Meet Hand Job Academy: Three Women Rapping About Periods

By
Play Video

Don't bother wondering why it took until 2013 for culture to produce a period joke rap anthem. "Shark Week" is making up for lost time. The latest from Hand Job Academy — a D.I.Y. trio of white, female Brooklyn transplants who rap about Tumblr thinspiration and sample ex-boyfriend voice mails — is surely the first song ever to name-check o.b. and Kotex, rhyme Sharon Tate with masturbate, and pause for a spoken-word biology lesson.

Tuesday, Hand Job Academy released the video for "Shark Week," an unholy genre hybrid that blends gangster rap videos with horror movies and tampon commercials. Or, they released the video until it was flagged by one of the group's "enemies" (who shall remain nameless) and taken off YouTube. Hand Job Academy shouted out rival video site Vimeo as they performed "Shark Week" at a stand-up comedy night in downtown Brooklyn later that evening.

After the show, the Cut caught up with the threesome: Lil T, a.k.a. Meg Skaff, a 23-year-old filmmaker who also directed the "Shark Week" video; Clara Bizna$$, a.k.a. Claire Beaudreault, a professional nail artist who describes herself as "younger than Danny Brown but older than Riff Raff"; and Ash Wednesday, 26, a kindergarten teacher by day who for that reason will be identified by her rap name only.

Claire had also won the night's open-mike joke contest ("What do Brooklyn and pantyhose have in common? Flatbush.") and was rifling through her pockets, hoping to unload some of her drink ticket prize on me as we talked.

How long have you been rapping?
Claire: I won a poetry contest when I was 10 years old, so that's been inside of me forever. Then I played drums in a rock band. The rapper thing — it's kind of dorky — I did The Artist’s Way and the universe told me write a rap song.
Ash: I've always been into listening to and reading about hip-hop as more of a critic. Then we started making it, and I became way less critical of what other people are doing. We've been a band for about a year.

You don't hear a lot of songs about having your period. Tell me about "Shark Week." 
Ash: It's not just about periods. It's about owning your period.
Meg: Having sex on your period.
Ash: The video is Meg's concept. We raised $3,000 on Kickstarter for it.
Meg: We went shopping. I went to the Halloween store. I got the fake-blood capsules you put in your mouth. I got the fake-blood spray. I went around and sprayed all the girls' underpants at the pool. I got a whole gallon, too.

Do you worry about being received as a comedy rap group? Or would you like that?
Meg: We play a lot of comedy shows, like tonight, because people think our stuff is so ridiculous.
Claire: They want the name "Handjob Academy" on the flyer. But we're not the Lonely Island. I would like this to be my job. A lot of purist hip-hop-heads are very serious. I don't believe that just because something is unserious that it's a parody. I don't think they want to hear women rap; I don't think they want to hear white people rap.
Ash: I'm laughing my way to the YouTube counts.
Meg: We haven't necessarily done a serious-serious song, but whenever we come to the studio, we're like, "I'm mad about this situation." Then we'll talk and egg each other on and it turns into a joke.
Ash: I hope when people hear our music they hear how much fun we're having. I'm Meg and Claire's biggest fan.
Claire: Meg and Ash are so good it makes me want to quit rap slash get better. Plus, the Beastie Boys started as a joke, right?

The ex-boyfriend voice mail on "Pu$$y Chicken" might put you closer to Taylor Swift or Selena Gomez, anyway.
Meg: Sometimes Claire and Ash don't want to use the actual recording, but when I gather up the beats, I slip it in there anyway, because that shit is old.
Claire: And it's funny. He's never going to hear it.
Ash: He's never going to hear it because he never supported me anyway.
Claire and Meg: Ooooh!

Is there anything I didn't ask about that you want to say?
Claire: I want endorsement deals. I want free eyeliner. No, I want to tour.
Ash: I want to say that I fucking love women. I'm not a homosexual, but —
Meg: No, but I am.
Ash: But I would just be so happy if — because we're not embarrassed of what we are and who we are — if what we do makes people less afraid.
Claire: In light of the whole Pussy Riot situation, I'm so glad we can do and say whatever the fuck we want, and we're not going to get thrown in jail. How awesome is that?

Oh, yeah, I guess I should have asked you about misogyny in hip-hop.
Claire: I say bitch and ho all the time, but obviously I'm a feminist.
Ash: That's the only thing about hip-hop that we parody — the misogyny. We're just echoing the men out there.
Claire: The words rhyme with so many things.
Ash: Like bitch rhymes with bitch.
Claire: They're just percussive, beautiful words. I love motherfucker. It's mellifluous.
Meg: If you're working out the rhyme and it's not quite long enough, you just stick motherfucker in there and you can rap it perfectly.