Photo by Courtney Charles (@mrcourtneycharles on Instagram; designed by @molokid

Raised in Southern California, by a single mom (they are very close), electrohouse singer Boy Radio now resides in Brooklyn. With a couple of college years under his dance belt, he was inspired by David Bowie, and calls himself the lovechild of Sheila E. and Melanie C. I’d add a bit of Grace Jones as well. His hero in the epidemic, by the way, is Freddie Mercury.

Radio has supported several friends on AIDS Walks and has performed at GMHC’s annual Latex Ball.

Last year he released Neon Romance, (one song, “Golden Boy” has become a hit) which is available on iTunes, Spotify, and YouTube Music. He tells me, “It’s about relationships, falling in and out of them.” Radio is happiest when he’s preparing for a performance or recording.

One freezing evening, I take the F train to meet Radio at his Brooklyn home. The gentleman greets me at the subway exit. After a hug, we walk a few blocks to his apartment.

Ruby Comer:

[Once inside, he makes us warm chocolate peppermint almond milk, splatting a dollop of whipped cream on top. We kick back on his sofa.] 

Tell me, what’s the advantage of being your height? 

Illustration by Davidd Batalon, splatting a dollop of whipped cream on top. We kick back on his sofa.] Tell me, what’s the advantage of being your height? 

Boy Radio: Literally [he giggles], I cannot think of one! I mean, it’s not been a disadvantage but I’ve certainly been told I’m “too tall” probably more times than I can count.

You and I have collided several times at different functions over the years. You seemed to be a charity-minded person. One time you told me you’ve supported friends who’ve done the AIDS Walk. What prompts you to volunteer?
To be honest Ruby, I can’t always donate as much as I’d like. I try my best to show up when I can to support organizations that are working hard for people and to also show up for my friends. I use my voice and ideals to activate.

Dynamite! How did the moniker “Boy Radio” originate?
It’s a name that was gifted to me. There’s a lot of intent and magic behind it. It was the Boy George and the Blitz Kids era that influenced me to make my name a “thing” instead of just using my muggle name. Trust me, not everyone gets it right.

Quick question: Name a couple of your fave films.
[He ponders shortly.] Jean Luc Godard’s Breathless, and Finding Neverland. It always elicits projectile tears.

Thus far in your young life, whom have you met that has really stood out?
Grandfather Hector Xtravaganza [of the House of Xtravaganza] was really a light in my life when I needed it.

Gee, I want to learn more about him. He sounds intriguing. How do you view the current epidemic?
I don’t think that it’s a conversation that holds any negative stigma in my group of friends and creatives. It’s important that people, especially young people, know about the history and evolution of HIV and AIDS.

So right, my dear, so right. How do you feel about PrEP?
Not every country has immediate access to it—or PEP—so it’s crucial that the conversation continues and enlightens.

When did you first hear about the epidemic?
I was in grade school. [He takes a sip from his mug.] I don’t think it was communicated to me very well, though.

That seems to be the issue, a lack of yearning to inform. Have you dated any guys living with HIV? If so, were there any challenges?
Yes and yes. Again, I stress, communication is so important.

Undeniably. What was it like for your first time testing?
I was nineteen years old. I was nervous. I wasn’t even really sexually active but there was so much negative press about it that as a young gay kid I was afraid of what I didn’t understand. I was also sort of a hypochondriac.

Sounds similar to my experience as well. As you are aware, there are high rates of HIV infection in your age group and in your community. Any ideas how we can better reach people?
The conversations are being discussed in the LGBTQ+ community. It really seems to be the straight community that needs to step up and be open to understanding alternative attitudes and beliefs. People need to create greater awareness and acceptance on a global scale.

How about naming a lesson you learned long time ago.
At an early age, Ruby, it became very important for me to acknowledge my surroundings and understand that I would need to raise myself in many ways in order to truly shine.

Leave us with some parting words, Radio.
We’re all responsible for our own bodies first [he pauses, inhaling deeply, continuing] …and then the bodies of our partners. It’s important to ask questions, and to have conversations that make us better lovers and all around better people.

For more information about Boy Radio, click here.

Ruby Comer is an independent journalist from the Midwest who is happy to call Hollywood her home away from home. Reach her by e-mail at [email protected].