Interview: Stephen Bee of Weird Party
Punk Rock, Percussion, Penis
By Omar Afra
Since the advent of rock music, heterosexuality has been celebrated and served as subject matter on song after song after song. Whether odes to love or tributes of lust, desire for the opposite sex has been the dominant paradigm. But beneath the surface have always existed gay and lesbian musicians both in (Kirk Hammett) and out of the closet. Despite notable ‘out’ performers such as Rob Halford, Freddie Mercury, and a legion of lesbians that play Lillith Fair, gay and lesbian contributions have generally gone under the radar and are under appreciated. But alas, here in our lovely city resides Stephen Bee, the unabashedly gay drummer of Weird Party who has recently become engaged to his partner of many years. Bee defies most gay stereotypes, as inaccurate as those may be, and plays drums with the ferocity of three straight males combined. He also looks like the wrong motherfucker to mess with.
What is your earliest childhood musical memory?
Getting Skid Row and Motley Crue CDs for my 9th birthday, and standing out in front of my house pretending to wail along to “Dr. Feelgood” on an electric guitar from Toys “R” Us. My first parent-free-concert was Suicidal Tendencies with Megadeath in ‘91, and it was all downhill from there.
As silly as this sounds, why do we not know of any other openly gay, masculine as fuck garage rock drummers?
You most likely do, and don’t even realize it. Gay isn’t an external attribute, and drummers are not typically the focal point of the band anyways. Queer musicians have been a part of the garage/punk music scene since the get-go. From Texas alone, we’ve had great queer musicians from bands such as The Dicks, Big Boys, and Houston’s own Sugar Shack and MyDolls. Outside of Texas, you’ve got members from the Buzzcocks, The Gun Club, The Cramps, Hüsker Dü, Go!, and so on.
How old were you when you first came out and did you have any fellow musicians that were ‘dismayed’?
I came out when I was 21. I wasn’t in a band at the time, so no dismayed musicians, but it did shock pretty much everyone that knew me. Most of my friends were amazing and very supportive, which was quite the opposite of what I expected. Being one of the only queer punks (that I knew of) from the local hardcore punk scene at the time made the leap a scary one. Looking back, it was the best thing I ever did, and I honestly don’t know what the fuck I was waiting for. Shortly afterwards, I discovered that I wasn’t so alone after all. I had met a couple of other queer musicians, and was starting up a local queer punk band, which later evolved into “these borders were drawn in blood.”
Have you found any popularly held yet inaccurate conventions about homosexuals and rock music? Do people expect you to be an Erasure fan?
Actually, I am a fan of Erasure, Pet Shop Boys, etc. Most people expect gay musicians to be pretty boys playing pop, or in some sort of leather/denim/shock drag for punk/rock. There’s nothing wrong with any of these things, but it’s seldom the case.
Has your recent engagement put the kibosh on any recording or touring plans?
Nope. My partner is amazing, and is completely supportive of my musical endeavors.
Weird Party has made some transitions as of recently. What is that all about?
Shelby moved to LA, and we brought Manie from Titan Blood/Hamamatsu Tom on to replace him. It didn’t take long for Manie to get up to speed, and we’re already churning out new stuff with him. We have a new 7″ EP, The Secret Lives of Men out now on Twistworthy records, and a full length LP Hussy due out on Sex & Death in early September.
Okay, back to this whole gay thing. Are you telling me you really don’t like boobies? Weren’t you breast-fed?
I can appreciate the female form, but they don’t do anything for me sexually. Do you mean to tell me you don’t like dick?
Editor’s Note: Omar loves the penis. He is merely afraid to touch it.
But seriously, as we discuss this, I ask myself “Does the fact that this dude is gay have any consequence musically at all? In 20 years will I look at this article and realize I am just picking apart something as trivial as someone’s hair color or does this actually cut to the core of who you are?” So, is your sexuality of no consequence at all or is it everything?
My sexuality is a big part of me, and while I may draw influence from it, it doesn’t define the music I play. Having to deal with the politics of being queer in today’s world definitely does fuel my fire though. I’m hopeful that in 20 years the bigotry of the older generations will fade, and sexual orientation will be a non-issue.
Lastly, is it hard to play in a band that has pretty-ass Dann Miller in it all the while being attracted to men?
It’s hard. Real hard…