But worrying about what other people think never entirely seems to occur to Sellards. “He’s not some big grasping ball of fakery,” says Savage. “He wanted to be a filmmaker and made these gorefests, and he didn’t get how incredibly sexist they were—not that he’s a sexist. He just didn’t understand how people would question his motives.”
“Horror movies and Disney: He doesn’t see the difference,” says Sellards’s friend Dan Savage.
Go-go dancing glided pretty smoothly into what’s become his pop stardom. Larry Tee, the nightlife promoter whose early-2000’s “electroclash” music scene, which was more about lip-synching over electronic beats than musicianship, first noticed him atop a bar. Sellards was also writing for magazines, but there was a problem: “I think I always just wanted to be on the other side of the microphone.”
He and his friend Scott Hoffman, known as Babydaddy in the band, started making music. Scissor Sisters (a nickname for lesbians) started out as just another shoddy electroclash group, with Sellards onstage in a jockstrap. Then they added Ana Lynch, who took the name Ana Matronic, and pulled together a full band (Paddy Boom is the drummer and the only straight male; Del Marquis is the guitarist). “They didn’t want to just do a karaoke set,” Tee says. When nobody would sign them in the U.S., they got a deal with Polydor in the U.K. Scissor Sisters came out in 2004, and they toured for almost two years straight after that, playing with Duran Duran, Morrissey, and the Pet Shop Boys. At Babydaddy’s birthday party two weeks ago, Elton John was cozy on the sofa with Sellards’s mom. None of which really seems to surprise Sellards (“He’s a bit entitled,” says Savage). “Journalists ask us stuff like, what’s it like now that you get to meet all your heroes and go to these fabulous parties?” he says. “That’s why I moved to New York in the first place.”
But in many ways Scissor Sisters are not really a New York band at all. They’re not the Strokes; the Strokes are cool, aloof. Scissor Sisters are cartoonish, unabashed crowd-pleasers. They put out a DVD called We Are Scissor Sisters . . . and So Are You. Sellards needs us to have a good time. “People work hard,” he says. “And if they want to get off their tits for the weekend, I think that as humans we have an inherent right to do that. Look at, like, pot and mushrooms and stuff—those things were put on the planet for a reason.”
Earlier, he’d said, “I love New York, but I really feel like this is just my workspace now. I don’t draw tons of inspiration from it like I used to.” Instead, when he was stuck on this album, he took off to Disney World. He pops in a bootleg tape of Song of the South. The movie starts, “Yessir, honey, it happened on one of them zip-a-dee-doodah days. Now, that’s the kind of day when you can’t open your mouth without a song jumpin’ right out of it.”