Kay Von Zand

KAYVON ZAND

A provocateur in self-imagined couture and a pompadour, Kayvon Zand brings sexuality and satire back to a performance scene that needs it.

A rabble rouser with a healthy dark side to match his eyebrows, Zand made waves when his Disgraceland show of raunchy rituals got him banned from New York’s Highline Ballroom in 2010. When the club instructed him to trim the show’s fake blood and fire effects, Zand responded in the only sensible way possible—he added some heavy duty sex acts! As the censorship battle became a story, Zand earned a place at the forefront of Gotham’s self-created bad boys and arty attention grabbers.

Making a scene was nothing new to Kayvon Zand. Growing up the son of Iranian doctors in Wilmington, North Carolina, he always found a catharsis in music and playacting while knowing his place was somewhere way outside the Bible Belt. He eventually bolted for Europe, where modeling proved less than fulfilling, and New York, where he finally found a home within the self-expression-obsessed club kid revival and outrageous performance arena.

“I felt this warm sense of community, where I was accepted,” Zand remembers–especially when the spotlight hit. After playing Kino 41, the Times Square club night hosted by notorious promoters Susanne Bartsch and Kenny Kenny, he appeared at rock haunts like Don Hill’s and Arlene’s Grocery and even became friends with drag star RuPaul, who promptly cast him in his 2007 Starrbooty movie, a raucous blaxploitation spoof. (“I played the terrorist,” Zand laughs. “Not to be typecast or anything!”)

The next year, Zand started terrorizing audiences with Disgraceland, which he says is like “if Marilyn Manson was pregnant with Elvis Presley. There’s a glossy kind of fun appeal and showmanship to it. It’s very s/m and fetish based, but it’s so much more macabre than Goth. It’s like a Tim Burton film with a life of its own, and it’s very fashion forward.”

And the irrepressible artist is taking things even more forward than that. With new management and publicity behind him, he’s preparing to transform one more time, this time with a completely different aesthetic. “Last year’s show was blood, but this year it’ll be black diamonds,” he promises. “I want to capture the feeling of ‘80s dance music—that rawness, that edge.

“Last year I scared the s–t out of everybody. This year I want to make everyone dance and f–k!”

By Michael Musto