Retrofitting with Hunx and His Punkettes
SETH BOGART. PHOTOS BY BENJAMIN STELLY
It’s hard to ignore a handsome, six-foot tall dude wearing an American-flag vest that’s drenched in sequins. How strangely patriotic—and entirely fabulous. But that’s Hunx, also known as Seth Bogart, former member of queer electro quartet Gravy Train!!!!, and current front man of San Francisco-based Hunx and His Punx, a fusion of ’50s teenage rock, ’60s girl groups, and garage rock. Hunx and His Punx—now Hunx and His Punkettes, really—is basically “a girl group fronted by a gay guy, who’s trying to sound like a girl.”
On March 29th, Hunx will drop their sophomore album, Too Young to Be In Love [Hardly Art]. Bogart wears his heart on his sleeve on the record, singing about lost loves and ending it all with a poem to his father who committed suicide when he was young. Tracks like “He’s Coming Back” will make you want to get out your poodle skirt, clip on a high ponytail, and do The Twist. But by the time “Bad Boy” comes around, you’re sweating bullets in some garage wearing a leather jacket.
This spring, Hunx and His Punx tour the U.S. in support of their new album, including a date in New York City at Glasslands on April 23rd. We sat down with Seth over a grilled cheese sandwich at Blackbird Parlour in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. In the back corner, we dished on RuPaul’s Drag Race, B.A.P.S., the new Hunx record, and why French guys are so hot.
MADISON MOORE: So, happy belated birthday!
SETH BOGART: Thank you!
MOORE: What did you end up doing?
BOGART: I just had a bunch of friends over and we watched RuPaul’s Drag Race and Gossip Girl. That’s what I always do on Mondays, lately.
MOORE: Who’s your favorite contestant?
BOGART: I like—oh, fuck, what’s her name—she’s Filipino? Something Luzon? She wore a pineapple dress.
MOORE: Manila Luzon?
BOGART: Yeah! And I like Carmen, she’s cute.
MOORE: I’ve been really surprised at the guest judges. They had Chloë Sevigny that one time.
BOGART: And Amber Rose, she was cute. And Lily Tomlin. Yeah, they have good guest judges.
MOORE: So how do you like living in San Francisco? Are you from there?
BOGART: I’m from Tucson, Arizona. But I’ve lived in Oakland and San Francisco for twelve years. But I think I’m moving to L.A. this summer.
MOORE: Oh yeah?
BOGART: Just to like move. I want to be warm.
MOORE: [laughs]. Yeah, I can see how after twelve years you want to—
BOGART: —I’m over it.
MOORE: Yeah. I was just in L.A.
BOGART: Did you like it?
MOORE: I’m from here, so it was really different.
BOGART: What’d you do there?
MOORE: I did all the touristy stuff, but then I went to that Rhonda party [A Club Called Rhonda].
BOGART: Oh yeah, was it crazy?
MOORE: It was bananas.
BOGART: I’ve been there. Last time I was there, it was too packed.
MOORE: If you’re moving to L.A., what’s going to happen to the vintage record shop/nail salon you’ve got back in San Francisco?
BOGART: My partner’s going to run it.
MOORE: Can you tell us about it? What does it look like? It must be a trip.
BOGART: It’s painted all pink. There’s giant chandeliers that we took from Tina [Lucchesi]’s grandmother’s house. Her grandma has all this ’70s flashy Italian stuff, so it’s like pink and gold and there’s tons of clothes, and a lot of them are really ridiculous. And then there’s a salon in the back where Tina and I work.
MOORE: Oh, so you do hair?
BOGART: Yeah. I do it a couple days a week.
MOORE: Have you seen that movie B.A.P.S.?
BOGART: [gasps] Oh my God, I love that movie!
MOORE: Me too!
BOGART: I love that movie because they have a hair salon in the restaurant.
MOORE: And everything’s gold, and it’s all about the fabulous.
BOGART: Ours is more like B.A.P.S. like they originally were, not how they got when they got all that money. I love when they’re on the airplane and the flight attendants are like, “Ladies, could you lower your hair?”
MOORE: [laughs] And it says “Boo Yow” on the back.
BOGART: So good. I love that movie. I’ve seen that movie probably more than any other.
MOORE: Okay, so moving from B.A.P.S. to Hunx and His Punkettes, how would you describe the vibe of Hunx and His Punkettes?
BOGART: Well, the new one is with all these girls, so I kind of describe it as a girl group fronted by a gay guy, who’s trying to sound like a girl. You know what I mean? Because it has a girl-group vibe to it.
MOORE: What’s the inspiration to create a teenage, ’60s-themed gay group?
BOGART: I just like writing music like that, and I like writing sad love songs that are not that serious.
MOORE: So the album drops on March 29th. What can people expect from it? The last record, Gay Singles, was mostly a collection of singles. But this is the first full album.
BOGART: It kind of fits together more and tells a story. There’s a lot of girls singing on it , so it just feels more powerful.
MOORE: The new record doesn’t seem as sexual as some of your other stuff. Do you think that bald sexuality, songs about hooking up with straight dudes, and zebra bikinis turn people away?
BOGART: I don’t give a shit if it turns people away. But it wasn’t a conscious thing to not do that. I’d done stuff like that for so long. Like I used to be in this band Gravy Train!!!!, and we were always singing about sex and stuff. I just wanted to do something different.
MOORE: But you’re still into sexy.
BOGART: I’m still into it. I just don’t want it to be my whole thing. Hey, are you French?
MOORE: No, I just lived there for a long time and went to school there.
BOGART: You went to school there?
BOGART: In Paris?
BOGART: We were there last year. I was in Paris for five days. We played at Le Point Ephémère. And then we played at Flash Cocotte. It was so fun, I love it there. The guys are so cute.
MOORE: Guys are different in France than they are here.
BOGART: How so?
MOORE: I don’t know—it felt like my stock was higher in France.
BOGART: I felt like that, too! Usually I’m okay if there’s like one hot one, but over there, there was competish. I had like different guys texting me, “We should hang out tonight.” I don’t know what it is, but there were definitely hotties.
MOORE: Speaking of hotties, how does a dude with a song titled “I Vant to Suck Your Cock” end up on a LensCrafters commercial?
BOGART: Oh my god, I don’t know!
MOORE: [laughs] The song is freaking hilarious.
BOGART: It’s so funny, right? I’m making a sequel called “Monster Mouth.” But I don’t know what happened with LensCrafters. I think it was some crazy fluke. I hope we get more commercials. Such good money.
MOORE: Gotta pay the rent! As a gay musician, do you have any issues with someone like yourself who makes music about queer stuff opposed to another musician who might be closeted?
BOGART: I don’t have any issues with that at all. People should be themselves. There are so many dudes singing about girls and we’re not making a big deal out of it. I think that it’s not something that’s done all the time, so people make it a huge deal. I guess it’s important for me to put it in people’s faces, in a way.
MOORE: Do you just roll around in codpieces and tights all day?
BOGART: Actually, I don’t. I like to save it for performing, because it makes me more excited. I dress kind of flashy. Like I’d wear this [an American-flag vest, completely coated in sequins, with several pins fixed on it]. But I wear a lot of wigs and stuff on stage, to make my hair look bigger.
MOORE: Are you going to get the, like… [pantomimes a pompadour].
BOGART: I want that! That would be fun.
BOGART: This drag-queen friend of mine puts on a wig backwards and does this bobby pin stuff to get this big pompadour. I even want one of those Devo plastic ones, but I can’t find it!
MOORE: That would be so funny!
BOGART: I love those. I think they would look so cool on me.
MOORE: Are you still working on H.U.N.X. , the übergay dance-music side project?
BOGART: Oh yeah! I’m working on that. I want that to be the gayest thing ever.
MOORE: And it’s about bathhouses?
BOGART: Well, I want it to be played in bathhouses. That’s my dream.
MOORE: Sounds like a must-have in 2011. Is it coming out soon?
BOGART: I hope so. We’ll probably work on it this summer and release it in the fall. That guy Fred Schneider from The B-52’s wrote a song called “Circuit Boy” about circuit parties, and another one called “Five-Dollar Foot-Long.” And I’ve been working with a couple different people in San Francisco, too.
MOORE: Let’s talk about your Hollywood Nails television show.
BOGART: Oh yeah! It’s a comedy. We’re trying to come out with a mini-episode this summer. Ideally we’d like to have it as a TV show, but it’s like a Saturday Night Live vibe with skits and fake commercials—a little crazier than that, obviously. We made a phone sex commercial about outer space. And we have a gay judge who’s really old, and the first case is this drag queen who put another drag queens’ wig in a blender at a party.
MOORE: [laughs] Oh my god!
BOGART: So it’s just like funny stuff. But yeah, hopefully it’ll be out this summer. We have a website, Hollywoodnailz.com—with a Z.
FOR MORE ON HUNX AND HIS PUNKETTES, VISIT THE BAND’S MYSPACE.