You might recognise Dorian Electra from Man to Man, a song that makes the happy existence of gay desire between masculine men visible and audible. For that video, Dorian dressed in a Michael-Jackson- in-Thriller-style costume of a shiny red jacket and also strapped into a boxing kit and armour. For this interview’s editorial, Dorian stretches through a broader spectrum of jokified, bimbofied characters. We talk about memes, economics and the new deluxe version of My Agenda, out this November, ahead of their world tour.
What I personally love about Dorian is their important position as a descendant of the drag artists that inspired gender theorist Judith Butler, whose book on the performative nature of gender (Gender Trouble, 1990) remains an important part of understanding queer theory. This philosophy implies we can only be truly seen through other people’s eyes. Everyone looks through their lens of culture, language and learning to map what we do, how we look and how we sound into an idea of what gender or identity is – like putting together a puzzle. Dorian directs that interpretative power making smart symbolic choices that tease the viewer: what gender am I? Ultimately, it doesn’t matter! Each costume is fun – and what’s comfortable depends on the day. Today’s incarnation of Dorian Electra develops on their past sharing informative pop videos about gender and politics.
In their 2020 album My Agenda, Dorian did the inconceivable: putting together the Russian punks Pussy Riot, Rebecca Black – known for “Friday” – and The Village People. It’s a whirlwind running kick circle pit of masculinity that has transformed into a meaty 22-track tearjerker. The debut album has 12 more songs added to the existing record. Situated as an exploration into the culture surrounding the men’s rights movements and related political subcultures from a leftist perspective, Dorian’s album joins the tradition of pop stars rallying for political action.
My Agenda investigates incel culture and the perspectives of men who feel like feminism is preventing their own sexual prowess. In summary, Dorian says: let’s listen to those hurting and have an open discussion. We can respond to right-wing beliefs by reminding people of the oppression experienced by people who aren’t cis men: it is economic as well as social. The exploitation of the so-called caring class (care workers, shop workers, cleaners) has been brought into stark relief during Covid. We discuss the Internet, the future, and neoliberalism – defined as a set of political and economic policies that promote free market capitalism, dismantle the social safety net, and ultimately protect the interests of economic elites at the expense of all others.