Montreal Character Series: Colbert Lapomme Casimir
MODEL, PRESENCE, PHENOMENON
It was hot when I met Colbert Casimir and their two partners (preferring to be nameless, we’ll call them E and J) at a McDonalds on Ste. Catherine.
I had called them (Colbert’s preferred pronoun) earlier in the day from the cool confines of The Link offices and was intrigued by their sultry voice on the line.
“Can you be a doll and gift some beer? I’m much more interesting.”
I showed up at the McDonald’s beerless and sweaty, my hair a frizzy mess and my pit stains obvious. Colbert and company, for their part, were all gorgeous, sleek and well-kept, Colbert wearing a flowing red silk robe (their mother’s) and ripped black leggings, E in black jeans and a black and gray crop top, and J in a long electric blue, low cut tank and black cutoffs. I was outclassed, out matched and pretty nervous.
Ostensibly, I was there to interview Casimir, originally from Haiti, about their upcoming runway show at Festival Mode et Design, where they would be modeling for Field of Ponies, a new Montreal-based clothing line. However, I knew that they had a lot more to offer than that.
Besides being totally stunning, Casimir is a fiendishly alluring personality—totally hilarious, outspoken and endearing. We ended up talking, myself, Casimir, E and J, for over four hours. I stumbled home from the interview more than a little drunk, and completely shook by the energy of the threesome.
What follows is a transcript of our conversation, edited for length, but largely intact. It’s a fabulous precedent for the Montreal Character Series, in which I attempt to sketch a portrait of Montreal through the personalities of some of its residents.
To me, Casimir, in their difference, their eccentricities, their devastating allure and frank demeanor (they are exactly who they are, with absolutely no fucking around about it), is a perfect illustration of all the things I find so beautiful and enchanting about this city.
7 Years in Montreal
When did you get into fashion?
Where I actually knew what I was doing? Last year. Everyone thinks they have a sense of fashion, are really cocky about it, but I didn’t know what I was doing, wasn’t actually learning looks and what works, until last year. It’s not about keeping in touch with what’s popular, it’s my fashion. No one’s wearing what I’m wearing.
What do you think of Montreal fashion?
It’s a good town for it. I’ve lived in multiple cities…Miami fashion isn’t on the forefront, people don’t think about the impact of what they’re wearing. Everyone’s just following…there’s no advancement.
New York is so crazy and sporadic that it kind of matters and kind of doesn’t. It’s not consistent. You can wear trends from three years ago and it’s just…whatever.
I just started shopping at Stop Shop Boutique, and they’re so original. They’re making their pieces and if you like it, you like it, and that’s what it is. Everyone’s just looking to find their niche.
What’s been your experience in music here? Who do you want to see blow up?
Jei Bandit. The Montreal scene has been very welcoming, I always feel at home at every show. Everyone’s always trying to be engaging. I don’t feel as one or as engaged in other cities. I don’t feel like it’s as cohesive as here.
What brought you to Montreal and what’s kept you here?
Citizenship. [Laughs]. We were living illegally in the U.S. for years, and we were hearing stories about how much easier it is to get residency in Canada, and it was true.
We literally walked up to the border and became residents. Now I have to apply to be a citizen but that’s work…I’m really happy with where I am now.
What’s your experience being a person of color in Montreal?
Better than America. There’re still the basics of everywhere: How I’m stared at, how the police perceive me. But it’s not as bad as Miami. It’s fucking intense in Miami.
I grew up in North Beach, which is an intense ghetto, and it’s a lot more chill and relaxed here in comparison. There are a lot more white people here. I didn’t go to school with my first white person until 9th or 10th grade.
And then I came here, into St. Michel, where there’s a strong Haitian population, so I didn’t even get the full white thing at first.
Let me ask you a series of favourites: Favourite place to dance.
Drones [Club]. I don’t go there for shows, I’ll usually pre-drink forever and show up at 3 a.m. Before it was [Cabaret] Playhouse, but now it’s dead. It’s gone. It’s a restaurant now. They moved the strip karaoke to Café Cléopatra.
Favourite Places to Eat
La Belle Province. You should eat there at 3 a.m. when you’re piss drunk. You can get steamed hot dogs for like $1.30.
Favourite Place to Throw Up
Blue Dog. I have a photo of me posing with my thrown up two-dollar chow mein there.
Here are some words. Give me your immediate thoughts:
Shouted out a sex trafficker in his music.
You like it here, but it’s because it’s the best option you have. The rest of the world sees Canada as this super happy superpower, like it’s Geneva. It’s not. Under Harper, we’ve actually been worse than America.
Depends what you mean. Crossdressing as the fetish is whatever, but me, I mean, I’m wearing tights and my mom’s lingerie. It’s just what I feel. Clothing is what I feel. I don’t even know how to explain my gender expression.
I don’t think it’s progressing. Trends are being recycled. Every season usually has a new thing, but since leather came back there hasn’t really been a new thing. It was the last big thing, in like ‘08. You don’t think about it, but it totally wasn’t a staple a couple years back, it was just fetishists and punks and now it’s everywhere.
There are artists like Jei Bandit and DTrick [Von Furst] who I love, but besides him and a couple others, there’s just the pew-pew scene and a bunch of stagnancy. Jei and them are progressing and yet they’re not blowing up, and then there are people who shouldn’t be progressing, and yet they’re on the same level.
The scene is so imbalanced. As a DJ, I’m getting booked for shows I shouldn’t be. I’m capable of booking shows that I shouldn’t be able to. For my birthday show, I had WIFEY and [Klyde] Drexler and Jei at Fattal with over 200 people. I had every DJ I wanted and I didn’t pay them shit, and that’s not right. I mean, I meant to pay them, but there was property damage. But you know what I mean.
People are so free with their hair here. There’s more freedom of expression with hairstyles here.
I hate beards. It’s so Montreal, long-hair hipsters with beards. But I hate them. Even your length of beard isn’t cool. I didn’t realize how much I hated beards until I started kissing dudes.
Not impressed by Montreal’s buns.
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