Kevin Aviance on Life After Being Sampled by Beyoncé on Renaissance


Kevin Aviance never saw his career recovery coming. The drag superstar singer of New York’s club scene in the ’80s and ’90s reemerged almost a year ago when Beyoncé sampled his 1996 dance hit“Cunty,” on “Pure/Honey,” the fifteenth track on her album “Renaissance.”

“Life is like upside down, turned around, flip it around back, and then back it up again right-side up,” Aviance says. “It’s been amazing.”

Since being Beyoncé-certified, Aviance signed with a new management company and has had a steady flow of offers to perform and deejay. Aviance, who turned 55 on Thursday, said this new phase of his career hits differently than the success he had so many decades ago.

“It feels great, it feels fresh, it feels alive,” he says. “The first time around, I have to be honest with you, a lot of times I wasn’t present. The person you’re seeing right now, is not the person you saw years ago. Maybe the performance and the energy was there, but there was a lot of darkness. But I have no regrets. I’m just happy I’m not in that place anymore.”

I’m talking with Aviance Friday afternoon over Zoom from his New York City area home. He’s promoting his Pride collaboration with Tidal. He is among a list of LGBTQ guest deejays taking over the music streamer’s new Live feature to showcase their favorite music. Fans can tip the sets using Cashtag, with Tidal and Cash App making donations to the Drag Defense Fund and the Trans Justice Funding Project.

He blasts politicians for throwing political gasoline on drag performers and the trans community. “It’s going to be worse than Stonewall this time around,” Aviance says, referring to the Stonewall uprising, the 1969 New York City riot which is credited as the birth of the modern-day queer rights movement. “This is not about Pride, this is about a protest. I think people need to feel this burn they’re trying to get at us. We need to picket. We need to protest. We need to activate. We need to stand tall. We need to join together, the gay community, and really go for it and serve it to these children, these legislative people. It’s ridiculous.”

Aviance is currently in the studio working on new music. He is also getting ready to launch the Cunty Ball Tour, a nationwide performance and deejay series that kicks off in July.

He met Beyoncé after “Renaissance” was released, but like most who come into contact with the music superstar, Aviance pays respect by not dishing about their one-on-one time. “I thank God for giving her to me and for her allowing her life to be able to touch me,” Aviance says. “It’s so fierce for a rich Black billionaire woman to hold up a bunch of queens and go, ‘Bang, you have a story to tell!’ It’s so much bigger than me.”

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