Meredith Graves of Perfect Pussy wrote an essay about Andrew W.K., Lana Del Rey, sexism, and authenticity and read it live at the Basilica Soundscape festival in Hudson, New York over the weekend. The full essay has been published on The Talkhouse and can be read HERE.
Graves recounts seeing Andrew in an airport in Poland and being surprised by his appearance:
I feel weird about eating these days or leaving the house, or existing in a material form at all, because having a body that talks too much and sweats and makes mistakes is exhausting, and here’s this dude just standing around with dented hair and a Napalm Death shirt over sweatpants shorts and it’s almost as if the whole world isn’t scrutinizing what’s in his cart at the grocery store, what he looks like without makeup on, how his gender affects his authenticity as a performer. I was looking straight at this spaced out, sweet-faced, charming guy, just standing there, calm and existing.
She admits not knowing much about Andrew and talks about digging around the internet for more information:
I have read a dozen websites dedicated to exposing Andrew W.K. as an innocent pawn of the Masons or the Illuminati, calling him the kidnapped victim of a decade-long government mind control plot. There are semi-scholarly articles debating whether the man, the persona or the music is the real “art” of the Andrew W.K. “concept piece.” Fans gather on forums to compare pictures from shows in different countries, trying to determine if it’s the same “Andrew” on stage every night.
She then compares and contrasts Andrew and Lana Del Rey’s careers here:
It is twisted that people only seemed to love the idea of Andrew W.K. more after the truth came out. The truth is so interesting! He’s fearless, talented, he has a dark theoretical and critical mind. He’s on television with Glenn Beck talking about being afraid of abortion. But it was transformation into a party dude at the hands of the music industry that made people pay attention to him. Meanwhile he’s up there with Ian Svenonius at the Guggenheim talking about how his early experiences exploring the interstices between “pure music” and “unwanted sound” have shaped his intentionality in the “Andrew W.K. presentation.” The kids in Katowice were there to have fun and get wasted. It’s Harmony Korine playing dumb for Letterman back in the ’90s, over and over and over again. In a way, everybody loses. It’s like nobody was listening when he himself told them at point-blank range that he isn’t real.
After a month of thinking about the bizarre truth inherent here — that real women with fake names are somehow considered exponentially less authentic than completely fake men harboring a real, hidden sadness — I’ve come to one conclusion; that the cult of personality surrounding artists exists because of an unfeeling world that loves nothing more than breaking sensitive, talented people. The oppressive systems that surround us have forced us to assume personas like castles have moats — they can’t protect you forever but they might work for a little while to keep the bad guys from coming in. That’s not safe or good for human hearts, regardless of their respective privileges in regard to class or gender.
Read the full essay HERE.