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Hear the Queer: “Chris” by Christine and the Queens

Christine and the Queens Music Chris Album Queer

Review of the new album Chris from gender-bending, queer musician Christine and the Queens which features new music, new vibes, and a new persona: 4 out of 5 Stars

Gender and sexual fluidity are more widely discussed today  than ever before. That being said, this discussion of social construct could be greatly improved, although we’ll take the little victories where we can. We look for representation in the media to dictate what is “the new normal” or for what “hot buzzword” those “millennials” will be using next. It is here that we send out the signal for our hopeful heroes: who will answer the call to break down heteronormative stereotypes and tear apart the constructs of gender and sexuality?

Enter French-born singer, songwriter, and producer Heloise Letissier, performing under the stage name Christine and the Queens, is no stranger to the front lines of queer-dom. The “Queens” portion of her name is in reference to her early days of performing in Europe with a backing band made entirely of drag queens. With origins like that, you can imagine what kind of subject her music might address.

If you guessed visual and musical explorations of the depth and intricacies of living and loving authentically, you’d be correct. With her full-length debut album dropping in 2014 Chaleur humaine(re-released in the US in 2015 as a self-titled album) we saw affirmations and unapologetic anthems of the difficulties and triumphs of love and life as a queer person(?) such as “Titled”, “Saint Claude”, and “Narcissus Is Back”. Each of these songs was  accompanied by stunning music videos complete with beautiful dance numbers, as well as poignant and thoughtful artistic direction informed by Christine’s university background studying theatre and movement at ENS Lyon in Paris.

CHRISTINE_QUEENS_1000-920x584 Hear the Queer: "Chris" by Christine and the Queens

Thankfully, none of this is lost in her latest release, Chris. However, the music has gotten a sensual, funky, makeover. While still performing and recording under the moniker Christine and the Queens, this new album introduces a new “character” and “expression” of Christine that is  simply just Chris. She was quoted as saying “Chris is a survival technique; a character created out of exasperation…” Surely she is referencing the exasperation of how women are still viewed in our society. Men still take issue with strong women or women who may embrace their “masculine” side in personality traits or outward expression. Whether that be a shorter hairstyle or more masculine dress, this is somehow still deemed alien and unattractive to men who are not secure in themselves or who have other issues that we could spend pages addressing.

However, in this album, the concern is not pleasing men; quite the contrary, in fact. Christine is more concerned with using “Chris” to grab the attention of women, or really whoever she sees fit in the moment. It’s much less about the binary, and more about embracing all the facets of gender expression and identity. In the making of this album, Christine said that she “became obsessed with being a macho man, but still being a women” and “making this album like the cinema” With this in mind, the first single, “Girlfriend”, seems to be the perfect fit. A sensual, cool, crooning tune set to a synth-funk soundscape produced by the Cali G-Funk master Dam Funk, “Girlfriend” sets the tone for the album’s overall vibe. The track is a call to action with Chris seeking the affection and attention of both the boys and girls and struggling as to why what pleases one does not please the other. A fair question indeed. A fresh and funky music video accompanies this single, as well. Set in a construction site with Fosse-style dance moves and cinematic nods to Newsies and West Side Story, it plays like a queer spin on iconic movie musicals.

The lust and romance doesn’t stop there. Getting into the album itself we open with “Comme si” or the full French title “Comme si on s’aimait” which roughly translates to “As if we loved each other”. Another lustful and sensual track asking her lover to just “focus on her voice and let go” and to “play her loud and fast.” This is just a taste of the departure of this album compared to its predecessor. It’s much less sensitive and a lot of more up-front and confident in its approach. In one of the following tracks, “The Walker”, this confidence appears shaken and examined. A tale of taking a walk to think about the ailments of the body and mind and what to do when you can’t hold your head high. Yet, just as we felt down, we get back to taking control and exploring our sensual desires on playfully flirty tracks like “5 Dollars”, “Damn (What Must a Woman Do)”, and “Goya Soda”. The latter track is of particular interest in it’s familiarity for fans of Christine’s older art-pop and synth-pop sounds on her debut and older releases. Fans of that sound will find a follow-through in this track and should seek it out.

Christine hits the home stretch of album with a look back into her past on “What’s-Her-Face”. This track is another relatable anthem to those that have lived the queer experience and remember being taunted or uncomfortable with themselves in childhood or their adolescence. We then conclude the album with a call back to the funky opening with tracks “Feels So Good”, “Make Some Sense”, and the bouncy closer “The Stranger”. At about 45 minutes, this album luckily does not overstay its welcome. Christine tells the story of this facet of her being in a very concise and powerful way. While Christine always divides her time singing both in French and in English, you can also listen to this album entirely in French, if you’re into that.

The album is cohesive and even on a casual listen it all blends together well and no song seems out of place in this universe. Chris delivers a message of empowerment and sexual liberation. You can express all the parts of yourself on all ends of the spectrum. Some days, you may want to embrace your feminine side; some days, you want to embrace your masculine side. Or, maybe all in one day, you’d like to embrace both. Or maybe a little bit of both every day. That’s the message of Chris: it doesn’t matter! But what does matter is that the never-ending quest for authenticity and owning every part of what makes you you.

Favorite Tracks: “5 Dollar”, “Goya Soda”, “The Walker”.

If you like Christine and the Queens you may like: Perfume Genius, Blood Orange, Dam Funk, Solange, Chromeo.

Were-About-It-1 Hear the Queer: "Chris" by Christine and the Queens

Queer Pop Music Duo Space Kiddettes Releases “Low Impact Aerobics”

Space Kiddettes Music Pop Queer Houston

Houston Popstar Duo Space Kiddettes Sparkle In “Low Impact Aerobics” Music Video

Space Kiddettes premiered their shimmering 80s-inspired music video for their brand new single “Low Impact Aerobics” last week, which was directed by Chris McElroy and co-directed by Michael Cotaya.

Hot off the presses and freshly cut from the upcoming E.P., DOMESTIC ADVENTURES, Houston-based electro-dance-pop duo, Space Kiddettes, unleashed their latest bop, “Low Impact Aerobics.” The song has an uplifting, crystalline-synth sound that reminds the listener of artists such as Devo, Duran Duran, and Erasure. An updated spin on Jane Fonda, at-home workout VHS tapes, the music video captures the campy, inspirational smiles, “blood, sweat, and tears” that can be seen in Netflix’s Original Series GLOW, as well as  in The Knife’s iconic video for their classic 2003 hit “You Take My Breath Away.”

Space Kiddettes hope to give viewers high-results with “Low Impact Aerobics”.

Speaking on the message of the video, co-singer and instrumentalist Trent Lira “wanted [the music video] to be fun and dancey with an 80s, new wave, and dance-pop vibe. Lyrically and thematically, in the video, we wanted to draw parallels between how people treat mental and physical health and how they can work in tandem. Knowing that if you are struggling you can make it through and trying to keep grounded in difficult times [sic]. We wanted [the video] to be campy and fun, juxtaposed with an edge of dissatisfaction on our faces”

Singer and front-femme Devin Will “wanted to create something that really embodies Space Kiddettes: surreal, tongue-in-cheek, and vaguely nostalgic. “I think we draw on a lot of nostalgia while at the same time mocking how ridiculous some of the trends of the past (and present) are. My biggest hope is that some geek out there sees our work and says, ‘Thank God there’s someone as weird as me.’”

This is the debut music video by Space Kiddettes with more accompanying videos coming soon to continue the story in this album cycle. DOMESTIC ADVENTURES will be arriving on November 2nd. Check out the glam-tastic video below:


5 Times Beyoncé Proved She Is Definitely a Witch

Beyoncé Witch Kimberly Thompson Music

In light of the recent accusation by former drummer Kimberly Thompson that Beyoncé might be a witch, I find that there may be some possible validity in these claims. Let’s investigate.

If you worship Beysus as much as me, then you probably stay updated on the latest tea. In this case, that means that you’ve most likely gotten wind that Yoncé may or may not be a witch. As it stands, former drummer Kimberly Thompson has filed a restraining order against Queen Bey that claims Beyoncé practices “extreme witchcraft” and has used this supernatural abilities to sabotage Thompson’s career, as well as claiming that there were spells of molestation cast upon her. And … I mean … I’m not gonna lie to you, toots; I believe it.

How can one human be so talented? So revolutionary? So ahead of the curve without sacrificing kittens in the name of Satan (another claim by Thompson)? Well, she must be a witch; right? I will confess: there have been a few times that I myself have questioned her otherworldly powers. So let’s cut to the [feeling] chase and dive right into it all. Here is my rather convincing list of 5 times Beyoncé proved that she is definitely and irrefutably a witch.

1. The Last Hairbender

Remember when Beyoncé used her mind (ugh) to make her hair magically do choreography? This is clearly an exhibition of levitation. You can’t tell me this snatched-by-the-gods braid is being controlled by wires. “It’s levioh-yes-Mama-sa, not leviosa.” Light as a feather, stiff as a surfbort. Am I right? Or am I right?


2. Queen Supreme

The “Formation” music video accompaniment to the song from Beyoncé’s album Lemonade is a 21st century cinematic masterpiece and I will fight you on that if you disagree. In the iconic video, Beyoncé poses with her very own coven of witches in sickening witch garb that would have Ryan Murphy himself shaking in his last season Prada shoes. And that headbob action going on? Honey Bey is for sure doing some kind of witch’s dance that only fellow witches know about. Stop interruptin’ her grindin’, mere mortal! Your fave could n-e-v-e-r. Need more proof?


3. Beyoncé Knowles and the Goblet of FIRED

A strong witch gets what she asks for the first time; and if you don’t heed her commands, you will suffer at the hands of her almighty powers. Published in 2010 is a video of Sasha Fierce herself performing her hypnotic and hyperbolic incantation “Diva”. At the 45 second mark of the video, she demands that the lights for her performance be lit up. The light person fails to do so, then Bey shouts, “Somebody’s getting fired!” To make a long story short, the trifling light person who failed to do their job ended up getting fired (allegedly). Did she predict the future? Is she clairvoyant too? WOW! Can you believe?

4. Single Lady in the Water

Only the strongest witches can harness the power to control and move water. Bey always uses water imagery in her videos and live performances (she is a Virgo, after all). Remember that Japanese Crystal Geyser commercial from 2009 in which Beyoncé is controlling the water around her with her super witch powers and it totally wasn’t CGI? Honestly, she’s been letting us have it for years with actual proof that she is 100% a witch. beyonce-water 5 Times Beyoncé Proved She Is Definitely a Witch

5. Sisters of the Moon

On May 20th 2001 (my 9th birthday FYI), Destiny’s Child released their legendary chart topping sound-spell “Bootylicious” (which I totally had on Hit Clips). You are a liar if you said this song doesn’t slap. The basis of the song’s production comes from a sample of the 1982 classic “Edge of Seventeen” written by The Ultimate White Witch herself, Ms. Stevie Fucking Nicks.

Hmm … I wonder whose idea it was to use a prominent sample of a fellow witch’s song …? Beyoncé is not afraid to reference, sweetie. And get ready for this jelly: The White Witch even appears in the music video for “Bootylicious”. So, if you’re not convinced Mama B is a witch yet, then you’ve got a big storm comin’.

There you have it folks; and bow down witches. The Supreme Queen Bey is here to remind every single one of you that she is a force to be reckoned with. She has showcased her abilities for years and guess what? She ain’t sorry! Boy, bye. And to Kimberly Thompson: Good luck with that restraining order. Make sure to sprinkle sea salt around your home and smudge yourself with sage to keep evil spirits at bay.

Or should I say, “at bey”?


The Last Five Years: Neon Boots Celebrates an Anniversary

Photo by Jan Johnson.

This past Saturday, About Magazine had the honor of being invited to Neon Boots Dancehall & Saloon for a special event to mark their five-year anniversary.

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Photo by Jan Johnson.

(HOUSTON) – When Neon Boots says that they’re going to throw a party, let me tell you … they throw a party. Houston’s favorite country & western LGBTQ bar located at 11410 Hempstead Rd. celebrated its five-year anniversary this past Saturday with a slew of performances in their Illusions Drag Show and with a special finale to their Summer Concert Series out on the patio with a performance by singer-songwriter Paige Lewis. The bar’s co-owner, Debbie Storrs, sat down with About Magazine leading up to the party for a special interview after which she invited us to be her guests at the event.

And why? Because that’s just the sort of thing that Storrs and her business partners (Jim Gerhold, Rodney Myers, Ron McLeroy, and Fernando Garcia) do for their patrons and the people that they love. For five years, the smart folks behind Neon Boots (which previously also included James Daily and the recently passed Jim Moore) have been giving back to the community that’s kept them in business for half a decade with concerts, dance lessons, nightly karaoke, parties, drinks, food, and more. And the night of the fifth anniversary was no exception, with the owners even providing a special champagne toast to round off the performance and commemorative anniversary pins for all their guests.

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Kara Dion with About editor-in-chief Anthony Ramirez and CCO Wendy Taylor. Photo by Angelo S. Ortiz Vela

The evening began before the seven o’clock hour with patrons of the bar rolling in for the Illusions Show, which featured some of Houston’s most talented drag entertainers, including the current reigning Miss Gay USofA, Janet Fierce Andrews, Dina Jacobs, Adeciya Iman, Lauren Taylor, Amanda Nicole (who filled in last minute for Christina Ross) and About Magazine favorite, Kara Dion. The ladies performed a number of tributes, parodies, and favorites to a zealous audience that broke out their dollar bills for each and every performance. Kara Dion — who recently suffered a sciatic nerve injury — made her grand reappearance that night, approaching the stage slowly at first only to break out into the normal grandeur and drama that keep fans coming back to see her over-and-over. The audience was so impressed with Dion, in fact, that before she was even halfway through her very first number, a line had formed from the stage all the way to the end of the dance floor to tip her as she performed. These lines recurred during each of Kara’s numbers. Dina Jacobs brought out the best of Tina Turner and Dame Shirley Bassey, while Amanda Nicole put forth a tribute to Lady Gaga and Rihanna, among others.

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Kara Dion. Photo by Jan Johnson.

Outside on the patio on what turned not to be a terribly humid or unbearably hot evening, Paige Lewis performed a set that wowed audiences on the patio throughout the evening. A native of Katy, Texas, Lewis is a singer-songwriter who spends half her time in Houston and the other half in Los Angeles. This September, Lewis will begin her tour through California, Texas, Washington, and Oregon.

Following the drag show, Storrs took to the stage to thank her entire staff, her special guests, friends from in and around the LGBTQ community and the city of Houston, and to unveil a brand new piece of their bar that she described previously as something she was “very excited” about (featured below). But once she’d had time to thank everyone around her and those who couldn’t be there — including a teary-eyed message of love to her late business partner, Jim Moore — Storrs kicked off the remainder of the night by telling the excited crowd, “Now let’s party!”

NB2 The Last Five Years: Neon Boots Celebrates an Anniversary
Photo by Angelo S. Ortiz Vela

And so everyone did. The house only seemed to continue to pack itself out as the night progressed. The dance floor became busy with regulars who fell in to enjoy a few drinks and good music; the historic Esquire Room packed up nicely as Dina Jacobs filled in to host karaoke where the About staff and friends sang and spent time around the bar. Out on the patio, patrons new and old clinked glasses, spoke to the staff, laughed over drinks and cigarettes, and listened to music that played overhead as the night drifted away. All-in-all, the night was an overwhelming success. Neon Boots has done the very thing that Storrs told About just a few weeks ago: they’ve created an “everybody bar”. Sure, the history of Neon Boots — which occupies the space of the former Esquire Ballroom, which was open for forty years before closing in 1995 — is surrounded in tales of country music legends like Willie Nelson, Patsy Cline, and Loretta Lynn; and sure, its’ an LGBTQ bar now that hosts events in the community’s honor by working with Pride Houston, the Texas Gay Rodeo Association, and many others. But what you see when you walk into Neon Boots Dancehall & Saloon is exactly what you get: a mixed bag of patrons — whom Storrs affectionately says are not “customers” but “friends and family […] but mostly family” — of all different sexual orientations, races, religions, gender identifications, and more.

If the fifth anniversary celebration at Neon Boots proved anything, it proved that Debbie Storrs was telling the truth when she said that Neon was an everybody bar. Young, old, Black, white, gay, straight, trans, Asian, Latino, and otherwise, everybody came out to Neon Boots to have a gay old time — the kind that only a place as special as Neon Boots Dancehall & Saloon could provide.

Check out the rest of the pictures from the rest of the photos from the anniversary here.

NB3 The Last Five Years: Neon Boots Celebrates an Anniversary
Photo by Angelo S. Ortiz Vela
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Dina Jacobs. Photo by Jan Johnson.

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