SEX + MUSIC ISSUE: Wax Idols frontperson Hether Fortune's empowered outing as a pro-domme
It's a far leap from her mindset when she began in the music industry. While the band is her first priority, her work as a pro-domme has grown tied to her daily life, and she's come to see it as a life-altering step.
"I was worried about [working as a pro-domme] at first, how I would feel as a feminist. Sexually, I was worried about how I would feel interacting with mostly men. But what I found is that it made me actually much more empathetic towards human beings in general.
"It's also been really empowering for me intellectually and sexually, and on a psychological level. I feel like I have a much deeper understanding of people and sexuality now than I ever could have without doing this."
And it's given her strength in other avenues of her life — namely, her music.
"As an artist, it's been really empowering because, you know, it's theater. It's erotic theater. And dominatrixes have an incredible amount of artistry in what they do. It's really empowered me artistically. It's taken me to a whole new level."
The band is a separate entity, though, and consumes most of her time and passion. She began writing songs as Wax Idols in 2009 and formed the live band in 2010, after playing in other people's bands (Hunx and his Punx, Bare Wires, Blasted Canyons, and many other, less-notable acts) before that. The Lansing, Mich. native first played in a band at 16, moved to Detroit, then Chicago, and eventually ended up in the Bay Area.
She started writing her own music at age 18 (she's now nearly 26), but says she didn't really have it figured out, dialed in, until starting Wax Idols, which has shifted lineups throughout the years, with Fortune as the central figure and songwriter. The current lineup is Rachel Travers on drums, bassist Amy Rosenoff, guitarist Jennifer Mundy, Keven Tecon occasionally on synth, and Fortune up front.
Wax Idols gave Fortune her first enticing taste of creative control, and she liked it.
"The only limitations on Wax Idols are limitations I place on myself, which I try really hard not to do," Fortune explains. "I need the freedom to grow and morph and change and reinvent myself. It's a big part of who I am. Wax Idols enabled me to do whatever the fuck I want, because nobody can tell me I can't."
The band has shifted and matured over the past few years, from the raw, punk-edged early release of No Future, to the darker, deeper Discipline & Desire.
And throughout its output, Wax Idols has received favorable comparisons to acts like Love and Rockets, Lydia Lunch, and Siouxsie Sioux but, in form at least, Fortune's biggest influence has long been late '70s British post-punk band Wire.
"My music doesn't sound like Wire, but I come from the school of Wire." Fortune explains. "I've been listening to Wire obsessively for years and years, taking the way they combine intellect and thoughtful song construction and mix it with various forms of aggression and avant-garde sounds and odd changes and socio-political lyrics that are also sometimes about love. This kind of overall conceptual approach to music that is still filtered through pop is definitely something I feel like, as an artist; I subscribe to it and I identify with it."
There's also been some confusion about the direct links between domme life and songwriting with the album Discipline & Desire, which at a cursory glance seems to be a reference to Fortune's work as a dominatrix. The reality is more complicated. The records speaks more to passion, reality, and discomfort through anxious harmonies, intimate lyrics, and aggressive riffs.
Fortune says people tend to read into the title of the record a bit too much. It's really about Fortune's personal juxtaposition of being a disciplined artist who is also an incredibly romantic, lustful person, and how those get in the way of each other.
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