“Queen” by Perfume Genius is a dramatic piece that can only work with uncompromising commitment to sexual expression. Mike Hadreas is the guy to credit for this one. Clearly, he’s a strong multi-talented performer. He’s got the allure and intrigue that the song demands. He’s also gay and isn’t ashamed for it–using Perfume Genius to express his sexuality–even when it isn’t welcomed by certain promotional platforms. Youtube once took down Hadreas’ 16-second long promotional video for his Sophomore album, Put Your Back N 2 It which showed the musician in Hungarian pornographic actor, Arpad Miklos’ arms. Both appeared to be naked, but their sexual organs and the areas surrounding them were very well hidden. Needless to say, his brazen approach to Perfume Genius’ image, despite a society that’s still in large part unfamiliar with “the gays doing gay things,” has garnered him some attention and praise.
His performance of “Queen” on David Letterman was Hadreas’ first time on Network Television. It was a nerve-wrecking time for Hadreas–the first time he’d be performing for people that didn’t necessarily want to see him. He wore bright red lipstick, slicked back hair, a white suit, and his fetish armor visible only around his neck and chest.
“It’s kind of a protest because I know it might not go over well in middle america or more conservative areas,” he said in an interview with 3voor12 after the performance. “I was nervous. It was a big deal.”
The performance was unlike anything we had seen on TV in a while–musicians with character. He’s unapologetically flamboyant and awkward. Personally, the performance was a breath of fresh air, an inspiration, and a sad reminder that there are things we all feel we cannot do out of fear of being punished for it in one way or another by other people in our society. Hadreas is vulnerable to a lot of hate because of the way he expresses himself. He finds it baffling.
“People can be real cruel and it’s not usually so much what they say it’s that they said it,” says Hadreas. “I’ve gone to a show and disliked it, but I never was like ‘you know what I think I’m gonna tell ’em that I really hated that show.’ That’s what’s strange to me, how quickly and how easily it seems some people say really awful things to you.”
Check out Perfume Genius’ newest record, Too Bright, on Matador Records.