Unless you’ve been hiding under a pile of unrecycled pizza boxes for the past month, you’ll no doubt be wearily familiar with the name Andrew Tate. At the time of writing, the 36-year-old former kickboxer remains in custody in Romania, after being arrested alongside his brother as part of an investigation into human trafficking, rape and organised crime. But despite the horror of his alleged offences, it’s Tate’s public position as an influencer and internet personality that has sparked concern across the UK.
As far as both sexists and grifters go, Tate is audaciously honest about his game: as well as describing himself as “absolutely a misogynist”, he can also be found on camera admitting that the brothers’ webcam business – in which models take calls from fans in exchange for money – is a “total scam”. He claims that victims of sexual assault should “bear responsibility” for their attacks, that women are men’s property, and so on; views that are becoming so popular among boys that many schools are now hosting special assemblies to try and tackle them. In some ways this can be viewed as the endgame of the Trump era, where traditional right-wing dog whistles have been replaced with explicit calls to bigotry and violence.
With the UK currently facing fresh waves of strike action across various sectors, it’s perhaps worth casting our minds back to some of the successes that industrial action has enjoyed over the years. In 1884, notably, an English trade unionist by the name of Tom Mann published a pamphlet offering a radical proposal: “Eight hours of work, eight hours of rest, eight hours of what we will.” Despite claims to the contrary from US country songwriters, the emergent nine-to-five template did appear to finally offer a balance of taking and giving. Why then, almost 140 years later, does it feel like we have so little time to ourselves?
If you’ve ever been trapped in a conversation about “dream dinner party guests”, you’ll know the curious schadenfreude of watching people work out which aspects of their personality they want to showcase. The last time it happened to me, someone picked Jason Momoa and Channing Tatum for “eye candy”, alongside – who else? – Martin Luther King Jr. While we’ll perhaps never know Aquaman’s views on the Montgomery bus boycott of 1955, the conversation did highlight our society’s continued deference to jacked, hyper-masculine bodies.
A diary entry always exists at a point of compromise: it is made to be read, and it is made to be never read. It bursts at the edges where stories relayed to friends and confidantes merely swell, a hush gathered in pages rather than whispers. For Taylor Swift, an artist who has always worn her heart on her sleeve and her sleeve on her limited-edition vinyl, it may come as little surprise that ‘Midnights’ feels both voyeuristic in its exposition and brash in its execution.
People still want to feel part of a congregation. I feel that pull too. I want a life where the people I love can live their lives freely and authentically and with as much joy and sense of connection to the world around them as their hearts can take. After all, the hard work isn’t balancing multiple relationships. The real challenge is to build a world where they’re accepted by everyone else, a world where loving more than one person isn’t seen as a deviant character flaw. That starts with re-examining the antiquated legal framework that still defines our lives.
It is, as you or some of your relatives may have felt compelled to declare this week, too hot. Temperatures today and Tuesday are expected to skyrocket towards 41°C in parts of the UK, with the Met Office issuing its first red weather warning for extreme heat.
To remark that it is too hot is to participate in a generation-spanning dance that, in the UK, involves a number of flourishes: the puffing of cheeks; the widening and rolling of eyes; the performative fanning of shirt collars. For the people anxiously aware of the implications of this heat, the phrase takes on a more literal tone. Quite simply, perpetual record-breaking heatwaves will ultimately be the death of us all.
Partway through MUNA’s live show at The Garage in May, just as the “country section” of the set had been announced, a trio of homemade Stetsons are tossed on stage from the crowd. It’s an absurdly perfect pop culture moment, like something from the closing scenes of a romcom where the bunch of ragtag misfits finally win the hearts of their schoolmates. “I know that some people thought that we had choreographed the cowboy hat moment, that those were our props,” guitarist Naomi McPherson tells GQ. “It was not. They were made for us, and it was so sweet.”
Then again, the LA trio’s career really is starting to look triumphant lately. For “Silk Chiffon” – last year’s invincible, Phoebe Bridgers-featuring ode to queer joy, and the first single from their new self-titled album – the band even cast a cinematic nod to cult classic But I’m A Cheerleader for the music video, another moment of bliss cast in hot pinks and baby blues.
I’m standing in an undetermined liminal zone with a floating rainbow icon in front of me. Way beneath me is the Milky Way, a spectacular astral vista that renders our home galaxy an incidental detail in an ocean of stars. For once, this is not the result of a heroic dose of acid at a Pride afterparty, but the lobby of the world’s first virtual reality LGBTQ+ museum.
When Abby Roberts was nine years old she made the executive decision to kick-start her career, shaving her head, recording a La Roux cover and posting the results on Facebook. It didn’t quite go to plan; in Roberts’ own words, everyone at school “just shit on it”. Confidence knocked, her singing took a back seat for a while. “It wasn’t until years later that my parents were like ‘You should really do something with this,’” she says.
Today we’re speaking across a table at Rough Trade in Bristol, where the 20-year-old Leeds-born musician is hours away from walking on stage to a sea of fans ready to sing the words of her early singles back to her. It’s an impressive achievement for an artist who, on the day of our conversation, can count her live shows on both hands. It’s also something of an underplay: June will see Roberts support Halsey on their US tour, including a stop at LA’s Hollywood Bowl.
Annie Clark needs oat milk. The request arrives quietly and politely just before we speak, a hushed nothing off-handset before she picks up the phone and greets me brightly. Does she need any of mine, perhaps?
“Oh, it’s crucial,” the 39-year-old riffs back to me from her studio in LA. “Could I borrow some? Would you do that? I need to reach my maximum caffeination, and I haven’t met my quota for the day. Oat milk’s an integral part of it.”
If it seems like a wholly unremarkable exchange between a musician and a journalist, you may be unfamiliar with the various tales of Clark’s mercurial attitude to press interviews over the past decade or so. Previous set-ups have included requesting interviewers crawl into a small space to “challenge” both parties, playing pre-recorded answers to boring questions, asking the interview if they “enjoy doing this,” or simply refusing to answer at all. The result has largely been a proliferation of beard-scratching discourse about who or what constitutes the ‘real’ St. Vincent, or the ‘real’ Annie Clark, and how much one might inform the other.