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Dacre Montgomery On His Surreal, Post-‘Stranger Things’ Life

Culture
Photo by Austin Hargrave / Netflix

“It’s been crazy, dude”

If you’re the owner of a Netflix account, then chances that you’ve recently been introduced to the talents of Australian actor Dacre Montgomery. The 22-year-old Perth native, who earlier this year starred as one of the masked heroes in Power Rangers, has been enjoying a breakout month thanks to his role on Stranger Things 2 as Billy, the hard-bodied bully that everyone loves to hate. Billy, who gets off on making his stepsister Max’s life a living hell, has divided fans thanks to an unhinged performance that has also earned Montgomery legions of admirers. Stranger Things creators, the Duffer brothers, got a preview of what Montgomery had in mind for the role when they watched his taped audition, a very important document that has recently gone viral online—and for good reason. We spoke to Montgomery recently about what it’s been like landing a role that changes your life overnight.

Did you feel a lot of pressure once you got this part, knowing that so many people would be watching? 
Yeah, but I think there’s also an opportunity to really try and put some chutzpah into a role, make it something really special. If anything, it adds even more incentive to put a character in place in a world that already exists. I don’t think I felt pressure. I felt more of an opportunity.

After you were cast, how soon did the realization come that this was going to be a life-changing role?
It just echoes back to what I said before. I saw an opportunity, I was given a chance, I tried to make the most of that chance, and now, hopefully, I have opportunities to be involved in a lot more amazing stories, which is why I got involved with this in the first place. I’m very interested in storytelling and exploring, and hopefully, this gives me the outlet to be able to do that for many years to come. 

Is playing an unpredictable and darker character like Billy more fun than playing the kind of traditional hero you played in Power Rangers?
Yeah, playing someone with such uncertain tendencies, you never know what’s next or what’s around the corner, but what was also interesting was finding the similarities between a protagonist in something like Power Rangers and an antagonist in this. What do these two kids who are in high school have in common? What is the hero, what is the villain, what is their connection? What are their insecurities? 

This character was a lot of fun. There was a lot of room to play on set with the Duffers, coming up with ideas on the day, changing lines, stuff like that.

Did you have a lot of input on the character we see onscreen? 
I think it inevitably changes when you hire an actor—they bring their own element into it. I’d say it’s 60/40—60 percent being on the Duffer side and 40 percent on mine. On the day, we’d change things because the narrative constantly changes. We’re shooting episode five, and the Duffers haven’t written seven, eight, and nine, so there are discussions that are had. That’s what’s so great about the two brothers: They are in an open forum with their actors, which provides everybody with an opportunity to evolve the character over a season rather than it being predetermined. 

Did you see Billy as a purely dark character, or were you able to find a lighthearted element to him? 
I think there’s something far more sinister going on, which you get a taste at the end of episode nine. In episode eight, we were actually humanizing the villain. So when we were on four, five, and six, I said to the Duffers, “Look, guys, this character’s just an angry dude, but what’s behind it?” The biggest thing to me in creating an anti-hero—somebody that people can like and hate at the same time—is to humanize this person. But I think there is something far more sinister going on that will hopefully evolve in further seasons. 

Can we talk about your hair? I assume that’s a wig
Yeah, the sides of the hair are the wig, the hair on top is mine. Sarah did a great job, she’s head of the hair department. There is that comical side with the tight jeans and the earring, too. Again, it was sort of 60/40; with the hair and makeup and costume department, I had a say in that. I was very lucky there. 

Do you people recognize you on the street without the wig?
It’s been crazy, dude. I thought when Power Rangers came out, it was going to be hectic, but in the last two weeks, I’ve been back in Perth, Australia, which is where I live when I’m not working. I went out the other day and I had just a mustache—a thick mustache and glasses and a hat on—and literally couldn’t move around wherever we were at, I think it was a bar or something. I think people just recognize the face shape, and anybody that we watch onscreen, I think, subconsciously, you kind of recognize their features and their gait, how they walk, everything. But I’ve got ways to hide myself now. I’m right in the middle of Sydney right now, in the middle of a square surrounded by hundreds of people, and I have my disguise sorted, which shall remain anonymous.

What happened to your social media after the show dropped on Netflix? Did it blow up?
Yeah, dude, it’s been like 800,000 people in like 12 days. It’s been crazy. You know on Instagram, how you can see Insights? It’s like gender impressions, all these things. So before it was like 50 percent men, 50 percent women, between the ages of 18 and 35. And I’ve tracked, now it’s like 75 percent women and the rest are dudes. I think in the first week, I got 30,000 messages and most of them from girls. I think also just capitalizing on this moment with a charity I work with, I’ve been uploading videos that get half a million views. The guys that run it, they rang me and said they had 10,000 donors in the first 24 hours after I posted that. I think we live in this interesting point where if you know how to and you’re interested in capitalizing on social media for good and for brand building, there’s so much potential. So I’ve just been underground, at my place in Perth the last two weeks just figuring out all kinds of different ways that I can use this to benefit me and people around me. 

Your audition tape for Stranger Things leaked online and went viral. What was your reaction to that? 
I wanted to take a shot in the dark when I sent it a year ago. There were just so many people auditioning for this that I was like, “I better do something out of the box.” Netflix loved it, and it’s kind of been an inside joke between the Duffers. So GQ kind of tactfully leaked it, and it’s had like two million views on Facebook and three million on other platforms. I was out at the bar the other day, and this guy comes up to me—not from Power Rangers, not from Stranger Things—and he goes, “Hey, are you that guy from that audition tape?”

What were your expectations with Power Rangers, and did you see its reception as a disappointment at all?
Look, I had an amazing time working on it. My castmates have gone on to do amazing things, it was my very first project, and I learned a lot about myself and stunt training and all kinds of stuff. We opened with Beauty and the Beast, and that was the highest grossing PG-13 film domestically ever, I think. So timing-wise, I think we had a good opening weekend, and we trickled down domestically and didn’t do great overseas. I’m very lucky that I went straight on to ST2. I’m just looking for that next story, to be honest with you, mate. I’m reading scripts now, and I haven’t taped for anything in four months. I’m not taping for stuff that I don’t really care about. I’m writing, I’m teaching myself writing. I got Final Draft [screenwriting software] about 16 months ago, and I’m learning about story structure, creating narratives, how to sell a script. I’m trying to learn the business side of things and trying to be creative even though I’m not auditioning. I’m looking for the thing that is different from the antagonist in Stranger Things, different from the protagonist in Power Rangers, and something that will really continue these two amazing opportunities I’ve been given.

Have you been tracking the vocal reaction to your character online Is that something you pay attention to?
Totally. I read everything, mate. I don’t like having a huge response because I don’t want to be involved in a discussion about it, necessarily, but I’m extremely interested in how people see the character. I’m overwhelmingly excited about the response—I feel like it’s been mostly positive and people are liking who Billy is and are really hypothesizing about where he’s going to go. I get a lot of good laughs with my mates about the mullet, and about apparently, being Zac Efron’s father from the ‘80s, which is a fan theory that’s been going around. 

Photo by Rachel Dennis

Finally

"What do girls even do together?" This question, or some iteration of it, is frequently posed to me once someone finds out I'm bisexual or hears me mention my girlfriend, or if I make any reference to being interested in girls. I would be annoyed by it, but I have empathy because I know how hard this kind of information can be to find. In fact, the details of how two people with vaginas have sex isn't very widespread information. And, I know that I didn't really have all that much information about girl-on-girl sex before, well, actually having it myself. It's precisely this kind of situation that queer sex educator Stevie Boebi is trying to fix.

Boebi has gained a big following for her informational YouTube videos about how to use a strap-on, how to scissor, how to fist someone, how to choose a vibrator for yourself; any question you could have, she will get you an answer. She doesn't shy away from topics that people wouldn't be quick to ask someone about IRL, either, like BDSM. And she covers the kind of things that are definitely not what we're taught in sex education classes—likely not even in the most progressive curriculums. A study from GLSEN notes that only 4 percent of teens reported learning anything positive about queer sex in their sex ed classes, and points out that in some states, it's actually prohibited to mention queerness at all.

Particularly when it comes to sex with two vaginas, the lack of available public education leads to a general lack of understanding of how we have sex, which then leads to a lack of understanding in the queer community, too. "I just think that lesbian sex is so oversexualized, and we're the least educated," said Boebi when I asked her recently why it's so important for her to spread knowledge about queer sex in particular.

Boebi said that she started out on YouTube making videos about technology, but after she came out as a lesbian, her audience flipped from mostly male to mostly female, though she would prefer a less rudimentary gender breakdown ("the algorithm only deals in binaries, sorry," she quipped).

Ultimately, her sexuality led her to change her content entirely, because she wanted to educate people who couldn't find answers to their questions anywhere else—even on the internet.

"I started getting a lot of what I called 'stupid questions' from very confused teenage girls saying, like, 'How do I do it? Can I get AIDs from fingering someone?'" Boebi told me. They were questions that probably should have had easily Google-able answers, but, when Boebi looked for lesbian sex education content to send to fans who were asking her, she came up empty-handed. "I couldn't find anything. I think I found, like, two articles on Autostraddle, and that was it," she said. "And then I was like, Well, shit! If no one else is going to do it, then I guess I will."

Boebi's audience is mainly comprised of 13- to 24-year-olds, so she keeps in mind that she's helping people who may not be experienced, or even out yet. She uses her own experiences to inform her work sometimes, but also researches extensively and talks to people she knows who "have fancy Ph.Ds in sexology and shit," who can answer her questions or point her to resources she should be referencing.

Boebi's charm is in her relatability; even if she's talking about things we've been conditioned to feel shame around, she does it in such an open and honest way that all that shame disappears—as it should. She does this by perfectly meshing professional talk with jokes and sarcasm, and even uses characters based on star signs. She knows the importance of taking on taboo topics, because there are so many people who won't otherwise find answers to their questions. "I don't actually struggle in my everyday life asking people if they've ever been anally fisted before," Boebi joked with me. "I'll take that burden."

And keeping her tone light and humorous is of the utmost importance to her. "When people are laughing, they're comfortable, and I want people to feel comfortable," Boebi said. "And I want people to know that I'm comfortable talking about sex, and they can be, too." It helps also, Boebi told me, that her audience is separated by a screen, and she's not "in a room with a 12-year-old talking about my labia."

Beyond instructional sex videos, Boebi also deals with other rarely discussed facets of sexuality and physicality. Boebi is polyamorous, and talks openly about it, confronting the stereotypes and the misinformation about the identity head-on. And, she was also recently diagnosed with Ehler's Danlos Syndrome after going years without a diagnosis, and she aims to start working more with disabled queer sex educators to make her work more inclusive of people with disabilities. Though she pointed out to me that her work was already encompassing of disabilities, she "hasn't been a part of the disability activist community for very long," and so she has a lot to learn.

And, though Boebi's happy that she has the platform she does, she wants a more inclusive array of sex educators to join the scene. "My voice is my voice, and it's unique to me, but I think there should be way more," she noted. "Especially people [with intersectional identities]. That would make me so happy if we could diversify sex educators."

And, though Boebi says there's no "ideal way" to educate people about sex, she's definitely on a better track than the public education system, and she makes clear that there's nothing shameful about sexuality—in fact, it's just a part of being human, and a really fun one, at that.

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FROM THE WORLD WIDE WEB
Screenshot via YouTube

The band shared details about their new St. Vincent-produced album that will drop "you into the world of catastrophe"

Sleater-Kinney just shared more information about their St. Vincent-produced album and dropped a new single.

Per Billboard, Sleater-Kinney revealed that their new album, which they've been teasing since early this year and will be their first since No Cities To Love from 2015, will be called The Center Won't Hold. It's due out on August 16 via Mom + Pop Records. "We're always mixing the personal and the political but on this record, despite obviously thinking so much about politics, we were really thinking about the person—ourselves or versions of ourselves or iterations of depression or loneliness—in the middle of the chaos," Carrie Brownstein said in a statement. Corin Tucker further noted that the new album will "[drop] you into the world of catastrophe that touches on the election."

Janet Weiss noted that the band will "explore a different sound palette" with this album, and pointed to St. Vincent as the reason behind it. She said that St. Vincent "has a lot of experience building her own music with keyboards and synthesizers so she could be our guide to help us make sense of this new landscape and still sound like us."

To satiate us until then, the band released a lyric video for new single, "The Future Is Here," which is very grungy. Bump it, below.

Sleater-Kinney - The Future Is Here (Official Lyric Video) www.youtube.com

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This is so satisfying!

Even Jon Snow knows just how unsatisfying the final season of Game of Thrones was, and he's ready to apologize. Well, a deepfake of him is at least. A heavily-edited version of Snow's speech from the fourth episode—just before the bodies of those lost in the Battle of Winterfell get burned—now features Snow apologizing for the conclusion of the show and lighting the script on fire.

"It's time for some apologies. I'm sorry we wasted your time," Snow begins. "And I know nothing made sense at the end. When the Starbucks cup is the smallest mistake, you know you fucked up! We take the blame. I'm sorry we wrote this in like six days or something," he adds, before signaling to his peers to light the script with torches and "just forget it forever." "Fuck Season 8," he says before the pages begin to crackle and burn.

If there were more lines left to alter, we would have loved to see Snow also tackle how messy Brienne of Tarth and Jaime Lannister's story line ended up, as well as Bran's kingship, Cersei's boring demise, and the water bottle appearance.

Watch the entire deepfake and try to heal the wounds left by HBO below.

BREAKING: JON SNOW FINALLY APOLOGIZED FOR SEASON 8 youtu.be

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Photo by Darren Craig

It premieres today, exclusively via NYLON

In LP's song "Shaken," the most recent single from her 2018 record Heart To Mouth, she tells the story of seeing her lover out with someone else—ouch. Today, exclusively on NYLON, she releases a cheeky animated music video that pokes fun at the song's heightened drama and perfectly demonstrates all the angst that comes with falling hard for someone.

"She looks at you like I used to/ And I'm just sitting in the corner sh-sh-shaken," LP sings, as the visual—with art by Maayan Priva—depicts the singer hanging out in a bar, watching the girl she likes meet up with another girl. Despite the situation's inherent drama, "Shaken" is less of a ballad and more of an upbeat bop. LP told us she loves the way "this little video captures some of the fun of the song, and its inherent comical anxiety." Sure, heartbreak isn't that funny, but our (sometimes) overly dramatic reaction to it kind of is.

"'Shaken' feels like a bit of a wild card on this record," LP says. "It's the closest I've come to writing a musical, which I hope to do one day." We heartily endorse this idea: Please, LP, give us the queer jukebox musical we crave.

Until that day comes, though, you can watch the music video for "Shaken," below.

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Photo courtesy of Sony Pictures.

This cameo has the Beyhive buzzing

I went to see Men In Black: International alone. Which would have been fine if it wasn't for the shock I received when I saw two specific characters on the screen. Unable to keep it to myself, I shared a curious look with the stranger next to me, who was obviously thinking the same thing as me. "Is that them...?" I whispered first. "I think… so," she replied. Then the two men in question started to dance, and we were both sure: "Yep, that's them."

It was Laurent and Larry Nicolas Bourgeois, better known as Les Twins. Fans of Beyoncé will recognize the duo as the talented brothers who often accompany her on tour and in music videos. In Men In Black: International, the two of them play shapeshifting entities—they're more like energy forces than aliens—who pursue Tessa Thompson's and Chris Hemsworth's characters throughout the duration of the film. The twins' ability to manipulate their bodies in ways that are graceful and otherworldly really helps sell them as extraterrestrials and is fun to watch.

So if Thompson in a suit or Hemsworth shirtless weren't enough motivation, here's another reason to go see it. If you look close, you can see them in the trailer below.

MEN IN BLACK: INTERNATIONAL - Official Trailer www.youtube.com

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