Out country star Orville Peck’s new music video isn’t your first rodeo, you say? Perhaps it’s your first one populated not just by cowboys but by drag queens and two-spirit folks, too.
The video for Peck’s single “Queen of the Rodeo” hit YouTube on February 24. Come for the cameos by DRAGULA queen Louisianna Purchase and model Tess Holliday; stay for the lead performance of Canadian drag talent Thanks Jem as Miss Bitter Prairi, a beauty pageant contestant who gets a morale boost from seeing Peck performing on TV.
The eight-minute masterpiece, directed by Austin Peters, ends with a written tribute: “For all the LGBTQ+ and two-spirit community members working and performing in rodeos, ranches, and roadhouses across North America.”
In a statement, Peck describes both the song and the music video as a tribute to Jem, a friend of his. “Jem is a First Nations drag queen from Vancouver, BC, and also the star of our video,” he says. “She’s always fighting against perception and has a hard time fitting in with the other queens, but to me she has always been a star. The song and video are about allowing yourself to get out of your own way, beat your demons, and crown yourself queen of the rodeo.”
FYI, Peck is a gay, Canadian, punk music emigre who uses a pseudonym and famously keeps his identity hidden by a fringed Lone Ranger-style mask. The Juno Award-nominated musician broke onto the country music scene last year with his debut album Pony.
In describing his sound, The New Yorker observed that he has a “voice with the sexy, menacing melodrama of Roy Orbison, run through the filters of New Wave and the opening theme of Rawhide.”
Raved NPR Music: “Orville Peck’s Pony might be the most engaging and eerie album to come along in quite some time. With a haunting croon that adds to the mystique, Peck mixes a classic country sensibility with nostalgic ballads and a contemporary gothic vibe.”
Peck is touring this spring and summer — check out the tour dates here.