Sir Babygirl Is Serving Queerness On A Platter
What drew me to the world of Sir Babygirl (aka Kelsie Hogue) was not a song on a Spotify playlist. It was a photo from a live show. In it, Kelsie wears a pink pastel strap-on onstage, singing to an ecstatic crowd. Delighted by her bombastic queer style, I began listening to Crush On Me, Kelsie’s debut album. It was infectious and raw, playful and vulnerable. She sang songs about trauma and songs about gay cheerleaders. It thrilled me.
I spoke with Kelsie (who alternates between he and she pronouns) on the phone recently. He was eager to talk strap-ons when I asked. “I love the idea of normalizing the strap. It’s no less out there as an expression of sexuality than Britney Spears with the python around her neck at the VMAs, you know?” he says. As he sees it, the strap is an egalitarian accessory. “One of the coolest things about straps is that anyone can wear them, and anyone can receive them. There’s so much amazing possibility in that,” he says.
Kelsie likes to confront pop culture’s erasure of queer people. She laments queer-baiting in pop music, which often hints at queerness but rarely makes it explicit. Instead of queer-baiting, she aims to be queer-serving. “I’m going to serve the gayness a platter,” she says with relish. “Flirting With Her,” one of Crush On Me’s biggest earworms, does just that. The song celebrates dyke love, with no ambiguity. “She left her name on my lips/I don’t think I’ll ever get over her hips,” she sings during the song’s bridge.
Kelsie’s began playing music early. As a kid he learned the alto sax, and he’s a classically trained vocalist. His first band didn’t play live music, but was a studio act releasing electronic music online. This band switched to playing “hardcore bubblegum music,” for about a year. After this Kelsie created Sir Babygirl, craving to a more personal project. “I started to develop my own sound and realized I wanted to be full power-pop with my whole vision,” he says, “I just wanted it to be my world and my creation, so I started Sir Babygirl up.”
“Power-pop” sums up Kelsie’s sound well. Her music is day-glo sweetness, a Gusher exploding in your mouth. She cites 2000’s pop, Courtney Love, and Robyn as influences on her sound. 90’s cartoons also inspire her. “Lisa Simpson, Spinelli, Helga, all were super andro, aggressive and masculine but had cute femme elements. They’re so futch,” she tells me. The ludic fluidity of these characters feeds her Sir Babygirl persona. “Sir Babygirl is a cartoon version of me,” she tells me.
His appreciation of 2000’s “middle school dance music” comes out during his live shows. He’s known to pepper sets with a generous helping of covers. Two of his favorites are My Chemical Romance’s “Helena” and “Big Girls Don’t Cry” by Fergie. “I love doing covers like that because it lets us have a positive, cathartic escape into our nostalgia while giving a fresh spin on it,” he says.
Hogue often plays these covers in “campfire moments” during her shows. “I have everyone come up onstage and sit, and I play acoustic guitar with no mic so they have to shut the fuck up and be silent,” she says, “It’s been the cutest thing, and if it’s a song they all know they’ll sing along.” In these moments the audience together as a community, and building community is one of the things Kelsie Hogue likes most about music.
With an album release and a statewide tour behind him, it’s been a lively year for Kelsie. But there’s still more Sir Babygirl to come. In December, he’s releasing a remastered version of Crush On Me, digitally and on vinyl. And on the horizon, there’s a new music video to look forward to. “I’m just trying to expand the world of Sir Babygirl,” he says, “One strap at a time.”