Prince PoppycockSometimes I still wonder how on earth a contestant as out-there, outrageous, and ostentatious as John Quale, aka Prince Poppycock, made it to the finale on a TV talent show as corny and conservative as "America's Got Talent." With a background in synth-pop, indie-rock, and performance art; a CV that includes collaborations and appearances with the Sounds, the Dresden Dolls, Ann Magnuson, and underground legend Kristian Hoffman; and a glamorously glitter-rockish image that references David Bowie, Klaus Nomi, and maybe even Jobriath, the fopera singer seemed to have zero chance up against heartland-friendly acts like rugged songsmith Michael Grimm and cuddly child prodigy Jackie Evancho.
Poppycock eventually lost out to those two more mainstream singers, but the powdered-wigged wonder still definitely made his beauty-mark with lavish landmark performances (his china-smashing "Bohemian Rhapsody" romp; his red-white-and-blue-blooded, absolutely dandy, slightly subversive "Yankee Doodle Dandy" salute to America) that were pure theater and elevated "AGT" to a whole new artistic level. The fact that so many American viewers picked up the phone for a foppish fringe-dweller like Poppycock was an encouraging sign in this "It Gets Better" age, and I certainly believe his platform shoes kicked opened some doors for reality television performers, and singers in general, who desire and aspire to stray from the norm.
I finally got a chance to talk at length with His Royal Awesomeness backstage after his recent headlining show at the Grand Lucayan resort in the Bahamas, an exotic setting that of course provided the glamour factor that any Poppycock interview so obviously warrants. There, resplendently clad in his Poppycockian resort-wear of midriff-baring gold lederhosen, the Prince reflected on his uniquely bizarre "AGT" experience, shared his lofty plans of recording a concept album, discussed his impressively high-brow artistic influences, and pondered why male androgyny isn't accepted now in pop the way it was back in the glam-rock '70s and new-wave '80s.
This was honestly one of the most fascinating and intellectual interviews I've done in a while. Prince Poppycock has definitely "got talent," and he's got some really interesting things to say as well. I hope you enjoy watching this two-part interview as much as I did conducting it.