October 17, 2010

Clayton Clayton: Unsung Superstar

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What is the issue?

Clay “Clayton Clayton” Hawkins

22-year-old Los Angeles native Clay “Clayton Clayton” Hawkins calls himself the “King of Hard Pop.” He is a relentless self-promoter, a glitter-gun toting and gladiator mask wearing glam-rocker, a hardcore documentary addict, an unsung singing superstar and a fierce dresser. Don’t google him.

What are you up to these days?
I’m working part-time as a cater-waiter, right now. Recently, I was called in to work this big event in Santa Monica, which basically just involved me being Barbra Streisand’s personal chaperone for about seven hours straight. It was great. She was kind of a diva-bitch; like, she’d say something really mean to me and I’d just be like Yes, more! It was the most amazing thing ever.

Any insider scoop?
When she got on stage, the first thing she said was, You know what we’re having for dessert, everybody? Frozen-yogurt. My favorite! Of course, frozen-yogurt was nowhere on the menu. She knew it. But she honestly believed that if she said it was happening, it would happen. And it did. If the entire cater crew suffers heart-attacks in ten years, I won’t be at all surprised. We scrambled to get Barbra that yogurt.

When did you first start singing?
I sang before I could talk… Before I could even say mama or dada I sang “Happy Birthday.” And I have parents of friends who’ll tell me this story every time I see them: I’d go into preschool, everyday, carrying a boom-box. And I’d ask the teacher if I could perform. I would sing “Getting to Know You” – then I’d bawl because none of the kids were paying any attention.

What sets you apart from other aspiring singers?
I’m a hard-ass worker. I will do whatever it takes to make the crowd happy.

Left, Clayton Clayton with mannequin head; Right, K$sha with same.

What’s the deal with you and Ke$ha?
Okay,… At first, I thought it was just a coincidence. We had a lot of mutual friends, we ran in the same circles and played some of the same venues. And it would be, like: Oh, look, we have the same shoes; or, Oh, look, we’re both shooting a glitter-gun – Which I made up, and it took me a while, but I mastered the glitter-gun – So, okay, that’s kind of… That’s very similar; or, Oh, how weird, her band is wearing astronaut masks. My band does that too. So then, when she had mannequin heads on stage,… Well, that’s always been my signature. I mean, that’s been my signature for years. Listen, everybody in the music world borrows from each other. And as the old saying goes, you’re only as good as your influences – so, she clearly has amazing taste. I support that. I wish her the absolute best.

Who inspires you?
Michael Jackson, Madonna, Freddy Mercury, Rage Against the Machine,… Big Edie and Little Edie Beale.

Are you a Grey Gardens fan?
Of course. I basically only watch documentaries. I see, oh, maybe four scripted movies a year. But I watch tons of documentaries on Discovery and PBS and the History Channel. If I’m watching something on TV, it’s probably a documentary. Or Bravo. The Real Housewives,… I mean, come on.

What’s your favorite song to sing?
I have this new song – “Tip of My Tongue” – which I’m recording right now. So I’m really loving that. I wanted this “Something’s Coming”, you know, Westside Story, type of feeling… I needed it to capture what it’s like when your adrenaline’s pumping, your seratonin’s coming in, and everything’s just thumping. But I worried it might sound too sweet, too precious. So I had this other song that was very dirty, very sexual, about going down on someone and tasting someone… And I thought, well, what if I combined these two ideas?

Can you tell me a little about your self-promotion strategy?
So, right now I’m just trying to get my name out there, by any means necessary. One thing that’s been great for me is covering songs by popular artists, which I post on my Youtube channel. Those have gotten a lot of attention. Actually, this past month I’ve covered a different song every day––30 in 30––and that’s been awesome. I’ve done everyone from TLC to Katy Perry to Rufus Wainwright to Cher. And I’m a firm believer in the notion that all press is good press––especially before you’ve signed any sort of recording contract––so I did this kind of satirical guerilla marketing campaign, and I posted the video on Youtube for that, as well.

When you’re not singing, what do you like to do?
I go running,… I try to run a few miles everyday. But even then, I’m listening to music or singing in my head. Oh, and I take showers, as in multiple showers a day. I only use the hot water, just the hot, no cold. I must have, like, superhuman skin; anybody else would have third degree burns if they showered the way I do.

What quality do you despise in yourself?
I’m very extreme and I can’t do anything in a small way. Hence, the showers. Also, I’m addicted to carbohydrates.

How do you describe your music?
I set out to make catchy, accessible songs that you can mindlessly jam out to with your friends in a club or a car. But the lyrics are real enough that you can also listen when you’re alone and sad or pissed off. I’d call it: “Fluff with Substance”. It’s pop music, but it’s hard pop music.

If you could share a meal with anyone, alive or dead, what would you eat, and with whom?
It would be Michael Jackson, and I’d have a double-double from the In-n-Out in Encino. “Animal style” fries – obviously.

What are you listening to right now?
Well my alarm clock is “Pon De Floor” by Major Lazer, so I hear that MULTIPLE times EVERY morning. Besides that, I’m really into Robyn’s “Hang With Me” and N.E.R.D.’s “Hot and Fun”.

If you were going to appear on Larry King Live, what would you wear?
Suspenders and no shirt. Duh.

Anything you want to tell the people?
I sort of feel like there all these gay role models, and they’re either fashion designers or wedding experts. I want to be the one to show people that a guy can be gay and not be just someone’s idea of Femininity. I want to be the kind of pop star that I never had growing up, that I always wanted.

Will you share one of your songs with us?
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Molly Oswaks

Molly is a freelance journalist. Her writing has appeared or is forthcoming in Playboy Magazine, The Atlantic, Maxim, …

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