The Agender Agenda: Boychild
Part four of a series
Tearing down tired taboos and referencing nostalgic throwbacks to the naughties, neutrois, street style, moody fashion and murky aesthetic undercurrents, creatives like Kaimin, Christopher Shannon, Stéphane Ashpool, Shayne Oliver, Marcelo Burlon and boychild are setting the tone for unflinching individualism and a brazen disregard for gender expectations. This alpha crop of originators, amongst others, are rattling up the fashion world with their take on gender fluidity, andro-glam, the street, epicene beauty, and invigorating, liberating aesthetics—just think of Shayne Oliver’s indelible id explorations, or Rick Owens’ provocative pecker flaps, or boychild’s glitched-out, autoerotic ka-pows. These avant-guardians are embracing the art world’s post-modern, post-gender transgressive sensibility. Call it the new ‘Agender Agenda’—that is, fashion that celebrates crossover culture, sexual iconoclasm, radical openness and transpersonal progress. That means macho suits and machine gun boots for chicks, skirts, shift shirts, and plexiglass collars for dudes, and ontological-esthetic upheavals across-the-board—what the futurist Ray Kurzweil calls “a phase change in the consciousness of man.” It’s a cultural stirring that at once tethers and liberates gender identity and reveals the ambivalence and elasticity of social archetypes. It’s no wonder that trans trailblazers like Andreja Pejić, Hari Nef, Laverne Cox, and Caitlyn Jenner are fashion’s shit-hot avatars, ripping up the web, burning up pop-culture and breaking down gender binaries; and auteurs like Wu Tsang, Dia Dear and Junglepussy provide killer, campy cosmographies and trans-femme perspectives that enlighten and inform us all. Phhhhewww, post-modernism never felt so good—and the clothes look pretty fuckin’ cool, too! Here are a few of our fave disruptors and déconstructors, with quick-fire Q&A’s to follow. KA-BOOM!
boychild | Performance artist, style savant and astral esthete
boychild is the artist-oracle who invokes spirits, casts cosmic spells and enraptures onlookers with her Delphic stage presence. A volatile, visceral fluidity informs her presentations and acts, as well as a lofty determination to dissolve the boundaries between gender rigidities, dogmatism, discrimination, artist, and audience. Hailing from the Bay Area, boychild (properly written in all lowercase letters) has masqueraded as everything from goth-glam cyborg to double-edged debutante to magical, maniacal mutant muse in film and fashion. Aggressive, alluring and alien-like with a fremd aura, the style savant excels at hacking and hijacking gender clichés and stages a specifically he-she-it form of histrionics. No wonder she’s often compared to Cindy Sherman, Leigh Bowery and John Waters. With a solid support system from San Fran to Sweden, oodles of admirers on social media and a cool as a cucumber personality, this visionary performance artist, painter, poet, polymath, make-up artist and mystic is certainly coming into her own. Her performance presence is always a kinetic condensation of meanings and styles: tensions between archetypal and utopian elements, otherworldy incarnations, post-punk personas, queer chumminess, bile rage and intense, glitched-out expressiveness. boychild’s bang-up and BLISSful methodologies might be thought of as a kind of latter-day Dadaist pushing the limits of representation, androgyny, exhibitionism and ontology. Respect!
What was the genesis of boychild?
My background is in photography. When a friend who was studying abroad suggested that I should invent an alter ego for an art project I did it. After lots of contemplation and copious character sketches, I developed a persona that would be inspired by shamans, sorcerers, clowns and priestesses. Then, the artist Dia Dear, along with San Fran’s frenetic drag scene, fueled my ideas further and, voila, boychild was birthed—mainly as an artistic character with healing and shamanistic qualities.
What’s your creative process like?
I map out my ideas through drawings and sketches. Then I take those ideas from paper to live performance. Performance art and exhibition allows me to express things that I otherwise could not, so it’s my ideal medium.
What role does gender play in your work?
I think my physicality—my trans body form—is intrinsic to my art form. People are always drawn to my inherent androgyny. It’s a complex issue, I know, but it is part of my nature. My work is fundamentally about connecting with other people.
Are you spiritual?
Yes. And during performances I live out a kind of otherworldly consciousness. It is a very spiritual experience, both within and without. I’m basically flipped inside out, from my heart and soul. I also meditate regularly—meditation helps me reach a certain state of homeostatis, especially before and after a show.
What are you scared of?
I’m afraid of fear because it is fear that breeds anger, insecurity and hatred. My art form, despite appearing ‘dark,’ is all about love and respect. Oh, I’m also scared of sharks and huge bodies of water. J