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Tom Rasmussen Body Building album Tim Walker
Tom RasmussenPhotography by Tim Walker

50 Questions With Tom Rasmussen

As the musician and writer releases their debut album Body Building, they are posed 50 questions by their close friend, the author and journalist Shon Faye

Lead ImageTom RasmussenPhotography by Tim Walker

1. Where are you from? Between Lancaster and Morecambe.

2. What’s the most Lancaster thing about you? The problematic answer is that I’m good at talking to working-class people, unlike most posh people, because I’m not posh.

3. Summarise your album Body Building in one sentence. I tried to make it emo but it’s actually just quite fun.

4. Describe the process of working on it in three words. Closing a loop.

5. Can you tell us about the people who feature on the album? You’ll have to find out but really, they are people who have probably informed the work the most. All my friends are really amazing thinkers, basically. When I asked you to do it, and you texted me saying, “I feel like SZA’s grandma”, which is one of my favourite comments ever, I guess they’re people who have taught me about myself.

6. What is your hope for the record? My hope is that people who need it when they’re walking down the street, will put it on and blast it high and feel really good.

7. What’s your favourite thing about performing live? I’ve been on tour supporting Self Esteem, and in the live set there’s a moment where I reveal this T-shirt that says ‘solidarity with striking workers’. Doing it live on tour has been really hope-inspiring because the country feels like such a dumpster fire and so politically fraught, but to go all over the country – tiny cities, big cities – and people collectively celebrating and really needing and feeling these messages has been really inspiring. I’ve come off tour feeling hopeful.

8. What’s your earliest memory of performing? Every day is a performance. When I was in reception I used to make everyone call me Pearl and I used to wear this dress. I would put on shows, so my earliest memory of performing is literally my earliest memory, probably. Just standing in front of people and making them watch!

9. What’s the one social cause you wish more people talked about? I wish Botox was cheaper, but I wish people talked about class more. 

10. If you could bring one political policy into immediate effect what would it be? It would probably be abolishing the police. I actually don’t know ... it’d be abolish everything, burn the House of Lords, get rid of monarchy, get rid of the Tories.

“Someone years ago once told me that I was graceful and no one has ever described me as graceful. I’ve always been too femme or too fat or too loud, but that stuck with me forever” – Tom Rasmussen

11. What does liberation mean to you? It means being able to actually speak about things truthfully and be heard in any case.

12. Where is your happy place? Either on stage or walking my dog or Dover Street Market.

13. Do you believe in aliens? Yeah, but Demi Lovato said that is a problematic term and I have to agree.

14. Do you believe in ghosts? I want to be the kind of person that doesn’t but yeah, totally. When people tell me ghost stories, I’m obsessed.

15. Do you believe in God? Yes, but I don’t understand yet what that means in my life. But yeah, my whole life I have.

16. If you were a Greek or Roman ancient deity, what would you be god or goddess or deity of? Sex.

17. Do you believe in life after death? I really, really want to.

18. Do you believe in love at first sight? In some way.

19. What’s the best compliment you’ve ever received? Someone years ago once told me that I was graceful and no one has ever described me as graceful. I’ve always been too femme or too fat or too loud, but that stuck with me forever.

20. What is the best advice you have ever received? Never sip a shot and never look inside a sandwich.

21. What advice would you give to your younger self? Take breaks between sets of acrylics because your nails are going to start to fall off.

22. Who would you want to play you in a movie about your life? Obviously myself or Chloë Sevigny.

23. Who would you want to direct that movie? Robert Zemeckis.

24. What reality TV show would you go on? Sadly, I really wouldn’t.

25. What’s your type on paper? Either cubs who are a little bit smaller than me who want to top me. I like people who will challenge my strongly held opinion about sex. And I like beards.

26. What’s your top first date tip? A friend of mine once said to ask them what their most problematic opinion is and if they give you a good answer, it means there’s something there and it has not been fail-safe thus far.

27. What’s the strangest thing that ever happened to you on a date? I was once, not in a sexy pop way, asked to act like a dog but properly bark and yell at the moon and lick water from a bowl.

28. What’s your greatest regret? I honestly don’t have any. There are a lot of things I’ve done wrong but I don’t have anything I’d turn back time for. Maybe smoking for ten years but it’s so chic you can’t regret that.

29. Who or what makes you laugh the most? You make me laugh a lot, and my friends.

30. What qualities do you look for in a friend? Funny. Honest. Someone who doesn’t get stressed when you don’t reply to their texts.

“My most controversial opinion is that we have to constantly justify opposition by leading with trauma or how things have happened to us” – Tom Rasmussen

31. What’s your most controversial opinion? My most controversial opinion is that we have to constantly justify opposition by leading with trauma or how things have happened to us. It’s not as radical as I once thought it was. It’s quite anti-intellectual and I think probably weakens the strength of the solidarity between movements on the left.

32. What’s the last thing you changed your mind about? I’m changing my mind all the time about everything. But the last thing I changed my mind about was the biggest life shift I had in the past three years. I realised that some of the things that I was doing that I once thought were really radical, essentially visibility politics, were ineffective and in many ways, anti-liberation. And that’s not the case for everyone, but in my case, it definitely worked – that’s why I quit drag. So the last thing I changed my mind about was the effectiveness of my own politics.

33. What’s your star sign? Virgo with a Sagittarius rising which is why I’m a messy slut, but actually very balanced.

34. What’s the most Virgo thing about you? I’m very balanced and I’m more loyal to other people than I am to myself. I’m incredibly loyal.

35. What’s your greatest virtue? Not sounding like an arsehole but I’m actually really kind and I’m a good listener.

36. What’s your greatest vice? I am completely financially illiterate and I like things done my way.

37. What would you wear to the Met Gala? I would wear archive Raf Simons, RIP.

38. If you had to wear one designer’s clothes for the rest of your life who would it be? Raf Simons, and that could extend to Raf at Prada.

39. Who would you bring as your plus one to the Met Gala? You.

40. What fantasy world would you like to live in? I would live in The Lord of the Rings. I’m such a Samwise. It’s such a shame.

41. What are you reading at the moment? I’m reading this book called Wetlands by Charlotte Roche. It’s filth but it’s beyond filth. Every page I gasped, it’s one of the few books – and I hate this word – that I have devoured. It’s genuinely genius. I couldn’t recommend it more. 

42. What book would you want to read for the first time again? Either Dancer from the Dance by Andrew Holleran or I would love to read some of the Bible again.

43. What’s the last film that made you cry? I’ve only ever cried at two films, one is the first Spiderman with Kirsten Dunst. I cried so much because I realised that I would never be Kirsten Dunst and I sat in bed heaving with sobs because I was never going to be saved by a man. The other one is Romeo and Juliet with Leonardo DiCaprio, just because he was so beautiful he shouldn’t have died.

44. What song is guaranteed to get you on the dance floor? Probably a Donna Summer song. I love Honey Dijon’s new album so much. That would get me on the dance floor.

45. What song would you sing for your life or legacy too? I would abstain.

46. What’s your 2023 banger? I’m not sure.

47. What’s the campest thing you’ve ever seen? When I was in LA, we were driving down a hill and from nowhere, a 60-year-old lady walked out into the road carrying a giant Jamba Juice and she was wearing a gold trench coat with heeled flip-flops and big pink hair. We didn’t see her so we had to screech the brakes on and she threw the Jamba Juice, and the pink juice exploded over the windscreen. When we were wiping the Jamba Juice up, she was standing there flipping the bird in bikini bottoms and topless and I couldn’t get over it for the whole week.

48. What’s the future of queerness? The community reconnecting, what actual liberation and SOLIDARITY LOOKS LIKE. And also I think something to do with nature.

49. What is your favourite thing about England? The coastlines are beautiful, the nature is incredible and the culture up north is so rich. There’s actually a lot to love about this country.

50. Any last words for us? Fuck the Tories, abolish the monarchy, stream my album and my grandma said remember to look up.

Tom Rasmussen’s debut album Body Building is out now.