Dirty Boyz & Butch Queens: AB Soto comes to town
On the cutting (but not shady) edge of the new gender mix-up in queer club music, AB Soto will be teaching the crowd at GayBash some lessons on how to be a Butch Queen at the Belmont this Sat, June 30. We caught up with the adorable musician/dancer/fashionista while he prepped for a week of gigs during NYC Pride.
- Y’all Get Back Now: Big Freedia (show postponed)
- The Trouble with Hua Li
- Dances with words: Ira Lee @ Pop Montréal
Somewhere between an art-school vanity project, a gender manifesto, and a vogue music homage, AB Soto is the cutest young thing on the bi-coastal queer club music scene. In between opening for Latrice Royale in NYC and (next month) Big Freedia in Los Angeles (with Zebra Katz, no less), the Californian self-defined Butch Queen will be bringing some underground Hollywood hotness to the Belmont for local butch queens Tyler & Sally’s June edition of GayBash.
“I want to change the way people perceive gay men. I think gay culture might need a makeover,” AB Soto tells us over Skype one sultry Saturday morning, his bright blue hair coiffed under a contrasting orange cap. “Whether it be the younger kids or the older gay community, I feel like there are so many things that I like that my friends don’t know,” the self-motivated powerhouse says.
Born in East Los Angeles, and based in Hollywood, the first topic off the get-go is his Los-Angeles-ness, since so much of his musical and fashion style reads “New York” (“it gets me,” he confides). The young singer/producer/fashionista always felt at odds with “the stereotypes of what gay men do and like, like Will & Grace and lounging beside the pool,” and instead sought inspiration in seminal voguing documentary Paris is Burning and Alain Berliner’s queer classic Ma vie en rose.
“I think with gay men there’s a lot of internal homophobia,” he says sincerely, a statement that explains why his artist’s bio contains the refreshingly genuine mission statement “to show the diversity of the more marginalized members of the gay community and bring them to a wider audience.” Look no further than the videos for his “Dirty Boyz” and “Honey Boo Boo” tracks to see what he means.
In “Dirty Boyz” (two remixes of which feature on his Fag Out Vol. 1 from this spring), AB takes up where the Lower East Side queer hip-hop of (rather white, rather scenester) Cazwell left off, and inserts a hot, sticky wad of contrasting patterns, back-up dancers and sexy lyrics otherwise known as “banjee realness.” Mr/Ms Soto’s own House of Banjee (aka House of AB Soto) is what he calls his crew, and it involves redefining “banjee,” a term used with varying degrees of pride and derision to describe black and latino gay cultural expression.
“It’s more about the vibe, more about the attitude, challenging the idea of what is ‘gay’ – [banjee] originated as a latino term for whatever’s urban,” AB elaborates, but it’s perhaps easier to understand from soaking up his absolutely succulent Tumblr page “Banjee Power.” For a crash course in Butch Queen, check out the heels + facial hair realness in his “Honey Boo Boo” video.
As for what AB Soto has in store for the GayBash performance, all we know is he’s flying in two fierce back-up dancers, and he may project a few images from his as-yet unseen video for the track “FASHIONZ” that is being made into a short film for the queer festival circuit. “I’m ready to pull out all the stops. I think GayBash is gonna be very special, so we’re definitely gonna LET THE KIDS HAVE IT!”
And I think there will be more than a few of us looking to taste what AB Soto is serving, so get into your best “butch queen” look and come on over, we’ll have a messy time, as the dirty boyz say.
AB Soto @ GayBash
Sat. July 30, 10:30pm, $12 at the door ($8 for butch queens in full gear)
@ Le Belmont
4483 boul. St-Laurent, Montréal