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Playing Telephone

New York City-based dance-rock band Heloise & the Savoir Faire made a big splash at the South by Southwest Music Festival with their debut album,Trash, Rats & Microphones, and have since been busy criss-crossing Europe with their uber-queer, outrageously energetic live show. On the eve of the band's video "Illusions" premiering on, we put singer Heloise Williams and dancer/backup singer Joe Shepard on the phone to interview each other -- though circumstances required they actually sit on opposite ends of the same porch. Here are highlights from their conversation: Joe Shepard: Hey, Hel, how's it going? Heloise Williams: Hey, girl, how are you? JS: I'm good, I'm just drinking a margarita. What are you drinking? HW: I'm drinking a marg, too. This amazing bartender just made it for me. JS: Yep, I love making margaritas. HW: What's it like to be a matron of honor? JS: It's really quite an honor. Why don't you tell people where we are right now? HW: We're in Greenvile, Vermont, preparing for my nuptials. JS: You're getting married? HW: That's what that means, yeah. JS: And who are you getting married to? HW: James Jeffrey Belizzia. He's the guitar player in this really hot new band called Somebody or Other and the Savoir Faire. Hercules and the Savoir Faire? JS: Yeah, that. HW: We just got back from London. Did you have a great time? JS: I did. My favorite part was when I met that hot lawyer. I don't usually meet rich men. HW: We have poor taste in men. Like literally -- financially. JS: They're all musicians. HW: It's horrible. JS: And you're marrying one now! HW: I know, we're both going to be destitute, but it's okay cause we'll have each other. JS: My dream was that you would be the first one to marry rich. HW: Sara [Sweet Rabidoux], the other dancer, is going to marry rich. JS: Yeah, so then one of us can be the maid and one the poolboy. Heloise, we met in Burlington, Vermont, about an hour from here. HW: You taught me ballet. JS: And I always loved the fact that you were a singer. That's why I had a big hard-on for you. And you had a big hard-on for dance. HW: No, for your fashion. And for your dancing. And your hot body. And you're a redhead. JS: I do have ginger balls, it's true. [There's a scuffling noise in the background.] HW: Wait, can Charlie -- JS: There's a dog here named Charlie that's a homosexual dog. HW: Joe was here one Christmas and they almost -- JS: I got really drunk off bourbon, and I think I humped the dog. HW: And the dog humped you back, and the whole family was like ...Okay. JS: He's like a 17-year-old boy who just came out of the closet, following me around. HW: And they're both redheads, it's really cute. JS: Anyway, and then we moved to New York. HW: I lured you with promises of fame and fortune. JS: And have I seen any of that yet? HW: No. JS: Well, fame. HW: You haven't even seen a haypenny. JS: But I do get invited to your parties, which is fun. HW: What are you talking about, my parties? JS: Your wedding! In hopes that there will be a sexy farm boy. HW: Or one of the catering staff will be hot. I see you're wearing a Styx t-shirt. Are you a big -- wait, that's actually my Styx t-shirt. JS: I stole it from you. HW: Are you a big Styx fan? JS: No, I just like this because it has a robot on the t-shirt. HW: I hear you're making your own video. JS: I did, it's called Je m'appelle Steve! It's about a French mime that had to break the silence of the circle of mime violence, and all he knows how to say is, Hello, my name is Steve, how are you, how are you, how are you, I'm okay. My friend collects absinthe, so I spent three days tasting all these bottles. It was an absinthe-induced pre-show coma. HW: He didn't remember singing the song. We had to show him the video. JS: Heloise, what's your favorite comic strip? HW: It would be Cathy and Garfield. I wish they could combine the two together. JS: I wish they could have a baby. HW: It would be a little lumpy. Joe, I heard that you got a new tattoo. JS: My friend Arryan tattooed a pink flamingo surrounded by tropical flowers on my butt. So if anyone wants to see this, they should come to the show. I will gladly show them. HW: Tell me if this is true or not: You love makeup. JS: I do, as a matter of fact. I love how you can just become someone else -- HW: Like a crazy psycho clown -- JS: More like a sensitive harlequin. HW: Or the lion from The Wizard of Oz. JS: I was the lion in two different productions. Also my love for makeup comes from watching The Bold and The Beautiful as a kid. Sally Spectra was covered in makeup the entire time. And I was so mad my mom never wore makeup. She had one crummy compact of Mary Kaye cover-up, and she had this blue eye-shadow, very blue, that she would only wear at weddings. HW: When we were shooting the video, one of my favorite parts was your costume. Was there any inspiration for the way you were dressed, maybe Flash Gordon? JS: I think it was the way you were dressed. With Sara on the left and me on the right, it sort of looked like a talk show form hell. You were the hostess. I was feeling like -- who's the bald guy from Dave Letterman? HW: Paul Shaffer. JS: Yeah. We were like your sidekicks. HW: We did it in six hours. We were trying to capture the energy of the live shows. It's hard because in front of an audience you get that I want to impress these people. I want them to love me. I think that's why most performers do what they do. JS: Do you prefer to perform in front of an audience or record? HW: Oh, I totally love an audience. It was also comfortable for our video 'cause our bass player, Jason, and his twin brother were the directors. JS: It was a very gay cast, and then all the crew of the video were like all these totally macho straight guys. HW: And they weren't really cracking smiles. JS: They actually laughed at me in my costumes. One of them said to me, I don't even know what that's about. HW: You have a mustache and you're wearing a thong leotard with a ballerina ruff around your neck. JS: One of the guys was like, Check him out, and the other was, I don't even know what that's about. I'm like, You're making our video! You're not allowed to pick on me in my costume! HW: How rude. JS: They just wanted to go back to the makeup room. HW: What's next for us? JS: We have a new European booking agent who's getting some really awesome shows. I'm thinking just travel, travel, travel for the next year. HW: New costumes, too. Maybe a burlap sack. I want to do an anti glam thing but always with a hint of glam. Always with a disco ball in my eye. Send a letter to the editor about this article.
30 Years of Out100Out / Advocate Magazine - Jonathan Groff and Wayne Brady

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