No band has waved the rainbow flag more proudly than Pansy Division. From its origins and involvement in early-’90s Bay Area punk to becoming de facto leaders of the “homocore” movement, Jon Ginoli, Chris Freeman and a rotating cast of straight and gay drummers (the band is now rounded out by drummer Luis Illades and guitarist Joel Reader) never shied away from graphic depictions of queer, bi and questioning dudes getting sweaty with each other and a variety of apparati. But as acceptance of queer culture and community has grown and the band’s members find themselves in their 40s and 50s, the topics on new album Quite Contrary have also progressed. Pansy Division will be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week. Read our new feature on them.
Luis Illades picked up the pink emergency phone and checked in with his closest friends and icons that Pansy Division has met along the road to check in about their experiences with the queer past and present. As well as trying to get a tip on the newest jamz.
Who was the last queer artist you collaborated with, and how has their experience influenced your attitude toward your work?
Currently working with director Damon Cardasis on his debut Saturday Church, a musical about trans/gay kids of color in the Bronx/Harlem + ball culture, etc. Since this project involves writing songs, and specifically writing songs to be sung by gay kids/kids in transition addressing these issues in a poetic way, which Damon and I have written together, it’s reinforced the importance of language to me, the pitfalls of writing outside of your life experience, and the fluidity of meaning. Damon and I share a similar upbringing and relationship to religion.
Who was the first queer icon who made an impression on you?
Sylvester (the disco artist). I was eight years old, and my mom took me to the record store after I’d saved up money to buy something. Got the 12-inch single for “Dance/Disco Heat”; the flip side is “You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real).” That’s right: the B side. I still have it, and I still bump this very record when DJing. I recall listening to this on my plastic Fischer Price phonograph and knowing there was something going on that I wasn’t fully grasping, but knowing it was good. I love Sylvester. When I was 12 or 13 (’82??), just right on the cusp of my discovery of hardcore, I also remember getting the single for “Do You Wanna Funk,” and I wish I still had that one, what a jam. Please enjoy. On this same shopping trip, I bought the “Under Pressure” seven-inch, which then led me to Queen/Freddie/Bowie and changed my life for good.
What was the last song that you listened to on repeat?
Rhianna’s “You Needed Me” and Ho99o9’s “Bone Collectors.”