- Koty Falcon Lopez
It's not often that one finds a small, devoted band in 2019 churning out disco of all things, but that's exactly what we have here in Salt Lake City. For the past year, Peter Goldie Worden—who you might know as the local hair-guru who does performative hair-cutting sets at Twilite Lounge—has been joined by his trusty team of Nora Price and Michael Fuchs in crafting a very specific, yet broad-reaching vision, an "amalgamation of strangeness" as Worden calls it.
Taking an approach that is less about musicality than it is about performance, Goldie & The Guise work to craft and harness a type of performative work that's not just about entertaining, but which turns the lens of disco back on a culture that generally fails to recognize disco's queer roots. When the band members gather in Worden's stylish-yet-kitschy living room decked out with velvet furniture and a collection of embroidered flower art, around a circular "boardroom" table, an hour-long conversation stretches out to cover the even deeper nuances of what disco is, who they all are and, most importantly, what Goldie is.
The project has been a long time coming for Worden who, while in and out of different local bands over the past few years, has always been on the lookout for fellow artists willing to share in his vision. Luckily, Worden was able to gather the help of Fuchs—a Portlander-turned-local producer and techno enthusiast who has been around the scene for years—and Price, another busy-body around town, who plays drums for Red Bennies, Twilite's resident band, Jazz Jags, and swaps between guitar and live dance in the performance art trio Durian Durian. Both artists fulfill key needs for the vision of Goldie: the need for good production, performance knowledge and unfussy, flexible cooperation. Being able to contribute something so precise to the band is what Price likes best, they says: "My favorite thing about this band is that the role is clear. It's like, I want to support that vision." They also bring the dance expertise, which Worden relies on as a frontman seeking to stun and woo his audience.
"To Mike I brought Dolly Parton, Wanda Jackson, Gloria Gaynor ... Blondie," Worden says, laughing a little at the last one. "It's just a combination of like, hyper-feminized performance music ... something that has a controlled intensity but with a lot of performance force behind it."
Worden, for his part, is interested in taking the way women and women performers are sexualized and objectified and getting at that kind of sexualization via masculinity in performance. He explains that though he feels this sexualized masculinity is explicit in his work with Goldie, "Hopefully, it's understated enough that it makes people a little uncomfortable, just a stirring—not that I want to create discomfort for people. It's just that I want to create a question, which is like, 'What is this?'"
What it is, at its core, is disco—specifically, a reevaluation of the roots of disco. Fuchs explains, "There's kind of two tracks with disco. There's how most people think of disco—which is commercial disco—and then there's gay and queer disco. That stuff was very focused on camp, drag culture at the time, camp was everything. That was it." This explains the campy air on stage whenever Worden dresses up to front the band (think cowboy boots and flashy shirts), dancing with pointed fingers as he sings his spirited songs, always with his curly hair coiffed into a quite frankly gorgeous late '70s-style halo. But, Fuchs explains, as soon as disco hit the mainstream, its sources were somewhat erased. "I'm not gonna call it a reclamation, because that would infer that there was ever a point where queer culture lost the idea of camp," Fuchs says with careful consideration. "We have an opportunity to look at how straight culture interprets queer culture, and then mirror it back at [that] more normative culture. Personally, that's how I see what Peter's doing. Like, 'Hey, this is the stuff you took from us, this is us showing it back to you. How do you feel about this?'"
Goldie & The Guise is not just concerned with re-representing queerness through disco, but with creating a scene that embraces and encourages curiosity and safety, especially for those at their shows—no matter what they look like. Despite a fast-evolving world, Fuchs and Worden both experience being misread in public—Fuchs often being perceived as straight, while Worden's version of masculinity isn't always accepted by the trans community he's been a part of for years.
"I think that's like a visibility thing, right? We're all queer-identified, but we all have different sets of privilege that kind of obscure our visibility," Worden says, adding that it's frustrating to have to navigate a world built on assumptions of straightness in order to participate at all—a problem that includes the music scene. "In turn, we can subvert things that aren't currently perceived as part of queer culture ... while still having that question of 'what is this?' It's just Goldie," Worden says with a smile and a shrug.
Maintaining that question, it seems, is key for Goldie & The Guise in creating a curious, open musical space. They are booking shows for the rest of the summer, so keep an eye out on their Instagram @goldieandtheguise for show dates if you want to indulge in the freedom of true disco.