Genre Bender

Angelo Pitillo

Justin Bond is not a drag queen. Though perhaps best-known as the blowsy chanteuse Kiki DuRane, one half of the international cabaret sensation Kiki and Herb, Bond has always self-identified as transgendered, and as the latest step in an evolving rejection of the gender binary has recently announced a new name -- Mx. Justin Vivian Bond -- and the wish to be referred to with the pronoun "V." "I don't want to imply in any way that I'd be ashamed to be a drag queen," says Bond. "So for the longest time I let people use that word to describe me.  But I also think at a certain point I have to correct the misperception."

This month sees the release of V's first full-length solo album, Dendrophile, a collaboration with pianist/producer Thomas Bartlett of Doveman. The songs are an eclectic mix of original composi- tions and covers, including updates of '70s classics by the likes of Joni Mitchell, Joan Baez and the Carpenters. "I wanted it to be sort of like an early-'70s folk-pop variety album," Bond says, "because my favorite singers are people who aren't easy to pigeonhole, like Judy Collins, who introduced me to the music of Jacques Brel, Leonard Cohen, old British folk songs, contemporary pop songs and show tunes. She refused to be stuck in one genre."

Being pigeonholed seems equally unlikely for this multi-faceted artist. Bond is getting ready to workshop a musical co-written with Sandra Bernhard, while this fall sees the publication of a childhood memoir, an exhibition of watercolor portraits at Participant Inc. and a fragrance collaboration with Etat Libre d'Orange called Galli --  "for the sacred whore in you." "It's inspired by the gender-variant priests of the goddess Cybele," explains Bond. "So it's a trans-scent."

Dendrophile is out April 5th.

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