Mykki Blanco and Matt Lambert Put A Queer Spin On Shakespeare In New Vid
We never thought we’d say this, but we may have a new favorite adaptation of Romeo and Juliet–one that doesn’t feature Leonardo DiCaprio in a moody, flowing floral print shirt. Say goodbye to 1996 glam, John Leguizamo, and the usual visual overdosing of director Baz Luhrmann. A new queer spin on the Shakespearian tragedy reunited Milk favs Mykki Blanco and director Matt Lambert, dropping a metric ton of emotion and blood. The duo, who previously worked together on a photoshoot for Wonderland, teamed up for an epic seven-minute tale of starcrossed lovers for the Woodkid-produced “High School Never Ends,” Blanco’s first single off his upcoming album.
Produced by Iconoclast in collaboration with The FADER and !K7, and filmed by cinematographer Martin Ruhe, the non-linear take on the tragic tale trades out Montagues and Capulets for skinheads and a queer community of color, filmed deep in the German countryside. When we talked to Lambert about the video, he explained that the draw to Shakespeare was both functional and a return to his childhood roots. “I knew we needed something structurally familiar to carry an audience through the less-than-classical world we were building,” he said. “I’ve been telling stories of intimacy and love since I got to Berlin and this just felt right. Plus, I grew up on West Side Story.”
As Blanco’s searing vocals pierce through scenes of him with bloodied hands, in the heat of passionate sex with his forbidden lover, the tensions builds to the ultimate, tragic conclusion. Given the tense political climate throughout Europe from the ongoing refugee crisis, the story is given deeper meaning–though Lambert was quick to note that this was just one layer of depth he packed into the video.
“You could connect it to any of the cyclical and timeless of alienation and conflict. This could just as well relate to the racial climate in the US,” he said. Despite the murderous and sobering end to the story, the director couldn’t help but remain cautiously optimistic about our seemingly inevitable tendency toward violence. “It’s nothing new and it seems to be in our nature despite our perceived evolution. I can only hope that pushing an agenda of love can chip away at this seemingly innate need…”
Images via Iconoclast.
Stay tuned to Milk for more queer Shakespearean tragedy.