Blogs & Columns
6 min

Perfume Genius is too gay, or not gay enough

Mark Hadreas, stage name Perfume Genius, gave an interview with Stereogum in which he opens up about the politics of being an openly gay artist in the music industry and his collaboration with Ssion, who directed the video for the lead single “Queen” off his new album Too Bright:

On how his homosexuality takes away from the music: It’s like I’ll go into a venue and they won’t take me seriously, or think I don’t know what I want because I’m sort of impish or tiny or feminine. And that’s frustrating. And that’s almost what that song is too. I’m just as badass as anyone; my clothes are just more silken. But then I’ll meet a dudey-dude band, like the Men, and they were super nice and really fun and easy to get along with. And even going to the South, I was terrified, but it was really friendly. It’s just surprising. Then there’s some asshole in some liberal area. That’s just how it goes. I did a lot of interviews where I’d get these crazy introductions. In France I was being translated live for the radio show. It was like, “He is Perfume Genius: He is gay, he is sad, he is addicted to porn.” And I had to stand up like, “Excuse me?” The first two, yeah OK, but I’m not addicted to porn! I like that that’s their lead-in, like nothing about the music, just that I like to fuck dudes, basically.

On not being able to please every gay: Whenever anything “gay” comes along, everybody wants that thing to somehow be everything to everybody. And usually it is too gay, or not gay enough. There’s never the right amount. I think that happens a little bit in the media. Even in YouTube comments, I’ve had gay men write, “Why is he still going on and on about all this stuff?” or “I don’t wear heels and lipstick; why is he trying to make it like all gay men do that?”

On the video for “Queen”: It was very involved. I knew I wanted to work with Cody [Critcheloe of Ssion]. We had a sort of internet relationship. And just from the way we’d talked to each other, I knew that we could meet in the middle. He has a very specific style, and I knew it wouldn’t be just me making his video or him making mine, it would be a collaboration. So I sent him tons of my really ambitious, insane ideas, and he sent me his, and then we sort of curated it into a weird, dreamlike thing. All his ideas, all the references, I knew where he was coming from and I trusted him.