Interview by Sumiko Saulson
M Lamar (born May 29, 1972) is a New York City-based composer, musician, performer, multimedia artist, and countertenor. The New York Times describes his exhibit ‘Negrogothic’ as “a bracing alternative to the dispiriting traffic in blandly competent art clogging the New York gallery system these days, M. Lamar plumbs the depths of all-American trauma with visionary verve.” Hilton Als wrote in The New Yorker of M. Lamar: “he deconstructs the persona of the diva even as he wraps himself in divalike hauteur.”
Lamar was born in Mobile, Alabama, studied painting at the San Francisco Art Institute, attending Yale for graduate school in sculpture before dropping out to focus on music. M. Lamar continues to train vocally with Ira Siff, founder and lead soprano of La Gran Scena Opera Company, who was also Klaus Nomi‘s trainer.
Lamar is the twin brother of actress Laverne Cox; in two episodes of the Netflix show Orange Is the New Black, Lamar played his sister’s character prior to her transition. Lamar participated in an open dialogue with authors bell hooks, Marci Blackman, and Samuel R. Delany called Transgressive Sexual Practice as part of hooks’ scholar-in-residence at the New School in October 2014.
About Afrogothic music, literature and culture for February Black History Horror Month, also we have a show (live music) on February 8 but there is a lot of conversation about Beloved, etc… it’s a really good interview. It’s 40 minutes long.
Interview with M. Lamar about the upcoming Vantablack show with Stagefright (my band), Protea and N-Retrograde. We talk about Afrogothic music and literature, Toni Morrison’s Beloved, Gothic horror, American Gothic horror and its relationship to the African American community and slavery and the antebellum south. Losing Toni Morrison in 2019. “The Pieces that I Am” and Toni Morrison refusing white centering in literature. Black horror writers, Afropunk,
Whether or not we saw each other at Death Guild in the 90s and why I asked the club to change its logo. Galaxy Chamber and Omewenne and how Stagefright and Protea used to play with them in the 90s. What is Black Eldergoth? Europeans fetishizing Blackness and how that affects Black people in goth culture. My mother dating Gunther Ethan Palmer, son of Warhol Starlet Ivy Nicholson and Ciao! Manhattan director John Palmer. Martin Gore (of Depeche Mode) finding out that his dad was African American and if he should be invited to the Picnic.
Race as a social construct, and what that means? Interracial Blackness, white passingness, our historical relationship to the trans-Atlantic trade route. My mother, Carolyn Saulson, Black Eldergoth and singer of Stagefright. Black centering during and outside of Black History Month.
M Lamar’s relationship to queerness, gender and his identical twin Laverne Cox (he acted as her preop in the series Orange is the New Black).
Loving Blackness and Political Race Theory. Who has the right to claim Blackness?