Antony Hegarty

[Musician]

“We’re so used to thinking we’re at the end of civilization, the end of technology, that we’ve reached this climax as a species, but what if we’re just barely out of the caves?”
Metaphors used for estrogen and testosterone:
Salt and pepper
Windows and Microsoft

Sitting in the somewhat-pneumonia-inducing atmosphere (part freezing, part muggy) of the Bowery Hotel lobby, I’m wondering when Antony Hegarty will walk in and what the hell we’re going to talk about for an hour. This is not a feeling unique to this moment; even if the protocols of an interview are understood, there is always the exciting, terrifying possibility of going truly off the rails. In other words, I’ve brought questions, but I’m prepared to throw them out. When Hegarty does arrive, he no sooner compliments my pants than we’ve launched into an hour-and-a-half-long tear through the tangled concepts of gender, testosterone-crazed thinking, and the dying planet—generally, all the things that our society has gotten wrong up to this point. Students of Hegarty’s music—which he has been making under the name Antony and the Johnsons since 1998, when they launched their debut album of the same name—will be familiar with these themes.

Hegarty is a public figure whose work asks questions you might not have known could be asked on such a grand scale. After moving to New York, in 1990, he became one of the most visible figures to emerge from the ’80s New York avant-garde scene, and, since then, his artistic platforms have continually baffled a public that has trouble believing in the legitimacy of queer success stories, or the functionality of a life lived outside the constrictions of what academia likes to call “gender normalcy.” Because of this, his music is a kind of education in itself. Much of his work prompts cross-gender identification—not simply referencing but actually seeming to restore, for the moment of the song, a zone of true experimentation and fluidity.

With a kind of futuristic thinking that is itself endangered, Hegarty aims to promote his faith in the renewal and progress of this planet before a large and attentive audience, one that will hopefully help bring these things to fruition.

—Henry Giardina

*

ANTONY HEGARTY: Well, I don’t know what kind of town you grew up in, but I grew up in some really conservative towns, and some of the weirdest people I ever knew were in those towns. Much weirder than New Yorkers. The freakiest, weirdest, drug-using tweakazoid hybrids. So it’s funny. I moved to New York to be with weirdos who were organized, or where it was more of a united front. But I feel like kids in the suburbs are still in communities. Even if it’s like there’s three girls next door and two girls down the street—they’re all on a circuit on their blogs, and they’re all watching each other’s vlogs.

We hope you enjoy this excerpt.

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Henry Giardina is a writer living in New York. His work has appeared in the Paris Review Daily, the Los Angeles Review of Books, Salon, and Film Comment. He is working on a first novel.

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