March 6, 2020/ Spark Magazine
The year is 2007, it’s 2 a.m. and you’re leaving a club in New York. You were supposed to leave earlier, but it’s Friday, and you’ve had a tough week. Your bodyguard leads you to the back exit. With the swing of the heavy club door, you’re instantly within paparazzi firing range. Dozens of flashes bombard you as you walk out. Faceless voices of men decades older than you yell your name, begging for your attention. Insults about your body are aimlessly thrown in your direction. You’re asked about your ex, about his new girlfriend, about the breakup. Eyes to the ground, you push forward to the car where you’re ushered into the safety of its leather interior. The interaction only took twenty seconds, but the pictures from this night will be on the front pages of magazines for weeks to come. You ask yourself what rumor the tabloids will create about you this time: will tonight be labeled a wild night out, or will they say you’ve gained weight? Will they accuse you of a post-breakup breakdown, or will they call your solo club outing revenge against your ex? There’s nothing to do but wait and see what they say in the morning. Such is the life of a celebrity party girl in the 2000s.
She was the Britney, the Paris, the Lindsay, the Kimberly. She lived the life that every twenty-something wanted to live: a life of Friday’s club nights, Saturday’s mansion parties and quiet, restful Sundays — unless she wanted to party more on Sundays, which she certainly did. Her pink RAZR buzzed nonstop with the details of a new event to attend. She gave you dating advice with her Dump Him shirt. Her oversized Louis Vuitton purse hung at her side, begging to be swung at someone being “f#cking rude.” Her Juicy Couture pants lay below her hips on her lazy days. The archetype of the ‘00s party girl was an enigma of her time. She was the anti-it-girl, the trainwreck no one could seem to take their eyes off of. She was a sensationalized topic. We constantly dissected her whereabouts, her decisions compiled to create the “facts” of a rumor, her clothing picked apart to provide details of her sex life. She was seen as a figment of pop culture, someone stripped of her humanity and draped with the burden of being a public figure.
Unfortunately, such shaming of party girls still isn’t removed from the culture of today. Take Slayyyter for example. An underground, self-made pop artist, Slayyyter is inspired by the party girls of the 2000s. Her music sounds straight from a club in 2005, and her visuals are reminiscent of a time when the Blackberry was the smartest phone on the market. In November 2018, at the beginning of her career, online trolls doxxed her, leaking her name and private information, such as past photos of her online sex work. Devastated, Slayyyter deleted all of her social media accounts, admitting to fans that the information leak was the cause of her infinite hiatus.
Hiatuses from the public eye were a common occurrence for party girls in the 2000s. The constant slut-shaming and intrusion by tabloids was often too much for them. Rehab was often the only way to get away from the media. However, it was almost always covered by the very publications doing the harm. Substance abuse was caused by the spotlight placed upon them, and the same spotlight was used to shame them for these illnesses. In rehabilitation, the women were allowed to heal without exploitation.
A week after Slayyyter removed herself from the public, it was believed that she would never return. Had this been the 2000’s, this would have been the end of her story. She’d live the rest of her days in seclusion, shielded from the spotlight that exploited her. However, the trends of the past are no longer the case for today. Instead, Slayyyter revamped her career with a bang, releasing a shirt with a tabloid Star cover mockup titled, “What’s Up With Slayyyter?” Pictured were the photos that were leaked during her doxxing, ironically placed where paparazzi shots were usually found on magazine covers. By turning the tabloid concept on its head, Slayyyter made a statement that sent a message of power to those who wished harm upon her. In reclaiming the private photos once used against her, the artist exemplified the power of the sexually liberated woman of 2019. She is unashamed of her past, unashamed of being a sexual woman.
The culture of the 2000s did not yet allow women to make this sort of statement, especially in regards to sexuality. The tabloid magazines of the time shamed a woman for her sexuality in almost every issue. They scolded women for dressing too promiscuously in public. They speculated who she was sleeping with and why. This is a key difference between Slayyyter’s use of party-goer aesthetics and the reality of the 2000s archetype. Where this type of woman was routinely shamed without a chance of defense, Slayyyter is able to correct the misogyny she is exposed to by using the same aesthetics and thriving from them. Slayyyter utilized the concept of the tabloid magazine to normalize a situation that was meant to fault her for being someone who, as most people do, has sex. The culture surrounding women and sex is changing, and Slayyyter acknowledging her status as a sexual woman has become a staple in her music because of it.
Slayyyter’s revival of the 2000s party girl aesthetic is an homage to the women who lived through it. In embracing and destigmatizing her sexuality through these visuals and sounds, Slayyyter is acknowledging that what these women went through was because of their time, not because what they did was wrong. ■
by: Ty Marsh
layout: Sandara Tsang
photographer: Sheridan Smith
stylists: Shannon Homan
HMUA: Olivia Harris & Sarah Stiles
models: Kaitlyn Harris & Tosin Anjorin