Lexxe and The Seven Sins
Seven Sins is a intoxicatingly indulgent burlesque performance taking place in Bushwick, Brooklyn. A dreamscape inspired by the fall of man and the seven deadly sins. The show was concocted by the masterminds at Company XIV. Founded in 2006 by Austin McCormick, Company XIV produces the most spectacular burlesque performances in NYC. Starring in the show, is Lexxe, a classically trained ballerina turned pop singer-songwriter, who assumes the role of the Devil. These talents are on full display where, as the Devil, Lexxe sings her powerhouse original song “One Bite” to tempt Adam and Eve into eating the fruit from the tree of knowledge. To write the song Lexxe rehashed some of the questions she had as a child in her Catholic Puerto Rican family. “As a queer person growing up in bible classes I heard that I needed to repent for my sin of being gay, but always ‘You’re still loved. It’s the sin, not you!’,” she says, “How hateful.” She wrote the song from the perspective of someone who has been scorned by those teachings wherein she sings: “Forget what you’ve been told, Those fairytales are way too old, Love the sinner hate the sin, Who can say just what that is”. “LEXXE’s original songs give Seven Sins a unique pop freshness that have audiences dancing in their seats,” says director Austin McCormick. Company XIV plumbs the depths of hell in a glittery flurry of temptation in a way that only they can(can)—a vintage bible story hour with a pansexual twist. Audiences are invited to give in to temptation and eat the apple with Adam and Eve in this hedonistic cavalcade of divine revelations. We got to go behind the scenes and talk with Lexxe on what it’s like playing the devil and how she prepares to channel the ultimate temptress. Get ready to be wowed, this show you won’t want to miss! there has never been more glitter on offer in Bushwick.
What is it like playing the devil in the seven sins?
I have never played a dangerous character before and it’s pushing me to take risks and go outside of my comfort zone. I have found each role I’ve done at XIV to be pretty serendipitous with where I was at in my life.. When I played Alice in Queen Of Hearts, I was just coming out to my family. I literally found out someone had outed me to my Mom minutes before going on stage one night and had to call her and tell her myself. That show was all about exploration and finding yourself. Right now I’m playing The Devil- who is thousands of years old, and has had a lot of time to really know who she is and what she wants to do. I may not share the same ‘misery loves company’ attitude but I definitely am taking the “I’m here now shut up and listen” energy that she has with me forever!
Tell us about the music you wrote for the show
For Seven Sins I was tasked with coming up with a lyric and melody to introduce each sin, as well as a few full length songs for The Devil too. I had the lyrics ready to go, and collaborated with a close friend Matthew Bracco who produced the beats and sourced the production/instrumentals. I remember writing A LOT of them in my bathtub at the time for some reason, I’m a water sign so I think that has to do with it ha! I went about these songs the same way I go about my own original music and I think that’s what makes them so special. It’s all relatable, and has a pop sensibility that you wouldn’t expect from a character like The Devil.
How do you channel your inner temptress and prepare for a performance?
In prep for the role I read The Book of Lilith and of course watched Bedazzled again (Elizabeth Hurley is everything). I have a playlist that I listen to beforehand while doing my makeup that has a healthy mix of things that make me feel powerful. I’ve got some Cardi B, Rob Zombie, Kim Petras and my own music on it- it’s so good haha! Right before I go on stage Hannah Gill is singing “I Wanna Be Evil,” it’s so iconic and helps me get right into character. Also, the makeup design by Sarah Cimino is to die for, as soon as I get my eyeliner on I am feeling powerful.
What’s your favorite part of the show?
There are so so so many! I really love the speech I give in the third act, I don’t want to give too much away but it really strikes a chord with me. I really love “One Bite”, because it’s the first time you get to hear The Devil sing and it’s so powerful – I’m wearing this giant serpent dress and have two dancers operating it while I essentially sing about bigots in a red lip and a giant sequin Medusa-Esque headpiece. She’s a big inspo for me in this character too.
Walk us through your writing process
The reason I love writing for XIV is because having a very specific subject to write about is something that I enjoy doing. The challenge of writing a short song for each sin was to make sure they sounded enticing, like something you’d want to do because of how it was sung to you- like a spell. Sometimes I sit at the piano or guitar and work out melodies or sometimes I just make them up on the spot with the lyrics and make a voice note. I love toplining too, if someone has a beat or track pulled up I love using it as inspiration for where my melodies could go. I am especially proud of the Seven Sins lyrics & melody because each one is entirely my own with no outside input. As a female artist that has been extremely difficult to attain. I will never forget sending them to Austin and waiting for some notes or new ideas (which I 100% was excited for, it’s his vision) and he had NONE. That was a huge win for me and my self confidence as a writer.
How does your upbringing influence your music?
My childhood was a good mix of intensive ballet training and Catholicism. I think that made for a gorgeous combination when I realized I was queer ! I spent a LOT of my life trying to not make any waves and fit into every box that was put in front of me. I think that comes out in my lyrical content and my art, even down to my fashion choices. Having to hide for so long mixed with a theatrical upbringing 100% bleeds into my art and my desire to be perceived through whichever lens I chose for you that day. I’ll always have the classic Catholic pop girl religious trauma, I’ve put it into a few songs of mine (Monster, Drink Me, Queen) but getting to really dive into it for Seven Sins was super cathartic. I was very inspired by the allure of knowledge and the hypocritical words I’d heard growing up in religion class. I really wanted to get some of the questions I’ve asked myself into “One Bite” specifically, but I wrote them from the lens of someone who has been severely scorned and perhaps turned cold by those teachings (I.e Lucifer the fallen Angel). The amount of times I’ve heard “Love the sinner hate the sin” is nauseating, however I found a way for it to become one of my favorite lyrics- I’d call that healing!
Who are some of your biggest inspirations when it comes to what you do?
When I was a kid my parents showed me Queen, and I became absolutely enamored by Freddie Mercury. I didn’t know it but he was my first introduction to what a queer person in the spotlight looks like. Then came Lady Gaga, who I discovered while I was on my way to a Nutcracker show as a little ballerina. I think I was able to download the Bad Romance music video to an ipod or ipad at one point and it was game over for me, I knew I wanted the same means to express myself.
Aside from musicians, I am currently really inspired by my heritage and all the spirituality within it that I’m discovering and peeling back the layers of. Both of my parents and grandparents are 100% Puerto Rican, and when my family came to America there was a pressure to “Americanize,” which was essentially just to white wash to stay safe. When my grandparents came to New York in hopes of “the American dream” they were met with discrimination for speaking Spanish and having different skin. I can’t even fathom that and the effect it’s had on my elders let alone the generational trauma it jumpstarted. The recurring theme of fighting to be seen and respected is the undercurrent of all my art lately. I do strive to lead with love even if I am fueled by a lot of fire haha !
Anything with absinthe baby!!!! There’s a cocktail at XIV called Adam’s Apple. it has Bourbon AND Absinthe- it’s to die for.
Do you have a signature scent?
Up until recently it was Tom Ford Tobacco Vanille however she’s been dethroned as of late. I’m currently wearing a scent called “Fire” by The Maker, it’s so SO good.
Fav spots in Bushwick
The Johnson’s has THE BEST burger, La Cantine has the most amazing banana bread and I really love Union Pizza works for a date night or a cocktail. Also right on the border of Bushwick/Ridgewood is my favorite bar called Flying Fox Tavern. It is spooky all year long and they have vampire themed drinks and goth music nights so naturally I end up there often
Photography Jacob DeKat