STYLE ICON: KELLI ALI
This is serving a dual purpose. On one hand, of course, Kelli Ali is a big style inspiration. I won't belabor the point but Becoming X, the first Sneaker Pimps album, is completely necessary and anyone who tells you it's a one-hit wonder thing is an idiot. When that record came out, spurred as it was by the success of "6 Underground" (maybe the least interesting song on the record), Kelli Ali (known then as Kelli Dayton) immediately had a class of converts. It is clear that she's the frontwoman of the band, I feel like I knew even then that she wasn't a full-time member, but I may be mis-remembering. The other boys in the band had this sort of anonymous patina of electro rocker thing going on. Kelli was the focal point. She was calm, creepy. She sang for a techno band but she was a total goth girl. She smoked weed and clove cigarettes, you know it. She listened to punk records. She performed in platform boots. She was the center of gravity for the band (at the time), managing to seem both coy, sweet, and depraved. Her lyrics were claustrophobic and freaky and I wanted to be her so bad. Taciturn.
"Spin Spin Sugar"
But there's another reason. I sort of stopped listening to the Sneaker Pimps after Becoming X, I think a lot of us did. (Sorry). By the time I was in college I almost forgot about them, being as I was at the time a Radical.
There was this boy I went to college with who I was totally hung up on. I went to a really small school and I would see him everywhere, all the time. It was 2002 and he was doing this Gregg Araki / Dennis Cooper / Runaway / Cybergoth thing. He had very few friends and kept to himself and dressed as if he was always about to run out to a nightclub. Platform shoes and leopard print coat and dyed hair and metallic prints. His name was James Monahan and I was incredibly intimidated by him.
Eventually, I became friends with his friends. His friends consisted, basically, of this straight couple on campus. The three of them were pretty much nocturnal. They were obsessed with horror movies and drugs and fanciness. Their bedroom was basically a California king size bed with computers, music equipment and DVDs scattered around it. It was insane. We hung out almost every night, because I sort of thought that if I hung around long enough eventually James would somehow decide to like me. We went on a couple of actual dates. We'd go to the nearby coffeehouse and talk about Kylie Minogue and sociology and gay men aping black female gender identity (this was what his thesis was on). I was so shy. I sat and listened and quietly adored him while I chainsmoked. We only ever went to first base. He was laconic, quiet, and content to not say anything for hours at all. It drove me up the wall I wanted him so bad.
I would hang out with James and his friends nightly in their big bed. They played me the Scissor Sisters for the first time, in 2003 or something. They were already "over" it, but we'd listen to the demo anyway. This is long before "Filthy/Gorgeous" or "Don't Feel Like Dancing", when the Scissor Sisters really were an underground NYC club act. These kids were so cool. We'd watch Japanese horror movies in which women gouged out their own eyes, cut off their genitals and ate them onscreen. They were practically nocturnal, they never went outdoors during the daytime and all three of them had the most perfectly unnatural white goth skin. I was totally jealous. They subsisted entirely off of Chinese take-out, cigarettes, Vivarin, weed, and Pepperidge Farm Dark Chocolate Mint Milano cookies, and they were rail thin and gorgeous. James especially.
They smoked catastrophic amounts of grass. I was (and remain-- "like a virgin") a total lightweight. I would have one hit of the joint and be hallucinating and staring into James' face while he talked about this new hacking software he heard about and describing this cool Timo Maas remix. I was just trying to keep up so that at the end of the night I could walk home with James, and ask for a kiss. It was the dead of winter, I'd be stoned out of my mind, often so bad I couldn't stand up. My heart would be beating so loud I was afraid he could hear it. He bought jewelry online from South America. It was cheap, but it was real gold. Real diamonds. He was an amazing kisser.
He knew I was totally smitten but I don't think he felt the same way. I am a year younger than him and at a school that small, my being 19 to his 20 was tantamount to me wearing diapers and being illiterate. Once when we were all hanging out I smoked a joint and we talked about Mariah Carey. I drank half of a small bottle of Smirnoff Ice and smoked 14 cigarettes in an hour and excused myself to vomit just outside James' dorm room door. Probably fairly, he thought I was a dork. It was a difficult thing to accept, so I just didn't.
Once, at the Couple's dorm room at our usual rendezvous time of 2:49am, we watched the Sneaker Pimps DVD. James started gushing about how hot he thought Kelli was. He said she was the reason he didn't identify as "gay"-- he wasn't sexually attracted to women, as a rule, but he would totally flip for Kelli. I think he wanted to be her, too. I was so jealous of her, because he wanted to fuck her but didn't want to fuck me. I'm writing about her because she represents the sexy thing in the mind of the boy I think is sexy.
James graduated and he's not into Myspace or Facebook or anything so I can't try to find him. But if anyone reading this knows James Monahan-- tell him I said hi.