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The DJ-production drag duo known as Jawbreakers is asking people to take "Just a Taste" of their upcoming EP. That flavorful sample called "Boyfriend" is available now on digital platforms. If you're thinking, hey, didn't Ashlee Simpson have a song of the same name back in 2005? Yes, she did, but this version is a lot more club-friendly with an EDM edge.
The creative process has many layers as most dance songs do these days. It begins with the Jawbreakers producing the music then finding a voice to sing it. In this case, Amunda, formerly of the Australian group Operator Please. The song dismisses its punk roots and evolves into a banger bop with dancefloor disco sass much like its producers.
Kali Forni-Kate and Sabrina Babyslut are those producers and they call themselves Jawbreakers. But you can just call them Kali and Sabrina. Both are in their twenties but refuse to say on which end of the scale. What's abundantly clear is their love of pop culture and tapping into nightclub synergy.
They both live in Melbourne, Australia, or Naarm, as it is called by those who wish to respect traditional Aboriginal names. Kali lives in the southern area where modern artists and modern history collide. That is where the iconic Chapel Street is located. It's known for its shops, restaurants, and popular gay districts. Although they live a stone's throw away from each other, they always end up together.
"There’s a bunch of queer venues and events happening frequently and honestly any venue that books us and supports and uplifts the queer community is iconic in my opinion," Sabrina said.
JawbreakersAndrew Van Dorsselaer
Their pronouns are she and her when in drag, and they and him when out of it. We will refer to them mostly in the former for the purposes of this article. But ultimately they hate labels, "We both identify as queer and slowly trying to move away from labels as much as possible regardless of whether we are in or out of drag."
The two have been friends going on six years. They met each other while doing a Britney Spears tribute show at the deco-inspired historic Greyhound Hotel, now sadly demolished.
There’s a four-to five-year age gap between them; they met when Sabrina was 18 and Kali was 23. "I think we were surprised how instantly we clicked and that we had so much in common for a millennial and Gen Z," they explain. "From there we were inseparable pretty much trying to incorporate each other into every gig and then the rest is history."
In school, Sabrina studied costume design and music theory and she's played saxophone ever since she was seven years old.
Kali was a track and field athlete who admits to being, "a Uni drop out studying musculoskeletal therapy. I also love waterskiing, kneeboarding, and to be honest, still into Pokemon Go," she smirks.
Eventually they let their love of music and style win out over everything else. That makes sense because both have music in their blood. "I dead ass was in primary school listening to sonatas on my iPod Touch but I would listen to literally any genre of music as long as it was on 'Glee,'" said Sabrina who loves how technology has progressed the medium."Music has become a lot more synthesized but people have leaned into that embracing the electronic sounds."
"My dad is a jazz musician," adds Kali, "and mum was a dancer. [My] Sister was an opera singer so I grew up in a very musical industry going to interstate jazz festivals---and I played piano. I went through my pop diva 'Britney Spears in the zone phase,' to my emo My Chemical Romance phase and got my first Ministry of Sound CD when I was 10 years old, which is insane because I had so many CD’s with John Course’s name on them, and now [I'm] supported by his record label."
Which brings us to their latest project: the "Just a Taste" EP and their first single from that album, "Boyfriend." With so much creativity in their vains and drive in their hearts it's curious why they would choose to make an EP that averages four tracks per album rather than the longer format with three-times that.
"'With this EP we’re showing a few different sides of our musical personality ranging from pure pop to more club focused songs and we really wanted to give the listeners ‘Just A Taste’ and use this EP as a metaphorical tasting platter," they explain. The idea is to show their audience they are musically diverse, but still have something succinct. "Since this is our first body of work we're putting out, it would be risky to do a full album. It's better to dip your toe in and see what works and what needs tweaking before releasing an album, which is a huge undertaking."
Andrew Van Dorsselaer
Once they had the music track for "Boyfriend" laid down, they needed to find a singer who could not only bring a freshness to the vocals, but also understood what the DJs were trying to do. Upon the advise of Joel Siviour from Seismic Talent, they found that female voice in Amunda, an indie artist who used to sing for the popular Australian band Operator Please.
"Since the original track is a pop rock song from the 2000s we knew we needed something in that realm, so when we were introduced to Amunda we knew it would be the perfect fit because she herself had some big hits with Operator Please which had that pop/alt/rock kinda vibe to it. The track was pretty much done before we sent it to her and we were just looking for a topline and when she agreed to be a part of the project we let her have free reign with the topline and we were so obsessed with what she came back with!"
The completed project was perfect they say. "Boyfriend" is the epitome of who they are, "it’s a high energy dance track that just makes you want to get up and party and have fun! It shows how much we love pop culture referencing the iconic queen Ashlee Simpson but how we recontextualized the track for today's music climate. In the music video you truly get to see us and become part of (what I like to call) the Jawbreaker Cinematic Universe which is just this bubble gum pop world we live in and serve some iconic Y2K looks and be the biggest Y2K divas we can be."
Andrew Van Dorsselaer
That's no exaggeration. The video which recently released on YouTube proves it. Bubblicious colors, mod culture designs and 60s era couture, Jawbreakers is just like Kali's Pokedex: ready to evolve. Groovy chic and pink hair showcase the talent of these pop rocks. And the land down under is eating them up.
"The LGBTQIA+ community in Australia is sooo supportive," Sabrina says. "Every city has such an uplifting community that gets behind their up-and-coming artists in queer spaces. From painting, to acting---the sex and drag industry---the community is so insanely supportive. Like, we couldn’t imagine being straight because like there's no community and they don’t hype each other like the LGBT community does."
Jawbreakers is only beginning their reign. With "Girlfriend" finished and the "Just a Taste" EP dropping on April 1, 2022, the duo are poised for stardom. They aren't taking anything for granted either.
"We also have been so lucky to be offered some incredible gigs that are coming up this year. Now that borders are open we are about to head on an Aus tour starting at St Kilda Fest, and then heading on the Summer Camp Tour with a killer queer lineup. We also plan to get back in the studio and keep making new music. We truly are just ready to make the most out of all the opportunities we have been blessed with and do the most to make anyone who has supported us proud."
You can listen to Jawbreakers' debut single "Boyfriend" on digital music platforms and watch the video below.
Their full EP "Just a Taste" will release on April 1, 2022.
Jawbreakers - Boyfriend (ft. AMUNDA) (Official Music Video) www.youtube.com
Move, I’m Gay, the podcast starring Francisco and Brendan (better known to listeners as Franny and Brenda) will premiere its 100th episode on Tuesday, February 22, 2022. Taped live each week from their studio in Portland, Oregon, the show has gained a national following for the comical camaraderie between its two seemingly polar-opposite hosts. While Franny dishes on the latest entertainment dirt, and maybe belts out a Top 40 hit or two, Brenda references obscure gay historical facts. There’s also a bit of politics thrown in, as the two banter, laugh and drink their way into listener’s hearts.
“I had never been a fan of podcasts,” admits Francisco. “I have only listened to a couple and most of them have been true crime, so it’s interesting to find myself hosting a comedy show. Honestly, the real reason I’m here is I broke my leg and I needed something to do with my life.”
Brenda and FrannyMykl Fstr
The pair had only hung out with each other casually before starting the Move, I’m Gay podcast in February 2020. “We have very different personalities,” Brendan explains. “Francisco is up on trends and I’m slightly clueless to them, but we seem to mesh well in terms of our interaction and it's nice to have solidified our friendship through two years of weekly recordings.”
The show’s segments are a favorite among listeners. In the “Gay of the Day” segment, they highlight some of the outstanding accomplishments of individuals in the LGBTQ+ community. “We love heaping praise on the bravery of celebs like Lil' Nas X and JoJo Siwa who have come out loud and proud and others like Jeopardy! champ Amy Schneider who are raising LGBTQ+ awareness on unexpected platforms,” says Francisco.
“It’s also encouraging to be able to report on progressive legal news, especially the expanded rights being enjoyed by queer people all around the world,” Brendan adds.
But with the sugar comes the medicine. The pair regularly share their real-life trials and tribulations, like in the “Hog Hunters" episode when Brenda was forced to come to terms with the truth about the man he had been speaking with on Tinder. “I had to be convinced live during the episode that I was being catfished. All of the obvious signs were there but I simply wasn't willing to admit it.”
In their “Bless This Mess” segment, Franny and Brenda lament on the week’s most shameful events. “Some of our most heated shows from last year were centered around transphobia and the right's increasingly unhinged fight against BLM and voter's rights, and their refusal to believe that we’re in the middle of a God damned global pandemic,” says Francisco.
“In the beginning, we didn’t expect the Move, I’m Gay podcast to be so political,” he continues. “It was meant to be more about our shared love of the free Britney movement and detest for Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop with maybe a few bits about Wendy Williams burping and farting simultaneously while live on air tossed in for good measure.”
Both agree that being LGBTQ+ today is inherently political. “We realized pretty quickly that avoiding the serious topics would come across as tone deaf, and that’s the last thing we want the show to be,” Brendan explains.
The podcast has been a learning experience for the pair. “I've found that my favorite shows are when we’re our real selves, imperfections and all,” says Francisco.
Brendan agrees. “Being authentic seems to be working for us. Like the great Cheryl Lynn sang in her 1978 self-titled debut studio album, 'Got to Be Real'."
Story and photos by Jason Keil
Chef Silvana Salcido Esparza has not sat down as the quarantine continues to drag on.
"It's been nothing but work 24/7," says the 2020 James Beard Award finalist. "When you're on the rollercoaster, there's no time to sit idle. You're just holding on for dear life doing whatever it tells you to do."
And like almost everyone else, the last several months for Esparza have been filled with difficulty, loss, and renewal. Earlier this year, when her restaurant Barrio Café, located on the southwest corner of 16th Street and Thomas Road, was forced to temporarily shut its doors due to health concerns stemming from the coronavirus pandemic. As she waited for the curve to flatten, she gathered a group of volunteers and prepared free meals for the community.
But in April, COVID-19 claimed Barrio Café Gran Reserva, the intimate restaurant housed inside the Bragg’s Pie Factory building along Grand Avenue. Filled with stunning work from local artists such as Lalo Cota and Angel Diaz, among others, the loss of her beloved establishment was especially hard on Esparza.
"It meant something to me," she explains. "It was personal."
But this historic moment has allowed the chef to make improvements to her original space. Dubbing it “Barrio Café 2.0,” visitors can expect more than a new menu and a fresh coat of paint. And like she did with Gran Reserva, she continues to make room for local creatives with the petite new art space named WG WALKby Gallery, which also shares its initials with Esparza's business partner Wendy Gruber. As its name suggests, those who want to view the art inside can see the entire space outside when they stroll or drive by, making it accessible 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
"It brings some vibrancy to the block," says Esparza. "I was surprised that there really is nothing like it anywhere in the country. We should all have window space to encourage people to walk and encourage art to continue."
Making art available to the public has always been a priority for Esparza. When she was growing up in the early '70s, she remembers how the murals in the village where she grew up in Mexico or saw when driving through downtown Los Angeles influenced her.
And the raising of strong and creative voices continues to have an impact on her life. Ten years ago, she transformed her love of culture and community into space known as Calle 16, a gallery of murals painted in response to the controversial immigration law SB 1070.
"I don't do it to be cool," she says. "Everything I do is to be genuine. It's all about the art and retaining that culture and pride."
The gallery's first exhibit is named Chingona, a collection of portraits of Esparza from her private collection from artists whose work she has loved and supported over the last 18 years, including Abe Zucca, Pablo Luna, and Debra Jones.
"At first I was like, 'This is weird. What am I supposed to do with this [portrait]? Put it up in my dining room,'" says Esparza. "I wanted to show this collection because [these portraits] are done by so many different artists over so many different periods of my life. And you can also see the early work of some of the artists. A few have done two different portraits of me, and you can see the difference in me and the difference in their hand. It's an immense honor."
While the work from Chingona is not for sale, sales of work from future showings will go entirely to the artist, continuing Esparza's commitment to elevating the culture of the neighborhood.
But the renewal of Barrio Café may be short-lived. Esparza says that the restaurant is "on a respirator right now," and it would devastate her to lose all the magnificent artwork inside and outside Calle 16.
"If I lose the building or rent it to somebody else, chances are the art isn't going to stay," she says. "There's a lot of love, heart, and spirit that went into it."
The 2020s been bending us over for a couple years now – time to switch positions.
What’s our motto for the new year? No-effiing-more. Starting now. Here’s what we’re not gon’ do in 2022.
Allow straight guys to gay-bait us for profitPhoto by Dylan Sauerwein on Unsplash
I get it: Straight men are hot. And they’re arguably even hotter when they’re dipping their hairy toes in the musky man waters. But you know what’s not hot? Pretending to be queer on social media for likes and clicks that translate to real-life profit. Because the likely truth of the matter is that this growing army of online gay-baiters are using that extra cash to take their opposite-sex girlfriends out on dates, supporting anti-LGBTQ+ causes (wittingly or not), and referring to us as cocksuckers and faggots whenever the cameras aren’t rolling. Are we gluttons for punishment? Of course we are. Why do you think we text our exes “You up?” every time we’re fucked up? Regardless, it’s time to break up with these no-homo narcissists once and for all. They’re taking us for a ride – and not the kind we douched for.
Live in fear of COVID-19Photo by Elena Koycheva on Unsplash
Guess whose business it is whether or not strangers are vaccinated? Nobody’s – and especially not yours. If you’ve received the vaccine, congratulations! You did your part. That’s it. You’re done. You can’t do anything else to prevent the spread COVID-19 from anyone else but you. Accept that, and get on with your life. This virus is here to stay, and all of us ought to start learning how to live with it. Starting now.
Allow toxic people to destroy our self-esteemPhoto by Abstral Official on Unsplash
I struggle with depression and anxiety as a result of trauma – trauma that stems from my childhood, past relationships, alcohol and drug abuse, and various other contributors. While I’m in control of some of those contributors, I can’t control other people and what they say or do to me. What I can control, though, is their access to me. I’m cutting ’em off this year. Kickin’ ’em to the curb. Doesn’t matter who they are – parents, siblings, boyfriend, boss. I’m fed up. Had enough. Fuck with me in 2022 and you’re gonna get the boot right out my life. Take a similar stand (and stop drinking so much while you’re at it) and you’ll surprise yourself in myriad ways.
Pretend like everything’s OK when it’s notPhoto by Calvin Lupiya on Unsplash
Mental and emotional wellbeing is a collective topic of conversation much more now than in the past. Open discussions with friends, family and professional therapists help alleviate symptoms of depression and anxiety but it doesn’t remove them altogether. And that’s OK. It’s also OK for everything to not be OK, and for you to admit that. If you’re feeling down, let yourself feel down. But if it lasts too long, it’s your responsibility to identify why you feel that way and work toward a resolution or at least seek treatment. In 2022, we all deserve happy days to be here again.
Pay more while doing morePhoto by Liam Martens on Unsplash
Prices are out of control all over the place, including the supermarket, and it burns my biscuit that not only is my wallet taking a beating but now I’m also expected to do the jobs of employees. Like cleaning up carts from the parking lot or bagging my own groceries.
What else is the cashier doing, besides scanning my items, if I have to bag them? That’s their whole job – just beepin’ shit across the laser? Meanwhile, I’m tasked with paying the bill and dodging the next customer’s purchases coming down the line before I’ve removed mine from the collection end of the belt. That’s not to mention that in California we pay 10 cents per bag, a fee that’s promoted as helping reduce the amount of plastic in the environment, but which is really just another way for corporations to dig into our pockets. And that’s even if there are bags to offer. I was at a Walmart recently that had no bags to provide customers – the second separate store where I’ve encountered this issue – forcing me to throw dozens of loose pantry staples and produce all over my trunk.
This year, join me in my crusade to not do anything that somebody else is getting paid to do – unless we’re getting a check, too.
Rest on our laurels
Photo by Mohamed Nohassi on Unsplash
If you’ve been coasting through the past couple years by living off unemployment money and taking full advantage of on-again/off-again lockdowns, 2022 is the year to get your ass back in gear. Rest period is over. Grab these first few months by the balls and return to normalcy. Create changes, too. Big ones. Make a physical move, take a few risks, apply for a new job or enact a whole new career change. Just do something besides hang around the house in your jammies and field Zoom calls day in and out. There’s still a wide world out there, and it wants you to be part of it.
About the Author
Mikey Rox is an award-winning journalist and LGBT lifestyle expert whose work has been published in more than 100 outlets across the world. Connect with Mikey on Instagram @mikeyroxtravels