Face to Face: Jeffree Star
By Noah Michelson
How do you define yourself and how important are sexual politics to who you are and what you do?
I think everyone doesn't know what Jeffree Star is -- like are you a man, are you a girl? What are you trying to be? And at the end of the day I'm just all about pro-expression. I don't wear fake tits or wigs, so I don't really consider myself a drag queen, but I am really obsessed and inspired by fashion in general. I started as a makeup artist, looking through magazines and being obsessed with the idea of just changing how you look with just some makeup brushes. So I don't really call myself anything. I am a guy, I don't want to have a sex-change -- you know, my mom blessed me -- so, I'm going to stay a man and look like a girl and everyone's gonna fuckin' like it! [Laughs.]
When did you start becoming Jeffree Star? Is Jeffree Star a character or a persona or is this who you are 24-7?
Jeffree Star is a character that I made up when I was bored. You know, I'm from Orange County -- it was really boring there. It's like spray tan and beaches and football games -- and I was not about to be any part of that. So I changed my name, which I now have legally changed, and this is who I am now. I wanted to get away from being the boring California kid and be glamorous.
Do you consider yourself a role model for queer youth?
I don't consider myself a role model, but a lot of kids have told me that I am their role model. Which is a very weird thing to say because everyone probably thinks that I get off on that -- that I'm a conceited -- but in reality it's like, if my music or my being myself can help other people, that's all that really matters to me, you know? Past the money and all that other shit, there are kids across the world who e-mail me everyday telling me, "My mom hates me because I'm gay," or "My dad beats me because I want to change my hair color" and it makes me so sad. So if me living my life and people seeing it online or on TV, if it helps their lives, then that's the most important thing I think.
How has the Internet impacted your career?
[Laughs.] The Internet! Somehow me and a few other people discovered MySpace before anyone else. It was based out of California, so I think living there did help me a lot, and I think, for me, in the beginning, it was like networking and always keeping people like updated because so many musicians have their one little press shot with their CD and then they kind of disappear. I'm constantly doing photo shoots, I was constantly posting stuff on like 500 different websites, like "Judge me, look at my crazy pictures," and always writing blogs about everything from the news to what I thought about certain subjects and it just kind of like caught on like wildfire. All of the sudden I had like millions of people like clicking my page. It was really weird, so as a joke I did some music with some friends, put it on MySpace and all of the sudden it, like, blew up really crazy. So I was like, "Oh, shit I better do something with this." [Laughs.]
Tell me about your tattoos. When did you start getting them? Are there any themes?
Oh, you can't see any today.
Yeah, you're all covered up. So demure.
Even if you can't see any right now, I have tattoos over my body. A lot of them were inspired by psychology and death and beauty queens. I have a JonBen't Ramsey and Sharon Tate and Princess Diana -- the whole being beautiful and dying was always like really intriguing to me, which is kind of what Beauty Killer is partly about. My best friend, Kat Von D, is an amazing tattoo artist, so I was always wanted to get portraits. After I met her I got like 25, and now my whole my body is almost covered. It's pretty cool. I'm obsessed with art and you know when you're younger and someone tells you that you can't change your appearance you're going to want change it more than normal. So [laughs] now I'm like a walking canvas.
Do you have any that you regret getting?
I do regret one tattoo, it's on my right arm. It was the first one I ever got. I'm actually getting it lasered right now, which is like the worst pain ever. It smells like chicken, so think before get a tattoo! Because that shit hurts!
What's your beef with Tila Tequila?
[Laughs.] Everyone always asks me, "What do you think of Tila Tequila? Are you guys friends?" We used to be friends, like I'd hang out with her at parties and stuff, but I think when you're trying to be an Asian prostitute and a gay superstar your heads clash. I'm just not for people trying to pretend that they're bisexual and thinking that they're empowering the gay community when you're just exploiting it and trying to make money off it. I fully don't back anything that she's doing. I kind of want to take a knife and stab her implants until they go pop, pop, pop.
Jeffree Star's new CD, Beauty Killer, is now available in stores and digitally. Star will perform at the West Hollywood Halloween Carnival on October 31 and is slated to launch a full U.S. tour in December. For more info, check out his MySpace page.