Casey Spooner is done pretending. As electroclash duo Fischerspooner returns with its first new album in nearly a decade, the 48-year-old performer admits that his party persona, a staple of New York nightlife in the early 2000s, was somewhat make-believe.
“There was this illusion that I was champagne wishes and caviar dreams, but really I was at home with my husband and my cat,” he tells NewNowNext over the phone from his home in Paris.
Dropping February 16, Sir started out on a more optimistic note when Spooner and musical partner Warren Fischer began working on it back in 2013.
“I was living this queer ‘happily ever after’ that I didn’t know or fully believe was possible,” he says. But the record took a dramatic turn as his relationship dissolved and his whole life was upended. “It was kind of like all hell broke loose.”
Michael Stipe, Spooner’s longtime friend (and former lover), came on board to produce Sir. “[Michael] found a way to pull back a bit of the artifice on the way I usually present myself and make it more naked and emotional,” says Spooner. The result is a more vulnerable Fischerspooner, but one that’s still filling up the dance floor.
Below, Spooner speaks with us about the album, the eroticism of Fischerspooner’s new videos, and his enduring affection for New York nightlife.
Why was it important to you to make Sir “aggressively homosexual,” as you’ve called it?
I knew I wanted to talk about queer narratives. I was in an amazing open relationship and we were having all kinds of incredible sexual and emotional experiences. I felt like it was important to share those stories in a way that wasn’t sensationalizing or diminishing or fetishizing, and really just an honest portrait of my experiences as an older gay man.
It’s very easy to know how to party and do drugs and get laid, but when it comes to having a family or happiness or career or aging, it felt like I didn’t really have a lot of people around me to guide me through that, because I lost a whole generation of men before me. So I felt like it was something I wanted to represent, that was good for the community, and that I felt like I needed to say.
There’s this notion that if people know that it’s queer, that somehow it doesn’t apply to them and they can’t learn from it or they can’t relate to it. The reality is, I relate to straight people all the time. Straight people need to learn to relate to queer people, that’s the point. There’s something to learn from everyone, whether they’re gay, straight, trans, or whatever.
Do you consider the album a political statement?
When I started the record I was focused on my life and my work, I wasn’t thinking about politics. It was a very different time. Though I was in turmoil as the record kept getting delayed, I’m actually pretty thankful that now it’s way more relevant post-Trump.
I feel like the queer agenda that started more personal, and just trying to share my experience—now, it is political.
The eroticism in the “Have Fun Tonight” video feels like a throwback to the ‘70s, while the hedonism in “TopBrazil” feels very current. Do you think that sort of queer sexual freedom has come back around?
I cut the “Have Fun Tonight” video as kind of a sketch, or mood board. It’s an artist I really love from Tumblr, suk.me. The plan was to take that video and then re-stage it and reshoot it, which I hope to do for next summer.
I think we are living through a sexual renaissance, because of PrEP and digital culture, so the combination of medicine and technology, there’s this new kind of wild sexual freedom. So the “Have Fun Tonight” video connects to that.
The “Top Brazil” video is all people that I know from the dance floor and from out in the city, we’re all very connected. It’s really like a family portrait.
How would you compare current New York nightlife to the early 2000s, when Fischerspooner debuted?
I’ve moved to Paris and I miss going out on the weekends in New York and dancing. Honey Dijon and Carry Nation and Occupy the Disco, Harder, Battle Hymn, Susanne Bartsch—it’s like every night, I’ve been having an amazing time.
I actually treated the dance floor as a place of research, I did a lot of soul searching on the dance floor in New York City over the past couple years. New York nightlife right now to me is having an incredible renaissance.