By Diane Anderson-Minshall
Originally published on Advocate.com December 13 2011 7:18 PM ET
Ever since her debut single, “This Is What Rock N’ Roll Looks Like,” pop-rock singer-songwriter Porcelain Black has been wowing LGBT audiences with her fierce, raspy vocals, two-tone hair, and bad-girl attitude. She’s released a handful of singles while fans wait for her new album (to be released in early 2012). She toured with Nicki Minaj and Travis Barker, appeared in videos for Swizz Beatz and Jeffree Star, and made her television debut on Late Night With David Letterman Show last July. Now the rocking chick in killer platforms —whose newest release, “Naughty Naughty” (2101 Records/Universal Republic), hits iTunes today — talks to The Advocate about her hairstylist dad, being a runaway teen, and whether or not she kisses girls too.
The Advocate: You’ve said everything you do is a mix of light and dark. Has it always been that way, even during childhood?
Porcelain Black: I’m the same person now that I was, seriously, when I was 5. I’ve always said what’s on my mind and went against the grain even if people didn’t approve. So, I guess, yes.
You’ve got a sort of primal scream you can do that no other performer can. How long did it take to perfect that?
I’ve always just been able to scream. It isn't something I had to practice or work on. I’m a screamer. Meow.
Since you’re enormously popular in clubs, I’m sure you know you have gay fans. But what about lesbian fans?
I have both. Since a lot of my music is about women’s empowerment, I know a lot of strong women relate to it. We hear a lot of female artists talk about experimenting with their sexuality. Can I ask if Porcelain Black has kissed a girl and liked it?
I’m an equal opportunist.
Is there one overriding thing you hope people who listen to your music take away?
Confidence, strength, empowerment, and an “I don’t give a fuck” attitude.
You’ve been compared to a couple of artists, like Joan Jett and Courtney Love, in part because of your presence more than your music, I think. Which female performers do you look up to and why?
Aaliyah was one of my favorites growing up. She’s fucking hot and her music’s dope! I know I don't do R&B/hip-hop/pop music but she was a huge inspiration to me. I was crushed when she passed away.
A lot of your songs deal with not belonging, which I think is a message that really resonates with how a lot of LGBT people feel. What made you feel like you didn’t belong?
Closed-minded people and their closed-minded opinions. Fuck them right back. If you can't think outside the box, then you ain’t getting’ in my box. [Laughs] Do you feel like you belong now?
When your mom remarried into a sort of suburban cookie-cutter world, how old were you? What was that experience like?
I was 10 or 11. It was whack, but I was just like, Screw this! And I would go hang out with my dad at his hair salon, Beaton Colors, after school. I didn't really care about hanging with people from school. I was at photo shoots and backstage at fashion shows and cool after-parties instead of sleepovers.
Your father was a hairstylist who occasionally worked for Vogue. He must have been around a lot of gay folks in the industry. Were you exposed to LGBT individuals while you were growing up? How did that impact you?
Oh, yes. Me and all the gay boys that worked at my dad’s hair salon got along quite nicely. [Laughs] I was exposed to all kinds of people and learned at a young age that people's differences are what make them beautiful. It’s what makes the world go round. If we weren't different, the world would be boring.
You actually ran away as a teenager. What was that time like? How did you live?
I got kicked out of two schools when I was 15. My dad died of cancer. My mom hated me for being different. So I just ran away. I went and lived with older punk-rock friends and moved around a lot. I lived at some friends’ places in Detroit, lived in Cleveland, Florida. Went on tour with friends’ bands. Went to Seattle. I was all over the place. How did I live? How didn’t I live? I lived life to the fullest and did whatever I wanted. The world was my oyster.
It’s been said that Virgin wanted you to sing like Avril Lavigne, not Marilyn Manson meets Britney Spears. Is that true? How do you fight that?
My A&R at Virgin was way cool. I actually love him! But yes, I wasn't down with the music direction so I got out of that deal. Always stay true to your art.
Does looking like a bad-ass affect how people treat you?
Yeah, because they are either afraid of me or super-intimidated but I’m the easiest person to get along with. As long as you’re real and have a good heart, we will get along. Just be cool, and we'll be cool. Cool?