It should come as no surprise that a gay 30-year-old male living in the Bay Area who borrows elements of his fashion-forward look from Freddie Mercury is putting out the “gayest music ever.” He’s a Pisces who rocks a switchblade comb and blends leather daddy duds with a 1950s-meets-1980s juvenile delinquent touch.
Seth Bogart, a.k.a. Hunx, has been devoted to rock and trash pop culture for years. He made zines as a teen in Arizona when riot grrrl was happening, and has essentially created a life from his variety of enthusiasms.
“I do it for myself, to have fun. It makes me feel better being constantly creative. As cheesy as it sounds, happiness is doing what you want to do,” says the rather butch-looking Bogart over tortas at a 24th Street restaurant. His eyes are piercing, he’s wearing a torn biker jacket, and he’s sporting a few days more than a five o’clock shadow.
Probably tired from having just gotten back from New York City, where he spent eight days recording the next Hunx and His Punx album for Sub Pop’s subsidiary label Hardly Art, Bogart appears happy to be home. After years living in Oakland, he currently resides in the Bayview District.
Thematically, Bogart describes the first proper Hunx and His Punx album as being similar to this year’s compilation Gay Singles (True Panther) in that it deals with love and teenage heartbreak. “It sounds like a dream,” he exclaims. But the upcoming album delves deeper into a sadness he said he’s never really written about before. His father committed suicide when he was just a teen, and with his mom left “out of it and depressed” in the immediate aftermath, it’s no wonder he grew up fast and was on his own by 17.
Bogart found catharsis in freedom of expression. As the tale goes, after his previous group Gravy Train!!! disbanded, friends such as Nobunny and Christopher McVicker helped pen some of the early Hunx and His Punx songs. On the new album, Bogart more fully takes the reins, writing half the album’s tracks himself, with his bold bassist and bandmate Shannon Shaw also contributing a few numbers. As for Hunx’s flirty and quick-witted onstage candor, Bogart attributes some of his brazen confidence to old pal and former roadie Nobunny, who instilled in him that you only have one chance in life. This attitude has led to a colorful album insert of Hunx in the buff, as well as an awkward moment when his Internet-browsing mom unexpectedly saw his boner in a Girls music video.
If you think Bogart’s skills to pay the bills begin and end with music, guess again. He happens to co-own Down at Lulu’s, a popular Oakland vintage boutique and salon, with Tina Lucchesi (of Trashwomen, Bobbyteens, and now Midnite SnaXXX). The shop has been open four years, and Bogart, a licensed cosmetologist, cuts hair there three days a week. He and his friend Brande Baugh are also developing a TV talk show.
Although owning his own shop and contributing to the local music scene are two obvious ways Bogart serves the Bay Area community, it’s what he stands for on a larger scale as a unique gay personality in the still hetero male-dominated genre of punk — and broader realm of rock — that makes him bold and noteworthy. You can call him bubblegum and outrageous, but the fact remains that Hunx exudes an image of strength and confidence. He fills a void in garage rock that isn’t quite clean enough for the Castro and maybe too queer for some fans of harder sounds. He blurs the lines, breaks down boring boundaries, and stays true to himself all the while.