Andy Butler & Kim Ann Foxman

Article excerpt

HERCULES AND LOVE AFFAIR'S PRINCE AND PRINCESS HAVE SOME ADVICE FOR THE QUEENS OF POP.

Andy Butler, the leader of New York house collective Hercules and Love Affair, is surveying his petite bandmate, Kim Ann Foxman, from across the room of their London crash pad. "The thing that's interesting about Kim Ann," he says, "is that of all of us, she's the one that boys, girls, all of us want to have sex with. She's the most universally appealing."

"I have to accept it," says the singer, shrugging coquettishly. "It's a nice compliment."

"I don't mean it in apervy way," Butler replies. "People just find her very beautiful, and they're willing to express it."

When it's suggested that Hercules maybe the gayest band currently on the circuit, Bulter's immediate response is, "Yes, I think we are." Then he reconsiders: "But I think what's interestingis that we're actuallynot. We're the most gay, lesbian, transgender, multicultural band probably, rather than just being the 'gayest' band. In some ways, I'd just say we're the most authentic band out there. You can't box us into one thing or another."

Indeed, the muscular, redheaded DJ-producer is every inch a flamer, but he's also the group's butch figurehead. Foxman, half-Filipino and raised in Honolulu, escaped the beauty pageant world her mother tried nudging her into, embraced her own sexuality, and moved to San Francisco to work in a leather bar. The statuesque, androgynous singer Shaun Wright defies any notion of gender or sexuality imaginable. Token hetero Mark Pistel identifies culturally as gay anyway, and recent collaborators have included Antony Hegarty (who provided vocals to Hercules' sublime breakthrough track, "Blind") and Bloc Party front man KeIe Okereke, London's eminent out indie-guitar-group singer.

Where the gayness is undeniable is in the DNA of their music, a live-band strain of classic house and nu-disco. Their 2008 eponymous debut transformed them into the darlings of the cooler-than-thou DFA Records scene in New York City and was pivotal in ushering in a new wave of disco. But on Hercules' follow-up, the more somber Blue Songs (out on Moshi Moshi), Butler pushes his songwriting front and center. "There was a conscious decision on my part to make less of a referential record," he says. …