Don't call him queen: Paul Soileau talks about more-punk-than-drag persona Christeene Vale
Being "in the '90s again" -- what a great point! It felt like the '90s were so much more progressive pop culture-wise, because people were still figuring out what was "okay." Now it feels like RuPaul has almost mainstreamed drag into this weird thing that mirrors the terrifying myths of "girl culture": a really brutal competition that's prettied up for suburban television audiences.
Tell me about it! It's like the assimilation of these heteronormative ideas. Like "let's make this pretty for the masses." It's exactly what happened to New York City -- let's make this whole city safe for tourists. Let's make it so no one will be afraid to go to New York because it's clean. Fuck that shit.
I'm really, really glad Ru is on TV. I remember when she had a talk show -- and I'm like, that crazy freak had famous people on her couch. I give kudos to Ru for that and I know that we're all family -- in this family of drag. But like you said, it's so safe. But it's in that dangerous realm of reality television. It's like, okay, let's take eight drag queens and put them in an un-air-conditioned box, get them drunk and see what happens. Let's see these bitches fight.
There's still some explosive powerful, racy things coming out of it. Sharon Needles is provocative.
It's theatrical. The shows are good, theatrical entertainment -- I turn music into performative art. Like Alice Cooper and Marilyn Manson, I put what I do out there as a musician. But it's also this raw, personal and touching experience from this creature, Christeene. My friend told me the other day that the reason my shows are affecting people the way they do is because they see my videos and they see this person and they think I'm this dangerous, wild animal that's going to hurt you. Like I'm going to shock you and spit blood on you and smear shit on the walls.
But what happens is, when we travel around -- me, my dancers, my videographer PJ Raval and music producer Brett Hornsby (DJ JJ Booya) -- and perform, at the end of the show people are smiling, dancing, their arms are up in the air. There are a lot of unexpected emotions. This is also just as much your party as it is Christeene's party when you go to the shows -- Christeene will die on stage for you. And she does, every time.
Christeene just released a record, Waste Up, Kneez Down. Do you write all the music yourself?
I write the music and compose it in my head, and then I sing it to my producer, DJ JJ Booya -- who also goes by Brett Hornsby -- who makes it happen. We talk a lot about it -- and we've developed a vocabulary for it. Sometimes, I draw him pictures. [Laughs.] We've found a way to communicate and convey how the music should feel. He just gets it -- we have a really nice relationship.
Every song I write is about something I'm going through in my life. It's not like I sit down and say, "Ooh, I'm going to write a song about dick and butthole today!"
Spend the Night With Christeene starts at 10 p.m. Friday, June 20, at the Denver FilmCenter. Tickets are $10 to $12 and include a screening of her videos, a live musical performance and a question-and-answer session with video director PJ Raval. For more information on Christeene Vale's appearance and for Cinema Q Festival's full schedule of events, visit the Denver FilmCenter's website.