My Place: Mykki Blanco



From his adoptive home in Portugal’s sun-soaked capital city of Lisbon, American rapper, poet and activist Mykki Blanco—one of pop’s best contemporary auteurs—is feeling green fingered. Surrounded by a small jungle of indoor plants, the performer-turned-musician opens up to long-term NOWNESS director Barbara Anastacio about writing, love, and horticulture, and on the simple rituals and routines that make a house a home. Born as Michael David Quattlebaum Jr. in 1986, ‘Mykki Blanco’ began life as an internet persona, but quickly evolved their identity into a musical and performance art work that drew variously on influences including Lil’ Kim, Jean Cocteau, Marilyn Manson and Anaïs Nin. Blanco’s resulting musical and artistic identity shares strong associations with the radical queercore movement founded by American filmmaker Bruce LaBruce. As Blanco himself has said, “You can’t tag me as the rapping transvestite. I’m from a punk and Riot Grrrl background.” Anastacio had expected to encounter Blanco the persona, the force behind “powerfully aggressive and legendary performances,” but was instead welcomed “by an incredibly warm and joyous” person, where “the Riot Grrl was now a very happy man enchanted with his boyfriend, his cat and his plants. He feels grounded and at home.” The pair would travel outside of Blanco’s apartment, to Suntan—a tiny Portuguese eatery serving fusion ramen, which the outsider musician described as their “second home.” Comforts and routines bely the impassioned bravura of hip-hop’s great powerhouse.

In June 2015, the prolific creator—who has penned poetry and toured with the likes of Basement Jaxx—announced via his Facebook page that they have been HIV positive since 2011. Concerned that this revelation would be ruinous to their career, the outpouring of positive reactions following this announcement convinced Blanco to continue their important and genre-shattering work.

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