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


A Halloween tale, via Missed Connections


It is no secret that I love, love, love reading Craigslist’s treasure trove of awkwardness, the Missed Connections section. So, of course, as we all continue from a weekend filled with makeup, witches’ brew and masked make-out sessions, I couldn’t resist an opportunity to round-up some of my favorite Chicago MC’s to tell a little tale of Halloween lure (in addition to sharing some tunes).

Personally, Halloween has never been a holiday I associate with wild hook-ups, but maybe that’s because my costumes are usually not of the “Sexy (Fill-in-the-Blank)” variety. I’m usually in drag, covered in grotesque makeup with stubble poking through, and this year was no exception as I took on the role of Little Edie Beale from Grey Gardens. The below characters seem to have had some good luck knocking boots, even if they had a lot of explaining to do for their mother upon their return home. Here’s hoping the fates bring these lovers back together.

Missed my chance with Mr. Franzia – m4m (Belmont/Monroe)
Date: 2009-11-01, 11:33PM CST

“I had black paint smeared on my face. I admired the intricacy of your costume: Franzia boxed wine. We made some contact on the train before both getting off at Monroe. There we kissed at a street corner, where a passing driver yelled “FAGS!” at us (just in case you didn’t notice) … Sorry for not following, but, in all honesty, I was staying with my mom (who was visiting) in a hotel. That being said, I’d love to hear from you and maybe engage in some out-of-the-box conversation.”

ms wonderland left wondering? – w4m – 20 (in tinley)
Date: 2009-11-02, 2:40AM CST

“ok so i went 2 a halloween party with a gf and i was the sexy ms. wonderland girl. i was soooooooooooo wasted n u were so much fun and we ended up being naughty but i don’t remember most of it lol. u had on a dark costume not sure what it was though dah? well i have a bf so i guess it had 2 b a one time thing, just wanted 2 say if u ever read this i was the small blond who u helped have a really fun halloween!”

The outlaw Josey Wales – m4m (near loop)
Date: 2009-11-01, 6:47PM CST

“To the outlaw Josey Wales: it was so hot to watch you polishing your gun. A nice long gun, with a big thick barrel and a nice head to it. I can still taste that ammunition dripping into my mouth.”

Of course, since these are Missed Connections, after all, not all of these rendezvous were as successful. Lesson be learned: Be sure to carefully stow your beloved university-provided metro card when going home with handsome men in “dark costumes.”

Halloween Party then Your Apt – w4m (lincoln park area)
Date: 2009-11-02, 10:28AM CST

“Friday I was beligerent, I apologize. I dont remember practically anything when we got to your apt, let alone how we did till my friend filled me in. Uhh yah I lost my Upass at your place did you find it??? That would bloow if I have to find another one. Ps. “my buldge” seeing I was spider man is in your room too, white/pink soccer socks? Yeah, well I’m sorry for being a slob, im sure i was a huge one. But on the bright side I do think your adorable!”

Georgia at Halloween Church Party – m4w
Date: 2009-11-02, 5:15PM CST

“I was the Chaplin with whom you danced. I got swept up into an evening of events that now seem unreal. If you find this, please shoot me an email. I’d love to see you again and take you dancing.
Take Care

A Somewhat Silent Man”

oh, pinnochio – m4w (subterranean)
Date: 2009-11-01, 11:24AM CST

“that little boy look didn’t fool me, you were smoking hot. i never made it to the hideout, but i did spend a more than a few minutes thinking about what it would be like giving it to a puppet that wants to be a real boy, but is actually the hottest little girl in the room.”

But, I think the most important lesson from all of this is to watch out for each other. Halloween is a time for all of us to come together and bask in the ridiculousness of it all. And protect each other from violent religious leaders. Especially if you’re dressed as a pop diva.

Kid that got hit by the pope at Evil Olive – w4m – 21 (Evil Olive)
Date: 2009-11-01, 9:19AM CST

“Lady GaGa wants to make sure you’re ok.”


Download: Ramona Falls ‘I Say Fever’ (mp3) (+++)
Download: Florence and the Machine ‘Drumming’ (mp3)
Download: Crystal Waters ‘Gypsy Woman’ (Sharps Remix) (mp3)
Download: Squirrel Nut Zippers ‘Hell’ (mp3)
Download: Silversun Pickups ‘Booksmart Devil’ (mp3)
Download: Kate Bush ‘Get Out of My House’ (mp3)
Download: My Gold Mask ‘Bette Davis Eyes’ (mp3)
Download: Cold Cave ‘Youth and Lust’ (mp3)

(+++) denotes high levels of recommendation.