CHRISTEENE is one of the personas created by Paul Soileau, who grew up in Lake Charles, Louisiana. Soileau attended Loyola University New Orleans and he continued living in New Orleans after college. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina however, he moved to Austin, Texas, and now currently resides in New York City.
As a performer CHRISTEENE delivers sexual, in-your-face commentary, infusing “drag terrorism” with non-heteronormative gender roles and sex. Performances can include the usage of, but not limited to, butt plugs tied to balloons then released from their arse, bizarrely intimate confessionals, wardrobe malfunctions and pissed-off communications on the state of everything. CHRISTEENE has created a flurry of video production, too, which can be viewed on their Vimeo channel.
CHRISTEENE and I recently enjoyed a post-plague reunion with Michèle Lamy and her family at the Chateau Marmont. It was a relaxing poolside afternoon where we discussed indigenous two-spirit heritage (Lamy had just returned from a two-spirit ceremony near Rick Owens’ hometown of Porterville) and getting back into the real world. Lamy suggested we collaborate on a shoot together at the Tom of Finland Foundation, home to Tom during the latter years of his life.
I saw this as a new beginning for us – Lamy and I go all the way back to 1978! My relationship with the Tom of Finland Foundation has endured since the late 80s, and CHRISTEENE gave a rollicking performance at Tom House right before the plague. It seemed fitting we would start again where we all left off. I asked CHRISTEENE straight-forward, pertinent questions … Sort of …
[CHRISTEENE writes in the slang dialect of the Deep South, which is part of their persona.)
Rick Castro: What’s your birthday?
RC: What sign are you?
C: THA TWINZ RIDE ON THA BACK OF MY BULL, I AM A CUSP IN HEATED MOTION.
RC: Do you believe in birth signs?
C: JUST MINE.
RC: What’s your ethnic background?
RC: Where did you grow up? What was it like?
C: THA WOODS AN’ THA DIRT. IT WUZ QUIET AN’ KOOL, I COULD HEAR MY THOUGHTS AN’ MY MUSIK WAS ANIMAL CHATTER AN’ WATER RIPPLES.
RC: What was your childhood like?
C: I KNOW NO CHILDHOOD.
“I MAKE MY OWN LOOKS. I FIND ALL THA TREASURES AN’ SCRAPS I COLLECT OR AM GIFTED TO BY VERY SPECIAL PEOPLE AN’ I LET THA LIL BITCH IN MAH BRAIN GUIDE MY HANDS THROUGH THA SCRAPS TO LAY UPON ME IN UH BEAUTIFUL WAY” – CHRISTEENE
RC: What was your first sexual experience?
RC: Where did you go for schooling?
RC: Were you homeschooled?
C: ARE U DRUNK?
RC: Were you ever in a band?
C: I BEGAN ’BOUT TWO YEARZ AGO PATIENTLY WERKIN’ WITH TALENTED MUSICIANS WHO TRAVEL IN AN’ OUT OF MY SONGS AN’ STAGE SHOWZ. I’M SLOWLY CRAFTING MY FAMILY OF INSTRUMENTS THAT CAN BEST EXPRESS MY BRAIN AN’ FEELINZ BY THOSE FOLKS TALENTED ENOUGH TO RANGLE AN’ PLAY THOSE TOOLS OF SOUND.
RC: When did you start with performance art? Do you call it performance art?
C: IZ JUST WHAT I DO AN’ I DONE IT FROM THA START, IZ WHY I’M HERE. CALL IT ALL THA THINGZ U WANT, IT STILL REMAINS THA SAME.
RC: Where was your first performance? What was it like? How did it go?
C: I PERFORMED ON UH OLD WOODEN STAGE IN THA BACKYARD OF UH DYKE’S HOUSE IN AUSTIN TEXAS FER UH GATHERIN’ CALLED GAYBIGAYGAY. I THREW MAH BUTT PLUG THAT I HAD JUZ PULLED OUTTA MAH ASS INTO THA CROWD AN’ SOME FOLKS GOT MAD AN’ SAID IT WUZ UNSANITARY BUT THEIR DOGS SURE DID GO TO TOWN ON IT.
RC: When, or what performance, did you start to receive recognition?
C: I GOT RECOGNITION THA MINUTE I WALKED ON MAH FIRST STAGE.
RC: Tell me about your look.
C: I MAKE MY OWN LOOKS. I FIND ALL THA TREASURES AN’ SCRAPS I COLLECT OR AM GIFTED TO BY VERY SPECIAL PEOPLE AN’ I LET THA LIL BITCH IN MAH BRAIN GUIDE MY HANDS THROUGH THA SCRAPS TO LAY UPON ME IN UH BEAUTIFUL WAY.
RC: I love how you organically create drag, which isn’t really drag. How do you come up with your image?
C: IT CUMS TO ME AN’ FINDS ME WHEN IT’S TIME TO GROW OR EVOLVE OR PRESENT FOR UH SONG OR VIDEO OR SHOW OR MAYBE JUST UH SIMPLE FUKKIN’ STROLL THRU THA STREETS OF WHATEVER SHITTY CITY I’M IN.
RC: Tell me about your performance at the Centre Pompidou?
C: MY STALLION RICK OWENS AN’ MAH POUBELLE MICHÈLE LAMY BROUGHT ME AN’ OTHER SPECIAL PEOPLE TO THA POMPIDOU CENTRE TO WEAR RICK’S WARES AN’ BATTLE WURKS OF ART THRU OUR OWN SPECIAL MOVEMENTZ AN’ MOTIONS. IT WUZ ONE UH THA MOST EXHILARATING AN’ THRILLING EXPERIENCES I’VE HAD ON THIS FUKKD PLANET.
RC: What was life like for you during the plague?
C: CONTAINED IMPLOSIVE EVOLUTIONARY FRACTURED THRILLING SOLEMN NEW.
RC: What’s your life like now?
“I WILL BE ANSWERIN’ MY PERSONAL CREATIVE CALL AN’ RESPONSIBILITY TO MAKE FRESH NEW DANGEROUS REALMS FOR ALL U FUKKS TO STEP INTO, SO THAT U CAN TRY TO PROCESS AN’ DEAL WITH WHAT THA FUKK WE ALL JUST WENT THRU” – CHRISTEENE
RC: Who do you like to collaborate with?
C: ADVENTUROUS YES PEOPLE WHO R KIND.
RC: What’s coming up for you in 2021 and 2022?
C: I’M CRAFTIN’ MY NEW SONGS WITH MY DEAR PRODUCER PETER STOPSCHINSKI AN’ GUEST COLLABORATORS ALONG WIT AMAZIN’ FUKKN MUSICIANS. I WILL BE ANSWERIN’ MY PERSONAL CREATIVE CALL AN’ RESPONSIBILITY TO MAKE FRESH NEW DANGEROUS REALMS FOR ALL U FUKKS TO STEP INTO, SO THAT U CAN TRY TO PROCESS AN’ DEAL WITH WHAT THA FUKK WE ALL JUST WENT THRU INSTEAD OF JUST STUPIDLY MOVIN’ FORWARD INTO THIS MONEY-HUNGRY WORLD, ONLY TOO FORGET WHAT THA FUKK WE JUST WENT THRU, AN’ DO THA SAME FUKKERY OVER AGAIN.
RC: Where do you want your art to take you?
C: TO PLACES I AIN’T NEVER BEEN BEFORE.
RC: What would be your dream performance? Who is your dream collaboration?
C: MY DREAM PERFORMANCE IS ONE IN WHICH EVERY FUKKIN’ PERSON INVOLVED IN THAT PERFORMANCE IZ AT THEIR VERY FUKKIN’ BEST AN WANTS TO BE THERE AN’ IS FIRING ON ALL FUKKIN’ CYLINDERS SO MUCH SO THAT ALL I GOTTA DO IS CLOSE MY EYES AN’ FALL INTO IT AN’ GIVE ALL THA FIRE I GOT TO THA CROWD AN’ BACK TO MY ENTIRE TEAM OF BRILLIANT FUKKS.
RC: Who would you most like to meet?
C: TREY PARKER AN’ MATT STONE.
RC: Where will you spend your golden years?
C: BY THA BEACH.
CHRISTEENE will be performing live at CHRISTEENE: UN BUTT PLUGGED at the Parkside Lounge, New York City, on 3, 10, 17 July, 2021.
Photography by Rick Castro. Location: Tom of Finland house. Mural: Rinaldo Hopf.
Rick Castro is a photographer, writer and filmmaker based in Los Angeles. Follow him on Instagram here.