Faith Michaels Brings Fetish to the Forefront
Q: How did a nice kid from Phoenix grow up to become a drag star whose video set in a leather dungeon was banned by Logo?
A: Looks, talent, determination and a foot fetish.
The nice kid was David Gernovich, born in 1974, who grew up to be Faith Michaels, the Key West performer who pushed the envelope last summer with the video for her song "Fetish."
"Definition of a fetish," Michaels belts out in a barred jail cell bookended by two bare-chested, masked leather men. A male voice then lists bears, leather, twinks, smokers, cross-dressers, exhibitionists. "You know who you are," she croons. At one point she spanks a man in black underwear while letting us know that "I’ve been such a bad girl in such a good way."
Too bad, as it turned out, for the LGBT-cable network, whose suits rejected the video for their music video show PopLab. "You’ve got a fetish, I’ll try them all," says Michaels toward the end of the video. Logo, the network famous for outrageous drag queens, drew the proverbial line in the sand.
No matter. Several alternative music websites picked up the video, which went viral and was nominated as a Fan Fave for RightOutTV’s 2011 music-video awards. You can watch it at rightouttvawards.com/contact.html.
Michaels has released a second track, "Neva Eva Eva," a collaboration with Miami-based The Rhythm Rehab, who rescued the singer when she was in a creative bind.
EDGE spoke with Michaels about her name, "Fetish" and that case of writer’s block.
EDGE: How did you get into performing?
Faith Michaels: I was at a show in Tucson, Ariz. I was watching the girls and thought, "I want to do that!" I was always ’Wonder Woman’ and ’Charlie’s Angels’ in my mind, but to get to wear the clothes, wigs and boots! Oh, baby, sign me up!
EDGE: Is your name an homage to George Michael?
Faith Michaels: Yes, my first name pays homage to Faith Evans and my last name to George Michael. I was going with Faith at first, but at a show with a one-syllable name people tended not to hear your name over talking and typical bar noises. It was between Lady Faith or Michaels. Well, George sang about faith, so there we have it.
EDGE: How did you feel being censored by a gay TV channel?
Faith Michaels: I had a roller coaster of emotions when Logo would not play "Fetish." I asked, "What do you need pulled out to get you to play it?"
They thought the ball gag scene was too much [but] said, "Even with that out we will not play it." I’ve watched shows on basic cable that did worse stuff. I thought Logo would be supportive of a queen doing her own music. It just felt like a slap in the face.
EDGE: Do you consider the song an anthem for fetishists?
Faith Michaels: "Fetish" was an anthem at first for me. Writing it helped me open up about my fetish and accept it. Then I would go online and meet people who had the same fetish I did. Then you learn about other fetishes. "Fetish" was a song for people who are open to their fetishes to love people just learning about theirs to know they are not alone.
EDGE: What do you think of vanilla types who frown on anything but straight-on sex?
Faith Michaels: I don’t mind people who are vanilla, gay or straight. If that’s what they like then that’s them; nothing wrong with that. If you have a fetish you really need to be with someone who is open-minded or your relationship is just not going to work.
EDGE: What is your favorite fetish?
Faith Michaels: I have a foot fetish. I love it all. Sweat socks, no show socks. Gray, white, black. I just saw a pair of yellow no shows the other day. OMG!! Love them! Dress socks, cotton, nylon, pattern, argyle, thick and thin. Loafers, boat shoes and driving loafers, with and without socks. I like a guy who can wear Nikes with no shows one day, dress shoes with dress socks the next day, then boat shoes sockless for the weekend. Keep me guessing. A guy who also shoe plays, which means he slips his shoes on and off his foot or pops the heel. That makes me lose it. Great, now you got me going!
The ’Fetish’ video
EDGE: Did you conceive of the entire video shoot yourself?
Faith Michaels: The video for "Fetish" was on my mind from the day I wrote it. I knew how I wanted it all from the walk up to the club to the ending. I wanted to make it clear that yes, there are all these fetishes, but do you know what my fetish is?
EDGE: Where did you get those hotties?
Faith Michaels: My girls from Findadragshow.com found the guys for me. I would tell them, I’m looking for a guy like this. They would send me pics and I would select from them. Michael [the ball gag guy] I saw at Hamburger Mary’s. From the moment I looked at him, I knew I wanted him in the video.
EDGE: Do you enjoy pushing the envelope?
Faith Michaels: I don’t enjoy pushing the envelope, but if I believe in something I will stand up for it.
EDGE: If you could play footsies with anyone in the world, who would it be?
Faith Michaels: Oh so many guys I would give a foot rub to. Let’s see, first guy that pops in my mind is David Boreanaz. He’s so good-looking - what a smile. He has huge feet and amazing socks! Have you seen his socks? Fun, fun, fun! I think he would be open to that.
EDGE: Why so much difficulty writing a follow-up song?
Faith Michaels: I got stuck writing a follow-up to "Fetish" because I was trying to stay away from sex and fetish for my second song. People were expecting me to write something about socks or loafers. I needed a 180-degree change. Then "Neva Eva Eva" came into my life. It’s a song about living life your way, not how people feel you should live it. Perfect!
EDGE: How would you define the term ’drag queen’?
Faith Michaels: A female impersonator or drag queen is a man who makes his living dressing as a woman for the stage. That is his uniform for work. Some people wear a shirt and tie, we wear headdresses and boas. We don’t want to live as women or become a woman. We just need to put on a pair of heels long enough to make rent, lol!
EDGE: Do you think ’Ru Paul’s Drag Race’ has made drag more mainstream?
Faith Michaels: I think "Ru Paul’s Drag Race" has made drag and drag queens more accepting. It’s not just a guy in a dress. It’s a person who has a family, friends and a pet dog his boyfriend got him for Christmas. The show helps give these queens a name and a look into their lives.
EDGE: Are you ever offended by the show; that is, do you think it underscores stereotypes of men who choose to be drag queens?
Faith Michaels: I don’t think I’ve ever watched "Ru Paul’s Drag Race" and thought I’m offended by that. Embarrassed by some of the things they have the girls do, but never offended.
EDGE: Have you ever thought of going on it?
Faith Michaels: I have thought about going on it and sent in a tape.
EDGE: Do you have a favorite drag queen from the show?
Faith Michaels: On "Ru Paul’s Drag Race?" Well, of course Ru Paul, Nina Flowers and Pandora Boxx.
For more on Faith Michaels visit her website.
Watch the video to "Fetish":