Trans Sissy-Bounce Matron Katey Red Talks Impacts and Filthy Lyrics Ahead of RVA Shows
At 6’2, Katey Red is not someone you’d want to tangle with. The heels she wears don’t help – but don’t be fooled, under her daunting stage persona lies a woman who has changed countless lives, and helped give a voice to New Orleans’ black LGBT community.
She’s essentially the first openly gay rap artist, and as of 5 years ago when she started hormone treatments, she’s really the first transgender rapper as well.
The youngest of a big family, Red remembers identifying herself as different, at least gay, by the age of 5.
“I was always feminine,” she said about growing up in NOLA with little support to help her understand herself. Instead of love, her family offered threats as she grew up confused and scared. “You’re not gonna be a fag, you’re not gonna be a woman,” her brothers would say according to Red. It wasn’t until she was 17 when she found a more supportive family in the older LGBT members of the community.
“Older gay people, they look at the younger gays and instead of putting them down, they call them daughter or son,” she said. “They raise you right. Your mom can’t teach you what she never went through. She can’t teach her gay son what she never been through.”
This upbringing lead to Red getting involved in and creating the then-new and experimental form of hip hop dance music – sissy bounce.
Sissy bounce performers, like Red, Big Freedia, and Nicky Da B, all follow a similar format of call and response-style rap over infectious, bass-heavy beats. Some of the earliest use of “twerking” can be traced back to sissy bounce, with boys and girls alike gyrating their butts while propped against a wall, a car, or anything really. Sissy Bounce is also defined by the female impersonators who lead the party.
And you bet the lyrics are also pretty gratuitous.
“It’s all about partying,” said Red. “If it has to be dirty, let it be dirty.”
Red’s heard complaints about the topics in her songs, and she’s been pretty unapologetic, saying if you don’t like it, try another song on the album.
“She talk about dick sucking too much… well if you don’t like it, skip to the next song,” Red said with a laugh.
Not all of Red’s songs have been NSFW, though. A Youtube search renders one particularly bizarre example of Red’s brand of sissy bounce in a cover of the traditional “Dreidel Song.”
Red admittedly wasn’t too familiar with the subject matter of the song, but when she was approached by the folks from Gypsyphonic Disko, they told her to “do you” but throw in the traditional lyrics.
The end result is one of the most unusual holiday songs imaginable.
It’s been over 14 years since Red first made headlines when a New York Times piece profiled the performer and the sissy-bounce movement. The explosion of the genre hit a peak about two years ago, but her fellow sissy-bounce queen Big Freedia has continued to bring the movement to the masses with her show on Fuse TV.
Red continues to perform locally in New Orleans, and has even undertaken a new persona as a drag performer under the name Keltnny Galliano. “It’s more glitz and glamour,” said Red about her new venture into drag pageants. “the club performance is more raw and ‘shake that ass, lets scream and holler.’”
No matter which Red show you catch, you’re sure to be in for a special treat.
“I hope the people enjoy me,” she said. “Because I know I’m gonna enjoy them.”
Expect as much bounce music, twerking, and general insanity from Red when she comes to Richmond this weekend. She’ll be at Club Colors Saturday night, Godfrey’s Sunday night for the God and Goddess International Newcomer Pageant, and Tuesday 7/29 when she’ll be at Strange Matter.
Big Freedia on Beyonce, gyrating laws & gritty small shows ahead of 10/15 Strange Matter performance
“I just try and keep my music on a positive happy page and help people enjoy life.”October 12, 2016
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