Taking in the View with Borough Gypsy NOMI RUIZ
By Lori Zimmer
Photography by Jonathan Grassi
I’m wandering around Times Square, killing time by counting how many guys ask me if I want tickets to a comedy show. Normally it’s an area I tend to avoid, but tonight Miss Nomi Ruiz is to play a private set at the Liberty Ballroom, which the Times Square Art Alliance has been so kind to invite me too. But just as I passed the third crusty Elmo-costumed person, an urgent email comes through: sudden venue change! For a second I panic–this type of thing could be the death of a tiny show. But as I pass into the new location (BB Kings), it’s as if nothing was amiss. It’s already standing room only of waiting Nomi fans, and when she hits the stage it’s as if the chaos of finding a last minute change had never happened.
The stage is set with a floral-heavy still life of seemingly personal effects from Ruiz, meshed with sporadic colorful lasers and sexy video portraits of the singer–a perfectly intimate tableau made harmonious with Ruiz’s sultry low croons, looking impossible in a long white dress with a leg slit past her navel.
Ruiz, who came up singing in Hercules and Love Affair and Jessica Six, may also be known as the poster girl for the transgendered community, but her talent far outweighs the label, and gives her total mass appeal. She’s just released her new album, Borough Gypsy, a super-personal sexy set inspired by her life growing up in Sunset Park.
The album coincides with a dreamy video portrait of Ruiz, which is as sensually decadent as Marilyn Minters’ candy colored Green Pink Caviar. ForBorough Gypsy, Ruiz hasn’t just written jams for us to sway or dance to, but has taken her role as an artist very seriously–giving us a glimpse of her personal life, woven into every piece of the album. The support of her family is evident–her grandmother even invited us to use her Sunset Park apartment as the backdrop for our PMc Mag photoshoot.
Borough Gypsy feels more complete, a more nourishing experience than just a poppy dance album. Prior to the release of the album, Ruiz completed a residency at Clocktower Gallery, creating an installation that translated the album into a visual experience, coupled with previews of the tracks. Nomi Ruiz is an artist that transcends art, music, and sexuality–while still sticking to her roots as a (very breathtaking) Brooklyn girl.
Lori Zimmer: Your new album, Borough Gypsy, just launched on May 14. Is it more personal than your past albums?
Nomi Ruiz: Definitely. Some of these songs I began writing when I was a teenager such as “Before The Words.” They were all created at a time when I was really vulnerable and in the middle of many huge life transitions.
LZ: When you’re writing for your solo work, like in the uber-personal Borough Gypsy, is your process any different from when you’d write for Jessica Six or Hercules and Love Affair?
NR: All of the songs on Borough Gypsy I wrote alone in a room. I was very isolated and it was when I began writing with a guitar as well so I felt a much closer connection to the content. Writing alone allowed me to express some extremely personal emotions. I always write from a very personal place, but with Jessica 6 I had to be more poetic and used metaphor because I was often times afraid to be so honest in front of the musicians while we were writing. Borough Gypsy is definitely my most raw project.
See read the full interview, please click here.