Cory Wade is taking his genderqueer strength from fashion modeling, to music
You probably know Cory from America’s Next Top Model as that beautiful male who placed third — and who was often described as too “effeminate.” He was criticized during the show for not having enough “masculine” poses to be a male model, but frankly, Cory rocked a look better than most who’ve walked through Ms. Banks’ doors.
But Cory’s grown a lot since his fashion model birth, and in this exclusive interview for OutBuzz, Cory shares his experiences in London which changed the course of his life, his thoughts on the queer music scene, and how he’s ready to take his non-denominational, genderqueer image to a whole new arena.
Because Cory Wade is done being a model. Cory Wade is becoming a singer.
Cory’s first full-length album, Unify, is set for release August 31. Check out his first single, “There For You,” a pop-centric queer ballad whose physical and visceral music video stars Rain Dove, the “Gender Capitalist” supermodel.
I had the chance to sit down with Cory at a too-cool-for-everybody cafe in Brooklyn for a chat.
“Okay, so this is Cory Wade for OutBuzz,” I say into my recorder.
“This is Cory Wade hungover for OutBuzz…” he says shyly back.
Coy Cory. I’m into it.
Cory Wade: “There For You” is about a relationship that isn’t necessarily the most healthy, but you can’t get enough of it. You keep coming back to it, even after it’s done. It lingers. And I’m saying I’ll be there, even if it’s bad for me.
Alex Blynn: So let’s talk about this new music video, which I’ve watched maybe 7 times just this morning. I’m obsessed with it.
CW: I wanted the sexual frustration in the lyrics to come through on screen. I enlisted famed supermodel Rain Dove for this video — she’s known for modeling menswear as a biological woman, so we decided to use that side of her persona as an opportunity to mess with gender roles in sexual relationships. As you can see in the video, I’m being dominated pretty violently by Rain… and it’s interesting because it wasn’t hard for us to get into these characters. Rain and I have always had this weird sexual energy together and she really utilized it in the video — we look like a really weird depiction of a conventional straight couple.
AB: There’s definitely some violent, physical moments in there.
CW: Totally, and I think there are certain sexpectations per our gender types, basically just based on what’s between our legs. We’re expected to act a certain way because of our genitalia, and I wanted this video to shatter those stereotypes. So if I come off seeming “female” in the video because I’m the one being dominated, that’s only because we’re trained to perceive women as passive in sexual situations. I’m definitely a man, and taking a subservient role doesn’t take away from my manhood.
AB: I know you moved to London last year. Can you tell me about that?
CW: I moved to London with the hope of launching my career in Europe. I was there for a total of six months, and during that time I was passed-on, ghosted, or flat-out told “no” by every single modeling agency I went to for a casting. That’s eight major rejections. This failure to launch, along with the ending of my four year relationship with my partner back in the States, thrust me into a deep depression… and when I’m alone in my room and hurting, I usually grab my guitar and write down songs to go with the melodies in my head.
AB: Is that when you really started writing Unify?
CW: Yes. The pressure I was feeling to live up to other people’s expectations; the sorrow, loss, and loneliness I felt from my breakup; the quest for spiritual balance and understanding I was seeking; weighing worldly success against my true happiness… All of these themes were being written into my songs. I started realizing that I would only feel whole, happy, and successful once I gave myself over, entirely, to my passion for music.
AB: What’s it like transitioning from fashion model to recording artist?
CW: I have tremendous respect for the craft and art of modeling, but I’ve realized that models aren’t the true artists — they’re the muses. Which is great, and I love helping others with their creative endeavors, making their art come to life. But I’m also a very creative person, and it’s hard to have my voice heard in the modeling world, so that’s where music comes in for me. This is so corny to say, but I seriously think music is the language of the soul. I truly hope people are responsive to this transition because this is the real me.
AB: What do you feel is missing from the queer music scene?
CW: I know there are LGBTQ musicians out there, but we don’t have any outright queer feminists. I want to bring glam back to the forefront! I love David Bowie and Grace Jones and Boy George; people who’ve played outside the rules of societally constructed gender.
AB: And for those who don’t know, what is a queer feminist?
CW: I consider myself a queer feminist because I see not only beauty but power in my male femininity. A lot of people will chalk that up to fragility; if you’re a man and you have femme tendencies then you’re weak. But I disagree with that — my femininity is where I find my strength, and it’s what drives everything that I do. I flaunt it because it makes me feel empowered. And that’s what I want to do with my music: create an awesome celebration of queerness!