I caught up with Washington DC's black fag after an unannounced show at Little Tokyo's Troy Cafe where they played with Beck. This gig was supposed to be a secret, everyone found out about it and the place was packed.
black fag's charismatic leader is Rayvn Cymone McFarland 22, a Creole/Irish beauty who looks like a cross between Natalie Merchant of 10,000 Maniacs and Anita Baker; writes and sings the groups thrash jazz/jizz songs.
Also present are lead guitarist Rufus Humboldt 19, lean and sensitive looking; he refers to himself as "high yeller". Cleofus and Harold Guenvere originally from New Orleans on rhythm guitar and drums respectively, call themselves "incest brothers." Action Jackson 18 on trumpet is the Billy Dee Williams of the group in his pristine vintage suits and Clarence Monroe IV, 19, plays bass.
Maw: You guys must be spent.
Cleofus: I still got some semen left.
Maw: No, not that kind of spent. You really give your all on stage. Where's your equipment; have you loaded all your junk already? Wow! Does it all fit in that Hyundai?
Rayvn: We make it fit. Our next show is up in Palo Alto at Stanford University.
Action Jackson: We love playing for college kids, they never know what to make of us. We really trip them out.
Maw: Yeah, your show at Cal State Fullerton was very unsettling to the Orange County student population. But they seemed to enjoy themselves.
Rayvn: I like playing at one in the afternoon in a little college pub. It's refreshing.
Rufus: They wouldn't give us any booze. I have to have my liquor.
Maw: You're only 19--you shouldn't be drinking. How did black fag come together? I know you're from Washington, DC and all, but I really don't know that much about you.--though I've hearda lot about you...not everything flattering.
Rayvn: I had been working in some bands with all girls, but that never seemed to get with me. I guess it was my politics and all. I'm very pro-sex, pro-art, pro-porn; I don't tow the line as far as feminist dogma is concerned so I alienated a lot of people on the DC scene.
Maw: What bands were you in?
Rayvn: I was in two bands before black fag , one called Cleavage, and the other one called Midol. All-girl bands, I realized from this experience that I clicked a lot better with men, especially fags. I had always been a fag-hag
Maw: I heard some rumors about you and that guy from Nation of Ulysses.
Rayvn: Whatever you've heard it's a lie. (Sticks tongue out) I knew Rufus from Georgetown University where I graduated from.
Maw: What was your major?
Rayvn: Philosophy, and I was going to graduate school when Rufus , who had dropped out of Georgetown, talked me out of grad school one night in a hustler bar in New York. We were at this bar called Hombre and they were having a big dick contest and we decided we would start a band and call it black fag . It happened really fast. Rufus told me he had a huge crush when he was younger on Henry Rollins, and I thought that was so sick because I had an affair with him years ago, and he was really stupid, and a premature ejaculator and just awful in bed in general. But that's another story and before we came up with the name black fag it was going to be Kinski after Nastassia Kinski who I had sex with when I was around 13 and going to boarding school in Switzerland.
Maw: How did you meet Nastassia Kinski?
Rayvn: It's a long story so I'll give you the Reader's Digest version: She was filming Hotel New Hampshire in Austria at the time and I was ditching school, and I lied and I told her I was 18 and she believed me because I did look older...how did we get on this subject? Oh, we were talking about the origins of Black Fag.
Maw: Tell me more about your thing with Henry Rollins?
Rayvn: I don't want to talk about him. He's such a parody to me with his Gap ads and his spoken words. Let's get back on track to black fag After we formed I had to go to New Orleans where all of my mother's family lives. I was born there though we've lived in the Washington Dc area since I was 5 or 6. So while I was in New Orleans I hooked up with Cleofus and Harold who were basically jazz musicians from birth. Their father played sax for Wynton Marsalis' dad's band.
Cleofus: Yeah man, we weren't really into rock and roll just 1920's New Orleans style jazz, and the blues.
Rayvn: Shimmy music I call it, and I liked that because I didn't want to have to deal with anyone with a punk rock background at all. And my first love has always been show tunes and standards, that kind of shit, and the only reason I got into punk was because I couldn't find anyone who wanted to play oldstyle music with a modern twist.
Maw: So you recruited the Gwenveres.
Rayvn: Yeah but it was really difficult because they were playing in Harry Connick Jr's band, but they came back to Washington, DC with me, but they didn't like it and decided to live in Baltimore.
Harold: Right next to John Waters.
Rayvn: They are such weird looking dudes that John Waters cast them in his new movie Serial Mom. So now they're actors. Oh God!
Action Jackson: They won't win any Oscars though.
Maw: How did you join the group, Mr. Jackson? You're cute.
Action Jackson: I was living in Virginia and my boyfriend at the time went, to school with Rufus, and I had been singing in piano bars doing standards and my boyfriend suggested I hook up with Rayvn, and we met and clicked. My father is black and originally from Baton Rouge Louisiana so we had a lot in common.
Rayvn: I've always been known as a super fag hag and I fell madly in love with Action Jackson--look at him he's gorgeous and he always wears a suit even to bed. His sense of style and grooming, so sophisticated; when I met him he was wearing spats. And look at his face. That mixture of a Chinese mother and a Black father. He has a completely hairless smooth sexy body and one of the prettiest shlongs I've ever seen.
Action: Shut up. Let's not talk about my body.
Maw: Wait a minute how did you see his penis? Have you two been intimate?
Action: No way.
Rayvn: No we haven't. I have the cutest guys in my band and while I'd like to sleep with them in fantasy, I know that it is not a good idea to become romantically or sexually entangled with band members, no matter how tempting. But on the road when you share such close quarters with each other and you get to see them naked, and I'm such a notorious lover of big dicks and if you add all these guys dicks together you get 50+ inches, so it can be very frustrating at times.
Maw: Well, it's considered very hip in some circles, I wouldn't know anything about this though, for a straight woman to have occasional sex with gay men.
Rayvn: I don't care what madness you all do here in California but we have morals in Washington DC. (Laughs) Funny, because when you're on the road all the time like us, all the groupies we ever get are girls, and they are agressive, they don't take no for an answer. And I am not a lesbian but if some chick wants to eat me out--Well dinner, I guess, is served! And these guys are all faggots from the word go but they were screwing girls left and right so I guess deep down we are all bi-sexual, and if the right person pushes the right button we will walk the long blue line.
Rufus: Nicely said. I don't believe in labels. Sure I'm a fag but I don't want to rule out half the population. Women should be an important part of everyone's sexuality. I know some fags who don't even know any women and I feel they are missing out on so much pleasure; who knows, I may even get married. I am looking for the right girl to turn me completely straight
Action Jackson: I like titty fucking. I really enjoy that. And it's not the same with a guy unless he's a body builder with massive pectorals.
Rayvn: You're scum. Get out of my face.
Maw: Clarence: Get into this conversation at any time. You've been really quiet.
Clarence Monroe IV: I just have to say that I got into the band hoping we would do a lot of jazz stuff and we really haven't done that though the songs have a jazz tinge to them because of the way I play bass and Action Jackson's trumpet.
Maw: Yeah I noticed that your bass has just two strings. That's very punk not jazz; why don't you use a stand up bass?
Clarence Monroe IV: I wanted to but Rayvn thought it would be pretentious.
Rayvn: I thought it would fuck people over for him to play the two string Bass. Have you ever seen a bass player who is so agressive on stage? I always wind up bruised by the end of the night, though tonight you were pretty mellow.
Maw: What's your background, Clarence? You have a beautiful complexion; very exotic.
Clarence Monroe IV: My father is from the Dominican republic and he is an ambassador. So I could kill someone and not even be punished. I'm a sociopath.
Rayvn: Yeah and he has killed a few people, but because of that darn diplomatic immunity bullshit he is allowed to walk the streets.
Maw: You guys performed here at troy cafe which used to be the legendary Brave Dog. I got here late and thought I missed you because I heard you were opening for Beck--but you went on after him. It semed like the crowd was here for you.
Rayvn: Yeah, Beck opened for us. He's going on the road with his new band and wanted to showcase them in front of an audience. Beck's band were really tight, their buttholes I mean.
Maw: I think you guys stole the show. People were chanting, "Black Fag! Black Fag!" My favorite song is "Atlas Shrugged." Are you a big Ayn Rand fan?
Rayvn: Yes, I love Ayn Rand. "The Fountainhead" and "We the Living." A lot of people get all besides themselves when we do that song. It's going to be on the album "Fagula." Fag + Count Chocula is Fagula.
Maw: I was cracking up when you introduced "I'm Pathetic" as a song about self-esteem. Those lyrics:
I'm pretentious, I'm shallow
I'm crazy, I stink!
No one will have sex with me
I'm ugly, I'm stupid
No one likes me
I'm barren, I'm weak!
Rayvn: It's funny that songs can start one way and end up another.
Maw: "I'm Pathetic" is such an anthem.
Rayvn: It wasn't meant to be, believe me.
Maw: "Third Finger Left Hand" is really hard driving; Harold's drumming is so Led Zeppelin.
Harold: Thanks. I don't like rock and roll and I'm not a rock drummer so I'm always worried that my drumming is going to be wimpy.
Maw: How did you and Kim Gordon get along during the recording of the album? Whose idea was it to have her produce? I heard the first choice was the gay member of the Meat Puppets.
Rayvn: It was Kim's idea to produce the record. She just took over. I hate the record and I didn't think she wwas right for the project but everyone else did and I left it as a group decision. Michael Stipe offered to produce and I felt more comfortable with him though I don't even like his music. But he's a fag and I get along better with fags. And Roddy from Aztec Camera wanted to work on a project with just me, not the whole band, and I nixed that real quick. But everyone else voted on Kim and the Dischord people were happy with her, but when the album comes out everyone else can be the judge. I wouldn't buy this record if I were the record buying public-- just get our old 7-inch singles.
Maw: When does the record come out?
Rayvn: When this article comes out most likely. We'll probably never do another record with Dischord.
Maw: Oh, why? Give me the dirt.
Rayvn: Let's say we have certain differences. If you want the inside scoop ask the guys in Jawbox.
Maw: I will. So sre you guys going to be doing more shows with Jawbreaker?
Rayvn: Oh, I don't know.
Maw: I'm trying to be discreet but I heard that you and Adam Pfahler are an item.
Rayvn: No way. I never date drummers. He's nice and I'm friends with his sister Kembra of the Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black but I'd actually rather do his younger brother Abbie. He's the complete babe!!Adam's nice but I'm not attracted to him. Where did you hear that from?
Maw: The gossip lines of bands on the road.
Rayvn: Well, check your sources because lately I've only been having sex with girls or hip hop fag boys--very anonymous sex. I'm a woman trapped in the body of a woman.
Maw: So what's next for Black Fag?
Rayvn: Continuing on this Pacific Northwest tour. We will be back in LA to hang out with friends and play more gigs. We like it here. Everyone's nice to us in this city. It's not like I thought it would be.
Maw: What did you expect?
Rayvn: That people would be jaded and come to our shows with a "Well, what's your claim to fame?"--that kind of attitude. People hate us on the east coast.
Maw: You're exaggerating. You guys are pretty popular. So is it true that you guys are relocating here?
Rayvn: Yeah, I guess it's official. I'm still keeping an apartment in Washington, DC but we're going to spend more time here in this city. The weather is nice and earthquakes are cool.