‘My Gender is Hot Girl’ 

May 1, 2022 / Camille Bao

Austin’s queer pop princess talks the rise of hyperpop, gender fluidity, and making music for the dolls.
We’re shooting late afternoon at Neon Grotto — the hottest gay club in downtown Austin. p1nkstar sashayed into the scene with her partner, Y2K, and behind them trailed bags of makeup, bondage tape, and swoon-worthy boots that lace up to your knees.

Colloquially crowned “Austin’s queer pop princess,” p1nkstar emerged in 2016 from a performance art project inspired by Web 1.0 (Think: glitter GIFs and MySpace chat rooms). Since then, she has released EP Number 1 Hits!, opened for Charli XCX, and forged groundbreaking worlds for trans and queer artists and listeners. She also just won Best Electronic Artist at this year’s Austin Music Awards (Here’s the big mic drop moment of her speech: “In the midst of everything happening, [referring to the 240+ anti-LGBTQ+ bills filed in 2022 by Texas lawmakers, the majority of which target trans people], this one is for the dolls, and Greg Abbott can suck on my big, fat juicy tits”).

I admit, it was a little strange to be at the club sober, hours before the neon lights come on and the gloves come off for Wednesday’s karaoke night. But in this liminal space, we continued to celebrate electronic pop, queer communities in Texas, and flawless hot-girl energy.

I chatted with p1nky about the jitters and dreams of stardom.

>> There's something eerie and futuristic about your music. How did you go about crafting your sound?

The origin of “p1nkstar” came from processing a lot of my experiences growing up queer in a pretty conservative environment. In Mexico, there was never going to be a queer pop star. So, what happens if I named myself that? What happens if I celebrate all these things that were forbidden?

It has shifted over the years, especially being in Austin and being way more removed from audiences in Mexico, but the idea is still there. “p1nkstar” is all about futurity and what could be. With Number 1 Hits! I was collaborating with three different producers. In conversation, we were inspired by the new boom of hyperpop. I’ve always wanted to sound robotic, and hyperpop allows queer artists to push the boundaries of pop music, taking the frame of making really accelerated hardcore, pop music that's on drugs in my bedroom at 4 a.m., and it's going be the best song ever. I'm trying to push that further and see what p1nkstar is as a sound music project.

>> With that, I’m sure you’ve encountered a lot of negativity. How do you deal with those who don’t get it?

I don’t care. The first gig I did as p1nkstar went viral in my hometown, and people did not understand that and did not like it. I thought that was perfect, because it's shifting something in them. The negativity is always going to be there. If you don't understand what I'm doing, then it's not for you. There are plenty of people who do. And it's for them.

It's interesting, too, because in Austin, I’ve been performing live music for six years. And it wasn't until last year that people started thinking of me as a musician. Before, people in the music world were like, “Oh, yeah, you do drag,” or “You're a performer.” But I'm an artist. Why are you not including me in these conversations? You have to acknowledge that the people that are making work like I do and music like I do [are also artists.] It's not always about having a four-person band with guitars and white boys in T-shirts.

Yeah, there were a bunch of those at SXSW. Besides the recognition, was winning Best Electronic Artist at the Austin Music Awards also a personal milestone?

I never thought I was going to get nominated. No other trans person had won before, so it felt bigger than me. Now, I’m more empowered to say, “Actually, this is my fee. And if you can't afford it, I'm sorry.”

>> Way back in 2018, you and your partner, Y2K, were the cover for a PRIDE issue of The Austin Chronicle. Do you ever miss who you were back then?

That was our first article ever. We were these emerging producers in nightlife, and people were paying attention to what we were doing because it was a new wave. Suddenly, we’re on the cover of The Austin Chronicle, and we’re like, “OK, we’re going to take over!”

I don't miss who I was. Back then, everything was just chaotic. We were just churning and churning and churning, working really hard. I can direct myself way better now. I love being 27, and I've grown so, so much as a person. I started hormones soon after that cover. We’ve evolved. We're the next level of what that was.

>> How was your transitioning process?

I would recommend anyone to become a hot girl. Best experience of my life. I'm very fortunate here in Austin to have access to hormones and support from my community because I know a lot of people don’t.

Now, I'm experiencing the cis world. At first, I was like, “Hold on, what's happening? Why are all these random boys talking to me?” One of the first times I went out, there were three straight boys hitting on me at the same time. I was just shocked.

>> Do you think you’re losing some of that fluidity by being more conforming, in a sense?

My gender is hot girl. [laughs] That’s what I'm giving and that's what I'm serving. The people are eating it up and it works. I've conquered masculinity. I've conquered gender fluidity. I'm conquering femininity. I don't know what's going to happen next, but I feel very at home with where I’m at.

I don't think I'll ever stop feeling genderqueer or gender fluid. On the outside, it is something I miss to a degree. It was nice to be in between, riding the line, but it was also kind of stressful because people didn’t know what to do with me. Inside, I still think gender is so dumb. Gender is not real. Gender is a performance.

>> With all this change, how do you keep yourself grounded?

It’s definitely super helpful to have my partner, because I know I can always count on them. We're extremely close. We've seen each other at our best and at our worst. We became artists together, and we have grown with each other. You know, like when trees grow together?

Beyond that, I don't have a specific ritual for grounding, but I do enjoy getting ready for the day. If I look good, I feel good.

>> I feel that. Like, you need your nails done. You need your hair done.

People think it's vanity to want to look good all the time. But it works. It helps me alleviate dysphoria, and it’s like that for a lot of trans people because we weren’t allowed to express who we were. It's reassuring to be able to do things that were forbidden and realizing that there's nothing wrong with them. Especially in queer nightlife, which provides a safer space to experiment and not face real life repercussions from it.

People at the club will celebrate and will cheer on something that they wouldn't cheer on in the daylight. If I was wearing a mesh shirt, mesh dress, with tape on my boobs and walking to 7/11, that'd be a very different experience. Not that nightlife is only what being queer is. I think it's expanded beyond that, and it will continue to.

Is there anything that you would want to change in terms of the queer community in Texas?

Additional support for trans women. It can be in little ways, too. Like, when someone doesn't charge trans people at the door, they’re saying that this is a safe space for trans people.

In queer nightlife, I still think there are too many white people on every lineup, and I’m so tired of people not thinking critically about their booking. Like, y'all, if you don't stop booking that same three fucking DJs for every party and start looking people outside of your little friend group that is all full of white people, it’s not going to be cute.

Yeah, especially since the Austin Music Awards didn’t have a category for hip hop until 2018. That was so surprising to me, honestly.

Yeah, I’m the first trans person to win an Austin Music Award in 2022. In 2022! That's baffling.

I appreciate it. I'm happy. And thank you. But this should have happened 30 years ago.

Looking to the future, what’s next for p1nkstar?

World tours. [laughs]

I feel grounded enough right now to find a way to have a sustainable art career. I’m also getting the surgeries I wanted, which was a big barrier for me before. Last year, I partied a lot to celebrate the end of quarantine. But this is the year we're going to work. We're going to put things out into the world.

Last question. A lot of our readers are also Charli XCX fans, and I know you opened for her back in 2019. What do you think of her new album, CRASH?

I think Charli's genius. Here’s my p1nkstar stamp of approval.

Oh, what I wouldn’t give for one.

p1nky has conquered PRIDE. The Austin Music Awards. Femininity. And recently, the Capitol, for a Transgender Day of Visibility rally.

We’re all holding our breaths for what’s next — a world tour, we hope. 😵‍💫🦋🌸*

(* — Her top 3 emojis, if you were wondering.)■

by: Camille Bao

videographer: Moises Zanbria

layout: Caleb Zhang

photographer: Alyssa Olvera

stylists: Suki Claret & Y2K

hmua: Yeonsoo Jung

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