There’s not much concept here besides Lopez rolling around in bed and yet she looks angelic the entire damn time.

30. “Me Haces Falta”

This video, luckily enough, has a plot! Lopez falls in love, but the man she’s falling for is up to some shady dealings. Maybe this just needed more face face face.

29. “I’m Real”

Let’s just say this: this is not the “I’m Real” video people think of when you bring up Lopez’s videography.

28. “Do It Well”

Bubbly, vivid and colorful, this David LaChapelle-directed cut just doesn’t feel like the sum of its parts. A lot of fun to look at but the dancing seems off-kilter and the whole thing seems like a rehash of her better videos.

27. “Fresh Out the Oven”

This little-known cut has one of Lopez’s most daring wig choices and features her sexiest, slinkiest outfits.

26. “Ain’t It Funny”

This sepia-toned ode to true love would rank higher if it weren’t so utterly corny (and if Lopez didn’t have so many other better videos!) But the dance break here is one to be admired and shows Lopez in rare form. Now, let’s talk about those highlights.

25. “I’m Into You”

Another face-to-camera video saved by a gorgeous location and the signature Lopez smolder.

24. “Papi”

Lopez loves a video with a story at the beginning. In this video she’s offered a magical cookie that will bring back her love in a hotel lobby. It also features several cars crashing as she glides effortlessly down the street.

23. “Goin’ In”

22. “Dance Again” 

Released around the same stage in her career, both “Goin’ In” and “Dance Again” are almost interchangeable — highly vibrant Lopez-centric videos that put the singer on full display. The songs also aren’t that dissimilar.

21. “Ni Tu Ni Yo”

In its display of Lopez being photographed, “Ni Tu Ni Yo” works as a meta commentary on how to make a Jennifer Lopez music video.

20. “Amor Amor Amor”

Not her best, but this video does have some great Lopez ~looks~.

19. “First Love”

Lopez didn’t make a big impact on the charts with “Love,” but the black and white video is a stunner.

18. “El Anillo”

This would probably rank higher if Lopez didn’t have locs in one of the scenes!

 

Good Music Videos

 

17. “No Me Ames”

This is the video that started the most important romance in Puerto Rican history. The emotions between the two are so palpable and real. Lopez should’ve won an Oscar for this.

16. “Booty”

Shot at an unfortunate time in music history when adding a dash of Iggy Azalea was considered a recipe for success, the music video gets an A for delivering exactly what it promises in the title.

15. “Play”

Alert: we are now in classic Jennifer Lopez/iconic territory. “Play” is severely underloved among the Lopez discography, but its sky-high video is perhaps the one music video that most encapsulates what music videos were in the early 2000s. It is futuristic, features a bevy of unnecessary beige accessories and has too many hairstyles to count. Shout out to Jennifer Lopez’s curly afro!

14. “If You Had My Love”

This video takes place INSIDE THE INTERNET. Iconic.

13. “Ain’t It Funny (Murder Remix)”

Confession: this is my favorite Jennifer Lopez song of all time. It’s not Lopez’s best video, but it features some of her best midriff-baring looks and her purple eyeshadow deserves a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

12. “I’m Gonna Be Alright”

Lopez loves to remind her audience that she’s just a regular girl from the Bronx. Her attempts don’t always land, but it certainly does in this clip, which not only feels more authentic, but also features some iconic LQQKS.

11. “Dinero”

“Dinero” is a reminder that Lopez is a consummate professional. Over 20 years into a music career and she can still pull off a fun video and look like she’s having the time of her life. It’s not among her pantheon of iconic videos, but it’s up there, helped by fellow Bronxite Cardi B.

 

Iconic Music Videos

 

10. “I’m Glad”

Jennifer Lopez stars in a remake of Flashdance in her own damn music video. The hair, the leg warmers, the blow torches. Iconic.

9. “Ain’t Your Mama”

If “I Luh Ya Papi” invented feminism, as I’ll argue in the next bullet, then “Ain’t Your Mama” was feminism’s second wave. A good rule of thumb for Jennifer Lopez videos is: if Lopez is playing several characters, it’s gold. Also, a Lopez video that references Network!? When will your fave?

8. “I Luh Ya Papi”

This music video invented feminism. As I said before, Lopez loves a pre-music scene and this time, it’s a conversation between Lopez and two hired friends. They discuss why men can’t be objectified in music videos like women. Wow Lopez/Two Friends 2020.

7. “All I Have”

From the CGI snowflake at the beginning to her pink coat and pigtails, not a frame of this doesn’t belong in the Music Video hall of fame.

6. “Love Don’t Cost a Thing”

This is peak J.Lo! The dance breaks, the pre-Ariana Grande high ponytail, the opening scene about how she doesn’t want expensive things when we know damn well she does. A bikini-clad Lopez dancing on the beach changed the music video world.

5. “On the Floor”

This is Lopez’s second most important of her “There are many Lopez clones” videos. Decidedly low concept compared to other videos high up on the list, this is Lopez’s most high energy romp and based on pure effort, rockets itself to the top 5.

4. “Jenny from the Block”

Don’t most people know where they were when this video dropped? The video may be most known as the video where she decided to cast Ben Affleck, but it also works as a meta commentary on Lopez’s stardom and features some of her best looks. Seeing Lopez in a sweater top dancing in her underwear made me gay. Her hat and capri combo made me queer.

3. “Get Right”

“Get Right” is an iconic music video in a way that the single itself is not. But, don’t get it twisted, this Lopez-as-Every-Woman cut worked so much, they repeated the formula again and again. The dance break is legendary and the midriff coat should be in the Smithsonian.

2. “I’m Real (Murder Remix)”

You probably have a lot of feelings about Lopez’s use of the n word during this song, as you definitely should. But, that aside, this is Lopez at her best. Her musical chemistry with Ja Rule was undeniable and she released this summer-themed video during the summer of 2001, capturing the zeitgeist in a way few other videos did before or since.

1. “Waiting for Tonight”

“Waiting for Tonight” is not the only thing Jennifer Lopez has contributed to pop culture, but if it were, she’d still be one of our most important pop culture icons. The tone of the song, combined with the magic of the video, made this an inescapable anthem. Like “I’m Real,” “Waiting for Tonight” made use of its release window and doubled as a pre-Y2K anthem. Lopez’s star was ascending and this video was the one that propelled her into her eventual early 2000s dominance. Also, everyone has watched this episode of Making the Video where Lopez was burned by a green laser.

Here’s the Captain America and Bucky Romance We Deserve — In ‘The Sims 4’

If you’re as invested in general faggotry as I am, then at one point you’ve considered that perhaps everyone in The Avengers is gay. Except Hawkeye. But I am not Joss Whedon — nor am I a Marvel executive who has even one iota of power to suggest that Captain America and Bucky Barnes finally admit their bisexuality and go to poundtown.

To accomplish that goal, INTO decided to have me sit down and make Steve Rogers and Bucky Barnes go full on Sammi and Ron and live together in a house until they can’t help the sexual tension any more.

It turned out to be fun, but not that hard. Except for the fact that when the Rogers-Barnes’s moved in, their neighbors showed up like fruit flies on the Trader Joe’s apples I bought and swore I’d eat before they rotted. (I deemed a red-haired neighbor who showed up unannounced “Black Widow.”)

It’s kinda fun to see what Sims talk about when they’re flirting. Steve was talking about a police car, which I hoped was to bring up our nation’s problem with police brutality and Bucky responded by talking about … cupcakes. Honestly, same.

After that, their courtship followed a totally normal, masc4masc trajectory. Captain America sexy posed for Bucky, the two had a first kiss by a lamp and then Steve had the sudden urge to use the restroom.

And hey, they even flirt by gossipping about babies, which is great because not all babies are cute!

I won’t say whether or not they get down to business — watch the video to find out — but I do go into a bunch of theories about topping and bottoming between the two.

And if there are two lessons I can impart on you after all this, it’s that the forced heterosexuality of the Captain America films is silly and don’t sleep with someone who does push ups after sex.

Pillowtalk Ep 4: James Butler Doesn’t Want You To Think He’s A Ho

Dancer/model/actor and YouTube star James Butler has a young gay following across the globe, and he wants them to feel comfortable getting tested. 

But in a Pillow Talk session with host Jen Richards, Butler admits that he had specific fears attached to getting tested himself. He worried that if a fan saw him in the waiting room, “They’d think: ‘Oh my god, my favorite YouTuber is a ho!'” But he quickly recognized that the more likely sentiment is: “‘Oh, my favorite YouTuber cares about himself and wants to be responsible, healthy, and safe.'”