“Who are your influences?”
This is the first question each of us were asked in our senior seminar presentations, back in art school. In that moment, for the purpose of contextualizing my artistic efforts, I listed Kara Walker, Sebastião Salgado, Gregory Crewdson, Ana Mendieta, Stephen King. When it comes to life in general, I’ll tell you, I’m heavily influenced by my mother, and her parents. And when it’s time to serve you? Well…
I cannot believe for one moment that I’m alone.
* * *
Grace Jones - for her discipline, magnetism, and no fucks given.
Grace Jones in concert. Photo by Kevin Winter
I think my earliest memory of her was when I was six or seven, watching “Conan the Barbarian” on TV. Something about that loincloth. Something about how she held that spear and fought side by side with Conan. Something about...
* * *
Freddie Mercury - for his showmanship and powerful voice.
Caption: Michael Putland
I swear, I was born in the wrong decade - I feel ROBBED that I never got to see him live. I think the only times in my entire life I’ve ever felt jealous was while listening to recordings of his concerts with Queen. He sang with his whole body, with passion, with soul. He gave you voice! He gave you SHOW! And what’s the point of a rock show with no showmanship? Thank you for being my example Freddie! RIP, my love.
Freddie and his FABULOUS cape!
* * *
David Bowie - for his beautiful concepts, his artfulness, his approach to putting on a show, his cheekbones...
I was born in ‘82, so I can’t pretend like “The Labyrinth” wasn’t my first David Bowie experience. I was eight or nine years old. And I was smitten with the villain. And I was forever in love. I was so into the music he was releasing in the 90s when I was in middle and high school (“Little Wonder”, anyone?), and that’s what led me into obsessing over his earlier albums and movies as an adult. I cried when he died. RIP, my love.
* * *
Prince - for his masculine femininity, his talent, his moves, his sexy
His music’s been blasted into me ever since I was an infant. My parents were still married and my dad would crank up “Let’s Go Crazy” and I would proceed to do literally that with my entire three-year-old body. As an adult, I saw him in concert twice: at Coachella, and at the kickoff to his “Welcome to America” tour in Jersey. I cried both times. His was a life of discipline, excellence, and dedication to staying true to what’s within. Prince was a gift from God himself, and we didn’t deserve him. RIP, my love.
* * *
RuPaul - for his wisdom, and the platform he’s created for all those drag queens who inspire me.
A gender-bending RuPaul Charles in 1986. Photo by Nolan M.
Seriously, if it weren’t for RuPaul’s Drag Race, I don’t know that I’d have had the bravery to really step into my career as a performer, because I wouldn’t have known where and how to even begin. And beyond the show he created, his podcast has been so invaluable to the maturing of how I approach my career. I love that I can think back to the 90s, watching his talk show and his appearances elsewhere, and see the career trajectory of an artist who’s in it to win it. Thank you Mama Ru (and please continue to keep an open mind to the concerns of the trans community).
* * *
Scenes from Peaches' music video for "Diddle My Skittle"
Peaches - for her feminine masculinity, her pipes, for voicing the thoughts in my head. The first Peaches song I ever heard was her remix of Basement Jaxx’s “Get Me Off” back in 2001 - I was hooked. I own every album. And I DIED when she handed me a signed drumstick from the stage back in 2009 while she was on tour promoting “I Feel Cream”. She’s so creative and artistic! A woman who gives not a single solitary fuck about age, gender, and sexuality norms. I can't explain why it means so much to me that she’s outspoken the way she is. I fantasize about playing backup theremin for her.
* * *
The spirit moved me - I had to design these. For myself, and for you!
Let us unite under the banner of these fierce ones, our inspiration, our guiding lights! Let's shout their names from the rooftops and give thanks that they were given to us! Their shine has blessed us, and we pay homage 🖤
|I'm a one-woman circus and the world's most passionate Grace Jones stan. Everything about your planet confounds me, except cats. Book me: hritalent.com|