The Queerty Interview

Casey Spooner is over the commercialization of pride

On Friday night—the first night of NYC’s historic World Pride weekend—the city’s glitterati will gather for a black-tie gala at Rockefeller Center’s iconic Rainbow Room.

Hosted by BD Wong, Kate Walsh, and Born This Way Foundation president and co-founder Cynthia Germanotta, the affair known as the Love Above All Ball will benefit Gaga and her mamma’s philanthropic org and feature fabulous live performances by Betty Who and Marina, among others.

Warming the crowd up with a sexy, optimistic disco set will be Casey Spooner. The singer-musician-performer-DJ is looking forward to a jam-packed pride weekend that will include a lot of drag, a lot of marching and a lot of music.

Ahead of Friday night’s glam event, Queerty chatted with Spooner about the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, the state of Pride and the importance of working with organizations like the Born This Way Foundation.

Oh, and did we mention he’s planning to run for president?

Talk to me about the Born This Way Foundation. What’s your understanding of what they do?
What I like is their focus on youth and their combination of pop music and philanthropy. It seems like a cool way to help a vulnerable audience. And as I’m getting older, I’m starting to really feel like my audience are my children. So you feel a responsibility for educating and taking care of people.

You’re DJing the Love Above All Ball on Friday night. What are you going to play? What’s the vibe?
Well, I’ve been living in Paris and I’ve been listening to a lot of disco. Disco really makes sense in Paris. I want to play that. You know, it’s a black tie gala and I’m playing the early set. I can’t go hard and dark, backroom set immediately. I was raised on disco and I think there’s an inherent optimism and euphoria in it, coming out of the golden age of gays. I mean, what a dream: to play a disco set in the Rainbow Room for World Pride? I’ll do it!

What’s your personal WorldPride soundtrack right now?
I have a disco playlist on Spotify that I listen to a lot. “Spooner Juner.” It’s all my favorite disco tracks I’ve been listening to.

Are you particularly excited to see any of the other acts at the Love Above All Ball?
I’ll stick around to see Betty Who and everyone on the roster. I mean, I’m a little bit worried how I’m gonna get through it because Friday I’m gonna do Drag March. Drag March is my favorite march, period. We gather in Tompkins Square Park in drag and then we march to Stonewall. I might have to do it in black tie! I have a fitting today at Prada and I requested a dress, so I may be doing Drag March in Prada. And then I’ll run up to Rainbow Room.

How are you feeling about pride this year?
I’m exhausted. I’m over it.

A little bit. It’s a little aggressive. I’m all for visibility and I’m super excited that everyone’s excited. But I have to say, the commercialization of queer culture has been fatiguing. To go to Target and Lysterine has a rainbow on it, every shampoo has a rainbow on it. Everyone’s shoveling rainbows!

I definitely got offers for several Pride campaigns that I turned down because I thought the offers were…hypocritical. It’s all about visibility, but the rates were very low. And I was very uncertain how the financing actually impacted the community. Last night I DJed a benefit for the Queer March that’s happening, retracing the original steps of the first Pride March. So, I’ve been focused a little more on the philanthropic and the underground.

You’re doing the Queer March instead of the NYC Pride March. Talk to me about that decision.
I’ve been working a lot with Rise and Resist. They’re a lot of the people from the original ACTUP. I just love everything that Rise and Resist does. So, they reached out to me and said they’re doing the Queer March, and basically, I’ll consistently do anything Rise and Resist asks me to do.

I don’t want to diminish the main march. I think it’s great. I’ll do both. There’s no reason why you can’t do both. I can show my support for responsible corporations that support the community and I can show my support for grassroots organizations that need more visibility.

It sounds like you try to be really mindful of the pride gigs you take. What’s your criteria?
I just try to focus on things that are philanthropic and benefit-based. It’s got to have a good aesthetic, and it’s gotta have a good political intention, whether it’s a foundation or someone who needs support. I’m DJing a party called Barba on Saturday at Three Dollar Bill. It’s a queer techno party from Australia. I like the queerness of it, I like that it’s not sort of trapped in a toxic masculinity.

The other thing I’m doing this season is I’ve partnered with Nike. Their collection is all in partnership with the Gilbert Baker Foundation. They’ve gone back to the original Pride flag. I like that they’re educating people on the history of the flag and Gilbert Baker.

This year’s Pride is historic. What does the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riot mean to you?
I mean, it’s amazing. I think what’s most important is educating people on what actually happened: what that event was and how it was started by the trans community and people of color. I mean, I’m still discovering more information about that moment.

And it’s important right now because of the general political climate, to kind of refresh ourselves on what it means to be politically active, to protest, what it means to go against the status quo. That’s what confusing about this pride. There’s a lot of acceptance and inclusion, but we’re trapped in this capitalistic system. Just because you’re selling something doesn’t mean it’s going to have a positive impact on the community.

So, there was a long wait between FischerSpooner albums. Are we going to have to wait another nine years for your next one?
Warren is very particular, and he prides himself on his slowness. Also, we are both artists who don’t work only in music. So a lot of times I’m moving between different projects. Right now I’m working on a film. I can’t even remember everything I’m working on. But I don’t think it’ll be a decade. I’m pushing to do a few more singles. People don’t make albums anymore—which is kind of unfortunate. But to make a great album you have to have a lot of time or a lot of money. But I’m getting ready to release two singles this summer under my own name. We’re preparing that now.

And also, I’m running for president. I’m making my official announcement on the Fourth of July.

Ok. I don’t know how seriously to take you.
Well, there’s a history of artists running for president. That’s part of the tour also, I’m trying to tie that into the presidential campaign.

What’s your platform?
The thing that I’m trying to reconcile is the conflict between capitalism and democracy. It relates to campaign finance and immigration. We keep voting these people into office who want to run the government like a business but they’re not thinking about how that impacts people on a very human level. There has to be a paradigm shift in terms of how money and democracy interact.

Also, we have more and more gay candidates, but they have to be desexualized in order to be appealing. I think it’s very important to have a queer candidate who is unabashedly sexual. Especially when we have someone in office who is known for saying, “Grab ‘em by the pussy.”

I’ve been thinking about pride resolutions. So every June, we celebrate pride, and then we resolve to accomplice specific things for the LGBTQ community in the year ahead. So, what would your pride resolutions be this year?
I had this crazy experience where I went to a gay bathhouse in Paris. I met this guy, we had sexual relations and then we started talking. He was from Kurdistan. Someone had drugged him and filmed him having sex and they were threatening to release the video on Facebook and send it to his family. If his family saw that, they would be morally obligated to murder him. So, he had to leave his job, his family, his home. He had to take all the money and everything he could carry and just leave.

I would like to find a way to help people who are in these other places in the world find a way to find safety.

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