By:Timm Carney
Notorious H.I.V.
The Tranny Step
Great 4 Play
It was the hottest day ever recorded in LA. I stood on Josie Cotton’s balcony in the full sun directing light off of a reflector onto Elephant. Who are Elephant and how did we end up on Josie Cotton’s balcony you may be asking yourself. I’ll get to that.
We went inside. Josie made us lunch. We sat down to sandwiches and chat. We talked about Josie’s building and its view. Diane Linkletter jumped from the building in 1969. When lunch was over we headed into Josie’s bath room and a bubble bath photo shoot.
Okay who are Elephant!
I sat down recently with Elephant and we talked about their music their message and their lives. Jackson is the more social and chatty brother where as Coleman has more of a business head. Some might call them fraternal fags; they’d be right but they’d be so wrong. Sure they’re twins; sure they’re queer, those are just the facts. Jackson and Coleman Vrana are musicians with a message, and if you don’t get it, well, fuck you.
I asked Jackson and Coleman where they were from and they laughed and said they were from a lakefront property in Oklahoma. They came out when they were 14 or 15 and got beaten up every day. Both of them left when they were 18. Coleman went to New York and Jackson to London and they lived separate lives until about 3 years ago when Coleman paid a visit to Jackson who had moved to LA. While they were together in LA they discovered that they both had musical ideas that were remarkably similar. They then secretly put together Elephant. I asked where the name Elephant came from and they said it is the thing in the room no one wants to mention; the queer twin thing. They also said that they need to address the twin thing right up front as many people just assume it is a gimmick. “Twins are looked at as freaks.” Both of them want to be seen as performers, not just freaks. They are performers with a message and they are doing twin gay hip-hop because it makes their message more accessible. What is their message? That is harder to pin the guys down on. Their songs are about Transgender, HIV and queer issues. They are thought of as by some as an x-rated political band. This is how they got involved with Josie Cotton.
Josie Cotton caught them playing “Notorious HIV” at an LA club and knew they had something. Josie a provocateur and a trouble maker in the 80’s renowned for her song “Johnny Are You Queer?” Josie was putting together a new album and had the guys record some vocals on one of her tracks along with performing with her at various gigs. They did a tour of shows including pride events and a Logo network show with Ru Paul. Josie has been working with them on Elephant’s upcoming record “Don’t Sit There Its Wet”.
They are not trying to put out a record that will get radio play. They are working on moving further away from the gay scene and want to play more in Punk venues. Punks are treated as freaks and they feel more at home with punks as they too are freaks because they are queer. They want their record to make people think and to hopefully inspire young people not unlike the whole it gets better message. They say “Queer is cooler”.