As a self-described “trans-fabulous performance-activist,” Justin Vivian Bond has been on the front line of gender and sexuality debates for decades, paving the way for LGBT visibility worldwide. Beyond being a fixture at Joe’s Pub in New York City, Mx. Bond was one half of the Tony-nominated cabaret duo, Kiki & Herb (with Kenny Mellman), and has starred in John Cameron Mitchell’s 2006 film, Shortbus. Mx. Bond’s memoir, TANGO: My Childhood, Backwards and in High Heels, won a Lambda Literary Award in 2012.
On June 10, the multitalented artist is celebrating “20 of the most exuberant years of subversive glamour and performance” at Le Poisson Rouge in Manhattan, in a show titled, “Happy Tranniversary!”
Before our latest online-only sale, Andy’s Eye Candy (May 29 – June 12), which takes place in tandem with LGBT Pride Month, we asked Mx. Bond a few questions about Warhol, cultural obsessions, and the importance of drag in daily life.
1. What was your ﬁrst Warholian moment, and when did you ﬁrst encounter him?
Of course I was aware of his paintings very early in my life but when I was in high school I was working in a bookstore when Jean Stein and George Plimpton’s Edie: An American Biography arrived. I took the book home immediately and that’s when my fascination with the Factory and of the amazing people who inhabited it really began.
2. What or who would be Andy’s muse if he were alive today?
He loved huge, glamorous stars, royalty, and women from wealthy, tragic families so I’m sure he’d be fascinated by Charlotte Casiraghi [the daughter of Princess Caroline of Monaco].
3. What are your latest cultural obsessions?
I’m interested in all of the discussions about the struggles we are having to expand language to meet the needs of our growing consciousness around the subjectivity of gender and the diversity of gender expression in the world today.
4. What would you consider Warhol’s most memorable quote or anthem?
Obviously the 15-minute thing.
5. If you could collaborate with Andy on a project, what would it be?
Who wouldn’t want to be the subject of one of his iconic portraits?
6. Dream dinner-party: you, Warhol, and…?
I was at a party once in the ‘80s where I sat across from Andy at Mick Jagger’s 42nd birthday party in the Mike Todd Room at The Palladium. The Stones were there, Grace Jones, Jack Nicholson, Jerry Hall. That was pretty amazing. But I’d like to have dinner with Andy, Dorothy Parker, Joan Didion, Tilda Swinton, James Baldwin, Tom Spanbauer, Hilton Als, and Billy Baldwin. That’s eight so I guess I’m finished.
7. Imagine Warhol had a Twitter account. What kind of thing might he say in 140 characters or less?
I’m sure you could just crack one of his books point at something and you’d be good to go!
8. Whose portrait would Andy most want to do now?
Well I should hope it would be mine!
9. Soup can or coke bottle?
10. Drag every day or only on special occasions?
24/7. As RuPaul said, “You’re born naked and the rest is drag!”
(Image courtesy Justin Vivian Bond. Photographer: David Kimelman).