Chris Walsh the Star and Mackenzie Van Dyke are ringing in Halloween with “Back from the Dead”, a Bride of Frankenstein themed smash keenly positioned somewhere between the Monster Mash and Monster High. Chris’ songwriting has always leaned towards the otherworldly and attaching visual cues has been fundamental to the BFFs’ playful photos and nightlife lewks. This self-produced queer pop duo immediately clicked during their freshman college orientation and, delighted by their passion for personas, were soon brewing ideas galore. “It is very exciting when you meet people who not only become really great friends but also help you grow as a person and an artist. We are both driven and hold one another to high standards which leads to a lot of work together that I am always proud of,” Mackenzie gushes. “When it comes to taking whatever insane idea we have for a shoot or video and actually executing it, we had to learn how to be innovative with the space and materials available, which is very little. If we don’t have something, the only option is to make it ourselves, even if that ‘something’ is an entire castle to shoot in.”
In 2017, they joked about making a Halloween ditty and wallah!, they now have two under their corset belts. Why Halloween? “It’s an entire season dedicated to dressing up being whatever you want to be and seeing everyone participate in something that queer people appreciate year round is really amazing,” Chris explains. “Halloween is intrinsically gay in my opinion, atleast a lot of the modern rituals surrounding Halloween,” Mackenzie adds. “I think a lot of queer people are attracted to Halloween, and horror in general, because we see ourselves reflected in the deviation from ‘normalcy’ built in the fantasies of the genre. Although the horror genre historically villainized its LGBT+ characters, it also was some of the only films to depict queer people in positions of power, so we adopt the aesthetics of horror and Halloween as our own.”
In detailed set dressing, this crafty crew are likened to Goth Martha Stewarts. Having developed from mere makeup to cool costuming and finally music video creations, the beauty injection galavant of “Back from the Dead” is a perfect follow-up from the duo’s previous forage into spooky singles. Chris’ living room houses the meticulous process, sharing, “We strategically turned my furniture into props for the video like covering my desk in foam board and sculpting it to look like a crypt. For the beach scene we actually covered my entire floor in sheets and dumped over 100 pounds of play sand on the ground to transform the space. Some of the props from the video were actually pulled from the alley behind my apartment and cleaned up and painted.” A year ago, their Bathory boudoir “Love At First Bite” (below) solidified their sacrifice to glam and gore. Though in rhinestones and baths of blood, the Dracula-esqe Satanic spa matched perfectly to their honest pop prowess, possession and obsession aligning with early Gaga rhymes and rhythm, infectious and irresistible.
The horror genre has always been excessive, much to the delight of Chris, who says, “Unlike traditional film, the audience suspends their disbelief and it’s acceptable to have more open ended plots, outrageous costumes, disjointed editing and unrealistic storylines. The idea that characters can have 7 costume changes in the span of a day doesn’t really make sense but the audience accepts extremes like those in music videos.” The Atomic Age saw early depictions of the campy and creepy in TV and movies from the 1950’s and forward and with this, ghoulish glam has had a lengthy appeal: Morticia, Bride of Frankenstein, Vampira. Elvira’s 1988 camp comedy Mistress of the Dark, however, has influenced Chris and Mackenzie most.
From their Instagram accounts, you’d think these drag enthusiasts reside in NYC, but their base is Richmond, VA. Mackenzie’s exploration of drag digs deeper with the amazing Absolutely Podcast. “Around three years ago, my co-host and I were traveling to see drag frequently. We started with just photographing shows and eventually leaned into documenting through video and finally the podcast. It was a way to continue to do what we enjoyed while also feeling like we were producing something we could share with other people,” Mackenzie says of her immersion in queer communities beyond. “I especially enjoy doing the interviews because for many drag artists they only share their art on a stage for a couple of minutes, but it’s always interesting to be able to learn more about their specific artistic process. It gives us an opportunity to highlight the talent of performers who have yet to have the platform that televised drag shows have given other artists.”
Follow these glorious glam things on IG for more news and juicy content @chriswalshthestar and @kenziejaynev. Halloween music is few and far between, though dark themes have always been present in goth and industrial. For WUSSY’s take on spooky songs, check out our Shalloween Screams playlist.