PAPERhttp://www.8617965.com/PAPERen-usThu, 20 Jun 2019 20:05:20 -0000https://assets.rbl.ms/19068909/210x.pnghttp://www.8617965.com/PAPERKylie Minogue's 30 Years of Pop Perfectionhttp://www.8617965.com/kylie-minogue-step-back-in-time-2638921270.html

The best pop music is a little bit emotionally manipulative, and Kylie Minogue knows it. Her parasitic signature single, 2001's "Can't Get You Out of My Head," is designed to stick permanently after just a single listen. A crush, its lyrics theorize, is much like an earworm — both can drive you absolutely crazy. Pleasure brings pain, or maybe the other way around.

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Kylie's dark side has always been easy enough for casual listeners to ignore, but her angelic features (she's an ex-soap opera star, after all) and whisper sweet vocals belie what fans recognize as a trademark pathos. As her new compilation Step Back In Time reveals, the Australian musician has made a long and successful career of mixing light and shade. During her early years, when she sometimes struggled to define a coherent post-television career, the singer's most memorable songs argued for good girl gone bad status: "Better the Devil You Know," Nick Cave duet "Where the Wild Roses Grow," and the transcendental, eternally underrated trip hop track "Confide In Me."

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Then came the noughties, where she found her niche. Between 2000 and 2003 Kylie released Light Years, Fever, and Body Language — three era-defining albums filled with disco songs about lust and longing in the club, distractingly catchy but often hinging on that sad 2 AM feeling that the dancing will end, the sun will come out, and we'll all have to go home alone. Her songs of this era are relentless, leaving no prisoners: there's the new millennium fantasy of "On a Night Like This," the pure meetcute ecstasy of "Love at First Sight," and the masterful looping composition of "Come Into My World," with its clever Michel Gondry music video. Plus the unapologetic lay-it-all-out-on-the-table sexuality of "Red Blooded Woman" and "Slow." Her 2004 greatest hits record Ultimate Kylie yielded two new classics: "I Believe in You" and "Giving You Up."

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Kylie was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2005, returning to music in 2007 with the Calvin Harris-produced electro-pop album X, then 2010's triumphant hallmark of fan service, Aphrodite. Since then she's released Kiss Me Once, a one-off experiment with Jay-Z's label Roc Nation that led her to work with the likes of MNEK, Sia, and Pharrell, and 2018's Nashville-tinged Golden, which anticipated the whole Yeehaw thing. Even the lead single from that album, "Dancing," offers something of a party girl's lament: "No one wants to stay at home/ Nobody wants to be alone."

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Warm and generous on the phone from London, unusually unpretentious for a mononymous pop star, Kylie can easily summarize the overarching ethos of her career to date. "I would say the consistent theme is a kind of shiny melancholy," the singer says, completely off the cuff, when I ask how she'd survey the selection of tracks on Step Back In Time. "Some songs, like 'The Locomotion,' are about dance, celebration. But 'Lucky,' 'Better the Devil,' 'Hand on Your Heart?' Those songs are pleading."

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This is a greatest hits album, so let's start from the beginning. You started recording with PWL when you were 20 years old. These are the songwriters behind Rick Astley's "Never Gonna Give You Up." Take me back to that time.

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Twenty years old doesn't seem that young nowadays, but I think back then it was more so. A few years into my time with PWL I was a bit frustrated. I wanted to be more involved. I was — yeah. I was tired of sitting in the waiting room until I was cold, and then just doing rhymes and leaving. But I think that worked really well for me initially, considering I didn't get into music the normal way. I fell into it from TV and I mean, it was a dream I had. But to go from working as an actor, especially in a soap where you get your lines, learn your lines, say your lines, move on, I felt the process at PWL was very much like that, so it kind of worked for me until I wanted to know more, and to do more.

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Sure.

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And also, I was really fortunate that I mean, I had like number one, number two, top five, number one. I just thought, "Wow." I mean I knew it was great then, but the further I got into my career, I marveled even more.

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Like, it's that easy. You release your first album, you go number one.

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I mean, yes. I remember listening to the hit radio station in Melbourne and they would have the top eight at eight and it was listener voted, and it was the first time I was potentially hearing my songs on the radio. And I am with my family in the front room, I think I sat on the heater or something, and there was the countdown. The further and further it got to number one, the more dejected we got, thinking, "Aww, I guess it's not there." Then I was in at number one. So then, well, I had to maintain that. You know, speaking of "Never Gonna Give You Up," I turned 50 last year and Rick Astley surprised me by singing at my party with some other people there. You know, talk about going back in time. And it's someone that I didn't — wouldn't have much to do with back then, like the hit factory was called out for really good reasons. People just would churn through.

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Did you have clear-cut ambitions at the time, or were you just riding the wave?

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Probably more of just riding the wave and taking it bit by bit. I would probably call it more daydreams than ambitions. I wasn't hell-bent on doing it. But then, people around me might disagree and say, "No, you do tend to set your mind on something." But I definitely had my dose of luck and opportunity. Maybe luck is making the most of the opportunities, I'm not sure. But I certainly didn't have foresight, thinking, "I'm still going to be here in 30 years time with a canon of work." That wasn't my ambition. I was trying to get to the next step, do something good, and constantly learning. And even though it was successful, there was plenty of fight along the way, plenty of battles that had to be won.


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In 1990 you released Rhythm of Love, and the song "Better the Devil You Know." It was a turning point, thematically.

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I remember that period so well, because I must have had a few little grumbles about wanting to be my own musician. And I remember Pete Waterman saying, "All right kiddo. What kind of song do you want? What are you listening to?" And I said, "I really like 'C'mon and Get My Love' by Cathy Dennis and D Mob." If you listen to that and listen to "Better the Devil," it's very similar. So it definitely marks a change, although I hadn't left PWL, and Nick Cave wrote an amazing piece on his thoughts on "Better the Devil," which you could look up. It was the first one that had a darkness, which I probably didn't realize at the time. I also think about that with "I Should Be So Lucky." We all sing like it's really happy, but it's not. She wishes she was lucky in love.

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There was an awkward phase in your career between 1991 and 1994, when you released Kylie Minogue and Impossible Princess. What were you seeking during that period?

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Perhaps if I'd been at that stage of my life and career at a different point in time, it definitely would have been different. That was the mid '90s, and you can hear that I am being influenced by Bj?rk and Garbage, and indie pop, and people like Tricky. That was where I was trying to fit in. It turns out that wasn't exactly my lane. I think for fans, they love seeing and hearing something different, and it definitely was a learning curve for me, which I am thankful for. It wasn't successful, but strangely moved in its own way. But I think the start of that we got right, which was "Confide in Me"


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That's a great song.

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And signing with Deconstruction Records, which no one would have seen coming. Neither did I, so that was a really interesting period. I mean I would have loved to sing something like Impossible Princess again on tour, but there is increasingly less room to do songs that weren't hits. Basically, we need to do the Anti Tour two.

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Yes. Oh my god, please. Obviously the year 2000, when you released Light Years, changed everything.

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It really did. We've gone through my adolescence and I was ready for pop, the world was the world for pop. Basically the first meeting with Parlophone Records, I signed with them, and we were all just ready. "Spinning Around" wasn't easy to get right. My part recording it was really difficult, but I know my A&R at the time was like a dog and a bone with that song. He just wouldn't let go until it was right. Turns out, it was right. It was just — you know, when all the stars are aligned, and the video works perfectly. And we were off again.


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Were you getting worried about the state of your career?

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I thought my career was, if not over, very much clinging on. I actually bought a place in LA and I thought, "I might just might hang out in America for a while." Then, "Spinning Around." I'd been doing this for forever already. I didn't know that was going to happen, and thankfully it did.


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Light Years also contains the track "Your Disco Needs You," which is a really fun, consciously queer song.

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It was written with Robbie Williams and Guy Chambers, and well, I wasn't there when they were doing all of the recording, but apparently they had this male choir, doing possibly the gayest thing they ever had to do. Robbie and Guy are just an absolute powerhouse force of writing and they don't hold back. They did that whole thing. They were the ones who really captured that song — I wish I came up with the title. "Your Disco Needs You." It's brilliant.

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A fan favorite.

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Some songs, just through force of fan power, you know, they become guardians of that song. The amount of times when I am doing a show and it's not on the set list because again, we just don't have time. They won't let me go without doing it, so we keep punching it out again. I think it lives in its own world. We gave it a bit of a video, but it didn't have the backing of the label. But it lives on, in its own way.


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I always wondered about how insanely quickly you followed up Light Years with Fever then Body Language. What was the timeline like for you? You must have felt unstoppable.

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It was all very noughties. I don't know about unstoppable, but it was all happening. Like I said before, before "Spinning Around," I just didn't know what the future held for me. So, yeah, it was busy. Through that period, I got back into live touring. That's the one thing I will be thankful for Impossible Princess. It made me go on the road in Australia. I had to fight for a measly projector and two dancers! Basically, the set was cardboard and lycra. We had literally nothing, but it just kind of got me on stage and connecting with the audience and doing small gigs. That led to 2001, the tour which was for my Light Years album. Then we went stratospheric with Fever and did the Fever tour, and really nailed that. Then Body Language, so right, it was busy.

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Are you a big partier? Because these are party songs.

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I mean, I used to be. I definitely think that your early twenties is where you're supposed to be doing all of that. I happened to be in London, which was incredible. You didn't club once a month, you went once or twice a week. You were mingling. You had to be there, it's not like you could live through social media and pretend you were there. You had to be there and experience it and go where the lights were. To paraphrase Prince, you were either going home or going to someone's house. They were heady and wonderful days. Now, it's more like I'll have a sensible wine or something. But, yeah, I can have the occasional big night. Just definitely not like the old days. But I do understand how music can make you stay up.


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How did cancer disturb the timeline — what would have been different?

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For a start, I would have headlined Glastonbury.

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Which you're finally going to do this year.

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Yeah, I'm doing the legends slot at Glastonbury this year, so it's the daytime one that should be a massive sing-along. It's such an honor to have that and it's going to be emotional, to say the least. So, I don't know how to answer that question because I just don't know how to answer that question. Everything was on hold, but I stayed determined to get back on stage and finish the sold-out tour. It's really good to have that goal. You do hear those classic stories about people becoming ill or on the verge of illness and having to reassess their life and what's really important. I wasn't that classic story, where a stressed out business person goes, "I don't want this life." I was like, "No, I want it. This is what I do and this is what I'm driven to do." Here I am still doing it, so I'm most grateful.


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I told a few Kylie fans that I was doing this interview, and they wanted me to ask about your birth chart.

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I love astrology. I love it. So, I'm a Gemini — Geminis love to be busy, love conversation and people. Probably the hardest thing of my entire career is doing interviews because you're meant to give an answer, and Geminis love to be on the fence. We are fairly noncommittal. Oh gosh, I think I'm going to get this confused now. I think my moon might be in Gemini and my rising could be Cancer. I might have those second two confused. I'm sure they could look it up. 28th of May. There is a great site, called "Mystic Medusa." She's Australian. She's amazing.


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There aren't any tracks from Kiss Me Once on this complication.

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No there are not.

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Why?

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Well, there was only one hit from that, which was "Into the Blue," and I feel in general with that album, it was a lot of experimentation. It was a bit of a tricky time. I was between America and here, having different A&R. I don't want to bag it. Lovely, beautiful Sia, who was executive producing for me. I just think that at some point the stars are aligned and everything is on your side, and they had their own pattern on that album, let's say. But everything comes from something and leads to somewhere else. When we get to reboot this potentially for tour, I think we will have justice for "Into the Blue." I love how there have been so many hashtags from fans. So we do have to give justice to them all. Justice for "Chocolate" is on the radar.


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"Chocolate" is very underrated.

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I know! We needed three CDs for the greatest hits.

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In 2018 you released Golden. Country music is having a huge moment right now — you were one of the first pop artists to get on that resurgence.

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That was thanks to my A&R, who incidentally was the same A&R who did "Spinning Around." In the initial part of recording for Golden, we didn't really have a direction. It was going in with some of my old favorites and new people and just seeing what would happen and what the collision brings out creatively. We kept trying to get a country element but we couldn't quite get it until I went to Nashville, and then it all made sense. That place must have particular lay lines or something. There's a spirit there, and it would have been totally disingenuous to suddenly be country, but definitely taking the inspiration from the songwriting point of view and putting stories into the songs. It was good at that point in my life to explore that. I don't think that will leave me, moving forward. Although God, if another "Can't Get You Out of My Head" came my way, I would take it, thank you very much. I would write it, or I would take it.

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You recently won a trademarking case against Kylie Jenner. How does it feel to be the dominant Kylie?

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Aww. Well. It's hilarious that it caused such a kerfuffle. I think she has done amazingly well, but I think it's just important that people know that there is room for more than one Kylie. I mean, I've been doing it for a long time. Now, people know the distinction, and it's all settled down. It's great. Actually, when I was young there was no one called Kylie, so to explain I would have to spell it out, especially in America. Thanks to Kylie Jenner, they do know the name Kylie. So, winning.

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Photography: Christian Vermaak

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Thu, 20 Jun 2019 19:54:50 +0000http://www.8617965.com/kylie-minogue-step-back-in-time-2638921270.htmlMusicPopStep back in timeGreatest hits2000sCan't get you out of my headBody languageFeverLight yearsAphroditeKiss me onceXKylie minogueKatherine Gillespie
What Will It Take to Stop the Killings of Black Trans Women?http://www.8617965.com/justice-for-layleen-2638773422.html

On June 10, more than 600 friends, family members, and allies gathered in Manhattan to support Layleen Cubilette-Polanco, a 27-year-old Afro-Latinx trans woman who was found dead in her cell on June 7 at New York's Rikers Island prison.

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Several people spoke at the Foley Square gathering, including Pose star Indya Moore, who said that Layleen's death brings to light the systemic issues incarcerated trans women often face. The events surrounding Layleen's death yielded its own hashtag: #JusticeForLayleen.

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A story like this, or anything concerning trans women's mortality, is also all too common now. News reports aiming to spread awareness around the tragic phenomenon of anti-trans violence — specifically against Black trans women — sometimes miss the mark, too. Anti-trans media errors frequently reveal a lack of knowledge on the very lives reporters and editors are chronicling. Practices include deadnaming, misgendering, misspelling the names of the deceased, and misquoting those closest to them.

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Reports surrounding the events of Layleen's death vary. Some speculate she died of natural causes from a pre-existing health condition. Others feel foul play or abuse occurred while incarcerated. According to New York's Anti-Violence Project (AVP), Layleen died on Rikers Island while being detained on $500 bail for a misdemeanor charge. She was reportedly being held due to a few missed court dates "as part of the services she was mandated to in an alternative to incarceration program."

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AVP reports that Layleen was being punished with solitary confinement even though "officials at Rikers knew she had a serious medical condition that caused life-threatening seizures," according to a press statement. Per the Associated Press, Layleen's family's attorney said last week that Layleen had a "seizure disorder and other health problems and had been hospitalized weeks before," amid calls to investigate the matter. Still, the city's Department of Correction insists that Layleen's cause of death was not the result of violence, despite it not being officially determined yet.

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"This is a tragic loss and we extend our deepest condolences to her family," Correction Commissioner Cynthia Brann said earlier this month, according to the New York Daily News. "We are conducting a full investigation as the safety and well-being of people in our custody is our top priority."

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Only last year, Mayor of New York Bill de Blasio announced that trans inmates would now be housed in accordance with their gender identity. The new policy came shortly after the Board of Correction criticized the Department of Correction for lacking a consistent system to manage inmates seeking to be held in specialized transgender housing. Activists and trans advocacy organizations applied pressure to ensure that policy went into effect sooner than later, but it was initially supposed to begin starting January 2020.

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Some, including AVP's Director of Communications Eliel Cruz, believe these sorts of measures don't necessarily lead to dramatic change of prison culture, nor do they eradicate mistreatment of incarcerated LGBTQ people. "From Rikers, while it had been that trans women were once being housed in the men's unit, and now aren't, it doesn't negate the countless stories of LGBTQ people facing both physical and sexual violence within Rikers and within the prison system as a whole," Cruz said.

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Layleen's family, community, and activists are now seeking justice for their loved one because it appears, at present, there are few solid answers. Unanswered questions aside, Layleen's circumstance further highlights a recent string of deaths of trans women of color, "whether the result of racist and transphobic hate violence, violence from a partner or date, or from neglect and abuse in ICE detention," AVP reports. So far this year, 12 deaths have been reported, including Layleen's.

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That number is on a tragic, steadily rising trend of hate-based anti-trans violence, including intimate partner violence and murder. A 2017 "crisis of hate" report conducted by the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs found 27 cases of hate violence-related murders of trans and gender nonconforming people, compared to 19 in 2016. Of those 27 cases, 22 of those murders were of trans women of color.

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The 12 women killed this year are not just numbers, though. Say their names: Dana Martin, Ashanti Carmon, Muhlaysia Booker, Claire Legato, Michelle Washington, Jazzaline Ware, Chynal Lindsay, Paris Cameron, Chanel Scurlock, Johana Medina, Layleen Polanco, and Zoe Spears.

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The deaths of these women have an undeniably traumatic impact on their loved ones, who remember and honor them not as statistics, but as sisters, mothers, friends, lovers. PAPER spoke with people who knew and loved Layleen, and are pursuing justice for her and all trans women caught in the cycle of systemic violence: Indya Moore, Mother Gisele Xtravaganza from the House of Xtravaganza (of which Layleen was a member of), and her older sister Melania Brown, who shared a letter she wrote to Layleen.


Indya Moore


PAPER: What was your relationship with Layleen? Why is she important to you?

Indya Moore: I didn't have a close relationship with Layleen, but she was someone in my community who I admired when I was a young teen looking for inspiration and motivation. My friends knew her and would tell me stories all the time about how funny she was. I met her in passing only one time. She was so sweet and magnetic. I hoped to be beautiful like her one day. She's important to me because she is a Black trans woman. I love my community very much and fight for our safety regardless how well we know each other personally — or what our relationship is like.

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PAPER: What do you wish people knew about her and also this situation?

Indya Moore: Layleen's death reveals an intersection of issues revolving around the system of incarceration. Layleen's bail was $500. She was jailed three months for a misdemeanor offense. Cash bail punishes financially disadvantaged people, who are often POC and mostly trans. The difference between Layleen sitting in solitary confinement in jail before seeing a judge and someone who isn't in jail before they see the judge is money. That is horrible and arouses the distrust and anger people have in this system. Solitary confinement is a form of imprisonment used to punish people by isolating them and keeping them from having minimal to no contact with other inmates. Solitary confinement is also used at times to "protect" the most vulnerable of inmates, such as trans people. Solitary confinement is a form of punishment and cannot possibly be used to protect humans especially when we are trans. Layleen wasn't protected in solitary confinement. She was neglected in solitary confinement.

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Neglect is a form of murder when someone is in the custody of the state, and to add insult, her death was recorded as an "early release." She was then released to her family dead, leaving her loved ones traumatized and left alone to deal with having to plan and pay out-of-pocket for a funeral and other expenses revolving around Layleen's death.

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"Solitary confinement is a form of punishment and cannot possibly be used to protect humans especially when we are trans."

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PAPER: What do you think it will take to reform the way Rikers and other state-sanctioned institutions handle the lives of trans women?

Indya Moore: I think trans people should not be at the mercy of Rikers and other state-sanctioned institutions that harm trans people. Our lives should never be left to their responsibility. People are actively sexually assaulted, beaten, and killed in jail and these issues are exacerbated for trans people. Incarceration doesn't help people, it hurts people. It negatively affects people's mental health and disenfranchises people from employment and reentering society, and that often causes people to go right back because incarceration rarely offers transformative pathways to rehabilitation.

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Lawmakers do very little to adjust or challenge the system accordingly when it harms people, and it's upsetting that it takes so much anger and disruption from the public for lawmakers to even consider law and policy change. This is disheartening, dismissive, and disrespectful.

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PAPER: How can we continue to invest in a system that operates on this contradiction?

Indya Moore: This system that systematically murders, punishes, and invalidates trans women and people is not equipped to keep us safe. We need to develop new pathways for safety and we need to do it now. I send my thoughts, prayers, and condolences to Layleen's family.


Gisele Xtravaganza


PAPER: Who was Layleen to you and what was her relationship to the House of Xtravaganza?

Gisele Xtravaganza: Layleen was in the House of Xtravaganza for a very long time. Our relationship was very, very beautiful and serene. I just never felt any bad vibes from Layleen. It was just always love and we were really close. She meant a lot to this house, and still does. She's participated and has been a member for over 10 years. Me, Jose [Xtravaganza] and the whole house, we have a deep connection because every time we bring anyone in we build a closeness with them. Regardless of what happens in the future, for us to bring somebody in we must feel that close connection and a loving vibe all around. That is what she had. She was loving, kind, sweet, gentle, never got into any problems. It was a shock when she died.

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PAPER: Have you been in touch with her sister Melania and their family?

Gisele Xtravaganza: I was in touch with Melania at the funeral when I went and we spoke for a bit. It was sad, but I did get in contact with her and her family. At the service, a lot of people were really emotional through the whole process. It was just really sad, but everybody was there supporting Layleen and Melania. A lot of family was there. I loved seeing so many people there to support them.

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"We should protect the rights of people that are incarcerated and that means that the police department needs to protect people in those places"

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PAPER: We are now looking at a list of 12 names, and likely more, of trans women who died this year as a result of hate-based violence or as a result of state violence. What are your thoughts about this, considering your relationship with Layleen?

Gisele Xtravaganza: They can start to actually prosecute the murderer and incarcerate the murderer. And take the case seriously and make sure they get the maximum punishment for these hate crimes. Change starts with the judicial system, otherwise the violence will never end. The police officers need to be trained to stop treating people like shit and start treating people a little bit more humanely even when they are incarcerated. Because, as we know, there have been people who were innocent that have been incarcerated. We should protect the rights of people that are incarcerated and that means that the police department needs to protect people in those places. We are in 2019 and the people in power are the ones that need to start this trend. They have to go after all of these people, they need to make sure that this doesn't happen. Teaching people about accepting other people, that's what they can do. Honestly, I don't think that it is ever going to end because we have a lot of people who have hate toward trans people because of religious reasons. We have people who hate trans people because of society. We have people who hate trans people because it's just in fashion. All of these things need to happen in order for this to stop. It is not a little thing, it is a huge thing that's out of control.

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PAPER: What was she like as a performer and a member of the community?

Gisele Xtravaganza: When she used to perform, she used to be really, really cute. She used to walk Realness. She used to walk up to the table and be quiet, cute and shy giving that realness vibe. She would come up with a cute little outfit, and she would still come up to them really cute and humble. She would never be like one of the other girls. The other girls were really catty. She was an all-around sweetheart. She was a cute performer, she was a realness girl. I always felt like I had to nurture her, always give her love when I saw her. I really had a special liking and love for her because of the way that she was. And though she was sweet, she would not take shit from nobody. She was a tough girl, too.

Melania Brown


Dear Sister,

I want to start by telling you that I love you so much, I want to thank you for loving me unconditionally and being such a great auntie to my girls. Your heart of gold is irreplaceable, you helped anything that came near you heal. You were a natural born healer. To know you is to love you, anything that came in contact with you fell in love with you. I still can't grasp the fact that you are no longer with me, I'm angry, very emotional and feel myself slipping into a deep depression than I hear your voice telling me you are still here with me and I question myself if I'm now going crazy or if that's really you I hear. I talk to you every night since the day you left us and ask you to please come talk to me, to please hug me and let me know you're ok. I want to know what they did to you?, Were you in pain?, Did they make you suffer? And to please let me know exactly who's responsible for your death. I was the luckiest girl to have a beautiful person such as yourself as my sister. You were brave, you were loved, you were unique and perfect in my eyes even when you got on my last nerve but that's what sisters are for. I watched you grow up and have the courage to be exactly who you wanted to be, who you were destined to be. I witnessed every step you can name just to watch you develop into my beautiful sister. Not once did I judge not once did I look at you differently I accepted every single step in the process because true love has no boundaries, true love is in the heart not in the physical appearance and true love is judgement free. I can't wait to hug you, kiss you like crazy, cuddle with you and continue to tell you my deepest secrets. You were my secret bank and you kept your promise of taking it all with you one day. You always looked up to me not knowing I secretly looked up to you, I wanted to be brave like you, I wanted to learn to let things go like you instead of seeking revenge and I definitely wanted a heart like yours. The only thing we have in common is our bubbly personality and making it known when we walk in a room but other than that you were much more than me. You were supposed to learn from me and I actually learned from you, I learned to be a better person amongst other things. You protected me like you were my big sister making it known to whoever I brought around not to mess with me cause you would do the unimaginable for me. My only job was to protect you and I feel I fail you, I keep beating myself up saying to myself I could've done way more! I'm so mad I didn't even know you were arrested until after when I couldn't safe you, if I would've known I definitely would of made sure you didn't stay in Rikers "THE HUMAN SLAUGHTER HOUSE" the only place in the world where you can rape, kill, abuse and neglect humans and it's perfectly ok but you never wanted us to worry so you kept all your hard battles to yourself. Don't worry baby girl what they didn't know is that I'm nothing like you they took the good one and left the bad and I will get justice for you ONE WAY OR ANOTHER they can't run, they can't hide and they can't beg for mercy because I'm not god. I won't rest until I get justice and they pay for what they did to you I promise. I'll never forget you, I'll always love you and cherish the whole 27 years god gave me with you the good and the bad. Until the day we meet again, I love you princess

Sincerely,

Your big sis


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Photos courtesy of Melania Brown

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Thu, 20 Jun 2019 18:41:19 +0000http://www.8617965.com/justice-for-layleen-2638773422.htmlHouse of xtravaganzaGisele xtravaganzaIndya mooreMelania brownViolence against trans womenTrans womenRikers islandBlack trans womenAnti violence projectNew yorkNew york cityLgbtqLgbtLayleen polancoMichael Love Michael
Lil Nas X Accidentally Samples Nirvana on 'Panini'http://www.8617965.com/lil-nas-x-panini-nirvana-2638932979.html

Lil Nas X, an incredible Twitter presence and also the mastermind behind TikTok's biggest ever crossover hit, "Old Town Road," has finally released his follow up song. "Panini" is the first single from his EP 7, out tomorrow.

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Related | How Yeehaw Took Over the Internet

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Here's the thing about "Panini:" it samples "In Bloom" from Nirvana's breakthrough album Nevermind. Which is on theme for the rapper, actually, given "Old Town Road" channeled Nine Inch Nails. Except... it turns out the decision to go grunge wasn't a conscious one at first.


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"One of the craziest things about 'Panini,' is it introduced me to Nirvana's album Nevermind," Lil Nas X explained on Beats 1. "It's like I always seen the cover but I never actually listened to it. And people was like, 'Wow, he sampled Nirvana.' I was like, no. It's like, I didn't realize I was using almost the exact same melody." Yes. Lil Nas X just claimed to be the next Kurt Cobain. And honestly, yeah? He's definitely a generational icon already.

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Related | Lil Nas X Inspires a New Reckoning in Country Music

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If you're worried about what the Cobain estate thinks of all this, never fear. He went the legit route, and according to Twitter received express permission from Cobain's daughter Frances Bean to use the sample.


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Listen to "Panini" by Lil Nas X, below. Yum!


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Photo via Instagram

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Thu, 20 Jun 2019 18:20:54 +0000http://www.8617965.com/lil-nas-x-panini-nirvana-2638932979.htmlOld town roadTik tokBilly ray cyrusNirvanaNine inch nailsSamplingMusicHip hopYeehawMemesFrances bean cobainCourtney lovePanini7Lil nas xKatherine Gillespie
Jarina De Marco Is Taking a Stand Against Colorismhttp://www.8617965.com/jarina-de-marco-identity-crisis-colorism-2638931640.html

Musician Jarina De Marco, reigning queen of empowering bops, ignites a conversation about global colorism for her new single and video to "Identity Crisis," which premieres today on PAPER.

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The song, produced by Nick Sylvester of Godmode, is an exercise of De Marco's penchant for infusing social messages into her colorful melodies and witty lyrics. The lyric "you came out looking like a blanquito/a" is a nod to De Marco's own experience navigating a pervasive "white is right" mentality that was rampant in her home country, the Dominican Republic, and recognizes how such a mentality affects people of color worldwide. De Marco says the song was born as a way to check exactly what colorism is and "how it has gone on unchecked in many parts of the world." The song will be on De Marco's upcoming debut EP, Malcriada.

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Related | Jarina De Marco Will Not Hide Her 'Face'

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In her own experience, De Marco says that as a light-skinned Dominican, she intersected with class and race, and found herself in a position of privilege. "Doors were open to me that others could not walk through," she says. "Later on, speaking to other people of color from across the globe, I found common themes that all trace back to colorism. Hair, skin shades, Greco-Roman beauty standards are all used to exclude or elevate individuals in mostly post-colonial societies."

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The deceptively upbeat and bright video, directed by Latinx directors Myrna Perez and Veronica Leon and art directed by De Marco, brings these ideas to life in an accessible and often literal way. It pays homage to the photography of De Marco's longtime collaborator and friend Elise Mesner by recreating her plant in rollers and fruit play compositions.

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Playing this out are people lining up in order to get their natural hair textures flat-ironed on an ironing board. In another scene, De Marco stands surrounded my mirrors pointed at her but held up by others, as if to suggest that how people see themselves are nearly always influenced by how others view them. Flower petals have white paint thrown on them, as if to say that what was already natural is, in some way, tarnished by the prevalence of white supremacy.

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To fit into that "white is right" modality, practices such as skin bleaching exist in places like the Americas, Africa and Asia. For De Marco, this is "one of the most alarming symptoms" of colorism.

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"The message of 'Identity Crisis' is of great importance to me, De Marco says. "Its intention is to start a dialogue with each other and help usher in a world where we can achieve a higher understanding of self acceptance and ultimately self love."

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To help unpack and create safe space for this dialogue, De Marco is also premiering a video she produced called "Conversations on Colorism," directed and edited by Iranian-Brazilian filmmaker, multimedia artist, and feminist activist Leila Jarman. The video features discussions with trans activist Ashlee Marie Preston and BuzzFeed's Gadiel Del Orbe.

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"As a woman of color with a multicultural background, this mini-doc we created together was really important to me," Jarman says. "It's crucial that we start talking about the toxic and global issue of colorism as it exists in practically every culture. In order to dismantle these deep rooted and problematic issues based on white, colonial and patriarchal systems, we have to start talking about them and confronting them and asking why we still perpetuate them. That's what's amazing about Jarina. She understands her power as an artist and influencer and uses that power to shed light on these kinds of insidious and toxic aspects of society." Watch, below.

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Photography: Myrna Perez & Veronica Leon

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Thu, 20 Jun 2019 18:14:34 +0000http://www.8617965.com/jarina-de-marco-identity-crisis-colorism-2638931640.htmlIdentity crisisColorismMusicMusic videoMusic video premiereJarina de marcoMichael Love Michael
Rihanna Shot Her Own Fenty Campaignhttp://www.8617965.com/rihanna-shot-her-own-fenty-campaign-2638931231.html

As part of her ongoing quest to make me feel bad about myself, Rihanna has casually added yet another impressive skill to her resume: photography. The musician, fashion designer, and beauty mogul shot the campaign imagery for her second Fenty drop, which went live yesterday.

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It makes sense that the head of LVMH's first new label in 40 years would want to assert creative control, and Fenty Release 6-19 definitely strikes a personal note — the beachy sunset color stories pay tribute to Rih's native Barbados. Items in the collection are "intended for escape," designed for "ease of travel and rendered in light textiles with bright hues and eye catching prints." Very Guava Island.

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Related | Stan Stories: Meet the Commander of Rihanna's Navy


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You can see Rihanna the photographer at work in a video montage uploaded to Instagram by Fenty. She confidently directs the models, and appears chill easy to work with! Unlike some other creative behind-the-camera types you come across in the fashion world.

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Related | Rihanna Is Actually Really Shy

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Is there anything she can't do? Literally no. It's so much fun to watch her flex like this that we can almost forgive the lack of new music.

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Photo via Getty

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Thu, 20 Jun 2019 16:13:56 +0000http://www.8617965.com/rihanna-shot-her-own-fenty-campaign-2638931231.htmlFentyBadgalririFashionLvmhBarbadosGuava islandInstagramPhotographyBehind the scenesMusicRihannaKatherine Gillespie
TOOPOOR Laments the Digital Agehttp://www.8617965.com/toopoor-lamented-music-video-2638922507.html

Talking with TOOPOOR is perhaps one of the most unexpectedly exciting conversations you could have. The social media star-turned-dark pop artist is quirky in an unashamed sense of the word; she offers up new details to each question presented, shifting a narrative completely at times. It's almost as if she takes pride in telling stories that change public perception of her and her artistry, taking the "TOOPOOR" brand to a level that's indiscernible.

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Her style is the only indication of any consistent theming that might carry over into a conversation. Black corsets, lacy tops, and avant-garde silhouettes echo a post-gothic, post-millennial mentality and vision. The aesthetic secures her a space firmly between a mall Spencer's and a dimly lit independent shop in your local town that sells a mysterious array of dark trinkets and incense. None of her photos come across as trite or disingenuous, though, making her music all the more intriguing.

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Related | In Conversation: TOOPOOR and Maggie Lindemann

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TOOPOOR's first single, "Crazy Girls," was a ripping pop-rock anthem, dipped generously in a dizzying distortion filter and lined perfectly with a trap drum kit. Her newest single, "Lamented," fills a different space in her slowly expanding discography. Fans have been asking for a new single for months, and it's finally here — but it might not be what they would expect to follow a wild track like "Crazy Girls."


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"Lamented" might actually be the musical antithesis to "Crazy Girls." The new track is a slowed down pop whisper-ballad. Guitar strings are plucked at gently, and only near the song's end does this gentleness halt. A trap drum kit, similar to the one used in "Crazy Girls," comes in softly for a final chorus before exiting just as swiftly. The stark differences between the tracks might be because of the overall message behind "Lamented," which is one of fear of losing a loved one and fear of moving to slow to love.

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The video for the single, directed by Gilbert Trejo and featuring TOOPOOR's boyfriend, Killstation, is a gaunt peak into a ghostly world of graveyard dealings and body draggings. She plays a mourning woman in one scene and a corpse in the next, with shots of her bloodied face lip syncing the hopeless lyrics straight into the camera.

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PAPER sat down with TOOPOOR to talk about her evolution as a musician, the new single and the process behind its production, and changing approach to social media and cancel culture.

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How are you?

Good, how are you?

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Doing well. I'm really excited about the new single. I had such a great time writing up your "In Conversation" with Maggie Lindemann. I thought it came out really good.

Yeah, I loved that. I think that brought Maggie and I closer together, so thank you.

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Oh really? No problem. I listened to "Lamented," and I loved it.

Thank you, thank you.

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What was the concept behind the track? Can you talk to me about what you were going through to write something like "Lamented"?

A new relationship, honestly. When my boyfriend and I started dating, this was the first track we ever worked on together, and we stayed in the studio for like 48-72 hours and we finished this track in one day. I mean obviously we did some producing later on, but for the most part it was finished in 72 hours and we didn't sleep.

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Do you like doing it all in one shot, or are you someone who likes to sit with songs and see what comes of them?

I need to sit on it, he was just all-in-one-shot, and then go back to it later. I like to take my time.

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I can imagine being in the studio that long that at a certain point you're like, "You know what? It's good!"

Yeah, I was. I took naps, I won't lie.

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I would too, I don't blame you. The track is definitely more downtempo than "Crazy Girls." It has that trap drum pattern, though, like in "Crazy Girls." How was going about this song different than your first single?

I feel like "Crazy Girls" was a great introductory song for me personally, but I feel like it's not my best work. I feel like it was the best song to introduce me as a female artist to the world because I had never put anything out before. I feel like "Lamented" is just executed and sounds like everything I wanted it to sound like. It was more of the vibe that I was trying to go for originally.

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It has that ghost-y, haunting sound. "Crazy Girls" is really in-your-face.

I think it's more of a lullaby, or more melodic.

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It's a melancholy lullaby. Was the mood in the studio any different? You didn't make "Crazy Girls" all in one day, did you?

No, that one was like eight months. I would record a line or two and then go back to it. The writing process for that took a little time because I could never figure it out. I had originally recorded the hook, so I could not figure out the verses. I was like, "Said he likes crazy girls/ But he hates when I act crazy," what a fucking thing to say! I couldn't really say anything else, I thought that was enough. I thought that was already too crazy. With this song, my boyfriend and I wrote it together. It was more so him tapping into my brain. He thinks that we had telekinesis. I don't even think he was my boyfriend at the time, we were just in the studio and he said that he put his head to my head and he saw the lyrics. I don't know what the fuck happened. Something weird happened with this song.

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It's haunting. It's almost spiritual. Do you feel connected to that world at all?

Yes, definitely. Maybe that's what happened. Maybe there was some weird spiritual thing, some unspoken stuff that could obviously prompt that to happen. There's some unspoken stuff, but I don't want to get into it.

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That's totally fine. Some of the best art comes from those moments you can't explain, it comes from feeling. "Lamented" is going to be your second single, and it's definitely a departure from your DJing. What made you want to move from the DJing into the music-making?

I've always loved DJing, but at a certain point I wasn't producing and I wasn't making my own tracks. I was constantly playing other artists' music. I didn't get into producing, so that wasn't really an option for me. I couldn't really see myself producing, but I could see myself making music. So, if I wanted my own track, I would have to sing my own track. I just wanted to give something more tangible and more branded and more me. I could put out mixes all day, but it's none of my music, you know?

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Did you always have a passion for singing?

It definitely came about. It was an unknown thing that was happening.

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You're in LA, do you find yourself surrounded by a lot of people who kind of try out music but pass on it because they're like, "It's not for me?"

I feel like it's the opposite. I feel like I'm surrounded by a lot of people who have been trying to do music for a really long time, but they haven't built their brand so the music isn't necessarily going anywhere for them. I feel like I've spent a really long time building this "TOOPOOR" brand. I'm on the opposite side of the spectrum, because now I have this platform and now I'm making music. It gets tricky.

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It's definitely a great way to go about it because you have that built-in audience. If they ride with you, they're going to ride with the music, or they're going to call you out if you don't like it, but they like it.

It was the same thing with DJing. I had a following and became a DJ. I remember a lot of DJs would get mad at me because I was headlining events and getting paid the most money. A lot of people were like, "I'm a real DJ. I DJ festivals, who the fuck is this girl coming in being a DJ?" I started to be at every party in LA, and people were getting mad and complaining to the host. Then, it would get back to me and I'd feel bad, but I'd be like, "Well, I built my brand."

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You can't help that.

I can't help it. I didn't know that was what was going on. I was like, "Wow, cool. Headlining. Awesome."

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The brand kind of built naturally for you, right?

I've never bought followers or likes, I don't believe in that. I don't believe in paid promotions, I've never been paid to post anything. Everything is very organic.

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Right before this interview, my editor, Justin Moran, told me he had just been looking back at an old interview he had done with you in 2016 and you had 55,000 followers. You've really built that since then.

It's crazy because back then I thought 55,000 was a lot.

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We were saying that too!

I thought I was peaking, but it's just growing. It's like a game. When you hit 50, you're like, "I want 55." Then you're like, "I want 60." You get 60, then you're like, "I want 100." My friends would ask, "Would you be satisfied at 100?" I was like, "Yeah." Then I got to 100 and I was like, "I need a million."

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It's all about more in the social age.

Weird. It's not that I necessarily want it, but it's a goal to work for, to build. It's like my child, I grow it. I plant my seeds, I water it. I take good care of her.

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The last time we talked, you expressed to me that the comments can feel suffocating. Has that changed at all for you since we last talked?

No, it's actually gotten worse.

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Really? I'm sorry.

It's okay, it goes in waves. I can handle it for a month, then all of a sudden I feel like everyone is saying something negative. Maybe it's one specific person that was once my friend, or maybe it's a thousand 12b year olds that are saying nasty things. I don't know. Something eventually gets to me. It comes with the territory. I just think it's fucked up that a lot of people are like, "Oh, get used to it. This is what comes with it, the more you grow the more hate you're going to have." But like, that's not something anybody should get used to. There just shouldn't be hate at all, you know what I mean? I can understand an opinion if you don't like something, but I think sending actual hate is not necessary. That's something I don't think anyone should get used to.

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When I see comments like that, it's always someone on a Finsta or a private profile. They're kind of doing all that because they're bored and they don't even want to get called out for it.

Sometimes if I respond or I do call them out, they instantly respond and they're like, "I'm so sorry, I didn't mean it. I love you." They get scared. So I'm like, "Why'd you say it in the first place." Some people would say, "Oh my god, I just did it to get your attention and it worked." Then, I feel bad because I just gave this person attention like I'm praising them or reacting to hate when there's so much positivity I can be reacting to. It's almost like you get used to love and the hate is what gets you.

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The internet is real, but it's fake. We balance that line. In real life, are the people you surround yourself with also very prevalent on the internet?

I'm a little more public than they are, so they tone me back. Honestly, I've lived in LA for like, nine years. I feel like I've met everyone I needed to meet and it's never worked out. I don't believe in finding friendship here. I think it's really difficult with followers and knowing who to trust. It's weird, how things work now, because everyone is so quick to cancel someone. The "cancel" thing is so corny. If you would get in a fight with your friend, she could just turn around and post about it on social media and try to cancel you. You have to be very careful of what you tell people, what they know. They're scary. It's like a new world of blackmail.

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It totally is, all it takes is one video. I saw James Charles' video and last time I saw he had lost three million followers.

That's the craziest thing. He's broken a record, good for him. I think he broke a record during his cancellation, that's crazy. I think he can come back from it. I obviously indulged in it, I watched the videos and stuff. I know nothing about that world, I'm not into the beauty community. I don't follow those people, but it's on my timeline. I see it everywhere. I looked into it, and it's just like, "What are you guys fighting about? What is going on?" How did it become bigger than the Kardashians? That's crazy.

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Photography: Brian Ziff
Makeup: Caitlin Krenz (Opus Beauty)
Hair: Darren Hau (Opus Beauty)
Stylist: Britton Litow
Studio: Apex Photo Studios



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Thu, 20 Jun 2019 15:48:16 +0000http://www.8617965.com/toopoor-lamented-music-video-2638922507.htmlToopoorInternetCrazy girlsLamentedJames charlesStory Brendan Wetmore / Photography Brian Ziff
Kiesza Makes a 'Sweet' Comebackhttp://www.8617965.com/kiesza-sweet-love-comeback-2638930021.html

If you lived through summer 2014, there's a good chance you remember the punching, house-fueled "Oh, ah" chorus of Kiesza's "Hideaway." Everything about the track — from the bass-level synths to Kiesza's booming, larger-than-life vocal presence — is so memorable that dancing along to it at the club feels innate almost five years later. Now, half a decade after the release of her critically acclaimed album, Sound Of A Woman, Kiesza is back with new music for the world to fall in "Sweet Love" with.

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Her new single, "Sweet Love," is a blurring of genres unlike her other dance-pop anthems. While "Hideaway" existed primarily in the EDM-influenced radio world that gained immense traction during the mid-2010s, "Sweet Love" takes on an entirely new ballad-like identity. Pop fuses into opera and then straight into singer/songwriter, Broadway style lyricism and keys. Of the new style, Kiesza notes, "I got big for 'Hideaway,' but before 'Hideaway' I was a songwriter. I really thought that was my career, I would just be an industry songwriter because I'm really good at crossing genres."

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Related | Katy Perry: Outside the Box

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Kiesza's songwriting abilities are more than evident on the new track. "Baby if it's hopeless/ Might as well be reckless/ Scratch it off your checklist," she echoes in the second verse, writhing through her words and seeming to stumble upon picture-perfect pop phrasing. It takes entire songwriting teams to string words like these together sometimes, so it's certainly impressive with her small, newly independent team of creatives that she's been able to craft such a melody. "When I started songwriting, I ended up writing a song every day. It came as a flood. I just experimented writing all different kinds of music, and then I went to school — music school — and really went thinking I'd be a songwriter," she says. "Sweet Love" is obviously grand in production upon first listen, but the lyrics shine on their own.


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Besides the lyrical content of the new track, Kiesza also recalls building her first album around "Hideaway," and anchoring all of the future tracks in its bumping success. If "Hideaway" was the anchor of Sound Of A Woman, then "Sweet Love" is certainly a more than solid foundation for her new era after leaving her label. "I really want to start taking people on a journey with my songwriting," she says. "I actually wrote 'Sweet Love' with a baritone opera singer."

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Kiesza addresses her break from music, says she was involved in a car accident a couple years back and has been working on recovering since. "I was in a car crash and that took me off two years in my music career. I got a traumatic brain injury," she says. "I'm a lot better, I'm still healing. It takes a lot of time, it takes years. I've honestly gained so much as a person, though, by being forced to step back."

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"I was in a car crash and that took me off two years in my music career. I got a traumatic brain injury."

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"I've been on a journey. I've been on quite a journey," Kiesza sighs. That journey is reflected in everything that "Sweet Love" ends up being: moving, slow, powerful, and most of all, personal. She still experiments with movement heavily in the music video, once again showing her ability to translate dance into her words, and back again, just as she did in the viral video for "Hideaway." It's more evident now than ever how purposeful Kiesza is being with her artistry, taking the craft much more seriously, but at the same time delighting in the process. However personal the new single is, though, she still wants to let her fans have an open-ended look into her world. "I have a gift, I have something to give. I want my music to be able to be interpreted individually to each person," she tells me about her new songs.

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Following "Sweet Love," more new music is surely on its way from the newly independent Kiesza, but so are a few unexpected surprises. "I'm writing a musical, actually," she tells me. "This is a project that's been ongoing for the past year and a half." When I ask her for more details, she replies excitedly, "Not yet! It's a secret, but you'll be the first to know. We have the first draft of the script done and we're finishing. I think we have five more songs to finish and then we'll do the second draft and it'll start going into production."


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Photo courtesy of Rasmus Luckmann


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Thu, 20 Jun 2019 15:14:44 +0000http://www.8617965.com/kiesza-sweet-love-comeback-2638930021.htmlKieszaHideawaySweet loveMusicSound of a womanBrendan Wetmore
Rubber Queen Mistress Ariana Chevalier on the State of Domme-inghttp://www.8617965.com/queen-mistress-ariana-chevalier-2638918346.html

A long-time veteran of NYC's domme scene, Mistress Ariana Chevalier has been a fixture of the fetish scene since way before domme-ing had become a pop cultural fascination. From helming the city's biggest, woman-run dungeon to being on the frontlines of Bloomberg's infamous brothel crackdown — which shut down dungeons on the basis of New York's antiquated sodomy law — Chevalier has seen it all.

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A rubber specialist, Chevalier has traveled across the globe to meet clients who had heard of her legendary skills. Armed with an arsenal of hoods, catsuits, and whips accumulated over several decades of working, Chevalier is, arguably, the person to call when you want to explore rubber play.

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After all, she's been in the game since the mid-90s. While searching for a second job, Chevalier dove headfirst into the femme domme world after getting hired at a dungeon purchased by a husband-wife team. The only downside? The man in charge overtly told Chevalier that she "wouldn't be able to make as much as any other women because of [her] skin color."

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Related | Women Are Revolutionizing the Sex Tech Industry

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That said, she spent this formative period honing her craft and making sure that every client who came her way always had the best time — to the point where she "eventually was booked the entire time." Unfortunately, it also soon became apparent to her that "money was going missing."

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Fast forward to Chevalier's decision to break away from the male-owned dungeon and start her own with two other women. And she hasn't looked back since.

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Related | This Female Sex Toy Had Its Award Revoked for Being 'Obscene'

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Eventually, Chevalier founded her own dungeon — NYC Rubber Studio — which, to this day, is the largest fully female-owned and operated space in Manhattan. Equipped with four different playrooms, including an intense "Torture Room" and a more domesticated "Parlor Room," it's a rubber-lover's paradise — providing for a fetish experience that's still relatively uncommon in America.

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Which also begs the question, how has the art of domme-ing faired in a society that's growing more and more accepting of different sexual fetishes and proclivities? Well, according to Chevalier, it's a double-edged sword.

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While domme-ing has become more accepted in the mainstream, with that visibility comes some issues for "purist" dommes such as herself. As she explains it, in an age where shows like Netflix's problematic Bonding seem to be a dime-a-dozen, Chevalier says that the industry has become a fraught place for actual dominatrixes.

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"Everyone thinks they can domme," she says, citing issues with wardrobe, skill, and conversational style. "On social media you see all these girls twerking on Instagram in booty shorts, asking for money, calling themselves dommes. That's not domme-ing."

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Related | The Art of Tickle Torture

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Explaining that she pines for the old days when domme-ing was more "underground," Chevalier believes there's a dearth of skilled dominatrixes who truly want to make fetishwork their lifelong career. Instead, Chevalier thinks that the advent of "Instagram girls" advertising themselves "fin-dommes" has harmed the "actual" dommes who spend years (and thousands of dollars on) honing their craft.

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"On social media you see all these girls twerking on Instagram in booty shorts, asking for money, calling themselves dommes. That's not domme-ing."

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Not only that, but Chevalier also contends that "the internet has ruined our business." According to her, porn billed as "S&M" has muddied the way clients try to interact with them and contributed to a "lack of reverence" toward the figure of the dominatrix — something she criticizes as "really disrespectful."

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Make no mistake though, Chevalier is more than happy to help set newer dommes on the right course — they just need to be eager to acknowledge and respect the legacy of domme-ing, while also being autonomous, free agents who work for no one but themselves.

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"I want them to be fully independent," she concludes. "Take classes, study. I can't teach you skills, but can always point you in the right direction."

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Welcome to "Sex with Sandra," a column by Sandra Song about the ever-changing face of sexuality. Whether it be spotlight features on sex work activists, deep dives into hyper-niche fetishes, or overviews on current legislation and policy, "Sex with Sandra" is dedicated to examining some of the biggest sex-related discussions happening on the Internet right now.

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Photo courtesy of Mistress Ariana Chevalier

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Thu, 20 Jun 2019 14:47:28 +0000http://www.8617965.com/queen-mistress-ariana-chevalier-2638918346.htmlNsfwBdsmDomme-ingNycMistress ariana chevalierSandra Song
Joan Smalls Revs Up in the Latest Collectionshttp://www.8617965.com/joan-smalls-extreme-2638922926.html

Joan's Jetts

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Click Here to Order Zendaya's Extreme Issue

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Model: Joan Smalls
Photographer: Arseny Jabiev
Stylist: Ye Young Kim
Hair: Kayla Michele
Hair Assistant: Ryan Kazmarek
Make Up: Kale Tater
Make Up Assistant: Sadvi Babu
Nails: Yuko Wada
Location: Ridgewood Soundstage, 1659 Cody Ave Suite C
Production: AGPNYC








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Click Here to Order Zendaya's Extreme Issue

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Model: Joan Smalls
Photographer: Arseny Jabiev
Stylist: Ye Young Kim
Hair: Kayla Michele
Hair Assistant: Ryan Kazmarek
Make Up: Kale Tater
Make Up Assistant: Sadvi Babu
Nails: Yuko Wada
Location: Ridgewood Soundstage, 1659 Cody Ave Suite C
Production: AGPNYC








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Thu, 20 Jun 2019 13:55:44 +0000http://www.8617965.com/joan-smalls-extreme-2638922926.htmlJoan smallsExtremeAreaCartierFashionBalenciagaVersaceCollina stradaBottega venetaMiu miuAglPradaPaco rabanneGiuseppe zanottiBulgariGcdsPhotography Arseny Jabiev / Styling Ye Young Kim
Zendaya Supports Bella Thorne Amidst Nudes Controversyhttp://www.8617965.com/zendaya-bella-thorne-nudes-2638924154.html

Zendaya Coleman and several other stars are voicing their support for Bella Thorne in the wake of her nudes scandal and Whoopi Goldberg's subsequent criticism of her.

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Related | Bella Thorne Posts Her Own Nudes to Thwart Hacker

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Earlier today, Thorne took to her Instagram to share screenshots of texts, DMs, and tweets from fellow celebrities — including Dove Cameron, Lily-Rose Depp, and Madison Beer — urging her to stay strong.

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And amongst one of Thorne's strongest supporters was former Shake It Up co-star Coleman, who sent her a text expressing her admiration for the way she stood up for herself.

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"Just a reminder that you are strong and courageous and beautiful inside and out," Coleman wrote. "You fucking broke my heart with that damn ig post but anyway, just being a fucking sap right now lmao just letting you know you're a light and I'm super proud. Love you."

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Others who reached out to Thorne include Pretty Little Liars star Lucy Hale, who wrote, "This breaks my heart. But you're making a difference for other girls and women," and Empire actor Serayah McNeill who said, "Your [sic] a fucking boss! So inspiring! Independent at that! Keep doing you!"

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For context, in the wake of the controversy — which began over the weekend after Thorne posted her own nudes in an attempt to thwart a hacker — Goldberg chose to criticize the star's decision to take the nudes in the first place.

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"If you're famous, I don't care how old you are. You don't take nude pictures of yourself," Goldberg said Monday on The View. "Once you take that picture, it goes into the Cloud and it's available to any hacker who wants it, and if you don't know that in 2019 that this is an issue, I'm sorry. You don't get to do that."

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In response to Goldberg's comments, Thorne recorded an emotional video message via Instagram stories.

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"I'm not gonna lie, I wanna say that I feel pretty disgusting. I feel pretty disgusting, Whoopi, knowing that everyone's seen my shit. And I just want to say that me watching this interview made me feel bad about myself," Thorne said. "I hope you're happy. I really do. I hope you're so fucking happy."

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Thorne also pointed out Goldberg's lack of sympathy in this "awful situation" before adding that she would no longer be appearing on The View as scheduled. According to People, Goldberg has yet to respond to Thorne's criticism.

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Photo via Getty

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Thu, 20 Jun 2019 01:45:51 +0000http://www.8617965.com/zendaya-bella-thorne-nudes-2638924154.htmlBella thorneZendayaWhoopi goldbergNudesFamous peopleSandra Song
NXIVM Sex Cult Leader Keith Raniere Found Guiltyhttp://www.8617965.com/nxivm-raniere-guilty-2638923174.html

Keith Raniere, the founder of controversial self-help company NXIVM, has been found guilty on several counts related to racketeering, fraud, forced labor conspiracy.

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NXIVM shot to notoriety last year after Raniere and several prominent members of the group — including former Smallville actor Allison Mack and Seagram's heiress Clare Bronfman — were arrested for their involvement in the group. However, the part that made headlines was their purported facilitation of an alleged, internal sex cult known as DOS, per The New York Times.

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Related | Smallville Star Arrested For Alleged Sex Cult Involvement

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DOS lured members in via the promise of facilitating "women's empowerment," however the group functioned more as a sex cult servicing Raniere. "Slaves" were reportedly branded with Raniere's initials and coerced into having sex with him.

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"This trial has revealed that Raniere, who portrayed himself as a savant and a genius, was in fact, a master manipulator, a con man and the crime boss of a cult-like organization," United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York Richard P. Donoghue said, per BuzzFeed News. "The evidence proved that Raniere was truly a modern day Svengali."

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Raniere will be sentenced on September 25 and potentially faces life in prison.

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Photo via Getty

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Wed, 19 Jun 2019 23:24:41 +0000http://www.8617965.com/nxivm-raniere-guilty-2638923174.htmlSex traffickingNxivmKeith raniereAllison mackFamous peopleSex cultSandra Song
A Lana Del Rey, Ariana Grande, Miley Cyrus Collaboration May Be Cominghttp://www.8617965.com/lana-ariana-miley-collab-2638922946.html

Another day, another tidbit from the rumor mill. However, this time it involves something undeniably great: A potential collaboration between Lana Del Rey, Ariana Grande, and Miley Cyrus.

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Related | Lana Del Rey Goes Country

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Rumors of the collaboration has been swirling online for a second now, but it now appears as if the stars themselves are gearing up to make it official.

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Yesterday, eagle-eyed fans began freaking out after Cyrus liked an Instagram post that posited the three were up to something. Then, to add fuel to the flames, Grande did the same exact thing on another fan post about the same topic.

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No word yet from Del Rey's end, but so far it's looking pretty good. After all, talk about the Holy Trinity.

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Photo via Getty

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Wed, 19 Jun 2019 22:38:31 +0000http://www.8617965.com/lana-ariana-miley-collab-2638922946.htmlLana del reyMiley cyrusAriana grandeCollaborationsInstagramMusicSandra Song
Is Kylie Jenner Selling Her Billion Dollar Beauty Empire?http://www.8617965.com/kylie-jenner-beauty-coty-2638922081.html

It's no secret Kylie Jenner has had her eyes set on expanding her already uber successful beauty empire. After adding skincare and even baby products to her eponymous, Kylie Cosmetics, the young influencer is now courting a huge investment deal with Coty Inc.

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According to WWD, Jenner might be in talks with the conglomerate for a stake of 51 percent or higher. The beauty mogul is reportedly quoting a minimum of $600 million for the potential deal. It still might be a little premature to make any calls on whether Jenner will go through with it or not, but it seems the sellout has been on the 21-year-old's mind for a while now.

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Sources claim that over the years Jenner has explored a number of potential partnerships, none of which of course came to fruition.

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Related | Kylie Jenner: Get Rich or Die Following

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Earlier this year, Jenner confirmed to WWD that the company has seen incredible success and so there's always bound to be "some interest." Although neither Jenner or Coty have issued an official comment, this would mark a huge turning point in Kylie Cosmetics' upcoming ventures.

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Jenner experienced an unprecedented amount of success after the launch of Kylie Cosmetics in 2015. Earlier this year, Forbes granted her the youngest "self made" billionaire status elevating her net worth to an even higher degree.

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It'll be interesting to see how receptive Jenners' followers will be to a potential buy out of one of the most popular independent beauty brands on the market today.

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Photo via Carl Timpone/BFA

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Wed, 19 Jun 2019 22:09:11 +0000http://www.8617965.com/kylie-jenner-beauty-coty-2638922081.htmlKylie jennerKylie cosmeticsCoty incBeautySkincareJeena Sharma
Is Kendall Jenner Doing Secret Sponcon For Coke?http://www.8617965.com/kendall-jenner-sponcon-diet-prada-2638920394.html

Supermodel Kendall Jenner loves a cola collaboration, and we're not just talking about that Pepsi moment. Instagram watchdog @DietPrada noticed her post a slightly suspicious, but undoubtedly very stylish, piece of subtle Coca Cola sponcon on her grid yesterday.

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Related | Poosh Calling: Kourtney Kardashian Takes Time Out For Herself

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Here's the evidence. Jenner, a tangerine colored body con dress by Australian label Bec & Bridge, and a matching can of Coke's brand new flavor: vanilla orange. The label perfectly color matches her 'fit. Coincidence? Many think not. We do love a bodega photoshoot concept, though.


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If this really is a devious piece of advertising, then Jenner's disobeying the FTC's social media advertising guidelines, as Diet Prada points out. She should be tagging the post with #ad or #sponsored. Would the world's most famous (and controversy-prone) supermodel take that kind of risk? Maybe she really is just a big fan of novelty coke flavors! Maybe tangerine is her favorite color! Or maybe we're living in a tech-driven, celebrity-obsessed dystopia where the rules don't apply to famous people or giant megacorps. Hard to know.

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Related | Will Diet Prada Save Fashion From Itself?

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Jenner was also snapped by Getty while conspicuously carrying the can, which could have been intentional — there's plenty of precedent for being papped with a brand name. Starbucks has cornered a whole market on this.


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What a world! Why am I suddenly so thirsty?

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Photo via Getty

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Wed, 19 Jun 2019 21:11:15 +0000http://www.8617965.com/kendall-jenner-sponcon-diet-prada-2638920394.htmlSponconPepsiCokeDiet pradaInstagramPaparazziSocial mediaAdvertisingSupermodelsBec & bridgeFashionBodegaNew york cityKendall jennerKatherine Gillespie
Lindsay Lohan's Beach Club Has Shut Downhttp://www.8617965.com/lindsay-lohan-beach-club-shutters-2638917564.html

Lindsay Lohan's Mykonos-based beach club, the setting of MTV's incredibly frustrating reality show, has reportedly closed after less than a year serving drinks to C-list foreign DJs. Lohan's Beach Club, which premiered earlier this year, will not film a second season.

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According to Page Six, the club had advertised that it would stay open this summer, but is now canceling all future reservations. The location is now "deserted," with the Lohan sign "stripped off." RIP.

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Related | PAPER Recaps Season One of 'Lohan's Beach Club'


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MTV appears to be getting out for other reasons, though. Namely that the show just wasn't... very good. Ratings were dismal, and sources add that there simply "wasn't enough drama" to keep viewers interested. I guess people just didn't care that much about Brent and Sara's on-off relationship, or Lindsay's quest to bring a frozen lobster back to life by throwing it back into the sea, or Panos's many white floppy hats. And who could forget the show's weird obsession with Martha Stewart?

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Related | Inside Lindsay Lohan's Enduring Cult of Celebrity

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For any devastated Lohan fans who already booked vacations to Greece in the hope of partying with her, note that the beach club is not her only venture — she also has a nightclub in Athens, presumably still open.

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Photo courtesy of MTV

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Wed, 19 Jun 2019 21:04:59 +0000http://www.8617965.com/lindsay-lohan-beach-club-shutters-2638917564.htmlLohan's beach clubMykonosReality tvMtvVanderpump rulesPanosBrentSaraGreeceTravelTourismAthensMean girlsLindsay lohanKatherine Gillespie
SK-II's New Brand Ambassador Is Not Even Realhttp://www.8617965.com/sk-ii-ai-avatar-ambassador-2638918973.html

Gone are the golden days where influencers and celebrities could milk thousands and sometimes millions of dollars to act as the face of a brand.

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Over the past few months, a new crop of virtual influencers have begun to replace the human kind. Last year, Balmain hired CGI modelsfor its campaign, and more recently, Calvin Klein had Bella Hadid make out with AI-generated virtual influencer Lil Miquela, who boasts close to 2 million Instagram followers.

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And now celebrated Japanese skincare label, SK-II has enlisted YUMI, an AI avatar, as its new face. Along with headlining its campaigns, YUMI is designed to develop its own personality traits over time and will also be able to talk, dish beauty advice, and and solve skincare-related customer queries.

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Created by AI brand, Soul Machines, the virtual avatar will also be able to speak in multiple languages including Japanese, English, and Mandarin.

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Related | Lil Miquela: (Cyber) Girl of the 21st Century

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"YUMI is more than a digital influencer. She is a digital human capable of interacting and engaging in ways technology hasn't been able to do until now," said Sandeep Seth, chief executive officer of Global SK-II. "YUMI personifies our goal to combine technology and creativity to benefit customers. She provides the warmth and connection of human touch in the form of a digital experience to make the overall skincare experience at home and in store more enjoyable and compelling."

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"We are thrilled to work with innovative companies and brands like Procter & Gamble and SK-II, who are embracing technology to humanize brands at scale," added Greg Cross, co-founder and chief business officer of Soul Machines. "YUMI will become a trusted resource to those who interact with her. Customers will immediately notice how easy the Soul Machines digital humans are to converse with and relate to once they spend time interacting with YUMI."

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No word yet on when YUMI will be rolled out, but once unveiled, consumers will be able to interact with her across smartphones, home devices and in-stores.

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Photo courtesy of SK-II

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Wed, 19 Jun 2019 20:37:34 +0000http://www.8617965.com/sk-ii-ai-avatar-ambassador-2638918973.htmlSk iiCalvin kleinYumiBalmainBella hadidVirtual influencersAiSoul machinesJeena Sharma
Tyra Banks Is Launching a Body Positive Docu-Serieshttp://www.8617965.com/tyra-banks-beauty-quibi-2638917096.html

Tyra Banks knows how to run a successful TV show. After a long stint at America's Next Top Model, the model and producer is now taking her spectacular skills to a new docu-series titled Beauty.

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For the brand new project, Banks has partnered with Quibi (a new mobile streaming service), that will see the model star in it as well as executive produce it, Variety reports.

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Dubbed as a "body positive" series, Beauty aims to help "break down barriers and challenge traditional notions of beauty."

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"As I look into the future, I see radical changes in both how people 'attain beauty,' and how the world perceives beauty, Banks told Variety. "Our docu-series aims to expand and redefine the definition of beauty as we know it, challenging why we accept certain beauty parameters and reject others, and examining the beliefs behind those judgements."

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Related | Tyra Banks: Fierce as a Tyger

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The model, who recently changed her professional name to BanX, has championed diverse body types within media and fashion for a good part of her career along with her role as a judge on America's Next Top Model. Although no premiere date for the show has been announced yet, Quibi is set to debut in 2020.

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First unveiled in August 2018, the streaming network is set for a huge launch with a $1 billion investment pulled in from several investors. Aside from Banks' new series, the network will also inlcude projects from the likes of Guillermo del Toro, Antoine Fuqua, Sam Raimi and Steven Spielberg, who is reportedly working on a horror series for Quibi.

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Each series on the platform is expected to be two to four hours in length, with each one divided into segments that will no longer than 10 minutes each, Variety reports.

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Photography: Vijat Mohindra for PAPER

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Wed, 19 Jun 2019 20:31:21 +0000http://www.8617965.com/tyra-banks-beauty-quibi-2638917096.htmlTyra banksQuibiBeautyBody postivieDocumentaryAmerica's next top modelStreaming serviceJeena Sharma
5 Bops That Make Ty Sunderland Feel Proudhttp://www.8617965.com/ty-sunderland-pride-playlist-2638904765.html

Throughout Pride Month, PAPER is asking LGBTQ+ leaders to curate a playlist that make them feel proud. Whether the songs are pop bops, emotional ballads, or just plain bangers, we want to hear from some of the community's foremost figures: what songs make you feel prideful?

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Related | 5 Bops That Make HaraJuku Feel Proud

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This week, one of New York City's LGBTQ nightlife gatekeepers, Ty Sunderland, is taking the reigns. For the past couple of years, the only name on everyone's lips in Manhattan has been Ty Sunderland. His China Chalet party, Heaven on Earth, has spanned both land and sea and he's been making strides DJing parties for brands across the United States. There are very few people who have as busy of a Pride month as he does, with gigs back-to-back-to-back, but he took some time away from the 1's and 2's just for us. Now, he's telling PAPER about the five songs that make him feel proud.


1. "We R Who We R" by Kesha


This is a bop that often doesn't get the attention it deserves as a gay anthem. It's truly about embracing who you are, or rather who you and your friends are, over a banger of an electro dance beat. What's not to love? For me, the song came out around the time that I came out, so it holds a special place in my music library and fuzzy Jack Daniels-fueled memories.


2. "You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)" by Sylvester


Sylvester is the quintessential queer icon and this song is a mega club banger for me. Every time I put it on the whole club bursts with energy. Also all royalties from his work go to San Francisco-based HIV/AIDS charities, so stream away sis!


3. "Stronger" by Britney Spears


I doubt Britney anticipated this to be a gay anthem, but it is for me, and it's a good one. There's so much strength in admitting to yourself and to the world who you are, and this song really resonates this theme. I mean she's barely singing. She's basically screaming in your ear that she is stronger than yesterday.


4. "Sweet Spot" by Kim Petras


Okay, this is a full-on banger in a world where the girls aren't making many bangers anymore. It's "Music Sounds Better With You" updated to 2019 and I stan so hard. I just can't wait to hear it all Pride week. I will be playing it at every gig I have until further notice. So bring out the confetti cannons; pop set, house set, doesn't matter. You're getting "Sweet Spot."


5. "Science" by Allie X


"Science" makes me want to make a whole playlist of bass heavy sexy-pop. It's by far my favorite track on Super Sunset. It might not be a club banger, but it is def a super bop. Enjoy responsibly.


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Photography: Megan Walschlager

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Wed, 19 Jun 2019 19:45:15 +0000http://www.8617965.com/ty-sunderland-pride-playlist-2638904765.htmlPrideLgbtqNightlifeNycTy sunderlandChina chaletHeaven on earthBrendan Wetmore
'Pose' Star Dyllón Burnside on Identity, Family, and Lovehttp://www.8617965.com/dyllon-burnside-pose-2638789475.html

Talking with Dyllón Burnside, it doesn't take long to discover how much is on his mind. It's the day after the New York season two premiere event for Pose, the zeitgeist-shifting show by Ryan Murphy he stars on, and Burnside's schedule is invariably packed. The second season's first episode attracted record viewership, and Pose has been renewed for a third season — a testament to the timeliness of its storyline and the explosive demand for FX's historic drama about ball culture in 1980s New York.

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Pose and his familial connections with the cast have Burnside thinking about identity. He moved to New York in 2012 to study acting, a longtime dream realized after a life spent trying to conform to ideas he was raised with regarding masculinity. Now, alongside five trans women and queer people of color as leads, Burnside stars in an award-winning show as Ricky, a young Black gay dancer and street kid who eventually finds home in the House of Evangelista. The show takes place and is filmed in New York City, and like Ricky finding his chosen family, in real life, Burnside walks to set from his Harlem apartment and bonds with his co-stars Billy Porter, Mj Rodriguez, Dominique Jackson and Indya Moore everyday.

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Related | Janet Mock on Why FX's 'Pose' Is 'Deeply Revolutionary'

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I ask Burnside — a 30-year-old rising stage, television, and film actor, singer, film producer, and youth advocate who speaks at schools about the importance of accessing performance as a means of self-expression — how being on a show like Pose has shaped him, and it's impossible for him not to dive into what came before. What came before is years of attempting to achieve full self-expression while grappling with his identity as a Black queer man. Where he is now is empowered, totally authentic, and committed to fueling productive conversations like those Pose has facilitated.

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"When people talk about the show with their families, if sexuality comes up or out, I'd like for people to focus less on what's going on between people with genitals," he says. "The emphasis should be placed on what their experience is, what their experience in the world is, and what their experience in the community is. Talking about experiences is what I think is the most important. So, when I have a conversation with my uncle about who I am, that is a conversation about my experience."

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Below, Burnside shares more on Pose Season Two, where he's come from, and where he's headed:

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I have so much I'd like to ask you. I know that part of your story involves breaking free from toxic masculinity. How has being on Pose helped you in that journey?

That is a journey that started years ago. I grew up in Northwest Florida in a town called Pensacola, just 15 minutes from the Alabama state line. As you can imagine it's pretty conservative. My family is very invested in the practice of masculinity. For example, my uncle, who is my surrogate father, is a professional boxer. It's a loving family, but I definitely was raised with all of the conditions of what it means to be a man's man.

I trained in boxing. I played football and basketball and baseball, every sport. I ran cross country. I also raised cows, pigs, dogs, and chickens. Early chores involved feeding horses and such — all a very masculine type of living. I loved it, but on the other hand, I wanted to explore the arts. I loved music, dance, fashion, beautiful architecture, culture. My family really embraced my artistic side as a musician and they really helped fuel that passion, but still I was always afraid of really being my true self and saying things that I truly felt. I was so afraid to take a ballet class because I knew they'd question my sexuality.

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I was raised in a very similar way. I think this experience is quite common.

Absolutely, and it's hard to navigate that as a teenager. You're only really getting an understanding of who you are as an individual and who you are within the context of family — what roles you play and are expected to play. So, when you don't have the environment that nurtures your most authentic self, you put a lot of costumes on that don't really fit or speak to the character or person that you truly are. That's a big reason why I moved to New York: to be free of those costumes. Before that happened, I was in a boy band for years. I got to express myself musically, but again, it was a costume. I realized I wanted to pursue a career as an actor and ended up moving to New York to study acting in the theater.

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Were you out by the time you moved to New York?

Interestingly, I was forced out. While I was in transition to moving to New York, I worked for the church for a year, recruited to take on a position at a megachurch in Florida. I was the creative director of the worship arts ministry there, and it was a really amazing job that taught me a lot about leadership and about how to operate within an organization and collaborate with people, how to manage a team of 50 people. I really loved my job, but I felt like I was getting sucked into this machine at the church. So I held onto the dream of moving to New York. I was taking acting classes and talking to some of my theater friends that I knew. I had gone to a karaoke bar with one of my theater friends and apparently, someone from the church saw us and thought that we were together as a couple. This friend of mine was gay, so that's why they made that assumption.

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Did the pastor find out about you?

They told the pastor, so the pastor called me into the office and said he wanted to talk to me about a really serious matter. He relayed this story to me, and added that the person who saw me said they knew I was gay and that I was out with my partner being gay. Mind you, I had been celibate the entire year and hadn't dated the entire year. I had been working at the church, but I knew I was attracted to guys. My pastor said that we'd "work through it" as a church, and that as long as I wasn't fornicating with men or committing adultery then I was still acting in the will of God. But he still fired me on the spot.

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"Part of the reason why I struggled with this idea of coming out is that we live in a culture that demands gay, lesbian, bisexual, queer, and trans people come out even if it puts them at risk, but we don't ask heterosexual people to do the same thing."

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Wow. Well, some would say that gave you a free pass to move to New York and be out and pursue your acting dreams. But what else happened?

I wish it were that simple. I was still struggling to understand my feelings about my sexuality and always trying to understand how my sexuality impacts my identity. If my identity as a human being was completely locked up in sexual identity or sexual desires, I am still trying to work through all of that, while still dating girls. Prior to working at the church, I had dated girls exclusively, but I knew I had this attraction to men. I just hadn't been acting on it. So, I then had to have a conversation with my mom because this happened on Saturday. She was going to come to church on Sunday and I wouldn't be there. The pastor was going to make an announcement that I "decided" to leave the church to pursue a career in acting, and none of that had yet come to fruition. I had to come out to my mom that day, and it was a really strange thing because I was not yet ready to make any announcements about my sexuality and identity. Part of the reason why I struggled with this idea of coming out is that we live in a culture that demands gay, lesbian, bisexual, queer, and trans people come out even if it puts them at risk, but we don't ask heterosexual people to do the same thing.

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I understand that. Identity is important to people.

Of course! I do recognize the importance of identity and transparency, but also I think that what we see happening is a result of us living in a heteronormative culture that normalizes heterosexuality and thinks that everything else is other. That part is false to me. My identity was decided for me when I was not ready to make any declaration. I had to try to explain something to my mom that I didn't even understand myself yet, and she and I had a whole falling out. I went through this deep and dark depression.

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Related | Billy Porter and Stylist Sam Ratelle On THAT Met Gala Look

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I'm so sorry to hear that. How did you deal with that fall out?

I was fortunate to have a mom who had enough insight into therapy. I started seeing a professional immediately after all this happened, because I don't know if I would have made it out of the other situation as well as I did if I hadn't done so. Therapy affirmed and encouraged me, and helped me pull myself out of the darkest place of my life. Finally, I got the courage to apply to a summer program at NYU in musical theater. After that, I auditioned for the conservatory, got accepted, and got a scholarship. Six months after all this happened with the church, I was moving to New York to pursue my dreams. Long story, I know, but that all shaped who I am today.

I think identity is something that is so loose. We have to realize that it's not fixed; it doesn't remain the same for the rest of your life. You learn new things about your identity as you grow, evolve, and experience new things. James Baldwin has this really amazing quote, and, I'm paraphrasing, but he essentially says that identity is like a garment that we wear to cover our nakedness, and we should wear this garment loosely so that we can always feel our nakedness underneath. That's the way I view my identity, my queerness, my identity as a Black queer man, a young Black queer man. All of these things are relevant and they signify certain things about me, but they're not complete indicators of who I am.

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"Sometimes, you have to experience lovelessness in order to get to a place of loving yourself."

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Somewhere along your journey, it sounds as if you really learned to love yourself. Is there anyone who helped you get there?

It's been so many people. Everyone I meet teaches me something about how I should love myself because I have seen how they love themselves, or I see how they love me — whether it's my mom or my grandmother or my great aunt or grandfather or my uncle, even, a therapist who helped me through a dark time. Sometimes, you have to experience lovelessness in order to get to a place of loving yourself. Or in going through moments of realizing when you really aren't taking care of yourself in the way you want other people to take care of you. Something else, too: many people think that Black men are closed-minded and are quick to shut out family members when they identify as queer or somewhere on the queer spectrum. But my uncle's response to my coming out was one of the most level-headed responses I had received.

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What did he say to you?

He didn't say anything for a long time as everything was happening in the course of six months. The only thing he said to me via text message was a couple of weeks after it happened: "I know there is a lot going on right now. We will talk about it when the time is right." The night that I had my going-away dinner, he took me outside in front of the house and said, "I don't necessarily understand or agree with everything, but you will always be a jewel in my eyes and nothing will change that." We had a longer conversation about how it affected family dynamics, family members, and religion, but the thing I needed to hear from everyone in my family was exactly what he said. It came easiest from him, and it was not what I expected because of what I knew about him as a heterosexual man and things that the world tries to tell you that Black heterosexual men feel about queerness. He was one of the most affirming, which I find to be really interesting. I found that a lot of my queer friends have fathers and men in their lives who were affirming in that way as well.

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I read somewhere that you were a bell hooks fan. In her work, she writes a lot about how family dynamics affect love relationships to self and to others. Have you read All About Love?

Oh, yes. Very much so. She says that you have to be able and willing to give yourself what you want to receive from other people and the universe. If I want someone to be compassionate and loving and consistent with me, I have to be loving and compassionate and consistent with myself. If I can't give it to myself, then no one else is going to give it to me. When I read that, that was revolutionary for me because I was going through a period where I was ready to start dating, and so realized if I do, this is the kind of person I would like to be with. I started making checklists of traits I wanted in a partner, not to hold anything so firm, but just so I could be clear about what it is I desire in a relationship. In that process, I realized that those are the exact things I need to be affirming for myself; those were the things I needed to become. So, yes, people like bell hooks, James Baldwin, and Marianne Williamson have really helped shape my journey to self-love. That along with experience has made me pretty self-aware. In those moments, I try to really access how I'm showing up and giving myself what it is that I need.

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I wanted to ask you about the concept of chosen family. Many of your Pose co-stars have spoken about that in their own way. How does that manifest for you on set?

Well Pose has been a combination of all of those years of work I did before, both professionally and personally. The most rewarding thing about this project is that I'm growing so much in those aspects. You don't always get that opportunity where it's feeding everything you need for growth as an artist and as a person. In terms of the chosen family thing, we all have to navigate that, I think. Some experiences that we share involve not being accepted by the outside world. Not being accepted by our family at some points in our lives. Or in navigating what it means to be Black and Brown and queer in this industry.

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We deal with being actors, singers, writers, and directors and all the things that we are, while having the identities of being Black and Brown and queer and trans. We all came into this thing having that in common, which doesn't normally happen. Usually, it's like you're on a project and you're the only one. You're the one Black body in the room. You're the one queer body in the room. You're the diverse card or the diversity pick. Not to say you're not talented, but often times for us, when you're the only one of you, then you are the talented, "diverse one." [As a society] we tend to think of these characters in Pose, who are based in real people's experiences, as a monolithic group of people: "those are queers or those are transgenders." On the show, we come together and look at them as individual people that have different identities and are diverse within their subculture. Coming into this project, we all have that in common, having all worked for years and heralding our own achievements before coming to Pose. But the project is bigger than us, and I love that it's helping people, especially young people, to have these discussions about identity and come to terms with who they are.

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The show is also inspiring necessary conversations for people who might not have access to issues affecting queer and trans people of color.

Yes. In that way, it's confrontational. We have to be willing to tell our grandparents that it's not okay to use certain language. We have to educate them. I had a conversation with my granny about what it means to be transgender after Pose came out. I think that's one of the really beautiful things about what Pose has done to my family; it's opened up so much dialogue. We've got to sit folks in front of the TV who might not otherwise see it, and then you have to engage in conversation with them about their experience of the show, and share your own. It's through that that we can gain collective understanding and all be working towards the same thing.

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"We're all fearless in our own right."

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Can you tell me about your relationship with Billy Porter?

Well Billy Porter, for instance, is an icon in the theater world. He has talked about how he never thought he would be a leading man on television because so many people have shut the door on him just because he refused to be less out and proud or less flamboyant. So before I even met Billy, I admired him and looked up to him as an example of fearlessness and courage. I affectionately call him Father because he is one of the men in the world who I look to as examples, who have accomplished things and lived fearlessly in a way that I aspire to. He's just one example. We have Dominique Jackson, a trans woman who is an icon in the ballroom world. Talk about being fearless in that way. We're all fearless in our own right.

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What can you say about Ricky Evangelista's journey during the second season?

I'm really excited that Ryan Murphy and the producers thought to bring Ricky back and expand on his character. I get to really showcase a range of my abilities this season. Ricky goes on tour at the end of Season One and we find out that he actually does have a talent for dancing, so I'm excited to explore what that looks like for Ricky and for him to fight for his dreams and what things will come up. I'm also excited to explore what it's like to be in a relationship while fighting for your dream. That's something that, as a young person moving to New York to study and with lots of dreams of being an actor, it wasn't always easy to date while being in the same city. So, how you navigate being in a long-distance relationship while fulfilling your dream is interesting for me. I'm also interested to see how Ricky really comes to terms with some of the traumas that he had to face in his life. Being a gay Black man in 1989 and 1990 was traumatic. AIDS is rampant, your friends are dying.

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Who are you in all of that? It's also historical and it's important for people to see that and learn from that, too. We first meet Ricky homeless, now he's found a family, and all he's really known to do is survive on the streets using his charm, his body, and his street smarts, but now he has to still figure out how to deprogram himself from all of that stuff. What happens when you free yourself of that? There's more power and it can be used for good. I'm excited to let go of old Ricky and embrace the newer parts of his identity. But remember: identity is a garment that we can tailor, change out of, or wear loosely.


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Photo courtesy of Pari Dukovic/FX

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Wed, 19 Jun 2019 17:44:32 +0000http://www.8617965.com/dyllon-burnside-pose-2638789475.htmlPoseLgbtqLgbtBilly porterMj rodriguezIndya mooreDominique jacksonDyllon burnsideMichael Love Michael
Are Selfies the Internet's Trash?http://www.8617965.com/trashy-selfies-2638910060.html

The year is 2050, and the Earth is breathing its last few labored as the world's oceans boil, forests burn, and cities crumble before us. The 230 million tons of trash that the United States generates each day has spilled over from landfills and flooded our streets. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch has continued to balloon to the point where it now connects California to Hawaii like a trash land bridge. We have mutated into a society that wallows in its own filth, but that doesn't mean we still don't have time to update our Instagram.

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This dystopian vision of the future is the point of departure for photographer Sasha Gransjean's new series, Trashy Selfies. "Selfies to me are a form of digital trash because they already outnumber the world population by a hundred times, so what happens to all the data? How are we going to differentiate our 2022 selfies from the homogeneity of 2015?" Gransjean explains. "I've only ever lived in big cities where the remnants of capitalism are physically visible in the streets. I guess that's part of why trash has always had an appeal to me."

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"Selfies to me are a form of digital trash because they already outnumber the world population by a hundred times."

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The colorful series takes an editorial-yet-humorous approach to post-apocalyptic selfie couture. Discarded Cheetos bags are fashioned into tube tops, a tennis ball is turned into a ball gag, and a flamingo floatie rests atop a sea of water bottles in this reimagined reality. The series' subjects seem indifferent to their various grotesque and abject states, caught up in a delirium intoxicated by their own vanity. "I feel like the hyper-consumerist life we are currently living must have a tipping point, that's what I'm interested in," Gransjean says.

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Check out Trashy Selfies, below.

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Photography: Sasha Gransjean

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Wed, 19 Jun 2019 16:31:45 +0000http://www.8617965.com/trashy-selfies-2638910060.htmlSasha gransjeanArtPhotographyApocalypseTrashSelfieTrashy selfiesMatt Moen
Janet Mock Inks Multi-Million Dollar Netflix Dealhttp://www.8617965.com/janet-mock-netflix-2638918494.html

Writer, director, and producer Janet Mock is officially making Netflix money — which is literally the pinnacle of success in 2019. Taking note of her work on Ryan Murphy's FX hit Pose, the streaming giant signed a deal with Mock that ensures exclusive rights to her upcoming biographical TV series, as well as first option on all her other future projects.

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Variety first reported on the three-year, multi-million-dollar deal, which won't preclude Mock from working on future seasons of Pose, thank God. While working on her own shows with the service, she'll also executive produce and direct Murphy's new Netflix series Hollywood.

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Related | Janet Mock Tells Her Story

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Speaking with Variety, Mock — a trans woman — spoke of using her new position to tell marginalized stories. "As someone who grew up in front of the TV screen, whether that was watching talk shows or family sitcoms or VHS films, I never thought that I would be embraced," she said. She hoped the announcement of her deal would "be a huge signal boost, industrywide, to empower people and equip them to tell their own stories."

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Mock pitched several shows to Netflix. The first is a biographical drama based on a young woman transitioning during college, and will be based on her bestselling memoir. There's also "a series about New Orleans after the abolishment of slavery" and "a reboot of a classic sitcom." Fun!

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Photo via Getty

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Wed, 19 Jun 2019 16:00:35 +0000http://www.8617965.com/janet-mock-netflix-2638918494.htmlNetflixPoseTvStreamingTrans womenLgbtqFxRyan murphyHollywoodBilly porterJanet mockKatherine Gillespie
From Sylvia Rivera to RuPaul: The Faces of Pride 1978-1996http://www.8617965.com/rupaul-sylvia-rivera-henny-garfunkel-nyc-pride-2638910716.html

Fifty years have passed since police broke into New York City's Stonewall Inn and began arresting and brutalizing its queer guests. As has become legend, the patrons of Stonewall fought back — shoving, punching and throwing stones — launching historic riots that would last six days. Within a year, the first Pride March, then known as the Christopher Street Liberation Parade, and the foundations of the contemporary LGBTQ movement were born.

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Nine years later, photographer and longtime friend of PAPER, Henny Garfunkel (who captured Brooke Shields as a drag king for us in 1990) shot her first Pride march. A mainstay in the downtown gay scene of the '80s and '90s, headquartered at Club 57, Henny started going to Pride simply to support her friends like Tom Rubnitz, Keith Haring, Rollerina and Lady Bunny.

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"As the years went by, the powers that be started to notice what a major community we were."

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The colors, costumes and combustive emotions of Pride are any street photographer's dream, but for Henny, the event became a muse. She captured nearly every NYC Pride March between 1978 and 1996, a period of both radical vibrance and terrible pain for queer Americans.

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"In the late '70s a bunch of people would just plan to go, you know? We would all march together. It was very joyful." she recalls. "Then the AIDS crisis came later in the '80s and it became a lot more serious and political. It became a protest. I mean, it's always been political. But as the years went by, the powers that be started to notice what a major community we were.

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Henny's archive shows Pride as the shape-shifting phenomenon it is: a day that has become whatever the queer community needs. She shows Pride as a party, a protest, a funeral, and a battleground.

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Lovingly lighting naked embraces and proud poses, her photos archive the euphoria of people living in a country that hated them, on a day that was a snaphsot of an alternative future. They celebrate the shrewd creativity of queer political speech and fashion, in the glorious shots of home-spun drag and kitsch protest art. They record the origins of icons, like RuPaul and Sylvia Rivera. They honor the rage and sadness, plucking out glares and silent screams, amid smiles and kisses.

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"Pride had this conviviality: a little bit of Mardi Gras, mixed with Halloween. Just let your freak flag fly, that's the best way to put it," Henny describes.

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Her images don't neglect the hatred lurking just on the other side of the barricades, exposing the counter-protestors who used to gather along the parade route and at St. Patrick's Cathedral. Among the attendants, they also trace the trajectory over time, of queer culture's precarious relationship with the mainstream, as increasing numbers of "Grandma for Gays," and "I Love My Lesbian Daughter" apparel and and politicians like Rudy Giuliani join the ranks in her photos, while "allyship" and the "gay vote" became household terms.

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The fact that Pride looks different now — like Coachella, stripped of radicalism, compliant with police, bloated with rainbow capitalist cash from investors who don't question how their day-to-day business hurts queer people — is something of a broken-record conversation. "Now Apple or Chase Bank has a float. There was very little advertising back then," Henny remembers. "It's slick, but back then it was rough, homegrown. It was more which tribe you were associated with, the Pyramid Club or whichever."

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"Remember that you're standing on the shoulders of the people that brought this, like Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera and all the people who fought the fight. Celebrate that.

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Queer culture's reckoning with its rising appeal to the mainstream seems to become more existentially complex each June. "Everything changes. The world is caught up to gay culture, in some ways. RuPaul's queens are on the cover of New York Magazine," Henny says. "We live in a really strange time, a horrific time. Trans people are still getting murdered. AIDS isn't a crisis, but healthcare is. It's not a good time for gays right now, even if they get the cover of magazines and some communities celebrate them. I think the larger culture doesn't want to see this."

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However, as someone who witnessed the much-glorified "then," Henny isn't necessarily nostalgic. "Am I nostalgic? I was lucky to live through it, to see it. But I'm not nostalgic for losing people. It was like a war, a war was going on. So I'm not nostalgic for that time. I'm nostalgic for a certain wildness I suppose. But it's just a different time, you know? It's just a different time totally. It can't be that way now."

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An indisputable beauty of Pride is opportunity for reflection and remembrance. Half a century after Stonewall, and as World Pride converges on NYC, it's more crucial than ever to remember how we got here, however we conceive of this place. So this June, PAPER asked Henny to pick 100+ photos from her archive to help us remember.

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"Have the greatest day possible, just remember that all this came before you," Henny says, asked what she hopes her photos will mean to young people. "Remember that you're standing on the shoulders of the people that brought this, like Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera and all the people who fought the fight. Celebrate that. Celebrate the history. Celebrate who you are. I think that's still hard for lots of people."

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Photography: Henny Garfunkel

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Wed, 19 Jun 2019 14:40:38 +0000http://www.8617965.com/rupaul-sylvia-rivera-henny-garfunkel-nyc-pride-2638910716.htmlRupaulSylvia riveraLgbtqPrideNycNew york cityParadeHenny garfunkelStory Jael Goldfine / Photography Henny Garfunkel
Bella Thorne Responds to Whoopi Goldberg's Nude Photos Criticismhttp://www.8617965.com/bella-thorne-whoopi-nudes-2638911857.html

Bella Thorne's had to deal with a lot lately due to her stolen nudes. Unfortunately, it's a saga that's far from over, as she now has to contend with some slut-shaming comments from Whoopi Goldberg.

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Earlier this week, Thorne decided to stand up to a hacker who allegedly stole her nudes by posting them herself alongside a long note about reclaiming power over the situation.

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"For the last 24 hours, I have been threatened with my own nudes, " she wrote. "I feel gross, I feel watched, I feel someone has taken something from me that I only wanted one special person to see. He has sent me multiple nude photos of other celebs, he won't stop with me or them, he'll just keep going."

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Thorne then ended the note by writing that she wouldn't let the hacker ruin a moment that should be about celebrating her new autobiography, The Life of a Wannabe Mogul: A Mental Disarray.

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"Fuck u and the power u think you have over me," Thorne continued. "I'm gonna write about this in my next book. Here's the photos he's been threatening me with, in other words here's my boobies."

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Related | Bella Thorne Posts Her Own Nudes to Thwart Hacker

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And while many of her fans were supportive, one person who turned the situation against Thorne was none other than The View's Goldberg.

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While talking about what had happened during the show's "Hot Topics" segment yesterday, Goldberg criticized Thorne's decision to take the photos in the first place, per The Daily Mail.

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"If you're famous, I don't care how old you are. You don't take nude pictures of yourself," Goldberg said. "Once you take that picture, it goes into the Cloud and it's available to any hacker who wants it, and if you don't know that in 2019 that this is an issue, I'm sorry. You don't get to do that."

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As a result, Thorne responded to Goldberg's comments by posting an emotional Instagram video in which she criticizes Goldberg for slut-shaming and creating an even more toxic situation for her.

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"I'm not gonna lie, I wanna say that I feel pretty disgusting. I feel pretty disgusting, Whoopi, knowing that everyone's seen my shit. And I just want to say that me watching this interview made me feel bad about myself," Thorne said. "I hope you're happy. I really do. I hope you're so fucking happy."

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Thorne then went on to call Goldberg "crazy" for "thinking such terrible things on such an awful situation," and added that she would no longer attend her scheduled The View appearance, as she doesn't want "to be beaten down by a bunch of older women." Which, honestly, fair.

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Watch Thorne's entire video response, below.

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Photo via Getty

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Wed, 19 Jun 2019 00:25:07 +0000http://www.8617965.com/bella-thorne-whoopi-nudes-2638911857.htmlBella thorneWhoopi goldbergNudesHackersThe viewFamous peopleTvSandra Song
Bella Hadid Responds to 'Racist' Photo Criticismhttp://www.8617965.com/bella-hadid-shoe-photo-2638911489.html

Bella Hadid has issued an apology after a photo of her boot sole raised toward a Saudi Arabian and Emirates plane sparked massive backlash.

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Earlier this week, Hadid posted the now-deleted photo — which featured the heel of her boot resting on an airport lounge window — online. According to E! News, the photo made it look like "she was kicking planes that had the UAE and Saudi flag on them" — an offensive gesture in certain cultures where the display of a sole implies "the person is lower than the dirt on the sole."

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Related | Bella Hadid Says Her 'Party Girl' Days Are Over

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The model — who is half-Dutch, half-Palestinian — was quickly criticized via the now-viral #BellaHadidIsRacist hashtag by many of her followers who called the gesture "disrespectful."

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"As a Saudi girl I will protect my country from people like you," one user wrote, while another critic posted, "We don't care if u did it by mistake or not but u are famous u should to be more carefully." Some even began posting photos and videos of luxury items associated with Hadid being thrown into the trash.

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This also all comes on the heels of Hadid posting a screenshot of a New York Times opinion piece called "The Princes Who Want to Destroy Any Hope for Arab Democracy" — something people were also quick to criticize.

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In response to the controversy, Hadid posted an apology in both English and Arabic, writing, "I would never want my posts or platform to be used for hate against anyone especially those of my own beautiful and powerful heritage."

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"I love and care so much about the Muslim and Arab side of my family," she continued. "The photo of my shoe had nothing to do with politics. I never noticed the planes in the background and that is the truth. I would never mean to disrespect these airlines."

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Hadid then followed up by writing that the photo was "an honest mistake."

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"Never, ever would I intentionally try to offend anyone like that," Hadid wrote. "I am so sorry."

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Read her apology in full, below.

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Photo via Getty

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Tue, 18 Jun 2019 23:53:54 +0000http://www.8617965.com/bella-hadid-shoe-photo-2638911489.htmlBella hadidDiorApologiesRacismEmiratesFamous peopleInternet cultureSandra Song
Sophie Turner Is Down to Star in the Boy George Biopichttp://www.8617965.com/sophie-turner-boy-george-2638911194.html

Sophie Turner is apparently in the running to play Boy George in a forthcoming biopic.

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Related | Sophie Turner Says Joe Jonas Almost Kissed Her Double

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While speaking on the Fitzy and Wippa radio show recently, the Culture Club frontman was talking about the names currently being floated to play his younger self in the biopic. One of the more "interesting suggestions"?

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"Sophie Turner," Boy George said. "[People will say] 'she can't play you she's a woman,' you know. But when I was 17, I would have loved to have been her."

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Naturally, it didn't take long for Turner to catch wind of Boy George's compliment. In response to the news, Turner promptly tweeted that she was "SO down" to take on the role.

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And, honestly, once you see them side-by-side, the resemblance is a tad uncanny. Here's to hoping it becomes a reality.

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Photo via Getty

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Tue, 18 Jun 2019 23:01:47 +0000http://www.8617965.com/sophie-turner-boy-george-2638911194.htmlSophie turnerBoy georgeBiopicFilmSandra Song
Kirin J Callinan Is Making a 'Return to Center'http://www.8617965.com/kirin-j-callinan-2638791552.html

You may not know Kirin J Callinan by name, but odds are you've seen his work. Years before it became 2019's hottest trend, Callinan was riding his own Yeehaw Moment with the massively viral country/EDM fusion of 2017's "Big Enough." The song's video was like a homoerotic Tim & Eric sketch with the coup-de-grace being Australian rock legend Jimmy Barnes passionately screaming above the mountains. It was a video rife with meme fodder, and the internet noticed.

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But there is more to Kirin J Callinan that just a meme. His 2017 album, Bravado, was intentionally cheesy, designed to challenge Callinan to take the most garish sounds and corniest lyrics he could imagine and learn to love the absurdity of it. The result was a bizarre pop record that walked right up to the line of parody making it difficult to determine if Callinan was actually serious. But it begs the question, does it actually matter?

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Related | You've Never Heard Anything Like 100 Gecs

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In the followup to Bravado, Callinan once again zigs just when we expect him to zag. For all intents and purposes, Return to Center is a cover album, featuring Callinan's own takes on bands like Laibach, Randy Newman, Spectral Display, Momus, and the Waterboys, but it is also so much more than that. Callinan is as flamboyant and cheesy as ever with his delivery, laying it on thick in a way that feels fitting for his exclusively 80s source material. Return to Center is comprised of songs that won't likely make any critic's "best of the 80s" list anytime soon, but truthfully it feels like a more honest representation of the decade than many such compilations.

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What sets Return to Center apart from, say the cringey cash grab that is Weezer's Teal Album, is a palpable love for these songs. While chatting with Callinan you can almost hear it gushing out of him, as he is more than happy to go into detail about Laibach's strange history and explain how the quazi-military march of "Life Is Life" was actually a cover of an Austrian disco outfit's chart-topper "Live is Life." Every song on the album has an equally, if not more, in depth backstory to it, but what's even more remarkable is the fact that the entire project was put together in just 14 days, so that by the end of it Callinan could still return all of the equipment the used to Guitar Center for a full refund.

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Return to Center is a beguiling project that grows more intricate and profound with each layer you peel away from its campy exterior. PAPER sat down with Callinan to talk about Return to Center, feeling misunderstood, and what it was like to being a meme.


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Why do a covers album?

There are multiple reasons why. I feel like this album is more personal and relevant to myself than my records or originals prior. It feels more true to myself. It is holistically a return to what I love, a 'Return to Center.' In the past with Bravado, I was intentionally trying to make an album gravitating towards the worst lyrics and the worst song titles. A "Song About Drugs" was literally the worst song title I could think of.

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"I think a lot of people will think it's somehow artistically less relevant or somehow less interesting, but it represents me personally more than any originals record ever has."

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"This Whole Town" was definitely a personal favorite off Bravado.

I appreciate that very much. It was trying to use these tropes of music that I knew nothing about and always found very garish and sort of shallow. Trying to use ugly ideas and ugly sounds and hopefully find some beauty in them, but also just explore the ugliness, get over my own cultural elitism, get over my own ideas of taste which otherwise were counterproductive in terms of my creativity. It was sort of a therapeutic thing maybe, but the end result wasn't particularly listenable for me.

Don't get me wrong, I did find some beauty and ugliness, some truth and some absurdity. I enjoy the record but it doesn't really represent me and I think it was misunderstood a lot. Maybe this will be misunderstood as well. I think a lot of people will think it's somehow artistically less relevant or somehow less interesting, but it represents me personally more than any originals record ever has. The songs resonate with me, how I first heard them or got into them. There's also the fact that I set myself the crazy deadline of the length of Guitar Center's return policy on audio gear. I had 14 days to make this album. Debating lyrics with myself would've taken up a lot of time, so I sort of had to do a song a day in order to get it done, finishing it off, packing down the gear and returning it to the Guitar Center.

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Oh, I didn't know that.

Yes, so that's the concept. The initial and core concept of the process and how the album came about was the idea of Return to Center. I would go to the most corporate, generic music store in the world, spend the entire budget on the gear and then have the length of the return policy to try to make the album. Then getting all the money back, having thus found an ingenious way to make an album for free. It is on one hand sort of a guerrilla punk record that I'm taking advantage of this corporation, but on the other hand, I'm also celebrating this corporation and their return policy. I've been talking about it as if it's my corporate spiritual record. Both a personal return to center and a literal return to [Guitar] Center.

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Going back to the formation of the album, what was your process behind choosing which songs you wanted to cover?

Yeah, it was a spontaneous one. I had a long, long list of songs. I've gone through so many different phases in terms of what I've been into and it's sort of interesting to me that nearly all the songs are from the 80s, which is the decade I was born. Maybe there is a sort of return because that's the music I grew up with, but it wasn't so intentional. The process of choosing those songs was so surprising. There's a bunch of songs that were on my list that I was sure we were going to do that we didn't end up tackling. There are also a couple of songs on the album that wasn't on the list, but once I put the money down, $8,888 was the budget, it became real. I was like "I only have 14 days to do this." All the plans went out the window. We set up, and it just became very spontaneous. If I woke up one morning with a song in my head, we'd give it a go. I was walking down to get a coffee singing "Vienna" to myself and that wasn't on the list but I came back and said: "let's give it a shot." There's also a bunch of songs that I was definitely going to do, "Life is Life," is an old, old favorite of mine, both "It Takes a Muscle to Fall in Love," and "The Homosexual," were songs that hit me really hard the first time I heard them.


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When did you realize you wanted to inject original work into the project as well?

Well, the only true original on there is the title track "Return to Center," which is the improvised instrumental guitar piece in the middle. I felt like that was important. It's the centerpiece of the album, it's the title track. That was the final touch on the record. It was the last thing I did on the last day. But I knew it wasn't complete either. I knew this instrumental piece needed something else and the idea came when I was in Minneapolis playing First Avenue, Prince's old venue. I was on tour with the Growlers and [had them] after sound check and before doors opened, pin me down in the middle of the venue on the floor with the microphone positioned right above me and start tickling me. There's this maniacal, hysterical laughter that just comes in both pleasure and pain, hilarity and pure torture, which was sort of a good centerpiece for the album I thought. This crazy laughter that you couldn't tell was pleasure or pain, it was a bit of both, as the center. I haven't unpacked it fully but I liked it.

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"Just because something is funny doesn't mean it's a joke."

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What made you want to include the news clips about the ARIAs controversy at the beginning of "Rise?"

I felt like I needed to address that in some way on the album. To not address it would've been shying away from it. I wouldn't have been comfortable with it. When that happened, when I flashed some photographers and the subsequent media ensued I got hit up by just about every major and minor news publication in the country wanting to talk about it, and I said no to everybody. I wanted to talk about it, but I think the advice from everyone around me was to let it play out. I was hurt by the response –– what went from a fairly innocuous flashing of some photographers that had literally said to me, "Hey Kirin, give us a flash under your kilt," you know? For me it was playful.

Nudity is not something to be afraid of. It's my own way of being at ease with my body. I've done plenty of naked shoots. So when a photographer says "jump," I jumped. To have it taken out of context and made it a sexual thing, an aggressive thing, was difficult for me. All along, the best way to deal with this is to approach it artistically like I have anything else in my life. I didn't want to go on some big rant about it, defend myself, or even apologize, it was a spontaneous thing. I didn't really want to inflame that circus. I'm not sure, to be honest, it felt right. We couldn't actually use the original news clip in the end. We try to do everything by the book so I had people reread the parts and it gave that song another twist. Originally that song was written about something much heavier, apartheid, talks about Northern Ireland. Maybe some people would be offended that I take something so serious and twisted it to be about something so trivial that happened.

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I think what interests me is the decision to embrace that part of your own personal history and not necessarily run from it or let it define you.

You put it more eloquently than I did.


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Speaking of things that can define you, I wanted to talk about the virality of "Big Enough." What was life like before that and after that?

Well, I can't say that life has changed in any significant way. I do have a hit song I guess. That's the song I get recognized for the most. It wasn't a surprise either. I set out to make a mini-opera that was absolutely bombastic and absurd. I went in, Danny and I were planning the video, we set a target just verbally to each other, we wanted to get one million views. We've exceeded that by 40 odd million views now. When Alex and I wrote the song, it came together very quickly, but I knew for a long time that it needed something else. Having Jimmy Barnes scream as a national icon, rock n' roll Hall of Famer in Australia, 17 number one solo albums, two books in the number on the best-seller –– he's a legend. To even have him do that, to do his scream which what he's most renowned for, I just wanted this distilled version of him in the most absurd setting. We always knew that it would be a thing, I just didn't expect it'd be as big a thing as it was in places like Russia or South East Asia, South America where I've never been, don't have a following and Jimmy doesn't either. It's quite amazing to me. I'm not embarrassed, I'm very proud of it and I know Alex is too and I know Jimmy is. Bizarrely, that is what I was most worried about, have I somehow tainted his legacy? I had an interview with him the other day and he finds it hysterical. I think his wife Jane really loves it too which helps.

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What was it like to see that become a meme?

The most flattering thing was that people thought I had started the meme, had been making these memes, which I thought was genius if I had done that. Most of them were quite dumb, but I enjoyed it. There were some really obscure ones as well that I found really funny, deeply funny. I embrace it completely, I wanted to create this mini-opera and it had a cultural moment around the world. It wasn't my intention to become a meme, and I don't think that's what's going to define me. I made a new record now, I'm working on lots of music with other people as well, but I'm glad it happened, it's amazing actually.

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For people that discovered your music through "Big Enough," how do you describe your artistic point of view? It isn't necessarily parody or joke songs but it also isn't super serious, it's a little confusing but really interesting for that exact same reason.

It's hard to put in words and explain it to someone especially if they don't have a reference point, but you kind of nailed it when you said it was confusing. That was sort of the stated intent when making Bravado. I love discovering things when I don't understand it. I find it exciting, I find it inspiring, I didn't want it to be a joke, if anything I think it went too far in that direction. I've said this a number of times, just because something is funny doesn't mean it's a joke. I've always tried to imbue everything I do with a sense of humor. I think there's hilarity at every turn and I think if we can approach life like that, it makes it a more enjoyable experience. Honestly, I find it very difficult to stomach anything that doesn't have a sense of humor because it seems a little disingenuous to me.

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Return to Center is out June 21st on Terrible Records.

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Photo Courtesy of Kirin J Callinan

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Tue, 18 Jun 2019 21:27:22 +0000http://www.8617965.com/kirin-j-callinan-2638791552.htmlReturn to centerCoversAlbumLaibachMomusThe waterboysGuitar centerBravaddoBig enoughMemeMusicAriasFlashingKirin j callinanMatt Moen
This Designer Takes Yeehaw to the Next Levelhttp://www.8617965.com/ricky-king-americana-2638909779.html

When the budding designer behind Ricky King veered from his path as a painter and sculptor to start his own label, there was no guessing how quickly his craft would find an audience — and a movement.

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Taylor Ross was born and raised in Colorado and, while he's no stranger to that Yeehaw life (he named his brand partially after his late cousin Ricky, a rodeo rider), it took a few twists of fate to align him with his passions. Jeremy Scott hired him to paint leather jackets for the designer's fall 2013 collection and, by 2015, Ross' own label was born.

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Related | How Yeehaw Took Over the Internet

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The Colorado native taught himself cut-and-sew techniques and turned his artistic ambition over to fashion design, refashioning the vintage leather pieces he thrifted between Denver and Los Angeles with his signature, graphic paint strokes.

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The effort quickly led to another big break on the set of Lady Gaga's 2017 "John Wayne" video, where she donned a bustier made from old cowboy boots. "Seeing my cowboy boot bustier in action on Gaga in the 'John Wayne' video was amazing, and I knew I wanted to bring in another piece made from cowboy boots for this collection, so I ended up making a codpiece/thong — fully impractical and fully fabulous," Ross tells PAPER.


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Continuing to evolve his hand-crafted construction techniques, Ricky King's fourth collection, titled "Americana," taps into some iconic imagery from the past. "Cowboys, greasers, sailors... I see it as kind of a tribute and a parody," Ross says of his inspirations.

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He created a series of collages that feature his clothes against open-air landscapes and surreal all-American scenarios. "I drew inspiration from some of my favorite artists like David LaChapelle, Pierre et Gilles, John Waters, and Michael the III," Ross says. "I've been developing a style of digital collage for years, and this project feels like a true culmination of all my creative skills."

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"Cowboys, greasers, sailors... I see it as a tribute and a parody."

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The collection features Ricky King's patchwork "gauche" pieces, including a gown made from 30 belts, hand-painted "antelope" print pieces, '50s "diner" looks inspired by Johnny Depp and Traci Lords in Cry-Baby, and the chain link faux fur tail stole.

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Saddle up and take a ride towards "Americana," below, and follow him on Instagram (@rickyking.co).

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Photos courtesy of Ricky King

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Tue, 18 Jun 2019 20:35:51 +0000http://www.8617965.com/ricky-king-americana-2638909779.htmlRicky kingLady gagaFashionYeehawRoytel Montero
Beauty Influencer Shahd Khidir on How to Help Sudanhttp://www.8617965.com/shahd-khidir-response-sudan-crisis-2638831978.html

Sudan continues to be in a severe state of crisis as we speak. Yet, the global media attention towards the issue has been shameful.

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Disturbing reports of hundreds of people being massacred and close to 80 women raped have taken over social media and non-profit groups. The Sudan crisis started after former president and dictator Omar al-Bashir, who was in power for 30 years, was "toppled" by his own military regime following months of peaceful protests that rallied for a democratic country.

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Soon after the military generals took control, close to 100 people have reportedly been killed, and over 70 cases of rape and robberies have been reported. Some bodies of those murdered were also discovered in the Nile River. There is currently no internet or cellular access in the country.

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Earlier this month, Sudanese beauty influencer Shahd Khidir addressed the issue in an Instagram post and called for the media to do better. "It's really hard being an influencer and sharing information that is 'off brand' and not worthy of the 'feed' but I cannot hold this in anymore. I am at my office crying because I have so many emotions in me and I feel horrible. There's a massacre happening in my country Sudan's and a media blackout and internet censorship for four consecutive days," she said. "There is no objective media sharing what's going on expect for @aljazeeraenglish which had their offices shot down."

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The 26-year-old, who is from Sudan but based in New York, isn't alone in pointing out the limited coverage of the atrocities in the country. Many international activists have talked about the global media bias and drawn parallels to the recent burning of the heritage Notre Dame structure in France. While the Notre Dame tragedy had millions of people across the world expressing their regret and received $1 billion in donations to resurrect the iconic building, Sudan hasn't been afforded equal generosity — an instance of the blatant racial bias.


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In her post, Khidir also goes on to painfully recall how she discovered her friend was ruthlessly murdered in the country while another was missing. "My best friend was in hiding on June 2 and that's the last time I spoke to him. He was missing for 4 days and when I got in touch with him he said: 'I was caught, beaten and abused and humiliated and arrested and had my phone confiscated from me. I am injured currently.' And all I could do this post this," she wrote.

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She further apologized to brands she's running campaigns for as she put her sponsored content on hold and promised to "refund" all the money. "If this offends you, I am sorry. But I need to speak out and share this in a time like this. If you want to support me please share this information as widely as possible and don't be silent. Be an ally because we need your help," she said.

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Her post has garnered international attention and support from both her followers and other outlets.

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PAPER spoke to Khidir about the crisis, the media bias, and what we could collectively do to help those affected in the country.


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What prompted you to talk about the massacres in Sudan on your Instagram?

Finding out that my friends and family and the Sudanese people are being abused and murdered by the Rapid Support Forces and no objective media outlets are covering it. I needed the world to know about this humanitarian issue and to get involved.

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Why did you feel like it was difficult to raise your voice against the issue using your platform?

I am a social media influencer. I am focused on beauty, fashion and lifestyle. I steer clear of politics because I don't want to offend anyone. My platform was for a specific category and I was afraid that I would lose the people's interest in what I was offering. I didn't think people would be interested to know about the Sudan Revolution. I did not want to confused my followers. But I stand corrected.

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"There's no coverage on Sudan because it's a poor African country that's not interesting to the global media."

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Why do you think the global media coverage about the issue has been so limited?

There's no coverage on Sudan because it's a poor African country that's not interesting to the global media. It's not a tourist destination. It's not exotic. It's peaceful protestors being murdered by the paramilitary forces.


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How has the feedback from your followers and brands been since you shared the post?

My followers have been so overwhelmingly positive and supportive. A lot of people are standing in solidarity with us.
A lot of people sent their condolences. Some have changed their profile pictures, shared the posts, to further raise awareness. Most have been very good at understanding. Some did not respond to me, I think they will not work with me in the future.

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Do you know if the situation — especially in terms of your friends and family back in the country — has gotten better?

No, because we are at almost the two week mark with no internet in the country. We don't know what's going on, and once the internet comes back on a lot of the atrocities will be share with the world. Today, I am unable to reach my family or friends. I was able to internationally call and SMS text but right now I cannot reach them. I am so worried at this exact moment. I can't get through and I can't contact anyone.

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"Organize events in your community and attend them, spread awareness, share the posts over and over..."

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Lastly, what can your followers and the media do to help the people in Sudan?

Organize events in your community and attend them, spread awareness, share the posts over and over, donate to funeral funds, medical funds, change your profile picture to blue for Sudan, use the #iamthesudanrevolution and #sudanuprising, talk to your Sudanese friends in the diaspora about how they are feeling, donate to them an international prepaid aid card.

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To find out how you could help Sudan, click here.

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Photo via Instagram

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Tue, 18 Jun 2019 19:41:42 +0000http://www.8617965.com/shahd-khidir-response-sudan-crisis-2638831978.htmlSudanShahd khidirSudan crisisMassacresBeauty influencerMedia biasOmar al bashirJeena Sharma
Turn Up the Volume With Facetune2http://www.8617965.com/nicola-formichetti-facetune2-extreme-2638517455.html

Who knew that you could edit high fashion photos on... Facetune? World-renowned designer Nicola Formichetti teamed up with Facetune2 to not only edit these photos, but create brand new looks. With only his phone, Nicola reached professional-level retouching results using classic Facetune2 features like Reshape, Patch, Paint, Light FX and Structure to brighten tones, elongate body parts, switch up hairstyles and create new, intensified clothes.

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Related | Seeing Red: Zendaya to the Extreme

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In the spirit of PAPER's Extreme Issue, we encourage you to push limits. You don't have to master a complicated program to transform your images into something new. Apps like Facetune2 let you manipulate images easily, bring your creative vision to fruition, and elevate photos from basic to something beyond.

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Click Here to Order Zendaya's Extreme Issue

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Mon, 17 Jun 2019 14:46:00 +0000http://www.8617965.com/nicola-formichetti-facetune2-extreme-2638517455.htmlNicola formichettiFacetune2FacetuneInstagramInternetFacetune Nicola Formichetti
Proudly AmeriQueenhttp://www.8617965.com/trixie-mattel-sky-vodka-pride-2638522940.html

Born in San Francisco, the gay capital of the United States, SKYY Vodka has been a vocal supporter of LGBTQ+ rights since its launch in 1992 and has always sought to find inventive ways to champion the queer community. Over the years, SKYY has strived to go beyond standard corporate allyship from campaigning for anti-discrimination legislation designed to protect transgender and gender-nonconforming individuals to partnering up with Amazon Prime's groundbreaking Emmy award-winning show, Transparent. In 2014, SKYY joined forces with Freedom to Marry on a "Toast to Marriage" initiative advocating for marriage equality across the country ahead of the historic Supreme Court decision a year later. The project saw them attempt to break the world record for the largest arm-linked toast as well as social media campaigns and live events. SKYY also knows a thing or two about throwing a good party, which has led them to sponsor Pride celebrations across the country in places like New Jersey, Austin and Palm Springs; this year they'll be an official partner of World Pride in New York City.

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"SKYY Vodka has made the fight for LGBTQ+ rights a proud pillar of the company's history."

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Now, SKYY is looking to redefine what it means to be 'Proudly American.' In a political climate that seems increasingly bent on dividing us through our differences and rolling back our hard-earned rights, SKYY is looking to reclaim the phrase in favor of a more inclusive future. Coming from the radical notion that diversity drives progress, they have dared to envision a new, queerer patriotism that is just as quintessentially American as country music and apple pie.


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As a part of the campaign, SKYY has teamed up with notable LGBTQ+ icons that have time and time again proven their own bravery by standing up for what they believe and daring to be different. They've recently enlisted the aid of drag superstar, Trixie Mattel, to reimagine what it means to belong to the "Home of the Brave." The winner of RuPaul's Drag Race: All-Stars has always proudly stood out from the crowd. Whether it was through her unconventional makeup or her charming take on folk music, Mattel has always done things uncompromisingly on her own terms.

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"When I got my start, it took an act of bravery to get me out of my small town to pursue my dreams," Mattel says in one of the several campaign spots you can find on Youtube. "Nobody told me a drag queen could sing country music or appear on television. When you stay true to yourself – and are the only act for 500 miles around – people start to pay attention."

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As we approach the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots this June, SKYY and Trixie Mattel look to lead by example in embracing their American heritage as something all of us can be proud of.


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Photo courtesy of SkYY Vodka

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Mon, 10 Jun 2019 14:55:22 +0000http://www.8617965.com/trixie-mattel-sky-vodka-pride-2638522940.htmlTrixie mattelSkyy vodka2019 nyc pride2019 prideHome of the brave2019 worldprideSkyyProudly americanVideoYoutube.comWorldpridePaper Magazine
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