Last night, the 3-year anniversary of Sex Cells at the Globe Theater downtown Los Angeles could have given a heart attack to the head of the CDC! There was so much body touching, face-licking, weed-joint-passing and-glass-sharing during this Lethal Amounts event, that the scene on display looked like a big fuck-you to the authorities’ recommendations since the spread of the coronavirus. Most people, from drag queens to fetish heads, were there to celebrate the anniversary of their favorite LA nightlife party-organizer, but the large majority of them were also there to see Azealia Banks, the famous female rapper who was headlining the night.
And when I say headlining, it was not some small affair, the rap star came up on stage around 2 am after a long parade of the best of the LGBTQ entertainment, a succession of acts more flamboyant and decadent than the previous one. From Blasia Discoteca to MZ Neon, Luna Lovebad or Exposure drag, there was not a dull moment with a semi-sex-orgy on stage, a drag dance party, a high energy jumping and a series of full split landing. The energy of the crowd was matching the one on stage, whereas there was no shortage of latex, PVC, leather, and whips, while rubber-men and Divine-look-alikes were running the show. This eye-blowing parade – although after a few Sex Cells editions, my mind is getting used to this latex jungle – lasted for a while, a long while, with each drag act followed by a dance party launched by the industrial and house beats and of several DJs – Matthew Pernicano, Josh Peace, Mia Carucci – succeeding behind the turntables.
As John Waters said, ‘Divine didn’t want to be a woman, he wanted to be Godzilla!’ and most of these people got the message, especially the dancers from Club Scum presented by Rudy Bleu Garcia, but there were nevertheless a few exceptions, such as the poetic expression of Dusk, a black drag in veils, Latina transgender model Luna Lovebad in Chanel prints, and MZ NEON, a punk duo fronted by another transgender wearing sexy studded PVC and rapping with a fearless energy.
As the night was stretching into the wee hours, the usual Sex Cells creatures got on stage to dance, endlessly dance and it was close to 2 am when someone put Azealia’s megaphone in front of us,… finally, she was coming on stage.
It was only logical that the controversial rapper would participate in a Sex Cells night, not only because she identifies as bisexual but also because of her incredibly belligerent reputation. Remember when Lethal Amounts mastermind Danny Fuentes decided to book party monster Michael Alig despite a petition and a cancelation of the event by Spaceland Productions? Banks despite her bad reputation – she has had a feud with about everybody, from Grimes to Lorde, Cardi B, Rihanna, Pharrell Williams, Lana Del Ray, Kendrick Lamar, Lady Gaga, Nicki Minaj, Sia, Beyonce, Eminem, Lizzo, and the list goes on and on – was certainly not the most controversial guest that counterculture experts Sex Cells have ever had. The most hated woman in music was right at home last night and was welcomed on stage by a loving and diverse crowd, partially exhausted by the wait, as a young guy next to me had collapsed under the stage.
Azealia Banks was shining in a sexy flamboyant dress with some sparkling gloves covering half of her arms while her immense red mane was following each one of her moves. She was all hair, long arms and tall legs, mixing fat dance beats with her super-fast flow served by her strong voice that could go anywhere. People were singing along while pushing and dancing, very fast it became a crazy scene, people high on energy everywhere I was looking, while I was struggling to stay at the surface of this human wave.
After ‘Anna Wintour,’ the crowd went totally wild, screaming with thousands of arms in the air, while Azealia surprised us with an acapella standard, jumping right away into another rap with a flawless delivery, attacking the song (‘Heavy Metal & Reflective’ from her 2014 album ‘Broke with Expensive Taste’) with a fearless aggression. She was an imposing stage presence, impossible to ignore, a powerful force of nature, bigger than the room with her 5’3” stature on her high heels. She pushed another pure acapella singing moment with her powerhouse and immediately made the crowd jump as one entity at the sound of ‘The Big Big Beat’ (from her 2017 album ‘Slay Z). Yes, she was that ferocious rapper, but there was such a glam dimension in everything she did, injecting this pop dance party right in the middle of her high-energy weird hybrid rap. After her famous ‘212’ and its sweaty hard-hitting scene, she disappeared and came back for another song, ‘Yung Rapunxel PT.2’, after having changed into a red sexy fluffy dress, holding her megaphone in one hand, and raging, burning the house down, rising the chaos to another level. Everyone around me knew the lyrics, I didn’t but what I saw was an enraged young woman totally in charge of her anarchist sounding songs and flexible vocal styles, acclaimed by an adoring crowd. She was a warrior rapper with mermaid-hair and speed-of-light flow, she pulled her tongue to us multiple times, made devil horns with her fingers and her exuberant demeanor was in control of the entire theatre.
Azealia Banks certainly likes to stir some shit up on Twitter and other social media, but she was also very nice with the crowd at the end of this love fest, taking the time to shake every hand stretching to touch her. The anger she put in her delivery was the only trace of her bad-girl reputation
Loving You (Acapella)
Heavy Metal & Reflective
The Big Big Beat
Yung Rapunxel PT.2 truncated (2 tracks b2b)
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