Last week, electronic rock artist IAMX launched a global premiere campaign to release the shimmery and sparkly video for new single “Stardust,” featuring tattoo goddess Kat Von D. While some might think the video is sexy, edgy and risqué in its current form, it wasn’t exactly the full-on artistic vision of Chris Corner, frontman and mastermind of IAMX. The version released was actually a victim of censorship and features altered imagery and a toned-down finale.
Apparently, female breasts covered in chrome pasties are a little too much for certain parts of the world. Because of that, Corner, who also directed the video, had to make two versions. The pasties, worn by the alluring vixens of IAMX—Janine Gezang (bass) and Sammi Doll (keyboards)—were darkened out and obscured throughout the entire video. However, the ones worn by male drummer Jon Siren were left unaltered.
Now, the veil has been fully lifted, and you can see the uncensored version in all of its chrome-pasty glory right here, exclusive to Playboy. Upon viewing, some of you might think, “What’s the big deal?” And that’s exactly what we wanted to ask Corner.
Von D, who also lends her vocal talents to four of the tracks on IAMX’s new album Alive in New Light, announced that she will join Corner on the road and appear onstage for select tour dates. While touring in London, just hours before they took the stage, we chatted with the two of them about censorship, playing with gender roles and how glitter ruined one of Von D’s favorite possessions.
How did you react when you heard that your video needed to be toned down, even though you used pasties?
Chris Corner: It was unbelievable. It makes me angry. I know that everybody avoids the breasts. I actually thought it was just about the nipples, to tell you the truth. So I didn’t even consider that that would be an issue because they were covered. The idea was to have a feminist video. Not just feminist, but a video about being free. I didn’t really know what to do. So I ended up chopping it up, bastardizing it a bit, which is not what I wanted to do. Fortunately, it still worked out. But I can’t believe that in this day and age, I had to do that. It’s totally ridiculous.
Gender-bending is a recurring theme in a lot of your music and videos. Is there a particular reason why you had drummer Jon Siren wear the pasties as well?
Corner: It was more of a communal thing. I almost did it, but I really wanted to wear that jacket. But for the fun and camaraderie of it all, we had to have him wearing them, too, which a lot of people chuckled at. But we didn’t have to cut or edit his breasts out, did we?
“Can we give a quick ‘rest in peace’ shout-out to my favorite latex bullet bra? It’s just ruined with gold glitter.”
And you kept your long hair, while bandmate Janine had to buzz her head. That’s a great shot, by the way. Since she only has one set of hair, how carefully did you have to choreograph that scene?
Corner: It was really down to Kat’s dexterity.
Kat Von D: I think Chris did an excellent job directing and making sure we went over all of the shots before we actually took the plunge. That was my favorite part of the video. It really just spoke volumes, too. [To Chris] I don’t know if your intention was to make this a feminist piece, but it really did feel like that.
Going back to Jon wearing the pasties, I feel like, again, there is a form of oppression that happens, especially with women and censorship over the nipple or breast, whatever you want to say. This is just the human body. I’m not embarrassed of it, and no one else should be.
Corner: This project has always been, not genderless, but it’s about playing with those roles. I’m more interested in the way the female world works, actually, than the way the male world works. [Laughs] It’s not that I’m against it—most of it is based on …
Von D: Us being cuter? [Laughs]
Corner: And more interesting, yeah. Cute helps. I could go on about this, but I’m not going to.
It looks like a lot of mirrors were harmed during the making of the video. And it appears there was lots of glitter.
Von D: Yeah, can we give a quick “rest in peace” shout-out to my favorite latex bullet bra? It’s just ruined with gold glitter.
Corner: Oh, no!
Von D: [Laughs] But it was worth it, it was worth it!
Corner: It gets messy, but I realized if you’re too conservative with those things, they just don’t pick up well on camera. You just have to fucking go for it. And sorry, Kat. I didn’t know that. I owe you that. [Laughs]
Because of your sometimes dark exterior, do you feel people judge or like to throw around labels like “goth,” even though your music spans a wide range of genres? Kat, you can probably relate to this.
Von D: It’s easy to dismiss something when you don’t understand it in general. For me, I’ve never felt like I belonged anywhere, not even within the, quote, unquote, goth community. Like, being born in Mexico but being burdened with white skin. It’s like, I’m Latina, but I don’t fit in with them, and I don’t fit in with Americans. So, I’ve just been fine with being a lone wolf. When people pigeonhole you or try to put you in a box, to me, it’s exciting because that is fuel to prove them differently. Before the success of tattoo shows and things like that, it was even harder. If you’re a woman and have tattoos, you were instantly either a drug addict, a gang member or a prostitute. To me, it was always exciting to use all that as an opportunity to get smarter, get more skilled and show them that I can run circles around them.
Corner: Hear, hear!
Kat, a lot of people only know you as a tattoo artist, and some don’t know you’re musically talented. How have the IAMX fans embraced you, and what’s the response to this duet been like?
Von D: One part that was worrisome for me was the fans. IAMX fans are, rightfully so, very protective and obsessive in a great way, and I didn’t want to let anybody down, especially fans. But so far, it’s been really well-received, I guess.
Corner: They fucking love you.
Von D: Oh, cool. I’m excited to give as much love back as possible.
Corner: I think it’s been a real pleasant surprise for them, to hear how beautiful her voice is on this record. They are genuinely blown away.
Is there potential for more collaborations after this?
Von D: Well, I definitely want to get Chris to sing on my record, too. That would be exciting. I’ll see if I can talk him into it.
Corner: She wants my falsettos. [Laughs] I hope so—I really hope so. She’s awesome.