Rolling Out

Twerk leader Big Freedia makes Fuse TV history, discusses travel to Europe and new memoir

Photo by: Shaughn Crawford/Fuse
Photo by: Shaughn Crawford/Fuse

There’s quite a buzz about Big Freedia. His eponymous docu-series, “Big Freedia: Queen of Bounce, broke a record during its third season premiere on Fuse network and now ranks as the No. 1 season premiere of all time for the network. The winner of the 2014 GLAAD Media Award and nominee for the 2015 honor, he first set a Guinness world record for group twerking in New York City’s Herald Square and then brought home the record for an encore performance at New Orleans’ Central City fest in late 2014.

All this record-breaking prompted the editors at rolling out to request an interview and chat with the New Orleans native who was days away from jetting off to Europe.

Fuse network says this about the new season:

Season 3 finds Big Freedia setting off on his biggest tour yet, and each stop brings a new challenge. After dealing with the loss of his mother and working his way to the top, Freedia must translate his newfound fame into a successful career at the same time his personal life is heading towards uncharted territory. The queen diva, who has twerked his way into viewers’ hearts, has established himself as the mainstream Queen of Bounce. More fame means more drama and Freedia’s heart is on the line as the road takes a toll on him emotionally and physically.

Here, Big Freedia, born Freddie Ross, talks about gender and identity, the bounce culture — a subgenre of hip-hop born out of New Orleans and known for its call-and-response style and lightening speed booty-shaking dance — and his memoir.

You have been moving up the career ladder like a rocket. Why are you so fabulous?
Honey … I keep it pushing, stay positive and I am humble.

What are some of the fascinating places you’re traveling to?
While in Europe, I am traveling to Berlin, Amsterdam and Paris; I will be doing a miniature tour.

What is the reception like in Europe?
They love it.

Did bounce music really originate in New Orleans?
Everything in culture has its place of origin and is a flavor of some city or state. New Orleans is the home of bounce music as well as jazz. Chicago has their house music. There are a host of cities that have something cultural they’re famous for.

How do you like to be addressed?
I am comfortable with who I am. Sometimes people are confused and don’t know how to address me as Miss Freedia or Mr. Freedia … whatever you call me, he, she, boy, girl, I have no problem with it and I have been this way for a long time.

Your mother was instrumental in your career, dating back to your introduction to music via taking piano lessons. Why do you think it is important for parents to expose their children to music and other cultural activities?
Support your children in every way that you can. Keep them on a positive path. Of all the things that you teach them and expose them to on their journey, something will pan out. Their innate talent will emerge and they will continue to strive for success.

What do you remember most about your upbringing and the impact your mother had?
Hard work, determination, staying positive and staying humble … put God first. She always taught us: “No one is going to do it for you. You have to get up and do it for yourself.”

Also, be consistent with what you do. My mom was a hairstylist for a long time. She had many clients. She put her arms around her craft. And, it’s what I do.

Tell us about your new book.
Big Freedia: God Save the Queen Diva will be out this summer [July 7, 2015]. It will allow you to dig deep into the queen’s life from childhood to now. It will inspire some people out there because it tells the story of the little Black boy who comes from Josephine [a street in uptown New Orleans] to Hollywood. Great things can happen when you believe and trust God.

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