Actually (No 1,246)

Apr 11, 2012
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This ‘porn-pop’ starlet suggests a kinky Kylie or a blue La Roux

Hometown: Los Angeles.

The lineup: Ashley Huizenga (vocals).

The background: Today’s featured act was going to be a new singer-songwriter from Sweden called Nina Nesbitt, hailed as the female Ed Sheeran, but she’ll have to wait. Because over the weekend we got a bit excited about this other young lady, Ashley Huizenga, who operates as Actually and is a performance artist-cum-purveyor of what she calls “porn-pop”.

Actually, Actually doesn’t just do porn-pop. She does porn. She does many things: apparently she’s a “musician, a cinematographer and enfant terrible of the LA scene”, but it’s the fact that she does “freelance fetish jobs” as well as sex movies marks her out as rare.

There have been artists who have made the transition from porn to pop before – we can think of one, anyway, namely Traci Lords, whose 1995 album 1000 Fires was a prototype for Actually’s sighing and moaning synth-pop – and of course there are many female singers who have exploited the male gaze in ways both subtle and overt. But we can’t remember a wannabe music starlet who has divided her time equally and simultaneously between pop and porn.

We don’t know the full extent of her involvement in porn but that doesn’t matter so much as her open admission that she does it, leaving us to decide whether she’s subverting ideas about sexuality and ownership of same, mocking political correctness or simply benefitting from a notoriously exploitative industry.

She arrives at an interesting moment. Already over the weekend we have had correspondence from a (female) friend nervously intrigued by Actually – alleged to be the daughter of a wealthy LA family – and the notion of her as a sort of hardcore version of Lana Del Rey, with a similar media savviness, pop consciousness, awareness of the camera and willingness to self-objectify as LDR. “Hipster Runoff,” joked our friend, “would have a ball with this – she makes Lana look like Gloria Steinem.”

Actually/Huizenga – whose house was recently visited by Morrissey and whose shows have been attended by Ariel Pink – also provides a refreshingly artificial antidote to all the post-Amy soul belters in much the same way that Lords did at the height of riot grrrl, surrounded as the latter was by posturing keepin’-it-real types.

If she looks like a Playboy model, it might be because her mother was an 80s Playmate, and if you’ve just noticed we haven’t mentioned her music much thus far that’s because we haven’t got much to say about it, apart from that it sounds like standard-issue electro-pop a la Goldfrapp, some of it suggests a hypnagogic Kylie, and that it could be successful even if we’re not sure, still, in the 21st century, whether the industry or the public would be prepared to accept an “out” porn star, especially one who admits to being “into old-fashioned sodomy and alcoholism and the cultural root systems that branch out from those pastimes”, as well as a self-confessed anorexic whose debut album is entitled Wet Look vs. Hard Place.

The buzz: “Actually Huizenga, or, ACTUALLY HUIZENGA, is our favourite musician/film-maker/nymphomaniac ever right now” –

The truth: She’s porn to be wild.
Most likely to: Attack attitudes about sex in pop.

Least likely to: Get dressed.

What to buy: Wet Look vs. Hard Place is coming … soon.

File next to: Traci Lords, Goldfrapp, Sylver Tongue, Pat Benatar.


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