Blurring the Lines: An Interview on Sudden Stardom with Seattle’s Hottest Boylesque Troupe

On Thursday of last week, local “Boylesque” Troupe Mod Carousel gathered some friends and shot a video. The concept was simple. Flip the genders in Robin Thicke’s creepy “Blurred Lines” video (NSFW) and make the men prance around in skimpy underwear instead of the twiggy models. The women would be the ones singing and batting the boys around like playthings. After a fun little shoot, they uploaded it on Sunday and left it at that.

Three days later, the video has over 600,000 views and thousands of comments. After making the rounds on sites like Huffington Post and Jezebel, the video finally made the leap to television.

This morning, it was shown on The Today Show.

Seattle Weekly caught up with Mod Carousel’s Trojan Original, the man in charge of orchestrating the video, to talk about the ensuing craziness, and his dreams of making it on Ellen Degeneres. In case you are wondering, Trojan is the extra smiley one in the video with the long hair. You know, the one who meows at you in that one scene.

Seattle Weekly: What sparked the idea to do this parody video?

Trojan Original: It was a myriad of things, I had been doing a lot of gender studies for two months prior to the video, and I saw on a lot of the controversy surrounding the original Blurred Lines video. I saw on the controversy surrounding it, and the general consensus was that it was a very rapey song. I don’t listen to the radio so, I hadn’t even heard of the song up until that point. Mod Carousel, we were touring in Alaska when I was talking to Paris (one of the three performers in Mod Carousel), and we thought, you know, we could switch up the genders. We already look like the models.

SW: I was talking to Dalisha (the rapper in the video) and she said you were only expecting maybe 2000 views at most. But now you have 636,000 views on YouTube and thousands of comments.

TO: Yeah, I mean, it was pretty unprecedented for us. Our troupe is pretty well known within the burlesque community, but the thing is that our popularity and fame is only limited strictly to that burlesque community, so it’s a situation of us being a big fish in a small pond. The second it got posted on Jezebel, that was pretty much it. Everything changed.

SW: What do you think about the kind of conversation it’s started? Everyone seems to have something to say about it, have you been monitoring that dialogue at all?

TO: I haven’t been able to keep up with all of it because I still have a day job and a living to make but I definitely look at it more than I should. I’m actually pleasantly surprised with the internet and YouTube in general because most of the arguments are really well informed and constructive. They’ve been generally pretty intelligent, which is great.

SW: When you initially saw the Robin Thicke video, what did you think of it?

TO: Well, being a guy, the rapey undertones didn’t quite strike me so much. I think women who see the video get way more pissed off about that than I ever did. But the part that struck me was, well... there’s a couple parts. There are some parts where the models are very clearly degraded. The one in particular is the smoke getting blown in the model’s eyes. For the most part I just thought the whole video was really damn silly because you have the world’s silliest props. The dance moves are freaking hilarious and awful at the same time. Absolutely no rhythm. Just real awkwardness all the way around. The video itself would be really funny if it weren’t so damn rapey.

SW: The way you flipped the truck scene, with the toy Tonka rolling down the exposed back, that was definitely my favorite.

TO: I’m a big fan of Luminous (another performer in the troupe) running with the sword. It’s so goofy.

SW: So what do you do now? Do you use this as a springboard for Mod Carousel to move on to bigger things?

TO: Well, our troupe, we don’t like doing art just for the sake of art, and being pretty just for the sake of being pretty. We more or less, from the very beginning with the three of us, most of what we do has a deeper element that’s commentary on something. Whether it’s on masculinity and femininity or something like that, we’ve always done that. We had just never done that in a video project. We are definitely going to be doing more video projects in the future. I don’t know if it will be the same... if it will be sort of the same idea of a social experiment with a message or anything. But we are going to keep on doing what we have been doing, and video will definitely be a part of it. I never would’ve expected all this. I woke up this morning and found out we were on the Today Show. It’s crazy.

SW: Whoa, what was that like?

TO: Well, I got up this morning to a text saying we were on it, and then I had to wait to find a clip. It’s surreal. I never expected to be on TV. I don’t really listen to a lot of radio or watch a lot of TV, but whoever was hosting it, my girlfriend was telling me they were huge, so it must be. My dream is to get on the Ellen Degeneres show. That would be a dream.

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