Kylie Minogue Wants to See You in Drag
Everyone wants a sip of Kylie Minogue. This could be because of the recent U.S. launch of her wine company—the reason she left her native Australia to grace our shores this month—which she celebrated with an intimate performance at New York’s Carlyle Hotel last week. It could also be because Minogue is a relentless pop culture moment-maker—from the custom wardrobe designed by John Galliano for her Showgirl tour, to the recent Peggy Gou remix of her timeless dance floor anthem “Can’t Get You Out Of My Head.” Recently, iconic moments from Minogue’s career have been resurfacing on twitter—the performances, the music videos, the fashion—making clear just how big of a mark the musician has made on pop culture over the last half- century (she’s the only female artist in history to release a number one album in each of the last five decades).
After her performance at Cafe Carlyle, attended by the likes of Lucy Liu, Coco Rocha, and Dion Lee, Kylie met us in the iconic Bemelmans Bar on the Upper East Side for a conversation about her favorite music video ensembles, some questionable bike shorts moments, and the first time she saw a full Kylie drag look.
ERNESTO MACIAS: What are you wearing?
KYLIE MINOGUE: Saint Laurent feathers. I’m not going to lie, I’m leaving a little trail of them.
MACIAS: But it’s a trail of Saint Laurent feathers.
MINOGUE: [Laughs] Yeah! It’s a Saint Laurent dress and Saint Laurent boots.
MACIAS: What is the first thing you do when you wake up?
MINOGUE: Look at the time on my phone and think, “How far away is the coffee?” Or better said, how many steps away is the coffee.
MACIAS: What did you miss most about New York City? It’s your first time back in a minute.
MINOGUE: The vibe. It definitely has something that’s unique to the city — the people, the noise, the energy. I just missed being here.
MACIAS: Who misses you in New York City?
MACIAS: How does Kylie Minogue drink her wine?
MINOGUE: Pre-dinner, or after a long day’s work. Yesterday I just wanted to wind down, so I had a little cheeky glass.
MACIAS: When was the first time you got drunk? And do you remember?
MINOGUE: I don’t remember. But it would have been as a teenager, before I was supposed to. Probably.
MACIAS: Did you have fun?
MINOGUE: I don’t think I would describe it as fun. [Laughs]
MACIAS: What was your first job?
MINOGUE: When I was eleven. Somewhere around 14 or 15, I started doing more acting. The only other job I’ve had in my entire life was working at the corner video store, and I think I maybe only worked there for two days. That was not my destiny.
MACIAS: Did you ever get in trouble at work?
MINOGUE: No, because once a very kind customer came back and said, “I think you’ve given me too much.” I gave him too much change.
MACIAS: What is the best way to cure a hangover?
MINOGUE: Sadly, there isn’t a way. Youth helps, you seem to bounce back a bit faster. Maybe hair of the dog if things are really dire. I’m actually not a big drinker. I like to stay elegant, if possible.
MACIAS: What do you do when you’re not working?
MINOGUE: If I’m in Australia, I just hang with my family. When I first went back to Australia, friends in the U.K. would say, “It must be so relaxing being home.” It’s not relaxing. It’s amazing, but it’s busy. So, that is a great distraction from all the work and artifice and pressure of the job—just to retreat, be very real.
MACIAS: You have taken countless fashion risks from the beginning. Is there a look that you really regret?
MINOGUE: Most of them have come back around. I mean, there were a couple of bicycle pants moments, but it wasn’t the bicycle pants’ fault. It was some other things. But weirdly, I think with most of my, there’s something to it. There are plenty of shockers.
MACIAS: I want to ask you about the fashion in the “Slow” music video, because it’s one of my…
MINOGUE: It’s the one.
MACIAS: Did you keep the blue Balenciaga by Nicholas Ghesquiere dress?
MINOGUE: No, that was returned. I mean, it was such a beautiful piece, they had to have it back. But just about all my other costumes and clothes, I donated to The Melbourne Performing Arts Center in Australia. They’ve got the white tunic, the hot pants, overalls from my soap opera, John Galliano Showgirl creations. All of it. So it’s amazing. They take care of it all.
MACIAS: Your latest album, Disco, is an homage to the dance floor. It’s a huge success, and your fifth number one album. What did you learn from the process of making Disco?
MINOGUE: I started it before lockdown, and once the pandemic set in, I had to learn how to record my own vocals. I loved that experience—I could start when I wanted, leave the studio when I wanted, and revisit it when I was feeling it. It’s been an amazingly rewarding skill to learn. On the other hand, I learned more about the roots of disco, how it came from hardship, and people needing a place to feel accepted and express themselves. We think of disco as this fabulous, shiny thing— which it is, it’s meant to make you feel good— but actually there’s a lot of pain and struggle under that. I kept thinking, “Is it right to release something that’s supposed to be joyful in the midst of this pandemic?” But I kept coming back to the symbol of the disco ball—it takes one beam of light that lands on it, and turns it into a thousand beams. It resonated with me during that period of hardship.
MACIAS: You’ve collaborated with so many people, from Scissor Sisters to Gloria Gaynor and recently Peggy Gou, an amazing remix. What are you most excited about in pop music right now?
MINOGUE: I will say that at the Elvis premiere in Cannes, the after party had Måneskin performing I would’ve gone to them see them, and I would’ve fangirled right then and there.
MACIAS: They’re kind of sexy. All of them.
MINOGUE: Right? And they look like they’re just having the best time being themselves, they go for it. Brilliant.
MACIAS: You’re famously an LGBTQIA+ icon. Was there a moment in your career when it became clear that you were carrying this legacy?
MINOGUE: I was in Australia. I can’t remember if it was 89′ or 90′, around then. And someone said to me, “Oh, there’s a ‘Kylie Night’ at The Alubry.” The famous hotel. I was like, “‘Kylie Night?’ What is that?” They said, “Yeah, people dress up in drag as you.”
MACIAS: I mean, we love it. I think you love it, too. Do you have a message for your queer fans this Pride Month?
MINOGUE: Well, Happy Pride! Keep your voices strong. Really proud to be an ally to you, as you are for me during my trials and tribulations—of course they’re not comparable.
MACIAS: You’ve acted, you sold over eighty million records, and now you have a successful wine brand. You’ve got so many other things, but what does the future look like for Kylie Minogue?
MINOGUE: Back in the studio. Well, not a studio. We’re renting a villa somewhere. Agh, I’m so excited to make new music.
MACIAS: Those are all the questions I have—any last thoughts?
MINOGUE: Just that I love your jewels and your pearls.
Styling: Tom Eerebout
Hair and Makeup: Christian Vermaak using Pat McGrath and Sculpted Products