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Ari Gold’s music video for “Make My Body Rock” features bisexuality, vampirism and eating children. What’s not to love? Tony spoke to Gold about his new video here, and I continue the conversation about not only that, but girls with special powers…
SEAN ABLEY: First, let me congratulate you on killing a kid in your video! As a little budding child actor many years ago, I dreamed of being killed in a horror movie. Why did you go with kid horror for your video?
ARI GOLD: It turned out that both me and the director [Colly Carver] were interested in the ways children are often used and abused by their parents. And I have a very good relationship with my parents now, but certain experiences that I had growing up as a child in show business, I’m interested in those issues. So we wanted to change that metaphor to the fleshly extreme [laughs].
ABLEY: And who was the kid in the video?
GOLD: After my career in show business as a child, my dad actually ended up becoming a talent manager for children, so the child is one of my father’s clients [laughs].
ABLEY: I was actually surprised by the small amount of man-on-man action in the video. Am I looking into that too closely? Was that planned?
GOLD: I’m an openly gay artist, and I’ve been openly gay from the beginning of my career, since my first album that came out in 2000. There weren’t really any other openly gay artists who were open from the start and writing about it in their music in the pop scene at the time. But with this video, I’m not really playing a homosexual [laughs]. The story line is that I’m playing a heterosexual, married, Wall Street executive. So it actually becomes a commentary on… I call it a vampiric deconstruction of heterosexual marriage, and a heterosexist economy. So it’s the ways in which heterosexuality and even the whole system of the economy we’re in right now, it’s all intertwined. It’s all about…when the world doesn’t have its freedoms, all things are affected.
GOLD: [Laughs] I don’t know if you necessarily got that from watching it, but we had a very ambitious theme.
ABLEY: I get it, although I assume when you’re playing a heterosexual guy, there’s that whole bisexual theme in it as well…
GOLD: Yeah, well, that’s the thing. Aside from the theme of what happens to children in this very heteronormative structure, [there are] also the secrets that all marriages hold. There’s been so much debate in our culture right now about whether gay people should have the right to get married or not—are we really looking as closely into what’s going on in heterosexual marriage, and what kinds of things about that are working or not working? What secrets and what stories are not being told? So that was sort of the impetus; behind the doors of your successful Wall Street married executive lies lots of secrets. Secrets and abuse.
ABLEY: The other video of yours that has both horror and sci-fi elements is “Human,” which has an interesting combo of “Little Red Riding Hood” and aliens, and a little bit of MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM when you’re singing by yourself. I see you describe yourself as a nerd. Are those nerd references?
GOLD: [Laughs] For that video we wanted to bring the fairy back into the fairy tale. “Make My Body Rock” was definitely very much the vision of my director, Colly Carver. We talked a lot about it, but I want to give him all the credit for coming up with the storyline. With “Human,” a lot of that was the director of that video, Aaron Cobbett. I went to Aaron specifically because I was a big fan of the work of James Bidgood who is sort of this underrated queer artist. He was very influential to the work of David LaChapelle and Pierre et Gilles. And so we wanted to sort of honor this unsung queer artist. He made the first male porn film, PINK NARCISSUS. It was the first gay porn film that was shown in a movie theater. They had to have a lot of stuff inbetween the nudity to make it [into theaters], and so he did all this incredibly artistic stuff in his own apartment. I don’t know if that video has anything to do with my nerdiness [laughs]. My nerdiness comes out in many forms.
ABLEY: I see that you read a lot of Lois Duncan (I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER). Are you a bookworm? Do you still read a lot?
GOLD: I wouldn’t call myself a bookworm. I’m definitely a culture whore [laughs]. I love culture. I wish I read as much as I used to. I still love to read. I definitely was obsessed with Lois Duncan books when I was a teenager, and then I sort of graduated to V.C. Andrews. I can’t say that I read all horror stuff. Like I don’t read all comic books, but I’ve been a reader and collector of Wonder Woman comics my whole life. Certain things I get kind of obsessed with.
ABLEY: Within the horror genre, what are your interests these days?
GOLD: I always like the genre of “Girls With Special Powers.” [Laughs] I don’t know if that’s really considered a genre, but it’s a genre that I’ve created myself. Although I have to say I went into one of those first TWILIGHT films thinking that I would like it because it’s supposed to appeal to 12-year-old girls, and I was disappointed. I think my tastes have matured, so [the movies] actually have to be good. I did like BLACK SWAN. That appeals to that part of myself.
ABLEY: Were you a BUFFY fan?
GOLD: I was a fan.
ABLEY: I’m just trying to think of girls with special powers.
GOLD: One of my favorite movies is PRINCESS MONONOKE, and I like SPIRITED AWAY. And I’m forever a JEM AND THE HOLOGRAMS fan. Who else has special powers? I have to catch up on all my girls with special powers… TRUE BLOOD has a girl with special powers in it. And I’m kind of obsessed with that show. Who isn’t obsessed with that show?
ABLEY: I’ll tell you—I’m not obsessed with that show!
GOLD: Wow, really?
ABLEY: But I’m so in the minority, and I just own that. I just couldn’t do it. I watched the first episode, and I was just…ugh. You don’t have me. But I’m surrounded by people that LOVE it.
GOLD: Well come on, it’s the first episode. Ya gotta get in.
ABLEY: I know, I know… You mention that you’re a JEM AND THE HOLOGRAMS fan. Am I reading IMDB right in that you provided a singing voice for that show?
GOLD: Yes, while it was also my favorite TV show at the time, I got to play the singing voice of 8 year-old Vietnamese Starlight girl Banee and sang her song “A Father Should Be.”
ABLEY: What are you working on these days?
GOLD: The new album, BETWEEN THE SPIRIT + THE FLESH, is coming out this spring. Actually, I’m working on the liner notes to the album, and I’ve decided to continue with the vampire theme even on the liner notes. Just because the word “flesh” is in the title, it reminds me of vampires. We shot a video for a new song called “Sparkle,” and that features Sarah Dash, who was from the original LaBelle. I mean, talk about sci-fi. I don’t know if people even realize all the crazy shit LaBelle used to do, but Patti LaBelle, Nona Hendryx and Sarah Dash—there would be no Lady Gaga without them.
Find out more about Ari Gold here. Make my Twitter rock here; make my Facebook rock here.
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