Photos by Conrad Ventur.
Is electroclash dead? Has it been reborn as electrotrash? Did a lack of serious musical credibility kill its momentum, or has its lightheartedness given it longevity?
Last year, when we did “The VICE Guide to Electroclash” (we wanted to call it “electrowave” but realized Larry Tee had already made sufficient headway with his term and there was no sense competing), we were inundated with angry letters from techno nerds who were outraged that we had outed their closeted pocket genre. “Electroclash is a festival,” they yelled, “not a style of music! It’s not a ‘scene,’ you assholes, so go back to the edge of the dance floor where you belong.”
The irony was, electroclash was a reaction to these stifling music nazis with their boring rules and total lack of style. The bastards tried to get us down and put up posters all over Brooklyn that said “Electroclash is the new grunge! Don’t let greedy corporations co-opt your culture” (or some shit like that). The first one was on Williamsburg’s Bedford Ave. next to a record store called Ear Wax. Today the store has a heavily stocked section devoted to “Electro Clash” and there are no more posters. The fascists were trampled to death by red high-heel shoes with short socks.
Within the past year we’ve seen the word go from zero results when searched on Google to 13,810. Cofounder DJ Hell’s Gigolo Records is the most respected dance-music label there is, TIGA needs a bodyguard when he’s in Berlin, Fischerspooner just got two million dollars to be themselves, and because Larry Tee (the aforementioned “greedy corporation”) has finally made his money back from the first festival, he’s ready for another go.
From top to bottom, left to right: Larry Tee; Dr. Wundt and Perfection; Sophia La Mar; My Robot Friend; Spalding Rockwell; Prance
“Fuck it,” he says like a cantankerous fag on helium, “I’m going to do it again no matter what it costs me. This one’s going to KILL last year.” The line-up includes a ton of bands you’re about to hear a lot more about. His compilation CD Badd Inc. (Mogul Electro) has the best of them. It’s got the crotch-exploding babeness of W.I.T., the critically acclaimed (by us anyway) Gravy Train, a robot called My Robot Friend who shoots his penis into the crowd, a Vanity 6-type band called Spalding Rockwell that sing about their panties, homo rappers galore, a guy named Prance who turns Prince classics like “Controversy” into “Contrapussy” and, of course, the usual slew of drag queens sarcastically talking about fashion and sex over electro beats. Sure, some of the faggier stuff is self-indulgent banter over junior-high beats, but when it’s good it’s everything you love about a revolution.
There’s still no rules. It’s still sexy and punk and electro. It’s still a clash of fashion and dance and choreography and set design and performance art and pure, unadulterated violence. There’s still an even combination of gays and straights and boys and girls and nice people and assholes (everyone’s invited). But there’s something new: sleaze. At today’s shows you can smell the cum from a block away. Tits are all over the dance floor, shaved pussies are peeking out of miniskirts, and cocks are so hard you feel like some of them are just going to pop right there in front of you. It’s become an electronic orgy. Last year’s subtle sexual innuendos like Crossover’s “handle me with care” have become straight-ahead come-ons like Yellow Note’s “Hold me when I’m horny / Tell me you adore me.”
And no one personifies this new electrotrash theme more than Avenue D. Composed of a blowjob fanatic named Daphne D and VICE’s “DOs and DON’Ts” photographer Debbie D, Avenue D make blood rush to your genitalia faster than sitting on a sharp axe head. Their biggest hit starts out with the words “Do I look like a slut? Un-huh? Shut up!” and becomes three minutes of two homegirls talking trash about people talking trash about them for being trashy. The single is an irresistible hit at Berliniamsburg, the Brooklyn electro party that’s given the scene its durability, and their debut album (with hits like “Pump Me Full of Cum” and “Shut-up and Stick It In”) is going to take over every dance floor in the cuntry.
Without bands like Avenue D, electroclash might be on thin ice. If there wasn’t anything new to say about the genre, it would disappear as quickly as it came. But with changes every few months like this new infusion of sleaze and trash, the scene is going to make us cum every time it appears.
The Electroclash 2002 Festival takes place all over NYC from October 9-13.