Gazelle Paulo has been a fixture in the New York social scene for years. I’ve been watching him come up with creative creations time after time, season after season. He’s constantly colorful and I’m excited that he spent some time during Pride to answer some questions about his projects and creative process. I hope you enjoy this window into a New York stalwart.
How long have you been marching in the Pride Parade? Why did you first march?
G: I have been marching since 1999. From 1992 to 1998, I lost some dear friends to AIDS, and these friends always asked me to march with them. I really didn’t care that much to do it then… but in 1999 another friend who was visiting New York invited me to dress up and go… so I thought “what the hell, why not? “…. so during the parade that year, I became really emotional during the minute of silence honoring people who have died of AIDS; I thought that I was having such a wonderful time marching, I regretted not having done it with my friends who were no longer around… so in a way I make it a personal event, I march for them.
How have you seen it change?
G: I am glad it is shorter now, but I don’t really watch it because once it’s over… I am so exhausted. I just want to get home. But walking through the line up and marching in it, I think it’s super organized and that really “all” faces of gay culture are represented … now if people don’t like to see it… too bad! It amazes how people especially in our own gay community have criticism about it… too noisy, too long… too this… too that. Though this year, I noticed there were more children and elderly people especially before 25th street where it’s not so crowded. There’s also more straight people marching, supporting their gay friends, just for the fun of it. Now I can marry the man I love, and it’s just so intense, to see how our gay lives are expressed differently every year. Each year “Corporate America” gets more present !!
Do you feel like all the corporate sponsorship and the branding is a good thing?
G: Yes, but you also have to understand it and be able to separate things. Companies make marketing decisions based on dollars signs… to know that the gay community is profitable is one thing, now if you add the political aspect to it’s another thing… do these companies really support our gay community and our issues or are they only after our loyalty to a product. Tricky.
You’re a fixture at fashion shows, what are your favorite ones?
G: I normally don’t dress up to many shows. I do it for The Blonds because it’s a fun event; although I adore fashion, I can’t quite stand the environment of the attendance in the shows, where everybody believes they have a layer of importance.
What’s your favorite fashion moment?
G: I loved the long line of models at the last moment of the Yves Saint Laurent Haute Couture Retrospective 1962-2002 show, all in the different versions of his famous tuxedo… and then Catherine Deneuve with Laetitia Casta welcomed him of the runway, afterward all the models… they all leave together to the sound of Nessun Dorma… it was breathtaking !!!!
Did you meet Leigh Bowery, why did you pick his baby outfit as an inspiration point?
G: No, I never met Leigh, but I became very good friends with Richard Torry who together with Nicola, Leigh and Matthew Glamorre formed the band Minty. Richard, who still lives in London always tells me great stories from that time. I saw him give birth to his wife Nicola Bowery on the stage at Wigstock in 1993, the baby outfit is an inspiration from that performance, beyond spectacular! So this look for Pride was just a simple tribute to him with my Gazelle touches.
You’re surrounded by art. What are your favorite pieces and how do they lend to your inspiration?
G: At this particular moment, I’m really loving the Virgin Mary sculpture by Geoffrey Mac… I am going to do a shoot “copying” that look.
How long does it take you to put a look together? What’s your process when you create?
G: It depends, when I used to work at the former Crobar, sometimes in the first year, I would spend about three hours in front of the mirror… now it’s more organic… unless I’m dressing up for the Parade… I collaborate with several people to create a look because they like what I do… but in the end it’s my style that I’m trying to achieve, so it’s still my vision, and it comes from how I feel at that certain time in my life.
Why did you choose performance art to express yourself?
G: I like to say that I express myself through the photography of my achieved looks. I feel more comfortable with that. I don’t consider myself a performance artist. I could never get to Leigh Bowery’s level or to Julie Atlas Muz.
What’s been your favorite performance so far?
G: I like the Mac Vintage Computer Head look I did in 2006.
Any new projects in the works?
G: Besides enjoying writing my blog http://www.freakchic.com which I only do when I’m in the mood for it; I’m concentrating on the final stages of the documentary I was invited to be a part of it… about “funny” Gazelle here. After almost one year and a half of filming and a 5 month rest, producer Cesar Elias and I just agreed on the final day of shooting, which it will be on Valentine’s Day in 2013, when the Gazelland Love Issue (http://www.gazelland.com) will be printed…this final and last issue of Gazelland has been ready for over two years.