In the video "Get Into It", featuring his muse Amanda Lepore and directed by frequent collaborator Marco Ovando, Cazwell raps "This club scene drama I'm past it. You're a trend about to end, I'm classic."
On a recent Friday, at midnight, in the glow of the dining lounge of Lord's, the new gay hotel on Collins Avenue in Miami Beach, Cazwell increased his rights to that claim, adding another layer of vivid varnish to his career as a gay white rapper, with the debut of his new video "Get My Money Back".
Cazwell has been making music in New York City for eleven years. Well known in a city of eight million, his name was often matched with "Who?" in flyover country until the release of recent videos including the hilarious "I Seen Beyoncé at Burger King", and "Ice Cream Truck", a homoerotic scintillation featuring a bevy of undressed young Latino men who distract the audience from Cazwell's extraordinarily well crafted lyrics.
Earlier in the evening, Cazwell was the deejay at BASE where his sound yanked folks off Lincoln Road and into the doors of that trendy shop between five and nine PM, during the first hour of which I had the luxury of an undisturbed chat.
I first saw Cazwell during Pride weekend of 2005 when he performed as part of the "Homocorps" line-up at the legendary and now defunct club CBGB. That evening also marked my first exposure to voluptuously swollen transsexual seductress Amanda Lepore who sang Cazwell's "My Hair Looks Fierce" entirely naked and backed by Dean Johnson and the Velvet Mafia. Cazwell and Amanda were talented, playful, rambunctious, refreshingly licentious and worth tracking during the next six years as their often shared star rose downtown in Manhattan several times in any given week. My video of that night at CBGB is worth insuring.
At BASE, Cazwell seemed simultaneously world-weary, restless, gracious and wary of the merits of my questions until I established my cred by asking him to pull up his left sleeve so that I might view his tattoo of the word "Discipline".
"It reminds me to stick to what is good for me, but now, whenever I want something bad, I just use the other arm." His other arm now sports a tattoo of ice cream on a stick, perhaps a reference to his boyfriend, one of the hot dancers featured in "Ice Cream Truck". He would not specify which one, but Marco Ovando hinted that he is the one who wipes the whipped cream off his skin in the video.
Cazwell is 31 years old, which, in popular music years, is akin to pushing 65. I referenced his "Ice Cream Truck" lyric "I'm on the sidewalk lookin all kinds of fly" and wondered how he keeps it fresh.
"When I first came to New York and met Larry Tee who was doing Electroclash [New Wave fused with electronic dance music], he gave me great advice. He said 'Create your own sound and look.' That's what I do. Today I like basketball shorts that I embellish. Tomorrow who knows."
Cazwell does know that he is over the Lower East Side, and he is planning to move out of that neighborhood. I had attended his successful run as deejay at the Hell's Kitchen bar Posh, and his current residence at nearby Therapy has a large following that proves Cazwell can play the West Side and uptown with no stretch. His appeal has a broad spectrum, and one Wednesday night at Posh, he drove the kids delirious by spinning the 60s original version of "Please Mr. Postman", a choice also appreciated by this Upper West Sider who remembers that song when it was new.
Cazwell, who was raised Luke Caswell by parents of the Universalist Unitarian religion in Worchester, Massachusetts, has produced an "It Gets Better" video encouraging LGBT kids to love themselves and not to back down when bullied. In his music, his words and in person, he radiates an appealing self-possessed intelligence. He is a dirty boy in the healthiest of ways. A gay urbane Huck Finn who might steal your heart but return it to you without postage due.
Cazwell describes his new video "Get My Money Back" as "Fight Club versus National Geographic". I watched it wondering how he would build on or depart from the success of "Ice Cream Truck", the summer swelter of which has been replaced by a chillier and furrier eroticism. Think an A&F winter catalogue full of male monkey business and shot in prison. In "Get My Money Back", we again see a good amount of attractive male skin, including that of the toned Cazwell who told me that he has a gym membership at Crunch, and that although he likes fast food, "I never eat all my fries." Again with the discipline.
Echoing most recording artists, Cazwell urged the audience at Lord's to buy his music and his new video rather than get them for free. "Get My Money Back" is a track on his recent album "Watch My Mouth". This summer, look for another collaboration with Marco Ovando, involving Peaches, the fierce electronic music/performance artist (She's the thinking man's Gaga).
Having been the opening act for Lady Gaga and Cyndi Lauper, Cazwell made the one-word response "Madonna" with an eye twinkle when I asked him who he would like opening for him. Given his discipline and talent, I fully anticipate the probability of buying a ticket for that evening.
(A version of this review appeared recently in South Florida Gay News.)