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Photos: Fly Your Freak Flag At Sex Cells, The Echoplex's Newest Monthly Dance Party
In Los Angeles, dressing to express yourself is a fundamental component of club life, but there’s been a bit of a lull in outlandishness lately. The gay and goth nightlife scenes will always have flamboyant fashion elements, but their soundtracks are so specific, they tend to appeal to limited niches. A new club night at the Echoplex aims to break all the boundaries— music genres, sexual preferences, and style stereotypes—reinterpreting the most provocative aesthetics from the 80s and 90s for today.
“Sex Cells” from Danny Fuentes (best known for the punk-driven art gallery Lethal Amounts) is a homage to the old school, but as he explains it, “not a desperate attempt at holding onto it. We are reflecting on what’s inspired us from the past, but embracing today's musicians and producers.”
The new club night, which featured a performance from iconic NYC art fiend Kembra PFahler of The Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black last month, presented DJ sets from two of alternative dance music’s hottest acts this past Saturday night, “cholo goth” duo Prayers and electro hip-hop seductress Brooke Candy. Both mold-breaking acts have garnered rabid followings for their looks and their material, mostly dance-driven beats featuring raw and uncensored lyrics about everything from brawling to banging.
Prayers, who toured with The Cult last Summer, have worked with everyone from The Pet Shop Boys to Travis Barker to Kat Von D recently, while Candy’s been a model and muse of Nicola Formichetti (Lady Gaga’s former stylist) and was in the studio with Will.i.am not too long ago. Though both are primed for bigger successes, they are also clearly set on retaining their uncensored grit and eclectic grooves, no matter what.
Saturday’s double bill, which saw an impromptu mini-live set from Prayers, was sort of a turning point night for Fuentes’ party, as it reflected the sex-positive vibes he’s been aiming for and the diversity of sounds. “The night is about bridging the gap between indie dance music fans and underground techno and minimal house snobs,” he told us Saturday. “We want to entertain as well as enlighten, exposing music that gets overlooked by the mass consumers. “
New underground jams from the likes of TR/ST, Gesaffelstein, HIV+, Boy Harsher, and Maceoplex (google, listen, learn), did fuel the fete most of the night but by the end, the hodge podge took a more familiar and fun turn. Fetishy femmes in rubber, punky dudes in leather, and glamour-pusses in feathers were all grinding together to a closing retro set by Prayers’ Dave Parley, which included faves such Stacey Q’s “Two of Hearts,” Real Life’s “Send Me An Angel” and Soft Cell’s “Sex Dwarf,” the later of which is an obvious anthem for vibe and aesthetics here.
Fuentes’ bomb bookings and the wild playlists aside, Sex Cells co-hosts have contributed to making it the hottest spot to fly your freak-flag right now. Smart promoters like Fuentes figured out a long time ago that it’s easier with a well-connected crew who show up looking fierce and invite their equally fabulous friends for the VIP treatment. They tell two friends and so on and so on. Saturday, the co-cost crew was large and in charge. Too many to list but they included designers Ernie Omega and Venus Corrine, performers such as Gianna Gianna and Neon Music as well as author Clint Catalyst, an original goth/club kid and influencer in Los Angeles and San Francisco. Sex Cells seems to be bringing out the “OGs” in more ways than one.
“There was a time when going out to clubs was exciting to me, but that’d been quite some time ago. I began to think maybe I’ve just gotten older? Then I realized, nah, people just get lazy and forget that throwing a club is a form of art,” says Fuentes. “You need a little bit of everything to get the entire canvas painted. We want to include everyone! We want the Music Nerds, the Punks, the Goths, the Club Kids, the Ghetto Fab, The Rivet Heads, Straights, Gays, T- girls, T-boys, the gender benders, and everything in between. We want to shake up the social stigmas as well as the dance floor.”
Sex Cells is a monthly dance party held at the Echoplex in Echo Park.
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