It takes a tough man to wear a little black dress. It takes an even stronger one to wear it with fishnets and boots, before tens of thousands of people, in the middle of a summer’s day. But Perfume Genius, who performed several large outdoor music festivals in 2015, and is slated for more of the same in 2016, has taken the stage, in confident strides, sometimes as early as noon. A powerful and unpredictable performer, Mike Hadreas – the man known as Perfume Genius – has been compared to defiant gay mavericks Sylvester and Jobriath, by The New York Times, and Pitchfork declared his voice “could fill a cathedral and then crack it in half.” His song “Queen” has become an anthem, its line “No family is safe when I sashay” an empowering declaration, a threat from the threatened, for anyone who ever felt marginalized, or worse, for being true to their nature. Just as David Bowie’s performance of “Starman” on Top of the Pops was a life-changing, and life-affirming moment for many who saw it, so Hadreas’s fearless presentation of blurred gender is no doubt a galvanizing dose of encouragement, not to mention fierce style, for fans today.
Last July, Kurt B. Reighley of KEXP asked Hadreas about his stage presence, the impact of his art on others, and were his performance takes him. Steven Miller photographed the artist in Seattle, in homage to Viennese Secessionist painter Egon Schiele, a significant influence on David Bowie.
Part One of Kurt B. Reighley’s Interview with Perfume Genius for DINOSAUR Vol 2, Issue #1, The Issue That Fell To Earth: Our David Bowie Tribute Issue.
“In the beginning I was just worried I’d hold myself back on stage. I wasn’t practicing moves in front of a mirror; I just wanted to move in general. I was just trying to let loose. The more I did it, the more easily and second nature it came to me to get up off the piano bench It’s much more intense now than it used to be. I almost go into a trance…. I phase in and out of it, and I hope there’s some kind of enjoyable conflict – just for my sake. I’ll lean into it for a minute and then pull back, throughout the show.”
Perfume Genius photographed by Steven Miller. Interview by Kurt B. Reighley. Costume/ Styling by Erik Andor. Hair/ Makeup by Rick Toth.