The transgressive artists join Document to discuss modern dating, sex magic, and Christeene’s latest album ‘MIDNITE FUKK TRAIN’

“Everything comes from the same source,” Paul Soileau tells me, referencing the boundary between his daily reality and that of his alter-ego Christeene—who, as a proponent of “terrorist drag,” eschews the genre’s more traditional manifestations in favor of a profanity-laced presentation that is more shocking, underground, and visceral than anything you might see on RuPaul’s. Taking the stage in matted wigs, torn-up clothes, and smeared makeup, Christeene is about as exaggerated as a persona can get—but her antics (from letting loose helium-powered buttplugs onstage, to stuffing Rick Owens’s signature mane up her ass) still come from the same ‘inner inferno’ of feelings that Soileau experiences in daily life, providing an essential creative outlet for their more explosive impulses. “Everything is a little more expressive when it comes through Christeene’s mouth,” Soileau says, “But it’s all coming from the same stank beliefs.”

As a musician, Christeene’s sound is similarly cacophonous and confrontational, as lawless in execution as it is in subject matter. Her recent album, MIDNIGHT FUKK TRAIN, opens with the song “ALPHABETS,” a deluge of letters and their unlikely (and X-rated) word pairings (V, for instance, is for venereal diseases and Viagra). “Now slide that dick in some shoes and piss up all them tabooz,” she sings on “BEAUCOUP MOROCCO,” a song intended to empower those who feel daunted by the sexually liberated behavior occurring around them. “It’s written for those people who do not yet feel like part of the fun, sexy group,” Christeene says. “And hopefully, it will encourage them to stop looking through the screen door, kick it open, join the club, and really start to celebrate their own sexual desires and claim their place at the table.”

It’s a song that resonated with Narcissister, a fellow performance artist whose sexually liberated attitude has long served as a source of inspiration for Christeene. From her appetite for transgression to her keen political analysis, Narcissister matches Christeene’s intensity, addressing such themes as race, gender, and identity in sexually charged performance pieces that subvert expectations, often featuring motifs like the merkin and objects emerging from bodily orifices, alongside her signature identity-obscuring mask. In her 2008 film The Self-Gratifier, she constructed a bicycle machine designed to whip the body of its rider. In her Bessie Award-winning cabaret performance Organ Player, she embodied body parts ranging from breast, to mouth, to vagina. In her 2016 performance Marilyn, she conducted her signature “reverse strip tease,” gradually dressing herself in garments pulled out of her vagina to assume the identity of the Hollywood sex symbol—issuing a pointed commentary on the relationship between glamor, femininity, and artifice.

In unabashedly erotic and often profane performances, Christeene and Narcissister both employ the art of spectacle to deconstruct and reify gendered and racialized stereotypes, turning fetishism from a weapon of the oppressor into a tool to expose and question intolerance. Often utilizing humor, disgust, and arousal, their work provokes audiences to challenge their own expectations—“guiding viewers across the metaphorical river Styx,” as Christeene puts it, “and bringing them into our world.” Here, the two boundary-pushing performance artists join Document to discuss sex magic, masturbatory synchronicity, and MIDNITE FUKK TRAIN.

Christeene: Hi Narcissister. We’re here with a person that’s recording us—a very technological threeway going on here.

Narcissister: I guess this is an appropriate situation, because we’re both used to being watched by creepy people.

Christeene: I do feel quite at home, especially with you in the room—because if there was a creepy critter watching me, I would definitely want to have you at my side. I think we’re both creatures that could definitely take care of business in strange rooms, since we’re so often in rooms with people who don’t quite know why they’re there, what they’re in for, or why they paid money for it. The two of us, we’re kind of like that ferryman who takes you across the river Styx… I forget his name, or their name—I’m sure they don’t have pronouns. I would say that, through performance, you and I definitely have the ability to guide people across the metaphorical river Styx and bring them into our world.

Are you in New York right now?

Narcissister: I am at home in Brooklyn, and I’ll start off by sharing that I just enjoyed some lovely afternoon sex with myself. I wanted to talk about that, because both of our work centers around sexuality in a very direct sense, and there’s this idea of creating some fantasy about who we are as sexual beings.

Christeene: That’s so fucked up, because I, too, just pleasured myself before this interview. And I had 15 minutes to do so! I love that you were doing the same. I was looking at videos of—well, I’m really into rubber suits. Full-bodied rubber suits with the zipper butts and the zipper front for the zipper mouth. Pornography is quite boring if you just go straight to the shit that’s on the shelf in front of you, but I dug and dug and dug and dug and found some really exciting rubber suit porn. And I was thinking, I have the option of looking at this quickly and then pleasing myself after this interview, but then I’m gonna think about this the whole time we’re talking—so then I was like, I’ve got 15 minutes. I can do this!

And it really worked out beautifully. I’m glad that you and I are both in a very relaxed state of self-pleasure and joy.

Narcissister: We have so much synchronicity, because while I was enjoying this afternoon pleasure session with myself, I was thinking Who is receiving this energy? Because I really believe in sex magic. And then after I finished, I checked my phone to see a text from you, and I thought it was great. For me, sex magic can be about connecting with myself through enjoyment and pleasure, and sometimes it’s about fantasies of other people—but it’s also about what I want to manifest. I’m so ambitious, in addition to being a very erotic person, and so connecting with people whose work I admire and love—people who I want to collaborate with, even in the sense of this interview—is something I want to manifest. I feel that we were on the same page with our sex magic.

“For me, sex magic can be about connecting with myself through enjoyment and pleasure, and sometimes it’s about fantasies of other people—but it’s also about what I want to manifest.”

Christeene: I love that it’s so easy for you to throw facts like that out on the table like an old fish! I’m attracted to people who are celebratory about all kinds of sex—like you saying, Yeah, I’m gonna fuckin’ pleasure myself this afternoon and make some magic. I’m very driven by my sexual fantasies and dreams and hopes and desires, and it’s really important to realize that there are so many versions of sex, not just these generic Walmart, Sears, JC Penney-type versions we’re all shown as we grow up.

As a performer, I scream a lot about sex, and I write and physically deliver very sexual narratives and feelings… I definitely show people that side of my business. But sometimes, those who scream the loudest about sex are the ones not having it—and I come from a place with my music, where it’s often more about a lack of that [sex] in my own life. With my music and my sexuality, I’m very much expressing an inner—well, I don’t like to use the word rage, but definitely an inner inferno of feelings. So it kind of comes out that way through performance, and I find that it definitely wakes other people up.

Narcissister: On the new album, I was drawn to first listen to the song ‘BEAUCOUP MOROCCO’ because my mother was from Morocco. Can you tell me how it came about?

It came about because I met some fella in Hamburg, Germany. And they were from Morocco. And they spoke French. I can speak some French, but when I get some alcohol in me, I can really speak some French. I started speaking to this person, and we were getting along, and for some reason, I promised them that I would write a song called ‘BEAUCOUP MOROCCO.’

Usually, I hear something in my head first, and I feel it, and then I figure out what that particular sound or feeling can address, drawing from something within my own life experience. And that particular song very much addressed what it is we’re talking about right now: There’s line in it that says ‘It ain’t like u ain’t brought / whut all these other faggots got / that fukkers r touchin / iz time u slip them that key / an lettem inside your durty honey.’ I think many of our friends are very sex-positive people—they’ll be like, Oh, I just sucked five dicks in the car on the way here. And that song is very much trying to empower someone who might look around a room full of people who speak very freely about their sexual adventures and feel daunted. It’s a song that’s written for those people who do not yet feel like part of the fun, sexy group. And hopefully, it will encourage them to stop looking through the screen door, kick it open, join the club, and really start to celebrate their own sexual desires and claim their place at the table

Narcissister: I can relate, in my own way, to what you said about feeling alienated sometimes when people are sharing their sexual exploits. With all the apps, it’s so easy to hook up these days—you just tap your phone and say, I’m down to fuck.

I’m down to fuck on stage, you know, and I’m down to fuck myself. But as far as, like, getting online and having a bunch of strangers want to engage with me immediately—that doesn’t appeal to me. Maybe I’m not bold enough, or I’m from another generation, or that’s just not my kink. I find that aspect of our current dating culture to be alienating, because so many people are talking about all their exploits and their hookups on apps and I’m thinking, What’s wrong with me?

Christeene: I know you have a fruitful sexual life, but you really hit it right on the snout! I’ve really begun to feel exactly the same way about online hookups, and I think it’s very empowering to just say, ‘That’s not me. That’s not my jam. This is how I am, and this is what I prefer.’ I’m a very single person, and not just because I look like a sweaty raccoon after a show. I have very close family friends and a chosen family. But I’m not always in relationships, or fucking online, or having these gangbangs on the way to the party. It was only recently that I went, Oh, well, that’s just the kind of person I am. I am the lone ranger who focuses on my fucking work, and sure, if someone’s able to come in and kick that door down and scramble my shit up, so be it!

Have you ever seen the movie Witches of Eastwick? Michelle Pfeiffer plays one of the witches, and her character in that movie had tons of kids. She would get pregnant at the drop of a hat, every time. I am the same way, but with STDs—if I hook up with someone, you can bet I picked the one who either has crabs or gonorrhea. I’m like a magnet for it. I will go home with an STD, and I will need to eat some penicillin. Any time I hook up with people, I’m just like, Are you serious? I picked the one floozy in the room who’s carrying every STD from every fucking petri dish creation in the whole world?

Narcissister: That’s so funny, because in one of our earliest conversations, I was like, I love your song, ‘FIX MY DICK.’ And I asked what it was about, thinking it would be about having an STI, and you said, ‘No, it’s about who can get me off—like, how many people does it take to like, get me off the right way?’

Christeene: That was the first song I ever wrote. I had just moved to Austin, Texas, and was very sexually frustrated because it was full of young people acting masculine and going into sports bars and attending university and I was like, Holy crap, I’m fucked. So ‘FIX MY DICK’ was an aggressive plea of like, Oh my God, how many people is it gonna take—particularly in that town to—to fix my dick? And it did take a long time!

“I never know what the fuck I’m gonna say to a crowd, I don’t know what I’m gonna do in those moments—I might pull your phone from your hand and put it up my butt, I might spit on you and tell you I love you. I don’t know!”

There were also a lot of very young people, and I don’t like to hook up with young people—I like older people who are going to throw me around like a rag doll and teach me something, ya know? I’m not saying young people can’t teach me things, but when it comes to fucking around, give me that old daddy, mama.

Narcissister: Can you talk about your choice to remix that song for your new album?

Christeene: Well, I’m like a lesbian: I keep all my lovers close! It was really exciting for me to hear these songs that had been with me for nine years reinterpreted by the brilliant musicians in my band—it just brought an identity to the music that matched my feelings on stage, the way I feel physically, mentally, energetically. I wanted to include ‘FIX MY DICK’ on this new album, because I wanted people to be able to hear the old one and the new one—to really understand where I was, where I am, and where I want to go. I wanted to share that feeling: to celebrate how far we’ve all come as musicians, and celebrate the people who have stuck around long enough to hear it.

Have you ever done a show as a Narcissister, but with live music or a live band accompanying your actions?

Narcissister: I have a band, Serpent In A Straight Line, who accompanies me, but it’s electronic. I would love to do more of that, because I love hard-rocking bands. I love punk, I love the explosive energy of the guitars and drums. And I feel like it fits energetically with my project.

I was chatting with this person on one of the apps the other night, and he’s like, into metal. He was like, ‘Do you ever dress like a goth girl?’ And the answer is no, I don’t feel like I need to dress the part because I have that hard-rocking energy inside, and in my work.

Christeene: I would say you have it in your work, and then also in your personality, and then also in your sexuality. I would love to hear the answer you gave to the idea that you’d need to wear some little goth dress and some ripped tights to show you’ve got that energy. It just goes to show how you never know what is standing next to you, and what’s inside that thing standing next to you, based on how they’re dressed or not dressed.

When I’ve been with you, you’ve often done shows that are very structured: you know exactly what’s going to happen, and when it’s gonna happen. It’s fucking mind-boggling to watch the intensity of your performance from the beginning to the end, especially in terms of narrative—when, you know, your fucking ass turns into a baby carriage, then a baby, then an old lady, then a corpse. It’s a whole life sequence going on onstage, and I’m thinking, What the fuck would this person do if they fucked up in the middle of this? You’re so in tune with the internal script, and the delicate balance of you getting to the next thing, creating this domino effect. If you’re performing to, say, electronic music, it can be that structured—but with a live band, you kind of are at the mercy of a different improvisational rhythm. I wonder if performing to a different kind of music would sort of take the net away from the tightrope, or make you think of your work in a different way.

Narcissister: I’ve actually started moving in that direction recently, but all of my work up until recently has been carefully choreographed, which comes from being a professional dancer. For me, one of my strategies for ensuring that the erotics in my work are comfortable for me, or land correctly on a political level, is to embed those erotics into a very considered and choreographed dance.

But lately, I’ve been inspired to loosen that. The pandemic gave me an opportunity to think about my work differently. I’ve started doing performances that are accompanied by a musician—again, it’s generally electronic—but I did one in London recently with a guitarist with a sound effects pedal. And I had a loose script that I was following, but it was much more improvisational and [had] a longer format. It was really freeing.

Christeene: That’s exciting as fuck. When I’m doing a show, my structure is songs. I know that each song will bring me to a moment—maybe it’s when you’re going to pull something out of your booty and it’s going to become a hat, or something else that’s gonna carry you to the next chapter of your show. I like having these bases or times when I know the songs are going to happen, but in between them, it’s improv. I never know what the fuck I’m gonna say to a crowd, I don’t know what I’m gonna do in those moments—I might pull your phone from your hand and put it up my butt, I might spit on you and tell you I love you. I don’t know!

“If you say, ‘This is who I’m going to be on this stage,’ you might as well overhaul everything—and that includes your relationships to sex, to self expression, to exchanges with other people.”

It would be very fascinating and exciting to see you in those very strange, brief realms of freedom between the bases. My mind goes crazy thinking of you paired with different instruments. Like, I’m in love with the saxophone right now, and there’s a lot of saxophone in the new album, because the saxophone feels the way my brain feels, the way I feel when I’m on stage. It’s got different moods. I can go from, you know, skanky, old lazy, jazzy hot dog music to Laura Palmer’s bar in the woods, you know? With you, it’s exciting to think of new sounds that could accompany the many looks and presentations you have, and which would only just make the mystery greater.

Narcissister: Thank you, we’ll see how it goes! You know, it’s about having the inspiration, but also about having the opportunity to try things as they come up.

I want to go back to [what] we were talking about earlier: how maybe we’re not the kind of people who get really psyched about having casual or anonymous sex on the apps. I have this idea that when I went through these promiscuous periods of my life, I was actually looking for creative expression, and I had this idea that I could find it through sex with other people. And I just crashed so hard when I realized that wasn’t often true. Then when I found Narcissister, I could put all my sexual energy into this art project, and it was so liberating. I can’t speak for other people—I don’t know if that’s true for them, that they’re looking for some kind of divine creative connection through sex with strangers—but that was true for me. Is there any element of that that’s true for you?

That’s how I feel about what I’m creating. I feel beautiful and powerful in my sexuality when I’m creating this work, and I feel very confident in my interactions with other people—though that’s not to say I can’t be very coy and bashful too. But I really find that moving through the strange Shadow Lands of online sex with people as this thing that I am, it just doesn’t click properly. Those structures of normal courtship and exchange work for many people. But when you decide to sign a contract to pursue the kind of crazy lives that you and I lead, I think it also frees you from the kinds of programming you were born and raised into.

If you say, ‘This is how I’m going to look, this is how I’m going to act, this is who I’m going to be on this stage,’ you might as well overhaul everything—and that includes your relationships to sex, to self-expression, to exchanges with other people. It welcomes you into a club where there are really no rules and no expectations. The feeling that this work gives you and me—gives us—a place to put that sexuality. And I think that it should also be reflected in our own personal lives, in these things we open doors to: like fucking with rubber suits and pleasing yourself in the middle of the afternoon before your Zoom interview, or rethinking how many partners you can have. I think everyone should have that freedom, and for me, it opens up so many avenues that I’m very excited to explore. And if I talk about it on stage, you sure as fuck know I’m going to have to do it in my own life. And then I can take that knowledge and shit it out on my stage to all the crazy people who come and see my show.

You, out of the many people I know, have inspired me to be promiscuous, to explore sex, to explore my body myself, and to celebrate that. But also, you are living proof that there’s nothing like some intrigue. You really hold that throne of mystery and beauty and sexuality. And I think if anything, I can learn a lot from you. It’s always good to have adventurous folks who can hold your hand and take you across the river Styx.