Today I’m meeting madison moore, the New York Times acclaimed author of Fabulous: The Rise of the Beautiful Eccentric. at the Q Rooftop Bar in Richmond. In addition to working as an assistant professor of Queer Studies at Virginia Commonwealth University, madison is also a dj and has performed internationally. This has sharpened his perspective for his new book How to Go Clubbing which is under contract at Yale University Press. See him February 18th in Melbourne, Australia at The School of Life, where he will be talking about fabulousness, and February 21-24 at the Perth Festival. Follow him @madisonmooreonline
Hello, It’s Ann. It’s great to see you. Can I interview your closet? Come on in!
Accessories appear to be your jam. Tell me about your favorite pair of shoes and how they empower you when you wear them.
I do love accessories! Rings, earrings. Over the winter break I binged Scandal and now I’m really feeling like an Olivia Pope leather opera glove moment is in my very near future. For the longest time my daily go-to shoes were Cuban heels. This was literally the only shoe style I wore for many, many years — possibly even ten years. Call it the Hedi Slimane effect. I still love them, but now my daily go-to are Doc Martens. They’re just so comfortable. Tough and stylish. I wear them every single day and they’ve seen almost every dance floor I’ve been on in the past few years. I also love my Jeffrey Campbell spiked wedges, which I rarely wear because they’re a bit too small. Thank god for SYRO, a shoe brand based in New York City that specializes in fabulous heels for gender non-conforming people — definitely my next go-to!
I love how you criticize the GAP “Dress normal” campaign in your book. Did you dress “fabulously” since a young age? Or found that you had to conform in your youth? Feel free to describe some of your favorite clothes or accessories from childhood. I was never very interested in fitting in, even though I had to sometimes just to make it through the day. I was very much inspired by one of my aunties who always showed up to family functions READY! Not sure if she knows it or not, but her style definitely left a mark on me.
I’m not sure if I was “fabulous” yet but I was definitely always drawn to unusual materials, unusual styles, and unusual ways of being in the world. Just the other day I was scrolling through my Facebook and found some really, really old photos from high school. There was one where I’m wearing this patent leather floor length black trench coat that I got from Hot Topic. I worked at the Gap in high school and I remember I saved up all my money to be able to afford that coat. Baby, I look a piping hot mess, but I thought I was POPPIN! It’s always fun to revisit images from yesteryear and go, “Girl, what were you thinking!”
I would imagine that you wear different attire on campus than as a dj at the club. Have you felt pressure to dress a certain way as a professor? If so what do you do to feel like your best self in a more conservative environment? I’m not particularly fond of suppressing myself no matter what environment I’m in, whether that’s the club, the classroom or the conference panel. The second you suppress yourself for a more conservative environment, what you’re actually doing is watering yourself down to make other people feel comfortable. Dressing down for these spaces also plays into a harmful and very gendered notion that if you dress up or love clothes, well then you can’t possibly have any good ideas. You can’t possibly be smart, a good professor or a good DJ. You’re seen as a frivolous who only cares about fashion. How boring.
These politics are especially complicated and layered when you are a queer person of color asking for a seat at the table in virtually any industry. All you do is enter the room and already your body is political. So rather than dress down, or feel pressure to dress a certain way as a professor, or as anything really, I always think about dressing up — up because I feel good about myself and I deserve to be here just as much as everybody else, up because institutions were not made for marginalized bodies but I’m here anyway, up because this jacket is too damn cute to wear only on the weekend. When we have the mental energy to do so, and we don’t always, I think we should tip out as our best self because when we do, we’re almost certainly a possibility for someone else.
Are you happy to see more trans fashion models such as Hunter Schafer, Andreja Pejić, and Hari Nef either on the Runway and getting large campaigns? What would you like to see happen more for non binary individuals in the fashion world/popular culture? I absolutely love that they are all doing so well, and I would also love for brown, queer, trans and marginalized people to be centered — not “included” — throughout popular culture and in every industry. I would love for designers to get the memo and stop casting the same thin white bodies over and over again — I’m thinking specifically about the new Celine. What about EJ Johnson or Travis Alabanza? There’s a piece I loved by Tre’Vell Anderson for Out magazine about why we only love gender-bending when white twinks do it, and I think this is a very, very important question to think about.
What is your dream pair of shoes that you don’t have in your closet yet? All the stuff SYRO has — I’m really living for what they’re doing! Also, probably the Black and Off-White Geobasket sneakers by Rick Owens. I would also slay the Black Worker Boots from Random Identities!
What is your favorite beverage of choice? A Cosmopolitan! Oh, and I’m also partial to Earl Grey tea and kale-ginger smoothies!
What did you wear the last time you went out to drinks? The last time I went to drinks was on New Years Eve. I went to Barcode, a local gay bar in Richmond. I wore a crop top and this black skirt made of small shiny black strips that I got at The Phluid Project in New York. I brought this box purse I got a long time ago but have never worn out. It’s so impractical because it opens easily (the magnets aren’t that strong) but it’s fabulous!
What song will you never delete from your playlist? That’s easy — “Crazy in Love” by Beyoncé. Everybody’s hair instantly gets 30 inches longer when it comes on at the club. I still remember where I was when it dropped in 2003. Bey was performing it on one of the late night talk shows and I cancelled all my plans so I could be in front of the tv to watch it. That summer if you were on a dance floor and “Crazy in Love” didn’t come on, the party wasn’t poppin. I also love Solange, Ry X, James Blake and sad, emotional electronic music. And speaking of sad music, here’s a curveball: Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony!
Do you believe in astrology? If so what’s your sign and which characteristics are important parts of your personality? I sort of, kind of believe in astrology, although I don’t practice it or know a lot about it. A number of my friends are really into it and they are always telling me which kind of guy I should date based on this or that astrological sign. I’m a cancer which means I have an extremely hard if difficult outer shell, but I’m actually soft and gooey and very emotional on the inside once you get to know me. What I’m learning the hard way is that sometimes the shell can be too hard, meaning you push people away who are trying to get closer in an effort to protect yourself. This is something I struggle with all the time.
If you could go in a time machine, where and when would you travel to? You know what? I’m pretty future-minded actually, so I would love to zoom forward to 100 years from now to see what culture and society are like. When you take history classes and learn about the turn of this or that century, you see all the things that were invented, like electricity, or the elevator, or the arcade, and I would be so curious to know what folks figure out 100 years from now, and what 2019 looks like in 2119, if there is still a planet then. Real talk, though: I would so love to get in a time machine and pump to some of the best clubs of yesteryear, like Paradise Garage in New York or Ostgut in Berlin.
What are your favorite websites/blogs? At the moment, I’m all about Instagram. I haven’t posted in a long time because I felt like having a social media blackout, but I do follow some of my favorite artists and musicians, my friends, and also people who create funny content. There are a bunch of gay meme accounts I follow that are really funny and relatable, and of course Instagram wouldn’t be the same without Rickey Thompson!
If you were a car what would you be? Something sleek, sexy and powerful — an Audi TT RS!
If you could invite anyone in the world for a coffee who would you invite and why? This is a really tough question because there are so many fabulous people out there I would love to meet! So let’s say that right now, I would love to sit down for coffee with Senator Kamala Harris.
Fill in the blanks regarding your closet!
The last thing I bought was this sequin jacket from a thrift store in Dalston, East London that closed over the summer.
I spend too much money on Uber because I don’t drive but save money on eating out because I cook a lot at home.
I would love to wear Michael Halpern and appear in a Steven Meisel editorial for Franca Sozzani’s Italian Vogue, which was my bible for so many years.
For fragrances, I only wear Christian Dior Ambre Nuit or Christian Dior Bois d’Argent, but I don’t have a particular fragrance I love on someone. What I love most is when a guy has a signature scent. I’m a creature of habit, meaning I like and enjoy specificity. There’s something so romantic to me about finding a scent you love and committing to it 100%! When you walk into a room, or hug someone or leave your jacket behind, it all smells just like you.