Table scraps.. SSION’s American Dream

When I was preparing to interview Cody Critcheloe, brainchild of the band SSION and the film BOY, I didn’t exactly know what to expect from the unpredictable, sex-charged performer.

SSION's BOY is currently being screened in LA.

That’s actually a complete lie. I went into my phone interview with Critcheloe, meant to preview his band’s New Year’s Eve appearance at Berlin Nightclub, feeling prepared for pretty much anything. I’d seen all the videos, read other reviews and caught up on the performer’s blog and Twitter – an increasingly interesting source for question ideas with public figure-types.

So, when I called Critcheloe at 11 a.m. just a few days after Christmas, I launched confidently into asking the performer about his stage show, working with Peaches, touring with Gossip and being a “lesbian at heart” – clearly we had a nice little bond going, at least as good of one you could expect from a half-hour-long interview.

Eventually, I’d asked Critcheloe what he made of the (then recent) controversy another black-eyeliner-wearer, one Adam Lambert, had encountered – a topic I’m currently touching on in a longer piece that should be out next week. While some of the conversation that followed made it to the final story, the bulk of it did not.

Here’s what went down somewhere between his passing me off to his “girlfriend,” whom I talked to for a few minutes, and the somewhat-fragmented stream of consciousness brought into action by my question. Somewhere along the line we went from American Idol to Critcheloe’s own American Dream.

Cody Critcheloe: It seems like whenever there are extravagant gay male pop stars – someone like Boy George – it’s shocking to people, and they say, “He’s such a fag.” And no one picked up on it! Even my dad loved Boy George growing up … But I think it’s different for Adam Lambert because he chose the route of American Idol as his path. You have a whole different audience looking at you and critiquing you. He set himself up for being abused. It’d be different if he started out in shitty nightclubs and worked his way up. I think people would say that’s part of his thing if that had happened. It’s sad.

An affirmative.

Me: How does your family feel about what you do?

Critcheloe: They’re not really aware, and I think they’re confused by it. I don’t go home and talk about it either. First of all, they’re not interested, second of all, why explain it? They know I make music and make art, but I’m not sure they know how it all comes together. Having people like [Lady] Gaga or Adam Lambert in the public eye does give them an idea of what I’m doing, even if it’s a really mundane, pathetic version of it.

Me: Do you have a day job that you balance with the band?

Critcheloe: I’ve been really lucky in some ways because I haven’t had to work a day job since May, so that’s been incredible. But at the same time, that also means I have to work really hard and am always constantly a bit nervous this could stop at any point … But I’m a really fucking shitty waiter. I’m shitty at everything but singing, it just comes to me. The goal is to work comfortable and do the things you want to do. That’s the biggest perk that comes with being famous, with more exposure comes the ability to do the things you love and be paid to do it.

Me: It’s refreshing that you’re more upfront about that than most musicians are.

Critcheloe: Well, I come from a middle-class family and I don’t give a shit that I’m totally 100 percent American. I want nice things and I want to work. I’m only happy when I’m working. I want to be creative and work on interesting projects. The only people who diss the American Dream are the people who have enough money to diss it. I don’t give a shit. I want a nice car and nice things.

Enjoy SSION’s video for Bullshit below.

Previous scraps: A trip to the zoo with Kevin Chamberlin | Dragonette and the conundrum of cool

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