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Interview: Mykki Blanco is ready for the mainstream and he is not taking any prisoners

Interview: Mykki Blanco is ready for the mainstream and he is not taking any prisoners

Mykki Blanco is taking the mainstream by storm

Mykki Blanco was born to be different – a gay transgender black rapper who knows none of those words I just used to describe him are far too limiting.

He is a supernova of challenging stereotypes, taking pleasure in piercing people’s bubbles of their own worlds and viewpoints.

Originally from New York City, the 30-year-old performer now has the mainstream in his sights. And he doesn’t mind confronting people who stand in his way.

GSN: What are you hoping people get from the album?

I feel totally unabashed by saying this album is the beginning of the mainstream Mykki Blanco. What is so different about this release is I have had to learn with every release about how to be a musician.

This album feels so right. I actually had the time to create something that I cared about. How I used to do it,…the turnaround was so quick. I would write the song, release the song and tour. That’s not the best way to grow musically. That’s how you enter the machine and keep your face out there. With this release, the quality of my work is a lot better.

I’ve had a great time listening to your album. For The Cunts feels like a celebration and a takedown of gay club culture. Tell me about it.

For this album, even though I’m Mykki Blanco, I never really made something blatantly gay or blatantly queer. I wanted to have fun with the irony of that. I wanted to make a song that was so gay, so queer and so camp. I wanted something that people would laugh at. I wanted something that is, out of character for me, but something that could be played on RuPaul’s Drag Race.

Are you hoping it will be a lip sync for your life?

I’m crossing my fingers!

You talk about coming out as HIV positive in the album. How did you make that decision? 

When I came out as HIV positive, I did it for myself. It was gay Pride in LA and I had a party with friends at the Chateau Marmont. Everyone had left, and I had my suitcases with me. I pulled my medicine out and I broke down and just started sobbing. I had to wait for everyone to leave to take my medicine, you know? It’s just so silly. How am I ever going to meet a guy and have an honest relationship. How am I going to be an honest person? If you have a secret looming over you, it can really change your character.

I did not like the path I was going down. I didn’t want to turn myself over to chemsex culture. So when I came out, it was opening a door for myself. I was so afraid. I knew for my personal life it would be a good thing. All of the examples I had of people coming out was from the 90s, and they were either shunned, judged or pitied. When I came out about it, and wrote a song about it on the album, my fan base has been so supportive. They’re such smart kids.

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Has it affected your dating life?

It’s made things easier. If you want to flirt with me at a bar, then you know. When I’m in situations where a person doesn’t know who I am, and I’m flirting with someone obviously you have to disclose that. People who know who I am, it’s made my life a lot easier.

What was your childhood like? How were your parents?

I’m very close to my mother and I was very close to my father. I’m not very close to my father. It’s a series of things. I won’t go into details. I like my father as a person but he’s a horrible parent. I’ll leave it at that. Growing up they were very encouraging. I came out at 14, and he told me he always knew I was gay and supported me, and my mom was the same way. My mother and father and my grandparents always supported me to be creative. People talk about having stage moms, I was a stage kid. I would drag my mom to auditions. I was pressuring my mom to get me an agent. Now I’m 30 years old, I’ve known I’ve always had a showbiz personality.

Do you feel like, as a creative person, you have had to work harder to be recognized and be appreciated by the media? 

There’s this attitude that exists among a lot of people who really enjoy my work is they see I’ve been severely overlooked by the mainstream. There’s definitely moments when I’ve done next level awesome stuff that have been ignored because I’m gay. There are songs that were big songs for me. If they had come from a straight male rapper, they would have been huge global songs. I can’t dwell on things like that because if it did I would be bitter.

One of the things I have to know is my journey is my journey. I know the universe wouldn’t put me on this earth to be a second fiddle. I can make my work and inject my work into society and inject these radical queer ideas into the mainstream.

But I can’t change society. I can’t change how the industry is. It’s not like I feel defeated. My responsibility is to make my work. Do I believe I have done things in the past that should have been recognized in the wider scale? Yes. Do other people feel that way? Yes. But that’s the society we live in. We live in a world that still is homophobic, so what are you going to do? Stop making art?

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Do you think it’s changing? People are suggesting that RuPaul winning an Emmy is proof the mainstream is becoming more accepting of queer culture.

RuPaul has never won an Emmy before this. How crazy is that?

Do you think that’s indicative of anything?

I do. I think things are changing.

How do you now feel about gay magazines and the obsession with putting a shirtless white guy on the cover? 

When that whole #GayMediaSoWhite happened, I had no idea it would go as far as it could. So many people echoed this sentiment of feeling unincluded. Am I surprised? No.

The thing is it’s our culture, it’s not just a white, gay, shirtless culture. It allows those people in those positions to realise that they’re not going to get away with this homogenized viewpoint any longer. It was just so uninteresting. We have so many dynamic queer people doing creating things. And it was just like, come on, how much more of this? When we have Anna Wintour filling her Vogue pages with people of color, and the gay magazines aren’t doing it? It’s not good enough.

Do you hope the gay media will start making changes?

I think they have. What’s so funny is that now it’s a scenario where if they don’t, other people are just going to call them out on it.

How did the Orlando shooting affect you?

That was a morning that I don’t think I was able to process…I processed it really slowly. Over the course of that whole week I would find myself on the subway or on the airplane and just start crying. It wasn’t until I really one day I was at home and I was in the kitchen, it makes me cry now, thinking about how it was such a devastation and thinking about how it was such a massacre. The whole thing was so depressing, and so dark. A nightclub which is one of the most safest spaces a gay culture can have was violated in such a horrendous way. It was the worst massacre in modern American history. I mourned it for so long. I was in mourning for awhile.

What are you looking forward to about your tour in the UK?

London is always going to be such a fun. I’ve been to Manchester before and that was so crazy. It’s just like, I don’t know how I can put this, I really like English guys. I’d love to base myself out of London but it’s so expensive. It’s like I wish the exchange rate could change. I still think I have to save up for because I make that English plunge.

I hope you meet a lovely English guy on your tour. Anything else you want to mention?

I’ve got the UK tour, my album is out, I’m shooting a new music video for the single Loner. Everything is happening right now and so much is happening. I’m just very happy, I just want to keep myself clean, happy, focused. Now begins a new era for Mykki Blanco. This album is allowing me to reintroduce myself to the world. Hello, it’s Mykki.

Mykki, the debut album by Mykki Blanco, is out now. He is performing in the UK from 4-8 October. Tickets are available in Bristol, Sheffield, and Manchester.