Queerty Query: Ari Gold

ari

As we showed you last week, Ari Gold is the hottie with the silky smooth voice. The singer recently got together with Bradford Shellhammer to discuss his new photo book, the blogs he reads, and how Boy George took his picture.

Hello Ari. Tell us about the new book of photographs ?

My new book is an audio/visual experience because it comes with a remix CD and there are lyrics printed in the book as well as photographs and illustrations from some amazing artists. As an independent artist, I’m always trying to figure out new ways to get the word and the work out there so I knew that Bruno Gmünder would be a great company to work with because their books are sold in over 25 countries. Plus, the quality of their printing is very high. Joe Phillips who I am a huge fan of and who has done illustrations of me that are in the book did a bunch of his books with them and that’s how I made the connection.

How did you get involved with some of the photographers?

I actually met most of them the day we did the shoot and ended up keeping a relationship, which is why with many of them I did a second shoot with them. I think I met James Houston in a club and he asked if he could photograph me. Duane Cramer found my website and when I came to San Francisco I called him up. Somehow he got me naked on that first day and we’ve been great friends since! Aaron Cobbett shot me for the cover of HX twice. Mr. Means shot my cousin Meryl of the Glamazons and asked if he could shoot me. Joe Oppedisano was set up by a friend and then I asked him to come to Fire Island and take some shots on the set of my “Wave Of You” video, which was a blast. Marco Caracari came to Paris all the way from Switzerland cause he was a fan of mine. All of the shoots felt very organic and fun and I think that comes through in the book.

I think it’s really interesting how each photographer captures something different. Depending on the chemistry between us or how I felt that day or just how they see me or want me to be seen. I think it changes radically from person to person, sometimes from image to image.

Continue reading after the jump.

How racy are the photos?

Some are more racy than others. John Falocco’s kinda make me blush. Those are the ones I skipped over quickly when I showed the book to my mother! When I was growing up though, I didn’t have a gay pop star or sex symbol, who was saying they were gay–so I think its cool that this book exists for that reason too.

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What is new for you in the music realm?

Well, I’m really happy I was able to have this remix CD in the book because I love dance music and I always wanted my stuff remixed and played in the clubs. I had some of my favorite songs off my last album remixed–like “Bashert (Meant To Be)” which is a gay love song that uses a Yiddish word to describe it, which I think is kinda twisted! And “He’s On My Team,” which is about me and my girl Kendra fighting over the same man. There’s a cartoon for that too in the book. And the first single, “Love Will Take Over” has already debuted on the Billboard dance charts. I’m also starting to work on my 4th album.

You release music on your own label. What are ups and downs to not working with a major label?

The only downs are distribution and access to more mainstream promotion. Of course it would be great to have my songs on mainstream radio and have my videos on MTV–but you need millions of corporate dollars to get that. But I never have to compromise what kind of music I make, what kind of image I have and what I want to say as an artist. And because those things are far more important than being the most famous or rich, the positives outweigh the negatives. And I believe I’m reaching the people I need to reach right now anyway–and that’s gay people, first and foremost. I think straight people need to see more gay artists too, but I think its up to us to pave the way cause the mainstream is not going to accept us until we accept and celebrate ourselves first. Just like what black people did with hip-hop. And the more spaces we have for our own work–like MTV’s gay network LOGO and QTV the more of an impact we can have.

Who are the singers and performers you most admire?

I admire different people for different reasons. Of course I dedicated my song “Fan-tastic” to Madonna cause when I was growing up in Yeshiva she was really the only artist that was saying it was OK to be gay. I admire all the out pop stars who paved the way for an artist like myself to be out from the beginning of my career–like George Michael, Elton John, Melissa Etheridge, Me’Shell Ndegeocello, kd lang and Boy George. I actually have a huge respect for George Michael cause even though he was sort of forced out, I thought the honesty in which he handled it afterwards was very cool. I mean when he was really huge–NOBODY was out.

You have worked with Boy George. What did he think of your Culture Club cover?

He was definitely one of my childhood idols and I never expected us to be working together when I covered “Do You Really Want To Hurt Me.” He interviewed me, photographed me and designed clothes for me with my name on it. It was crazy! We ended up writing a couple of songs together too. When I told him about the Photobook he demanded that we do a new shoot for it and who am I to argue with Boy George? He was like, “I’ve gotten so much better since the last shoot and you have such great photos and mine have to be just as good!” And they did come out amazing. One he calls “Butch Military Drag” and the other is sort of Clockwork Orange meets Cabaret meets Boy George.

You have been a fashion model and your sense style is very apparent. Are there stylists or designers you love to work with?

Thank you! I call my look “shtetle fabulous.” Most of the shoots in the book I styled myself. I like to mix and match styles. I’ve never really been a fashion model per say. I’ve done some editorials for Vibe and W Magazine when they wanted artists as opposed to models. W put me in a beautiful Dolce and Gabbana suit that I did not get to keep! There is a new designer, Leonid Gurevich who I am working with that has made me some great pieces for my tour.

Do you read blogs?

Sometimes. I read RuPaul’s blog and my friend Jonno has a cool blog. My brother Elon plays opposite Pamela Anderson on Stacked and they were blogging for a while so I read that.

We noticed you’ve been involved with Ali Forney. How did you get involved and are there other charities you support?

I was asked to perform at their “Luscious” event and I’ve done that for I think three years now and that’s how I first heard about them. The event always has a great energy and Bill Torres is a sweetheart and they just do really great work for gay homeless kids. I do a lot of benefits for different organizations like the Bialy House, which supplies housing for people living with HIV. I contributed to two compilations to support gay marriage–HRC’s Love Rocks (with Christina Aguilera, Dolly Parton, Cyndi Lauper) and ACLU’s Marry Me. And I just did a benefit for the Service Members Defense Network in San Diego on an aircraft carrier to repeal the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy.

What should we expect from you in the new year?

I have a new video coming out for “Love Will Take Over” which is a kind of video diary of the past year being on tour. I’m hoping to do a club tour and book tour combined to promote The Remixes/The Photobook and I’ve begun working on album #4.