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The Prodigal Non-Gendered Child Returns: Trannysaurus Rox is a Real Life Hedwig and the Angry Inch

[This article originally appeared in The Rogue Valley Messenger on September 8th, 2016.  Interview by Josh Gross.  Original article appears here:  http://www.roguevalleymessenger.com/the-prodigal-non-gendered-child-returns-trannysaurus-rox-is-a-real-life-hedwig-and-the-angry-inch/]

Tony James has So-O bonafides out the wazoo. He was born in Medford, raised in Grants Pass, and started his career as a performer at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. To top that So-O cred, you’d have to pay the rent playing banjo on a pot farm.

These days, James fronts glam-rock spectacle Trannysaurus Rox, which will play Medford for the first time with a Tues, September 13 appearance at Johnny B’s. The Seattle six-piece is like a real life version of the off-Broadway smash (and small-release indie movie), Hedwig and the Angry Inch; a gender-fluid rock spectacular equal parts Twisted Sister, Ziggy-era David Bowie, and trip through Amsterdam’s red light district. And Trannysaurus Rox doesn’t dial any of it back from 11—in their thunderous rock sound, their full drag stage gear, or their gloriously foul-mouthed lyrics (the final track on their newly-released album is called, “Cunt Dick Fuck God,” which is about the only way to top the album’s title of Balls Deep Holiday).

James took the time to talk with The Messenger about the upcoming show.

RVM: How big an influence was Hedwig?

James: We call ourselves the next Hedwig. It’s one of our lead singer and drummer’s favorite movies. They watch it at least once a year with each other. The movie speaks of feeling divided and searching for self. We think each member of this band is doing just that. By playing together, we become whole and have a purpose behind what we’re doing.

RVM: How much do you play inside versus outside the queer music scene? Do you see a difference when you do?

We tend to play with a lot of heavy metal bands. Which is kind of funny for us because we totally fit in yet at the same time we are completely our own thing. No matter what show we play we always stand out. And our style of music also isn’t necessarily the style of music young gay men or women listen to. We are definitely not Britney Spears. But our lead singer thinks he/she’s Beyoncé. It is our hope that the LGBTQ Community becomes more loyal as a fan base.

RVM: Why is trans identity important to your band? Is it just an aesthetic or is core to what you’re trying to express with your music?

James: When we started the band it was drag. But now that are characters are fully realized we identify as trans in our own way. Every human being is in constant transformation/transition. Every member of this band has been in relationships with trans people at one point or another. We are fully looking forward to the community accepting our message and bringing it to the people that need to hear it. We are a gender-queer band.

RVM: The term “tranny” has been said to be derisive. Is using it in your name an act of reclamation? A middle finger to propriety? Or is it just a clever pun?

James: The answer to this is yes to every question…For some it’s a very offensive word. We have had countless conversations about changing our name to just T-Rox, but it comes down to your second question; we are reclaiming the power of our band name. We hope everyone will see that we took the most powerful of the dinosaurs, the mighty T.Rex, empowered with a queer name.

RVM: Any expectations for your first time playing in Southern Oregon?

We don’t know if Southern Oregon is ready for what we have coming for you. If you are a church-going person, this show might not be for you…[but] if you are free-thinking person who challenges all the norms in the communities that you live in, you’re going to want to come to this show! Because it not only is going to change your life, it’s going to change our lives in meeting you.

Trannysaurus Rox, with El Chapo

9 pm Tues., September 13

Johnny B’s, 12 0 E. Sixth St., Medford

$5

Georgetown Liquor Company – gig review by Poster Bot

Fuck More: A Liaison With Trannysaurus Rox
Words and pictures by: Poster Bot

I caught my first glimpse of Trannysaurus Rox at their very first show, an evening of wonder and debauchery at The Josephine. At the time all I saw was a horsewhip held high above the crowd and later pieced that recollection together with another of a bearded-girl in assless chaps. I didn’t know who they were and neither did anyone else, but I knew they were worth looking into, so I got in touch with the lead guitarist and asked about meeting him at their next show… ASAP. He got back to me ASAP, saying that they were playing a show “TONIGHT” at The Georgetown Liquor Company.Georgetown is like a post-apocalyptic version of Capitol Hill, if Capitol Hill had been nuked by communists during The Cold War. The bar suited it’s surroundings and had the feel of a small cantina on the edge of demilitarized zone. The walls were blue & orange and even though no one was smoking, somehow there was a din of black shadow hanging in the air. It had two TV’s, each showing the movie Jurassic Park and I walked in just as Jeff Goldblum was saying “That is one big pile of shit-” an auspicious beginning.Unless they were dead-ringers for horsewhips, I had no idea what anybody in the band looked like, but I figured that with a name like Trannysaurus Rox it’d make sense to look for some sign of gender-bending. It wasn’t long before I spotted a platinum-blond in a white wedding dress & matching fur coat, I knew she was the blond for me when I spotted her five-o’clock shadow.The platinum-blond walked in with the bearded-girl in assless chaps and the two of them were setting down guitars and other equipment on the small stage (decorated with records from Manticore Stencil Art). I approached the blond and introduced myself “Hello, I’m from The Monarch… We might’ve exchanged e-mails earlier? I have a booth over there and would love to talk whenever you’re ready-” she followed me to a quiet corner of the bar, candle-lit and nestled beneath a display of venetian masks. I felt like I was on a blind date.hot 01
She could’ve taken a seat on the other side of the table, but instead sat on the bench next to me, resting her cheek on the back of her hand and smiling. Maybe it was because I’d just finished a pitcher of PBR and was already working on another, or maybe it was due to her great big eyes staring at me without any judgement or expectation, but I felt instantly at ease and immediately began asking questions.”What’s your name?” seemed liked an appropriate place to start. “Kiyan Fox.” I managed to do a bit of research just before the show and followed with “Would that be the same Kiyan Fox who teaches Geomancy and is into the occult?” “Yes.”

Kiyan has been playing guitar for years in bands like Samara, a darkwave/metal band with an interest in Egyptology… While performing with T-Rox he becomes a character named Kinkita Trannimal, but off stage he’s a regular feature at Resurrection Sundays or Edge Of The Circle Books, providing tarot readings to the arcanely curious. Being a student of the occult myself I thought it prudent to ask “Are you familiar with Genesis P-Orridge?” Kiyan beamed and said simply “I love Genesis.”

I wasn’t really interviewing Kiyan, I was talking to Kinkita, an alter-ego separate from Kiyan, with a sensuality all her own. It made sense that she was a Genesis fan, in the mid 1970’s Genesis Breyer P-Orridge was a performance artist and sexual pioneer. When copycats like David Bowie were capitalizing on the notion of androgyny, Genesis was transforming into an openly hermaphroditic being. Not androgynous, not possibly a man or maybe a woman, but a true combination of man and woman as defined by the alchemical ideal. Kinkita is also pushing that boundary. I felt almost guilty thinking of her as a “she” so I asked what the appropriate pronoun would be “I prefer the term ‘heesh-‘” spelled “heshe.” The term is fitting, it accurately describes the concept of he+she… But I’ll be damned if I know how to conjugate it, so I apologize to both Kiyan and Kinkita for using non-gender-neutral prose.

The boundaries between sexes are at the heart of the band’s philosophy “fuck more.” They’re a self described but-glam band but when the mascara is stripped away their sound and soul are punk. I asked Kinkita what “fuck more” meant and she described it as a destruction of taboos… the establishment is fucked, so you might as well fuck shit up and when you think you’ve run out of shit to fuck, it’s time to think harder and fuck more. T-Rox wants to butcher, maim and ravage the standardized concepts of sexuality. No more taboos, no more boundaries and no more neatly defined roles of masculine versus feminine. The members of the band aren’t really drag-queens (or kings) in the traditional sense. They’re people, shattering the restrictions of gender and inviting their audience to do the same.

Which brings me to the band’s base-player… the bearded-girl in assless chaps. Her given name is Ursula Stuart and like Kiyan she comes from a metal background. She works with T-Rox as Bruno Pterod (as in pterodactyl) and doesn’t really have a beard, but Bruno had one drawn-on his face with eyeliner. The show was free but performers were encouraging donations and Bruno was turning an empty pitcher into a tip-jar, decorating it with a long straw, topped by a tiny black schlong. “I got it from a bachelorette party-” she said. “It needs a sign-” said a passing fan. Bruno settled on the phrase JUST THE TIP and was then encouraged by the passing fan to draw spooge coming out of the “I” in “TIP.”

As an artist I can’t help but leap at the chance to draw, so with Bruno’s permission I replaced the “I” with a spooging penis. It was too small to see, but that didn’t make it any less valuable. On the other hand, Bruno’s penis is not only visible, but on display. She was wearing a black strap-on dildo and it was with that same dildo that she made her first acquaintance with Nozomi Momo, the band’s 2nd-set drummer.

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T-Rox works with two drummers, one for each half of the show, the 1st-set drummer introduced himself only as “Saint Dickless” and didn’t spend a lot of time talking to me. To be honest I can barely remember what he looked like; what color his eyes were, his hair color, or if he had hair at all. All I do remember is that he was wearing a denim jacket, had an insanely thick beard and that he seemed to have a warm & saint-like glow. I’m sure I can take it for granted that he had no dick.

The 2nd-set drummer is Nozomi Momo (AKA Acid Panda) a gorgeous, exotic and incredibly savvy young woman from the hippest parts of swinging London. She hasn’t been in Seattle long, but has already managed to make front page news. She met Bruno at The Josephine show and made an impression by performing fellatio instead offering of the usual, informal handshake. The band fell in love with her and insisted she join. She’s a fire-dancer, a post-punk drummer, half Japanese, 1/4 Turkish, 1/4 Persian and 100% aspiring model.

Considering her eclectic background, I asked Nozomi about the character she plays on stage and I was particularly interested in her views on sexuality. “It’s not so much about sex as it is about freedom-” she said. I understood completely. Despite her seemingly promiscuous persona, Nozomi was as down to earth as the proverbial girl next-door. Her mother grew up in a Muslim country, where sex was virtually regulated by the state, the act of performing topless isn’t an invitation, but it sends a message to prudes everywhere… “Grow up.”

The show had already begun and it was time for Trannysaurus Rox to play. 30 years ago people were talking about Divine, but the sexual embodiment of today’s gestalt is Tony James, T-Rox’s lead singer. He’s a TV star, MC and auteur of international acclaim, performing with T-Rox (ostensibly) as Morgan Le Gay, Freckles Riverside and/or Gaydolf Hitler. I’m not sure if Gaydolf and Morgan get along, but that night it was Le Gay’s turn in the spotlight.

She opened with a cover-song, Witche’s Egg from Richard Elfman’s Forbidden Zone, after that the veggie-punks at The Georgetown Liquor Company were treated to an anthology of T-Rox originals; including Busy Bitch, Cunt Dick Fuck God and Death By Dildo, a sort of Dance Macabre about the inequality of fear and the universality of desire (a seminal achievement in the but-glam genre).

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Professor Alfred Kinsey once said “The only unnatural sex act is that which you cannot perform-” I think “fuck more” expresses that same sentiment. I caught up with the band when the show was over and like all good performers they had given it their all. They were charged with adrenaline and electric sexual-energy. I was too drunk to remember whether I shook Kinkita’s hand, or whether I squeezed her hips on my way out, but I made some sort of contact and in so doing received a shock down my spine. I’ve been charged ever since… and I think it’s time for me to fuck more.