Beverly Fre$h Interview: Art, Rap & Pu$$y

Beverly Fre$h BED

Beverly Fre$h in BED

I’ve been waiting my whole life for Beverly Fre$h. He’s an artist with papers, a rapper with tear sheets. He brags about having a big heart. He’s got his own dance, the “how-ya-do.” He performs a capella on international landmarks. His full resume includes solo art exhibitions, published design work, a lifetime of experience in the Midwest underground hip hop scene, and about a hundred other points of interest that are just as cool. Beverly Fre$h also has a record release party for his new album BED this Saturday 11/19 at the Magic Stick in Detroit. Enter to win free passes to the show and a limited edition red translucent 12″ vinyl of BED on MOTORCITYBLOG.

Last summer I interviewed Fre$h while he was shooting the video for his first single from BED, “Dead Millionaire.” I arrived on location at the rapper’s childhood home in St. Claire and was welcomed by Fre$h–a swarthy, soft-spoken man who stood at the foot of a cellar staircase and waved me down. The basement walls were covered in rope link sausage and synthetic wigs. A group of men in formal hats and suits sat in a cloud of smoke in front of a plate of fried chicken. I tip-toed down the stairs and stood at the back of the room, whispering with Fre$h as he oversaw the shoot…

Jane Fader: Your first single, “Dead Millionaire,” has a rather provocative chorus: “The name is Beverly Fre$h. My heart’s just too big. Been working off my pussy just to feed the kids.” Let’s talk about the pussy…

Beverly Fre$h: Well, the name Beverly Fre$h came from a woman who would always come in to this architecture firm where I used to work and show carpet samples. Her name was Sandy Lavender. I always thought, “if I was an R&B singer, my name would be Sandy Lavender.” When I got back into rap and needed a name, Sandy Lavender seemed too R&Bish, so I had to look at other women’s names. Beverly looked good and had a nice ring to it. I added the Fre$h to make it more hip hop.

That’s how the name Beverly Fre$h came about, and pussy is part of that, too. I put pussy in the chorus because of the repetitive, catchy thing. A lot of people blindly follow lyrics…just memorize them without even thinking about it. The majority of people probably won’t pay close attention to the lyrics, but if you spend some time and think, they give you a lot to respond to. I’m trying to use something that’s the complete opposite of male posturing, which is really common in hip hop and rap battles–big dick jokes and things like that. So what is the inverse of male posturing? It’s to be a female.

Beverly Fre$h

Beverly Fre$h Photo Series by Monica Breen

Jane Fader: Oooo, you just hit me in the feminist bone! What’s with the gender deconstruction?

Beverly Fre$h: That’s something that just came about. When we started sUPERIORbelly, our first inspiration was the body (we were like 18 years old). We went through an anatomy book and found the term superior belly, which is a muscle in your neck. It seemed to sum things up because it’s superior–it’s grand, it’s important—but it’s funny at the same time. So it has the same high/low duality that runs through a lot of the work. From that we got inspired by diseases and started talking about the corruption of the body. Then we dropped it all together. It came back later in a weird way with the wigs and the sausage.

Jane Fader: Tell me about the wigs and sausage.

Beverly Fre$h

Beverly Fre$h, the Abject / Photo by Monica Breen

Beverly Fre$h: It’s just something inherent in my interests. Even humor. The act of laughing. It’s an abject, biological function where your body is shaking, you’re making weird noises…

Jane Fader: …out of control…

Beverly Fre$h: Yeah, exactly. So that kind of thing—in a weird way—relates to a certain spirituality. The idea of the unexplained, the unexpected, the intangible…The body is a symbol or a vessel for these kind of things and it’s really bizarre but really familiar. There’s always this repulsion/attraction. Like hair can be really beautiful and attractive, but also disgusting and gross. It’s defining of the relationship to the body in general, and that’s really fascinating to me. Ideally, my work has these two levels where it’s kind of disgusting but there’s something easy to digest and familiar about it at the same time. If it can meet that sweet spot…that’s where I want my work to be.

11 Hee Bee Geee Bees (Featuring Dial81)

Don’t miss Beverly Fre$h, Dial.81 and other sUPERIORBELLy boys (Belly Boys?) at the Magic Stick on Saturday, November 19, 2011.

Beverly Fre$h (right) records BED with main man and producer Dial.81 (left) / Photo Series by Monica Breen