STYLE ICON: JESS PAPS
STYLE ICON: JESS PAPS
Jess Paps has the bouffant romanticism and sexual poise of Brigitte Bardot but dresses like Janis Joplin. She likes big earrings, tight pants and velvet. But unlike Janis, Paps is a bona fide beauty queen, her eclectic beads and feathers are more put-together, styled than Janis' street-urchin look. It's not surprising that a big inspiration for Paps has always been Kat Bjelland. The "Swamp Pussy" singer's style invokes the ugly, the slovenly, the unkempt and out-of-control as a site of feminine abstraction. Paps doesn't do the bleached out proto-dreads of Babes in Toyland, but she does use the untucked shirt, bedhead, and occasional smoky eye as a feminist indictment of "beauty standards".
But Paps is also really different from Kat Bjelland, she's not "raw" and "primal". These are words that are often used to describe female artists. Paps' music isn't exactly like that. There's an emotional immediacy, sure, but she's also intentional. Her songs are a bit more self-assured. I think that's kind of more radical and empowering or whatever-- the songs can happen even without your attention, they are independent and free-spirited, just like Paps.
Paps has such great style. She doesn't fall into that 1980s trap that everyone else seems to be doing. Paps is sort of like what Grace Slick would dress like if instead of discovering LSD she discovered that you could just drink the blood of virgins and stay young forever. So Paps can wear really "romantic" sort of cowgirl Tammy Wynette glitzy stuff, but she also wears punk rocker girl accessories, big fringed boots. The tightest jeans. Suede.
Paps is a Leo, like me. We have the exact same birthday, in fact. She writes beautiful music. It's sort of blues-y and country but in form only. She sings a beautiful ballad dedicated to her mother, the lyrics are:
Mama, I wanna be a cunt
Mama, I wanna be a cuntry
Mama, I wanna be a cuntry singer
Cuntry is the name of Paps first album. She has other little EPs and random demos floating around, but you have to be in her inner circle to hear them. Once, at QxBxRx, I pressed a copy of the album into Allison Wolfe's hands. I wonder if Jess Paps has read Inga Muscio's super inspiring book Cunt. I think Muscio and Paps would get along, because both of them inspire you to acknowledge the things in yr world that make you feel good / empowered. Which is nice.
She has a really cute cat named Sid. Sid has black fur with fiery red-brown splotches. She kind of looks like a meteor. She's very shy, and I like her.
Paps knows how to have a good time, without bragging or name-dropping or being obnoxious. She's kind of like a superhero, there are so many details about her. She really likes Sparks, when she found out they were discontinuing it she wrote a really beautiful blog post about it and then Sister Pico and she turned it into a zine and now we're all millionaires. Also, Jess Paps' musical inspiration is T.Rex. I am assuming it is, she hasn't told me that it is. But I know she's a fan of his early stuff and I think it makes sense. Paps knows that a glam rocker, a self-destructive supernova is really at heart a folk singer. A stoner folk singer who wants to talk to you about the wizard's cap and all that shit. Jess Paps is like Marc Bolan if Marc Bolan hadn't been so terrified of punk rock. Jess can take them both in stride. Did you know that in addition to country music, Jess Paps loves to listen to stoner metal? When I found this out I almost gagged I was so happy. Finally! Someone to listen to the Melvins album Stoner Witch with me! At last! Once I listened to that whole record with Paps at a secret party she was having on her rooftop, and we all drank 40oz. It was my high school dream come true: to get wasted with girl rock stars in the big city.
(This is Paps in the center of a party, flanked by our favorite muncher MICKEY PUSSY and Paps' beau BILLY RHODES-- he's an academic)
Paps is also a film maker: she made one movie, called Ramona in Mourning, that might be my favorite movie of all time. It's just images of a woman driving around, taking baths, listening to her answering machine, and crying. it's shot in this very beautiful, intimate way. I remember this movie vividly, and I don't remember a lot of things from that period of my life very vividly, so that says a lot. (It was junior year of college and Sister Pico had just discovered that you could buy ativan online from Mexico so things got a little... comfortable). She is multi-talented and my style icon.
Also she writes a really incredible and funny BLOG.