Everyone is (Still) Gay
By Shana Naomi Krochmal
When Out first spoke to Gabe Saporta, the lead singer of Cobra Starship, he happily gabbed about his album's queer collaborators, that time he made out with Pete Wentz, and his enduring crush on Justin Timberlake. Under all the trash talk, though, there was the tease of hard-core smarts.
We got him back on the phone for a rare serious conversation about the sexual politics behind his ridiculously fun dance-rock band, currently kicking ass on the Vans Warped Tour. Read on for more about his (and his bandmates') nudist tendencies, the musicians who most influenced his bad attitude, and how the emo scene is getting in the way of actual progress.
Out: It seems that people either respond really well to ambiguous sexuality -- or really badly.
Gabe Saporta: I totally agree. I have that problem all the time.
What problem, that people think you're a fag?
My vibe is a very sexual vibe overall -- I am very ambiguous. I like to push the boundaries on everything, from sexuality to politics. I like to just talk shit on everything: You call me on my shit, I'll call you on yours, and hopefully we'll find the truth somewhere in the middle. And I like to challenge everything, especially conventional notions of sexuality. I remember when I was 12, Nirvana played Saturday Night Live, and Kurt Cobain kissed Krist Novoselic on the air, and a lot of people were like, Oh, he's a faggot. And even being 12, I remember I understood that he was doing that to go against notions of homophobia. Some people are always going to misunderstand what you're saying. They had a song called "Rape Me" and people thought it was advocating rape, but it was really a song that was against rape. Nirvana is the band that influenced me to play music. Artists are always supposed to be able to give you a perspective outside of the social norm. It's a responsibility of ours.
What kind of reactions have you had to your, well, vibe?
No one fucks with me to my face. But I'll read shit online where kids say I'm a faggot, or my friends are. Sexuality is just something that we as a society are not comfortable talking about to begin with. And when you talk about ambiguity and sexuality, people get even more uncomfortable. I find that the people who have a hard time with it are people who are uncomfortable with their sexuality. Even within my own band, I find that. In my old band [Midtown], we all would always show each other our cocks, you know? Like, our cocks were always out. It wasn't even a homosexual thing. It was just like a bunch of good old boys showing their dicks around. Was that sexually ambiguous or was it homophobic or what? I don't know. My band now, everyone's weird about being naked. Except for me.
Your Cobra bandmate Ryland Blackinton blogged about getting called a fag by kids outside a show. What would you have done if you'd been standing there with him?
This happened to me in Belgium when we played this festival. And there were these punk rock kids -- like old-school punk rock kids that spent like three hours putting spikes on their jackets and doing their Mohawks, kids who are living like it's still 1977 but at home playing around with the computers their moms bought them, talking about revolution -- those kids were there. And on top of looking like punk rock and not getting it, they were calling us fags while we were playing. And I was like, you can't fuck with me like that. I'll just make you more of a fool. I said, "I may be a fag, but I do the fucking around here. Come on up, dude. Why don't you bend over?" A dude like Ryland, he's wittier than anything, and he'll say something back that's witty.