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5 Things to Know About Casey Spooner & Michael Stipe’s Complex, Queer Relationship

Casey Spooner
Photography: Rinaldo Sata

After meeting on the dance floor in 1988, the Fischerspooner and REM singers have spent three decades changing queer music history.

When Fischerspooner singer Casey Spooner met REM's Michael Stipe in 1988, it was a match made in queer music heaven, but they didn't know that at the time. "You were a teenager, 18 years old, I was 10 years older, Stipe recalls to Spooner in their new PAPER interview. "I was on the dance floor and there you were, in a white, tight shirt, with a bowl-cut haircut. I was just like, 'you're mine.'"

Related | Fischerspooner's Sir is a Record For Lost Gay Men and Backroom Orgies

Decades later, the duo have reunited as Stipe joined his friend and former lover to co-write and co-produce Fischerspooner's new Sir album. Besides being a perfect soundtrack for orgies, it also represented a new era for the two musicians. As they soak in the afterglow of releasing the record, they caught up to talk about their journey and process. Here are the five takeaways on everything from Beyonce to heterosexuals.

When they met, Casey Spooner was straight and learning to camp in the woods.

Spooner: "I hadn't gotten into Cooper Union like I wanted, so I was reluctantly in college in Georgia and working at Outward Bound, where I learned about surviving and camping in the woods. I had this moment where I wasn't sure if I'd ever become an artist, so didn't know if I'd be an earthy crunchy mountain man, or if I was going to be an urbanite. I also wasn't clear on my sexuality then. I thought I was straight because I was in love with a woman. I went to a disco club night hosted by my college, and that's how I met you."

LCD Soundsystem's Gavin Rayna Russom was in Casey Spooner's first band, Sweet Thunder.

Spooner: "My bandmates were Kelly Kuvo and [Gavin Rayna Russom of LCD Soundsystem]. It was my first band. I was carrying a guitar and amp, and I was talked into joining, when I didn't feel I was a musician. Warren [Fischer] and I were making a soundtrack for a film project. The soundtrack turned into a song based on this crazy story of a cab driver trying to pick me up. That was a thing in New York back then. They'd go to gay bars and wait outside for kids to leave the club. I'm not sure how it is now... Anyway, it's this sexy cab driver song that we performed as Sweet Thunder at a Starbucks. The final line of the song was, 'Do you wanna see it?' -- a pick up line he used. I was terrified. I did not want to see it."

The original cover for Sir features an erect penis.

Stipe: "At that point, the cover of the record was a side-shot photograph of an erect male penis. We thought no one had ever done that."

Spooner: "We're going to use that cover as a limited edition vinyl. The dick is coming back."

Casey Spooner and bandmate Warren Fischer argued over pronoun usage on the album.

Spooner: "I like working with Warren because he questions me--he made me think about why do I need to change the pronouns. I realized that when you make pronoun usage general in pop music, you never assume that the story is ever about queer people. It's always going to be assumed heterosexual. I realized that I couldn't change from [he/his/they/them] pronouns because that's not the story I'm telling."

Casey Spooner's sexualized nudity is his political statement in a Trump era.

Spooner: "My family is always like what the hell is going on, you're like naked all the time, and you're so sexualized, and for me it's about having a great time, but then also about being extreme in the opposite direction of the world. I have to be an antidote to conservative white supremacist neo-Nazi, xenophobic misogyny. I have to attack."

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