Friday, July 22, 2011

Queer Artist Centerfold: Kalil Cohen

Name: Kalil Cohen

Stage Name: Metahuman

Contact info:

Birthplace: Fontana, California

Zodiac sign: Pisces

Your medium/genre: Film and Music

Describe what you do:
As Metahuman I perform politically conscious hip hop. As a filmmaker I write, produce, and direct both documentary and narrative shorts that usually have some social message mixed with a lot of comedy. In general my work is darkly humorous. I also usually start with the words and message I want to get across, then add images and music to help make it come to life.

Turn on’s:
People in therapy, Emma Goldman tattoos

Turn off’s:
Flaming Hot Cheetos, Cable Television

Describe your perfect date:
A three day desert rave!

Pet peeves:
People who don’t prepare before going on stage.

Fave sex idol:
David Bowie

1ST crush:
Will Smith

Fave music:
Political hip hop like Dead Prez, Deep Dickollective, and Feloni

Top movies that inspire you:
By Hook or By Crook by Silas Howard & Harry Dodge, She’s A Boy I Knew by Gwen Haworth

Fave quote:
“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.” - Rumi

Reading List:
Everything by Kurt Vonnegut, bell hooks, Gloria AnzaldĂșa, Pat Califia and Kate Bornstein.

One of your obsessions:
Good hair.

My ultimate hero is Emma Goldman, a 19th century anarchist and labor organizer who paved the way for women’s rights, queer rights, workers rights and more. In my own life, performance artist Ryka Aoki has been an amazing mentor to me, and my hip hop is heavily influenced by Dead Prez.

Fave queer Artist(s):
Hip hop artist Juba Kalamka of Deep Dickollective, performance artists Genesis Breyer P-Orridge and D’Lo, and writer Julia Serrano.

Fave queer from history:
It’s so hard to choose just one! I love William Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg for paving the way as out queer artists in the 1950s.

Most Pivotal Performance/event/etc:
Performing at the U.S. Social Forum last summer in Detroit. It was an amazing venue at a political conference with over 20,000 attendees in a city that is known for hip hop, so it was a really incredible experience. I also received a very warm reception from this largely non-queer audience, which felt especially gratifying since my work is so explicitly queer.

Fave performance experience:
I loved performing at Cut & Past Rock & Roll in Long Beach last year because the crowd was so enthusiastic and rambunctious. I perform a lot at conferences or events where art is sort of an afterthought, so it was fun to perform for hardcore music fans just looking to have a good time.

Most frightening performance experience:
My first time performing in front of family members was incredibly nerve wracking, although they ended up being really supportive.

Places performed:
I’ve performed at Pride in LA and Long Beach, at lots of colleges such as UCLA, UC Irvine, Southern Illinois University, University of Texas at Austin, at conferences like the Allied Media Conference, and clubs like The Roxy on the Sunset Strip.

BA in Latin American Studies from Pomona College, Master’s in Education from UCLA

Jeremiah Fellowship, Progressive Jewish Alliance
Vera Strayer Fellowship, UCLA

What do you (does your art) stand for:
I stand for community building through art and cultural events, and my art is about creating entertainment and love out of pain, anger, shame, and repression.

Fave prop or costume:
I love anything that sparkles and am known for wearing a lot of sequins on stage.

Thoughts on the LA queer art scene:
LA is a particularly hard place to connect with other artists. I feel lucky to know so many queer performance artists and filmmakers through organizing shows and film screenings, but you definitely have to be proactive to find people here. Also, audiences can be particularly passive or judgmental in LA. Places with smaller queer communities tend to give a lot more energy back while I’m performing instead of waiting until after the show to say that they liked it.

What is your Vision for the Queer Future:
I can’t wait until everyone on Earth has realized the queer parts of themselves, and we can all just play and enjoy the good things in life without taking everything so seriously.

What do you see as the future for queer art:
I see there being less marginalization for queer art, where an artist can be explicitly queer and still have the chance to reach mainstream audiences.

What are your upcoming events:
I am shooting my first music video for my song So Pomo on August 6-7, so right now I’m just focused on that. In the fall I will be performing at Oberlin, Sarah Lawrence and other East Coast schools.

Sample of Work:


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