Dorian Electra Builds His Furry Gay Militia
Dorian Electra prepares for her next tour under the watchful eyes of several disembodied hairy heads. All the mascots, displayed on a shelf like hunting trophies, are relics of the 29-year-old singer’s blossoming career. They point to a menacing canary yellow head from the “My Agenda” music video. “We had them all as gay furry militia, and they were all in these fighter jets and in uniforms,” they recount. O during a Zoom call from their home in Los Angeles.
Electra delights in poking taboos (like furs) and asking audiences to wonder why they generate so much negative shock value. “The amount of people commenting, ‘Damn, I think I’m a hairy now,’ or whatever, is pretty amazing once people can get past the cringe factor,” Electra says. Today, furry heads are not just a form of social commentary, they also serve as impromptu soundproofing material. Electra spent the week leading up to the European leg of her “My Agenda” tour recording at her home studio in Los Angeles, which has yet to be properly isolated. “In the meantime, let’s just use those fucking hairy heads,” they say with a chuckle. “It works very well.”
Electra took the non-traditional path of music. Their first taste of fame came when they worked as a freelance video producer for Refinery29, responsible for making educational music videos. “I chose to do [a video] about the clitoris story and then it went viral,” they say. From there, Electra dove into the history of high heels, drag and vibrators, connecting their undergraduate training in philosophy and history of science to their passion for music and videography. Their official foray into the music industry came in 2017 when they were featured on Charli XCX’s “Femmebot,” which allowed them to focus on their own projects. After Electra’s debut album Flamboyant in 2019, they’ve racked up features from artists like Pussy Riot, Rebecca Black, and 100 gecs. Electra is even causing a stir in the fashion world, after singing a cover of Pharrell’s “Happy” at the Collina Strada Spring 2022 show during New York Fashion Week.
Fashion is of great importance to Electra, who counts Liberace and Elizabethan menswear among her most formative influences. “I really like remixing and playing with different eras, and deliberately juxtaposing things that didn’t seem to fit together,” they say. Electra recently released a collection with Left Hand LA, which shares their fashion ethos. Among the pieces? A t-shirt stained with coffee and cigarette ash, and a kilt adorned with used Electra socks, although washed, they assure. “We were really interested in the idea of fame and fandom and how people are really ravenous for any little bit, no matter how small,” they explain. Electra’s penchant for the flamboyant is central to her approach to fashion and music. “My interest in fashion history directly parallels my interest in music history,” they say. Among their biggest musical influences: metal, the chants of Gregorian monks and pop of the 2000s, of course.
It was around the release of Flamboyant which Electra has begun to identify as genderfluid. They worried that the world’s attachment to the hyper-femininity of pop legends who came before them, like Britney Spears and Madonna, would hamper their ability to succeed in the industry. “I had started using the pronouns they/them and I wanted to do this pop music, but I don’t see myself as being in my place in the landscape”, they say. But the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. “Seeing the audience response and seeing the new fans come out of nowhere was a personal validation because it was like, ‘Oh, they understand what I’m doing. They don’t just think I’m a drag king. understand,” Electra says. “I felt very good about my gender identity, and I think that definitely gave me the courage to keep moving forward.”
Electra feels that if they had arrived on the scene a few years earlier, they wouldn’t have the careers they have today. “I feel like sometimes you get really lucky with the timing of the crop,” they say. But they note that some parts of the world are not ready to embrace the fluidity of gender and sexuality, noting in particular Poland, a stop on their upcoming tour which has struggled with an alarming rise in fascism and anti-LGBT epithets. .
“I’m really looking forward to going to places like Poland where there’s a really, really intense anti-LGBT climate,” Electra says. They recall their time in the country in 2019 while touring with Charli XCX, when the two attended a parade led by far-right nationalists. “People don’t feel safe,” they say. “For me, it’s one of the most important places to go because people really need that kind of support right now.” In a tense social climate where civil rights are regressing, having a bold and unapologetic force like Electra to lead the way is a gift to many queer people from Poland to the United States. Maybe they came at the right time after all.