Queer youth, are you tired of disco? How about a band that sounds like the Ramones fronted by a Queer potty-mouthed Weird Al Yankovic? (Lyric quote: "He had the dick of death/ I looked into his eyes/ And let him sodomize me with his dick of death".) Sound good? O.K.! then Pansy Division are for you. Hell, are you straight and want to impress the girls with your acute fashion sense and bisexual tendencies? Jump on the bandwagon, everybody's doin' it! Pansy Division are leading the pack of gay hard-rockers (and the so-called Queer-core movement) and anybody who knows anything about anything is catching up. Nine Inch Nail's frontman Trent Reznor recently gave the lead singer of Marilyn Manson a blow-job live on stage, and clueless executives at Warner Bros. are getting mad at the Red Hot Chili Peppers for making "pretentious faggy videos." So open your minds, re-stock your wardrobes and .... (well, if you're that fashionable, wear a rubber).
Goblin: Magazine: On your tour with Greenday how were you received by the mainstream straight stadium rockers?
Singer and Bass Player Chris Freeman: The mainstream men thought that was Greenday's first album and they didn't care if it was Greenday or Guns N' Roses, they just wanted to "par-tay dude" so they were very upset we were up there. But many of the women were into it and they helped diffuse the situation if things get out of hand. Girls don't usually get addressed at rock shows, so I would say, "How many girls are here?" and they would scream, then I would say, "How many of you girls know that all guys can be assholes?" and they'd scream louder. Then I'd say "See all these assholes up here flipping us off? These are the kind of guys we mean. We don't need any more of that on the planet so don't procreate with them, okay?" Then the fingers would go down.
GM: Do you think your explicit lyrics really help the queer movement?
CF: I think it helps de-mystify the "Gay" lifestyle. I think that's a bad choice of words because what's the hetero lifestyle? We're just talking about things gay men talk about. If certain people say, "I don't want others to know I say those things," well that's too bad. We're trying to get to the point where that doesn't matter, aren't we? It should be like whether you're left or right handed. It used to be a big issue. My mother told me about when she was in school they would tie her left hand behind her back and tell her she was inspired by Satan. And that's horrible! You were born that way, and as far as "nature vs. nurture," goes I don't think it's either one -- I think it's both. I would like it to get to the point where being gay is a non-issue. I just want to give them the scene: what is it like? What do we talk about? So straight men will realize they say the same things about women. We have a song called "Dick Of Death" about big penises. Well, there's plenty of hetero songs about big tits.
GM: Don't you think that portrays queers as vapid people who only think about sex all the time?
CF: That may be, and I think there might be people who think that way about us anyway. Every one of our albums have had songs about relationships and other things. Especially this album -- a song like "the ache" has nothing to do with sexuality and everything to do with having your heart broken and everyone can relate to that. Just because we sing about certain body parts doesn't make us vapid. If people tear us down because of that, they're just not exploring us in a full way and being short-sighted. In fact, "Denny" is about being HIV positive, we're trying to be well-rounded in our scope of issues.
GM: I was surprised you didn't sing more about AIDS.
CF: One of the things that we've learned about from the people that we play to (and I've had boyfriends that are dead and others who are soon to be dead) and one of the things that they like about us is that we're Queer Art that isn't heavy. They don't want all the gay art they intake to be negative and heavy, and about how horrible it is to be HIV positive. They want to celebrate life while they're still around. Why bang it over their head? AIDS is a horrible thing so what we try to sing about is safe sex. I'd rather inspire people who have AIDS to live their lives fully.
GM: But don't you think it's a contradiction to promote both casual and safe sex?
CF: No, you can be a complete slut if you're having safe sex. I've been a safe sex slut since I came out. AIDS was already there when I came out and I just realized I've got to play it safe all the way. I've had boyfriends who are now dead and I've never caught it. I don't think it has to do with casual sex so much as it has to do with: Are you drunk, and does that mean you're going to skip the rubber? Be responsible. There's plenty of things to do without putting your mouth in unsafe places.
GM: Does Queer-Core encompass all groups that are gay or just queer punk groups?
CF: I don't consider everything we do as punk, like you won't find anything like "The Ache" on a Ramones album, and "Let Your Hair Grow Out" is a country rock song. We don't try to pigeonhole ourselves, and so Queer-core isn't anything musically, it's more of a Do-It-Yourself approach. We're not going to make it in the mainstream doing this but we're going to do it anyway because we want to see it in the mainstream. Hopefully the more it comes out the more people will grab onto it. Which is what we've seen happen. We started out doing it for our friends and now the whole climate has changed for us and we've gotten visibility. We've been influenced by many other things than punk. We'll probably be exploring new musical avenues as we keep growing.
GM: How is Pansy Division helping the queer community?
CF: There are a lot of kids coming up who aren't getting enough safe sex information in school, and some have said that we're gay role models, so it's important that we give info on how to put on a rubber and what's safe and what's not. We've gotten letters from kids in Oklahoma that say, "I know I'm gay and thank god for you guys because I was thinking about committing suicide." We get a lot of letters like that. And it's helping the gay community because now kids feel like someone's relating to them. They need a group that's positive, and with all the hate-mongering forces out there the most subversive thing you can do is be happy.
Official Pansy Division Page