Mykki Blanco on Madonna

The Provocative Artist's One-of-a-Kind Birthday Wish for the Queen of Pop

To celebrate Madonna Louise Ciccone’s 55th birthday, NOWNESS presents a very special message from notorious Harlem rapper and performance artist, Mykki Blanco. The Lil’ Kim-inspired alter-ego of Michael David Quattlebaum Jr., Blanco is the hyper-sexualized, underground hip-hop siren whose polymathic portfolio boasts a film collaboration with MOCAtv and a book of poetry published by OHWOW. “Madonna has the ability to create another dimension, something that she has done many times,” muses Blanco, ahead of her forthcoming debut album, M.I.C.H.A.E.L. Now, in a delirious flourish of retro-fitted postmodernism, New York photographer and director Matthu Placek captures her Monroe-style paean to the icon with a gift for self-reinvention: a performer in referential bloom.

What was your first memory of hearing or seeing Madonna?
Mykki Blanco: It was sneaking into my father’s room and looking at her SEX book. I had to be about six or seven-years-old, and I remember it wasn't the sex itself that fascinated me but the design of the book and the aesthetic. Even as a child I could tell this book was something special and glamorous.

How does Madonna inspire you as a performer?
MB: Her dedication to what makes a whole entertainer; the music, the videos, the choreography. She understands the magic formula of engaging her audience on all levels.
 
How was the birthday shoot?
MB: It was a little painful, which makes a great shoot! I had to tuck my genitalia in place and stand for 20 minutes in a very Warhol, statuesque pose in stiletto heels. Matthu was extremely focused, and the hair and makeup team did an amazing job of transforming me into that iconic “Justify My Love”-era Madonna that I personally love so much.

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  • ON REPLAY
    ON REPLAY

    Spit Gold Under An Empire

    A Bespoke Edit of Emily Kai Bock's Cutting-Edge Documentary on NYC’s Rap Underground

    Mykki Blanco, Angel Haze and C.J. Fly hold forth in this exclusive edit of filmmaker Emily Kai Bock’s new documentary on New York’s underground rap scene, Spit Gold Under An Empire. “So many people there are really pushing the form,” she says of the city's hip-hop avant-garde. “It’s the most interesting and authentic thing going on.” Filmed largely in Brooklyn, the movement’s epicenter provided its own backbeat. “When you’re there, you can hear people in the apartments above and below you, people yelling on the street and car radios going by—it’s like a backing track, and if you’re raised there, it’s in your blood,” says Bock, a rising Montreal-based director with a fine art background who hit the ground running on the music scene with her stunning video for Grimes’ “Oblivion,” which became an overnight sensation. Produced by Somesuch & Co. and set to premiere at the Sundance Film Festival this week alongside efforts from independent directors Abteen Bagheri, Bob Harlow and Tyrone Lebon, the short is part of a series exploring the musical lives of American cities including the New Orleans bounce craze, shoegaze in Portland and Detroit’s warehouse scene.

    Click here to view Spit Gold Under an Empire in full, alongside other works in the New American Noise documentary project, from January 19.

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    MOST SHARED IN CULTURE

    The Confessions of Steve McQueen

    The Artist and Filmmaker’s Dark Parable On the Shame of Sex Addiction

    Cornered in his hotel room during the Toronto Film Festival, the ever-provocative Steve McQueen ruminates on free will, desire and his upcoming film Shame in Alison Chernick’s latest short. Recipient of the Camera d’Or and Fipresco prize for debut feature Hunger, McQueen has earned a reputation as one of our most prolific and challenging visual artists, winning The Turner Prize in 1999 for his short black and white film Deadpan, and representing Britain at the 2009 Venice Biennale. Co-written with Abi Morgan (Brick Lane), the director’s sophomore feature takes an unflinching look at the destructive nature of sex addiction, following Michael Fassbender’s corporate drone Brandon through a solitary routine of meaningless sexual encounters and the fallout that occurs when his equally damaged, self-harming sister Sissy (Carey Mulligan) comes to stay. “I wanted to discuss the theme of imprisonment in his films—in this case psychological," reveals Chernick. "But after seeing Shame I was more focused on the collide between morality and addiction, where one ends and the other begins.”

    (Read More)

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