In journalism school, they taught us not to mention anybody's sexual orientation, or race, or creed, or what-have-you, unless it was germane to the story. In this instance, it would be dishonest not to mention that Seth Bogart, alias Hunx, is extremely gay. He's incredibly flamboyant. He sings about gay sex, a lot. He used to own a hair salon. Actually, I wonder whether he isn't playing up the stereotype for the sake of cartoony theatricality. If so, who doesn't love cartoony theatricality? Killjoys. That's who.
HUBBA HUBBA “I wanted to show a different side of myself,” says Hunx (second from right). “ ’Cause I’d been so raunchy, like, forever, y’know? Now it’s, like, sad about love.”
This considerable gayness is pertinent to San Francisco's Hunx and His Punx, who swing into T.T. the Bear's Place on Sunday. On this year's Too Young To Be in Love (Hardly Art), a record of neo-oldies executed with garage-rock grime, the 30-year-old Hunx is infatuated with his own man drama. Although Fred Phelps would, at the very least, want to ensure it came with a Tipper sticker, there's nothing more all-American than rock-and-roll love songs.
"I've been reading, for some stupid reason, reviews of us," says Hunx, gradually yawning away the waking haze of an all-nighter. "One was like, 'You'd expect something crazier from Hunx and His Punx, 'cause Hunx has done so much crazy subversive stuff, and this is just so playing it safe,' blah blah blah." It seems he's spent most of the preceding night and morning working on glittery props for one of his numerous side projects, a variety TV show tentatively titled Hollywood Nails. "I guess I wanted to show a different side of myself, 'cause I'd been so raunchy, like, forever, y'know? Now it's, like, sad about love."
Gay Singles, the inaugural compilation of Hunx and His Punx tracks, is slightly more gnarly than Too YoungTo Be in Love. But I'm guessing that reviewer was referring to the shambolic electro-spazz of Hunx's previous project, the queer electro quartet Gravy Train!!!! However, there's a distinction to be made between "subversive" and "offensive to people who need to lighten the fuck up." Hunx's old band and his gathering of Punx (Punkettes, actually, the female foursome including bassist and contributing songwriter Shannon Shaw of Shannon and the Clams) both belong to the latter category.
Like the Ronettes and the Shangri-Las (whom they're striving to emulate), Hunx and His Punx do not presume that pop music requires overt political overtones. Unlike the Ronettes and the Shangri-Las, Hunx and His Punx can match the on-stage lawlessness of Nobunny (who famously co-wrote some of the earliest Hunx + Punx tunes) and the dearly departed Jay Reatard. That was made clear at the not-as-dearly-departed Harpers Ferry the last time Hunx rolled into town, about a year and a half ago. Hunx will probably never be in Reatard's league (scant few are), but the two did share a hyper-dualistic aptitude for heartbroken vulnerability in the studio and wanton nihilism in live performance. But Reatard's reputation as a loose cannon diverted attention from his genius. Is Hunx at all concerned that stuff like the time that dude used his dick as a microphone in a Girls music video could interfere with people taking his music seriously? Should we be taking this seriously?