Everyone knew it was going to be the hottest event of the weekend. Every super freak in town was hopping onto the 7 to get to Long Island City, where MoMA’s PopRally joined forces with PS1’sexperimental Saturday Sessions. Cody Critcheloe, lead singer and creator of SSION, pronounced shun, the queer dance punk performance collective, was in town from Kansas City, a city he claims is a lot like Berlin.
Well, this is New York and it was the premiere party for SSION’s new album BENT, which the group will be giving out free during the month of July. The band’s known for its outrageous stage shows and videos, which always include a motley crew of dancers and singers wearing insane outfits and makeup, frolicking amid homemade sets and colorful video projections. Guest performers in this weekend’s live show included Sky Ferreria, Actually Huizenga, Casey Spooner, Jaimie Warren, Alexis Penny, Colin Self, Mykki and Nicole Blanco, and the set was a cross between a psychedelic American Bandstand and Solid Gold.
Critcheloe came bounding out on to the stage in black leather emblazoned with amusing patches and slogans. He leaped into the air and lay out on the floor, crooning into the mic. There were yellowwigged cross-dressers doing pushups in the background. It was all about the DIY theatrics. The crowd went wild, like they were at a rave. One kid next to me was moshing and when Critcheloe threw the mic stand next to us, the raver twirled it around like a glowstick.
The museum was packed with wayward young types, like members of the performance art troupeBabyskinglove. "Ooooh, take my picture," said Bailey Catherine Dorothea Edith Nolan, cooing in her bright turquoise lipstick and garish scarlet eye-makeup. Everyone was keeping it trippy in acid bright colors, except club queen Ladyfag, resplendent in a black cocktail dress accented by giant bangled bracelets and dotted eyeliner. I’d squeezed into a silly ’70s velour jumpsuit with rhinestones I found on the bottom of my closet. It was like Halloween, with an eclectic array of outfits, punk genderfuck drag queens, leotards, an NYPD costume, oddball hats and the signature SSION black eyeliner painted on like a dog’s face markings.
When the dancing had died down and the bar had closed, I wandered through the maze of rooms until I found the backstage area, where the band was changing out of their glad rags. PerformerRichard Kennedy was taking off his makeup and doling out air kisses while assorted girls and boys in neon-colored wigs undressed. In the back of the room, Critcheloe was sitting on the floor giving an interview. I waited in the short line until he was free and interjected. "So I hear you might be moving to New York City," I said. "Yes, I’m thinking about it. I really like it here," Critcheloe replied.