In communion with Fire Island’s storied geography, the artist explores the particular agonies and pleasures of longing
“After the collapse of the entire world,” reflects Casey Spooner, “I was unsure of how to be creative in a meaningful way.” As the pandemic swept the globe, the legendary musician—one half of electronic duo Fischerspooner, and collaborator with artists like Susan Sontag, Madonna, and Michael Stipe, and Caroline Polachek—was confronted with tragedy: the deaths of his grandmother and aunt, financial troubles, the loss of his home in Hollywood Hills. But on the edge of defeat, he found a way to rebuild.
“All at once, I was inspired—at an intimate sex party on a Wednesday night! I found myself singing a silly song in the kitchen, about fucking and dying. I realized I needed to explore [those themes],” he tells Document. “It was nothing that had ever interested me [before]—seemed too morbid. But something resonated with me, maybe because death had been so close. Not just my family’s deaths, but death of habit, death of culture, death of trust in government, death of my career, death of my identity.”
Spooner and his dear friend, Shelby Clark, began work on a concept for a new creative business model—raising independent financing for his artistic ventures, eschewing the need for a gallery or label. Under the entity SPOONERHOLLYWOOD, he could retain the rights to future solo projects—fostering what would culminate in his upcoming “transcendental, apocalyptic, techno, Tarzan dance album.”
Today, the video for “UNAVAILABLE” premiers with Document—the first of a series of summer singles, each released on the full moon (in defiance of corporatized new-music schedules and the traditional Gregorian calendar). “This song is a kaleidoscope of all the wonderful men I have loved, because I crave the impossible,” Spooner explains. “Desire—and, specifically, longing—has always been a big theme in my writing. I feel like it has something to do with growing up in the South in the ’80s. My desires got tangled up in all the pleasures I couldn’t have.
“Something resonated with me, maybe because death had been so close. Not just my family’s deaths, but death of habit, death of culture, death of trust in government, death of my career, death of my identity.”
Of course, old habits die hard: “The depths of longing the pandemic plunged me into were deep and grand,” Spooner goes on. “I was in love with my new best friend, who was a brilliant artist and pornstar. I was an idiot; he was gorgeous. I would do anything for this man. [But he was] just my type—unavailable!” The track’s visuals had to emulate the particular agonies and pleasures of desire. Spooner took to Fire Island with director Carter Peabody, holding in mind a beloved scene from queer history: Casey Donovan’s entrance to Wakefield Poole’s Boys in the Sand, the landmark American gay pornographic film. “He appears magically in the bay, runs naked toward the camera, Christ-like, junk bouncing in slow motion. [In “UNAVAILABLE”], there’s a scene where I’m standing by the water in a gold dress. I look like a Kouros. This is my homage to that history.”
In terms of direction, Peabody speaks to a natural exchange of ideas—off-the-cuff communion with Fire Island’s geography, with the song’s storyline as its roots. “My vision was filtered through my own struggles [with] self-acceptance, and that dichotomy [of] love and joy, versus the self-sabotaging subconscious actions we take,” says the director. “Casey’s music imbued me with a sense of that struggle.” Also on set were DOP Jonathas Nazareth and editor Tibor De Laminne, making the most of a notably short shooting window. “I think the best work comes from an environment that encourages freedom, collaboration, and acceptance,” Peabody concludes. “[Casey] enables the people around him to give their best selves.”
As a whole, “UNAVAILABLE” marks Spooner’s rebirth from the ashes—the product of queer community, surrender to life’s many cycles, and organic joint effort. “I am so very happy to be back to work, and to be alive,” the artist says. “Sometimes dreams die. And then we dream better dreams.”