Rikki Crowley, aka Rica Shay, is part of the queer hip hop movement that’s currently taking over the US along with AB Soto, Sissy Nobby, Zebra Katz and of course, “Beyonce’s BFF”, Cazwell.
Although Rica Shay is fashionably late to the party, he’s made a big splash with his summer hit ‘Summer Realness’ alongside Big Dipper and there’s lots more to come….
What’s ‘Summertime Realness’ about?
I was thinking of past summers spent wrangling friends together for bbq’s and days at the beach. Short shorts, subway stations that feel like the inside of an oven, meeting sexy tourists and cutting all my t-shirts into tank tops…
Did you style the video?
I was the head stylist but I had a lot of help from the cast. I was lucky to have such a stylish group of kids to work with. Shay, one of the drag queens in the video, and Big Dipper were a lot of help…
How did you come to hook up with Big Dipper?
Big Dipper and I met through Dan Foley who had produced several of Big Dipper’s tracks including ‘Summertime Realness’. The first time I saw Big Dipper was last January when his video for ‘Drip Drop’ came out. I was intrigued by BD’s humor and the production value behind the video.
Are you dabbling in drag too? What’s your alter-ego’s name?
When I turned twenty-two I made it a point to start actively pushing myself creatively. I decided to take some time away from film school and work on some projects of my own. In the past two years I’ve dabbled in modelling, drag, music and burlesque. Each medium has opened my mind in new ways.
Rakita is a character from a short story I’ve been working on. She’s an alien princess who desires to come to Earth and become a super star. I think using the character as a drag persona would be a fun way to develop the story. There are a lot of ideas running through my head.
Who inspires you for your different characters and photo shoots?
I pull inspiration from a wide variety of artists and mediums. From musical acts like Missy Elliot and M.I.A to filmmakers like Darren Aronofsky, Allen Ball, and John Waters. I’ve always been a fan of sci-fi and post-apocalyptic stories and pull a lot of inspiration from those fantasy worlds.
When did you start to MC?
Hip Hop has all ways been my genre of choice. I grew up rapping along to
songs by Missy Elliot, Outkast, and Ludacris. I got into spoken word poetry when
I was nineteen and started show casing my rhymes at open mic poetry readings. But I didn’t start laying down my own lyrics to beats until January of this year. It’s a whole new world to me; I’m excited and intimidated by the entire process.
Have you found the gay scene to be helpful or is there a bitchy side ready to take you down?
There is always going to be a bitchy queen ready to take you down. The media has played a big part in portraying a gay man’s bitchy attitude as a positive thing. It’s turned a lot of guys in the community into the bullies we all had to deal with as kids. I try my best to avoid those bitchy queens and surround myself with people who are sweet and open-minded. For the most part I’ve experienced a lot of love and support from the queer community. I’ve spent the last two years nomadically travelling the States. I’ve been greeted with open arms and opportunities in a lot of different cities. I’m extremely lucky to have the support group I do.
Do you have a personal diva of choice?
In my eyes Yolandi Visser from Die Antwoord is the fiercest and most interesting Diva in the game. I love how she carries herself in her videos and lives for her fashions. Falling in line after her would have to be, Ana Matronic from the Scissior Sisters, Santigold, Nicki Minaj and of course Ru Paul.
Has Sharon Needles seen your rap?
Sharon did see my rap about her and was really sweet. I ended up meeting her shortly after I posted it and got her praise for the video. I was pleased that she knew I was intentionally being campy and was able to laugh at it. She even recited some of the lines which made me blush.
Do you have any pre-performance rituals?
As of right now my pre-performance rituals evolve; scattering around a club and dousing glitter over my dancers. Every time I hear my name being introduced for a performance I all ways say to myself “Bitch, you better bring it.”
There are a couple of photos of you naked. Do you have problems with nudity?
I’m clearly very comfortable being nude when it’s appropriate and I’ve always been a bit of an exhibitionist. I remember seeing Striptease staring Demi Moore when I was about ten and thinking I wanted to be a stripper when I grew up. I’ve most certainly fantasized about getting involved in porn, but at this point in my carrier I’m unsure if and when that fantasy will come true.
What is your ultimate goal?
For the most part my ultimate goal is to constantly grow and establish myself as an artist/entertainer. Like most starving artists I strive to support myself by doing what I love.
Will you be coming to the UK anytime soon?
I’m actually planning my first trip overseas after the New Year. London is high up on the list for places to visit as well as to perform in while I’m in Europe.
Did you ever question whether you were going to be a gay rapper or stay in the closet?
Coming out of the closet was hard. Once I was out I had no intention of going back in. When I started pursuing a career in entertainment it was very clear that I was going to market myself as an openly gay artist.
What do you make of gay entertainers who remain in the closet?
Personally I think the more openly gay entertainers there are, the better. It gives young queer youth a wide variety of role models and people to look up to. It also brings hope to the community that change is still happening and it will only get easier to be out in today society.