By Sarah Bricker-Hunt
These Rich White Ladies aren’t white and are unlike most so-called ladies you’re likely to meet. Bronx natives Tokyo Diiva and Scotty Rebel are loud and proud, and they have a special spot in their “Kunt Clutch” for the haters. In other words, they couldn’t be a better match for what Pride stands for.
“We love fun music,” says self-professed “real bitch” (emphasis “real”) Tokyo. “We also love art that means something.”
She says the writing process (alongside Justin Tranter and his Semi Precious Weapons band members) has evolved naturally. “We also think it’s OK to think and drink!” she adds.
While Rich White Ladies have enjoyed a growing following based on “bull-bullshit” and “White Powder Perms,” their sound continues to evolve. Released in April, “No Bad Vibez” is a musical departure for the duo, but with a similar goal in mind: inspiration and motivation for the disenfranchised, for the 99 percent that Tokyo says need to “own their place as the 1 percent of art and culture.” The tune is all about a kind of “island positivity” focused on the power of positivity.
She says that message extends to the LGBT rights movement, too. “Of course there are commonalities between any civil or human rights movement,” she explains. “We are all underdogs trying to be heard, and hoping for the right to be as honest, fabulous and free as we want.”
This is true for any marginalized group, according to Tokyo. “As we can see in the civil rights movement, there is still much more to be done in terms of race relations in this country,” she says. “Marriage equality is obviously a big step forward for a lot of my friends – but it’s just the beginning.”
If industry buzz is correct, the Bronx natives are on the cusp of something huge. The girls are riding the wave with signature attitude. As Scotty says, “We are feeling amazing!” She describes the duo’s upcoming album as “fierce.”
Fans may remember last summer’s ear bug “Wimbledon” and its persistently catchy hook: “You are so bull-bullshit/ We are so Wim-ble-don!” Semi Precious Weapons lead singer and gay fave Justin Tranter provides both backing vocals and a hilarious performance as a terrible tennis player in the accompanying video, which has garnered over a quarter million views. Tokyo says Tranter is usually into more of a “harem pants” look, but she thinks his Omar Alexander getup in the “Wimbledon” video suits him well.
Style is a big part of the Rich White Ladies image.
Tokyo points to a strong sense of “self” as a guidepost for her fashion choices. “That will never change,” she says. “If ever I felt a struggle to be true to myself then that would be the wrong business for me!”
“I’m also a fashion designer and just a natural artistic and creative spirit, so it’s very important to me to be able to express that at all times,” she adds.
The bunny ears? “Well, those are my antennas that help me function on a semi-normal basis,” Tokyo explains with a laugh.
The “White Powder Perm” video features a pair of older, white women sitting down for tea while mouthing the lyrics. Lyrics like “Puff puff / I’m stoned like Betty Rubble.” The actresses have garnered their own following at this point, a kind of “Left Shark” vibe. Scotty hopes the pair will join them on tour to perform the lip-sync live and in person.
Check out any Rich White Ladies video on YouTube and you’ll find a vibrant, insightful community always ready to add some helpful commentary. Or not. Sometimes it’s lively but positive: “You crazy bitches – I fucking love you!” Sometimes it’s a hilarious indictment about the duo’s morals from a user named Flying Pig: “Swears up a storm, shakes their ass and wears skimpy clothes but has the audacity to wear crosses as if they’re with god. Smh. (shaking my head).” The girls handle it with the colorful candor one might expect.
“People say some outlandish things on YouTube,” Scotty says. “We tuck the negative comments into our Kunt Clutch and keep it moving. We love what we do and people have the freedom to have opinions. We’re enjoying being ourselves. Not everyone is going to be happy with what we do. But even the highest selling artists have people that don’t like them. Who cares. It’s the love that counts.”
As for Flying Pig, Scotty has this to say: “Thanks for the view. Wait until you see what’s next.”
Rich White Ladies
7 p.m. June 6
Hart Plaza, Detroit (Main Stage)