jake shears

The Scissor Sisters couldn’t have picked a more appropriate time to sashay onto the scene. It was 2004, and the country was experiencing fits of crazy homophobia thanks to the gay marriage debate and Republicans like Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman (who was gay, unbeknownst to himself at the time, uh-huh) and Karl Rove, who ushered their candidate, George W. Bush, into the White House for another four years in part by putting gay marriage on the ballot in 11 states and allowing those citizens to vote their dumb prejudices and then pull the lever for Dubya for good measure.

The Sisters’ first album, released that same magical year, had the following to say in response to this madness: “Yeah, well, we’re still gay, so fuck all y’all.” They were a sexy, glitzy, skin-tight, gay-as-hell pop band whose members—with names like Baby Daddy, Ana Matronic, and Paddy Boom—didn’t give a crap about making middle America accept their lifestyle and who couldn’t care less about the institution of marriage. They were too busy shaking that ass.

The standout track on the album was “Take Your Mama,” a shuffling, swaggering gem of a song in the mold of ’70s Elton John, a hymn to hedonism with its own family values message at its core. It’s a fantasy about the best coming out party a young country boy prone to wearing overalls, a handkerchief around his neck, and nothing else could ever wish to have. (Click the below photo to watch lead singer Jake Shears do his gay-ass overalls dance in a new window.)








Yes, in a perfect world, all us gay dudes–especially those of us from the South who love our mamas more–would be able to have our weird gay friends take our mothers out for a good time, get her a little bit wasted, and break the news to her while she’s getting down to some Weather Girls or “Beers, Steers, and Queers,” or whatever. (Yes, she’s probably figured it out by this point, but mamas still have to be told.) She would drink, she would snort, she would sniff, she would inhale deeply. By the end of the night, she would know that, even though her “best son” was a big ole queer and was probably irredeemably damned, at least the hell he would be spending eternity in would be hella sexxy. And maybe that’s important to him!

Of course, like in many great pop songs, the story is a complete pipe dream. (Ha ha, pipe dream.) Most of us would tell our mothers the truth about ourselves in drearily lit and uncomfortably quiet living rooms, accidentally on the way to church, or, worse, while wrapped in a bedsheet after being caught jerking it to a copy of International Male; not in a club, under a mirror ball, after sniffing poppers and passing the bottle to our best trannie friend Pygmalion. Typically, there is no glamour in the coming out conversation. Which is why this song is so magical. It lets us choose a different adventure and allow ourselves a different ending from the one reality gave us. At the end of its four minutes we are strolling home together with our mothers in the early morning, wrapping her up in our purple leather jacket and not complaining when she throws up on it a little bit. Because she’s had a large night, and those electric lycra pants she’s wearing now are not the pants she left the house in. (Good lord, mama, what exactly did you do at that club?)

It turns out that the Scissor Sisters were indeed too gay for America in 2004. They were barely a blip on the US pop charts that year, and instead focused on Europe, where everyone is gay and 100% of the voting public wanted to make it with Jake Shears. They weren’t any more palatable to America in 2006, upon the release of their second album Ta-Dah. And with the their third, the uber-gay Night Work, which came out in June 2010, they had obviously decided, “you know what, screw all these American hicks, let’s go back to the continent and spend all our Euros before they’re worthless.”

So, though they should be, Scissor Sisters still aren’t the big arena pop stars in the U.S. that they are in the rest of the world. But they are probably the Republican National Committee’s favorite band.

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TIM ANDERSON has done many amazing things in his short life. Well, two amazing things. Ok, one thing that he did twice. But he's got nothing on his older brother, who can play his teeth like a xylophone with his thumb. In 2010 Tim published his first book, Tune in Tokyo: The Gaijin Diaries, a travel memoir about two years he spent in Japan's capital. It has been called "a hilarious read reminiscent of David Sedaris and Augusten Burroughs" by the Logo channel and "laugh-out-loud funny" by Publishers Weekly. Tune in Tokyo was published in a new edition by AmazonEncore in November 2011. Tim currently blogs at seetimblog.blogspot.com and plays viola in the band simpleshapes. He is an editor in New York and lives in Brooklyn with his huhzband and his cat Stella.

7 responses to “Your Mama on Poppers: A Salute to “Take Your Mama” by the 
Scissor Sisters”

  1. Joe Daly says:

    Great piece, Tim. For me a successful appreciation of a song or artist places their works in a cultural context- either their own or the author’s, and then expounds upon how it shaped and furthered the author’s feelings.

    This is an awesome essay about a band about whom I know precious little. Great stuff.

  2. Suzanne says:

    Love it – brings back memories of taking my very straight and 52-year-old husband to a Scissor Sisters concert (right after Tah Dah came out). Right up at the stage. Classic.

  3. God I love the Scissor Sisters.

    This really is a nice look into your mind, I hope that we, as readers, get to dig around in there a bit more. Poppers or no.

  4. Gloria says:

    That was a way fun video. Thanks for highlighting this group.

  5. SAA says:

    I just spent the last half hour watching Scissor Sisters videos on youtube, and for that I thank you.

  6. Lonna says:

    I have enjoyed the Scissor Sisters for a couple of years now. I can’t say that I get their videos…but I do enjoy their sound. Although, after reading this, I think you have put their music into a clearer perspective for me. Thanks for sharing.

  7. I worked in the kitchen of a hotel for a long, sweaty summer back when the Scissor Sisters were first hitting the scene. The chef would play the album on repeat for the entire eight hour shift, each and every day. God, I fucking hated that album… But then when summer was over and I went a few days without listening to it, I began to miss it. As time went by, I began to actually enjoy listening to their songs on TV and the radio, and eventually went out and bought the album myself. I still listen to them to this day.

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