As a former club kid in New York City, I look back fondly on the heyday of its nightlife, when DJs like Frankie Knuckles, Sasha & Digweed, Jonathan Peters, and Junior Vasquez kept thousands of sweaty bodies jumping to relentless beats each and every weekend. For those of us who lived it, it was a world fun with flashing lights, vibrant personalities, sexy boys and girls, and of course beats galore!
This underground subculture would influence music and fashion, eventually spilling over into the mainstream. Its colorful characters became salacious subjects in Michael Musto’s column at the Village Voice, as they made their rounds on the top daytime talk shows of the day, introducing America to “Club kids.”
For all its splendor and celebration though, clubland was not without tragic moments too. Most notably, former nightlife promoter, club kid extraordinaire-turned murderer, Michael Alig went to prison for killing and dismembering a rival in a drug-fueled rage.
In a more positive reflection, New York City nightlife produced its own underground superstars — personalities who almost took on an otherworldly presence in their high-styled, original costumes and Linda Evangelista-level attitude as they worked the VIP rooms and velvet ropes.
They were like beautiful aliens who landed on earth ushering in a new era in which the odd ones –those of us who didn’t fit in, could somehow become the cool kids. Among them was the show-stopping, gender-bending icon, Kevin Aviance and stunning transgender wonder girls like Nikki Exotica, Sophia LaMar, Girlina and Candace Cayne. These magical beings made clubland sparkle each weekend brighter than the one before.
However, through all that sparkle emerged one amalgamation of shimmering glamor in an exaggerated female form that was truly unique. She was clubland’s version of a 1950s Hollywood screen goddess – a hybrid of Marilyn Monroe, Mamie Van Doren, Jayne Mansfield and Barbie all at once. I’m referring to the one and only, genius, self-creation that is Amanda Lepore.
For those of you who don’t know, Amanda is many things including a former housewife, socialite, runway model, campaign face, muse to famous photographer David LaChapelle, author (her book Doll Parts is a hoot), and last but definitely not least — a recording artist.
Amanda’s first Foray into music was in 2003 with her Lady Bunny-penned single, “Deeper.” The Trance track became an instant club favorite, and it left her fans wanting more of her signature breathy style of partly spoken, partly sung oral narrative. Shortly after that release, she dropped her first full length album, “Introducing… Amanda Lepore.”
The LP contained the campy gems, “Champagne” and “My Hair Looks Fierce.” A remix album and soundtrack work would follow with Amanda singing the main title, “I Know What Boys Like” for Another Gay Movie and “Cotton Candy” in the film’s sequel.
Amanda has continued to make her mark on the NYC music scene over the years with many collaborations and music tours, but it’s her current release, the EP “Lepore” that in my opinion raises the bar far above her previous efforts. This EP feels more mature with purposely cinematic videos to promote its singles. The raucous track, “Buckle Up” is Amanda in her element with a moody, gritty disco-era track and soon to be released NSFW music video that showcases her affinity for losing her clothes at the speed of lightning. It’s a fun track for sure, but for me, the stand out single is her cover of David Bowie’s “The Jean Genie.”
From the album LEPORE, the clubby rock cover of David Bowie’s “The Jean Genie,” was recorded shortly after David’s passing. Amanda as a devoted Bowie fan wanted to pay tribute to her “eternal love.” David was one of Amanda’s life-long idols, one who she says was “a big inspiration with his music and style,” Amanda laments, “I think David’s style was very influential, and he was one of the first to bring androgyny to the mainstream, which is really big now.”
The music video was directed and filmed by Marco Ovando. It looks like a film noir fantasy hybrid by David Lynch and Warhol. Ovando masterfully creates a dark yet glittery visual feast that features Amanda as an underground rock goddess, chasing the apparition of David Bowie through New York. The apparition is played by a young male model-Bowie look-a-like, who looks so much like him, it’s really gonna freak you out.
Marco Ovando shot the video at the legendary Stonewall Inn in New York City. It was released on January 8th — to commemorate David Bowie’s 72nd birthday, and to honor the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots in celebration of the upcoming World Pride.
Buckle up, everyone. Amanda Lepore is back with more … and I am HERE FOR ALL OF IT!