Two years ago they released a song to celebrate the 50th anniversary of NYC’s Stonewall riots.; ”53 Christopher Street”… Since then they’ve come up with a new LGBTQ-themed pop track every six months, all of which have reached more than 1 million clicks on Spotify and YouTube. If you don’t know the duo— they are Van Hechter & Chauncey Dandridge or Chauncey Dandridge & Van Hechter, 2 completely different guys who get along and behave like brothers. Not only are they nominated for best video at the GLAM AWARDS, held next January 30th, at Sony Hall Time Square- they also just released an anti-bullying pop song with a very provocative title: ”Sissy Faggot Halfman Poof” which will make you dance, AND THINK! Here’s what the had to say about it…
Bridge: First off: congrats on the nomination !!!! GLAM AWARDS is a big deal!
Chauncey: Thank you so much!
Van: It’s a huge deal! I can’t sleep trying to figure out what to wear!
Bridge: Now, about the new song… OMG! Right in the teeth! Why did you go with ”Sissy Faggot Halfman Poof”?
Van: Why would I water down what was thrown at me daily between the ages of 5 and 19, without ONE single adult or person of authority reacting when witnessing it? This is my truth and I am telling it as it happened. I thought we’d made progress — and we have. But still too often I get emails from young fans who STILL get bullied— EXACTLY as I was decades ago. It’s infuriating! If the title is too shocking- kiss my backside! It was even more shocking, being told those words a million times.
Chauncey: Being provocative in 2022 is difficult, but if you do it right you get noticed. We didn’t want to sugarcoat anything. All of the songs in our collection deal with different aspects of being queer. Being put down, bullied, threatened, and even murdered for being who you are is a very prominent part of growing up queer. My generation specifically dealt with the AIDS crisis and we grew up equating sex with death. There was a real, visceral fear of following your primal instincts when I first delved into the scene in the early 90s.
Bridge: You were both bullied, when did the bullying stop?
V: When I decided I’d had enough- really enough. I suffered numerous depressions, had suicidal thoughts repeatedly, gave into many disorders (meaning I wasn’t a victim I just allowed myself to wallow in them)… Then one day I decided that my last trip to hell WAS the last. I wasn’t going to let my past define my future anymore! I’ve been ok ever since.
C: I was bullied more for being overweight than I was for being gay. Luckily when I came into my own as a young gay boy, I magically had a huge group of lesbian and gay friends to support me. I know that’s a rarity and I always count my blessings. Most of my bullying honestly has come from my own community for being too hairy, too bald, or too chubby. The bullying really never stops, it just becomes more internal. You just have to learn to live your life purposefully and successfully with the body and the circumstances you’ve been given. There are things you can change and things you cannot. Discovering the difference is what brings you freedom. Freedom is the antidote to bullying.
Bridge: What do you have to say to those who are victims of bullying now?
V: ”Darlings—- you are being bullied because you threaten- not because you’re small. Fact is you’re a walking potential revolution and cowards can sense that. They’re trying to kill your spirit BECAUSE you’re a budding force to be reckoned with… They just want to nip the bud! Never let’em! You are DIVINE the way you are!”
C: It doesn’t necessarily get better as all those people preach, but your skin gets thicker and you eventually get exhausted from letting other people’s opinions of you shape your path. Find your talents and find your passions and be content and successful and those ugly words and attacks will slip out of your radar. Bullies are in more pain than you are, that’s why they try to hurt you. Don’t feed them.
Bridge: There’s a French rap bit in the song, what do those lyrics mean?
C: It’s a really powerful line that I’m honored Van let me tackle. Roughly translated I believe it means, “You tried to break me down, but I wouldn’t let you.” I hope I did it justice.
V: Yes… I just wrote that to give C a really hard time. I loved the idea of making him rap a tongue twister in French. You have to make your own fun- you have to make your own fun…
Bridge: You guys tackle deep topics at times- but there’s always a ”slapstick” energy between the 2 of you. How do you explain this?
V: Well first of all I can’t look at C onstage without cracking up. He does these eyes, like something really surprising just happened— I can’t not laugh. And physically we’re opposites which adds to the comedy. I only realized myself how funny we looked side by side at our first rehearsal.
C: We’re from two completely different worlds, yet we get along so cosmically. I’m a little rough around the edges and have an urban, funky background and Van is so perfectly coifed, royal, and disciplined, it’s a natural occurrence that we are complete goofs onstage together. It’s a match made in heaven for sure.