Where Were You When Mykki Blanco Played at Rhinoceropolis?
"I was excited to someone in the hip-hop genre who is progressive," explained Brittany Fitzgerald in the outdoor space behind Rhinoceropolis over the weekend. "It's good to see somebody with a strong voice." She was talking about Mykki Blanco, the stage name of rapper and performance artist Michael Quattlebaum Jr. from North Carolina, who would spend the night jumping on tables, leading sing-alongs to children's music and generally expressing his progressive message in the most engaging way possible.
His lyrics, which he delivers with impressive speed, are full of biting, unapologetic commentary. He's equally incisive in conversation, at one point accusing Britney Spears of trying to exploit the gay crowd with her song "Work Bitch," which he called "Tacky."
Quattlebaum was wearing a wig, a white silk shirt and jeans that were bedazzled around the pockets. Before the set, he described his show as something that will be "high energy, theatrical and poetic."
And it was just that. In the front area of Rhinocerpolous, a very excited crowd gathered in the hot room. He began rapping such lines as "Pretty pussy but can't squirt."
People in the crowd ranged from drag queens to kids with Pikachu backpack to guys in hip-hop gear to girls with mohawks to to people wearing Mischka to a guy handing out fliers for a free "queer porn" show.
Then, the sound completely cut out. Mykki began singing "John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt" without a working microphone, and the crowd sang the children's song along with him, loudly. After about ten minutes of struggling to with the cords, the organizers of the DIY shos decided to move Quattlebaum. Everyone was asked to go into the middle room, and they set the PA system in the area by the kitchen and couches. "The power is gonna work here, literally and metaphorically," one of the people working the show said.
Quattlebaum wouldn't start until the light above the kitchen was turned off. "No more introductions. We've had enough of that," he said. Perhaps the technical problems brought anticipation, because the crowd was extremely hyped up. Quattlebaum started off with his song "Scales." "I be the realist fucking house wife," he sang.
He jumped up onto a table near the make-shift car seat where a girl had somehow fallen asleep. She did wake up for a minute after someone fell on her. Meanwhile, a few attendees tried to hold up the table on which Quattlebaum was standing. It proved a losing effort: The table broke in half, and a mug that was on it fell to the floor, shattering.
Quattlebaum asked for a chair to stand on and continued with his performance.
"I know you like my show, but do you understand my image and heart?" he asked. The crowd responded with cheering so vibrant, one can only guess they did.
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