Honey Soundsystem

GOLDIES 2009: Tearing down the monolith of gay club music while digging up the past
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marke@sfbg.com

Believe it or not (and you better believe it), until a few years ago, gay club music was a monolith, a Spandexed, Botoxed, over-toxed Easter Island rictus of fake-techno squeals and outrageous divas. There's nothing inherently wrong with that (except: yawn), and as far as such a thing called "gay club music" exists, the Gaga-Rihanna-Madonna industrial complex still reigns.

What's different now is the music available in the gay clubs, from punky no-wave, old-school vogue, and bathhouse chestnuts to Berlin minimal, nu-IDM, and space disco. Nobody's been more on the forefront of this youthful wave of change than Honey Soundsystem. The hyperactively crafty collective — currently composed of DJs Ken Vulsion, Pee Play, Josh Cheon, Robot Hustle, and Jason Kendig — hits a genre-busting musical sweet spot in its decades-spanning sets (Honey was formed in 2005 when Ken Vulsion, a veteran of the early '90s Manhattan club kid scene, heard Pee Play, then 19, throw down an Adam and the Ants reedit at Café Flor) that could rightly be called ahistoric if it wasn't so rooted in a conceptual sense of the gay past. Even as it plays club host to such cutting-edge talents as Stefan Goldman, C.L.A.W.S, and Disco Dromo, the collective foregrounds, in flyer art and party theme, its appreciation for AIDS-era icons like Keith Haring, Willi Ninja, Larry Levan, and Patrick Cowley, the local electronic music originator who was the subject of a brilliant art and music retrospective put on by Honey in October.

After roaming its way through practically every alternative space in the city — and recently having its equipment impounded by police at an underground party — Honey's found a home on Sunday nights above Paradise Lounge, where it truly lets its freaky fag flag fly. "We focus on quality, not on singularities," Ken Vulsion says. "We're not about this one type of music, this one type of scene. We have a loyal following of fun, creative people who never know what to expect — except that it'll be a great party."

"Plus," adds Pee Play, "there are five of us, so if some tired queen wants to complain they have no idea who to go to."

www.honeysoundsystem.com

>>GOLDIES 2009: The 21st Guardian Outstanding Local Discovery awards, honoring the Bay's best in arts

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