“You Need to Die in New Orleans”: Jeremy O. Harris Catches Up With Vinson Fraley

Photographed by Bruno Staub

Styled by Mel Ottenberg

Vinson Fraley
Top by Courrèges. Hair by Karim Belghiran at Total World.

Jeremy O. Harris gets the dancer and singer Vinson Fraley on the phone to chat about mushroom chocolates, influencer shams, and dying in New Orleans.

JEREMY O.HARRIS: I was at the Gucci show yesterday and now I’m so hungover because they didn’t have food there really, just tequila. So I’ve been lying in bed all day suffering. How long are you here in L.A. for?

VINSON FRALEY: I leave tonight.

HARRIS: Oh fuck. I would’ve said to come by the Sunset Tower where I’m staying.

FRALEY: I would if I wasn’t getting on a plane! I wish I was here longer. I’ve been here for three days and it’s just not enough time.

HARRIS: Well, we’ll see each other again soon L.A. is the best, but I miss New York. I’ve been here for 80 days.

FRALEY: Oh, shit.

HARRIS: Okay. So, I want to ask you some of these fun questions. What’s your full name?

FRALEY: Vinson Jermaine Fraley Jr.

HARRIS: How old are you?

FRALEY: I just turned 27 in September.

HARRIS: Oh my god, a baby! Where in New York do you live?

FRALEY: I live in the East Village.

HARRIS: How long have you lived there?

FRALEY: For three years now. I went to college at NYU, so that’s been my area since I moved to New York. And then I lived all around Brooklyn forever. And now I’m back on the east side.

Vintage Shorts and Belt (worn throughout) from Mauvais Garçon. 

HARRIS: Oh, fab! Where did you grow up?

FRALEY: I was born in North Carolina, soup until I was like four I was there, and then my parents moved to Atlanta. So that’s pretty much where I was raised. I always rep Atlanta because that’s where I came up; that’s where I started my schooling and dancing and all of that stuff.

HARRIS: Where in North Carolina were you born?

FRALEY: I was born in Statesville, North Carolina, which is a very tiny town, not far from Charlotte. My mom and dad got together in high school there. Their families are still there—their parents, and grandparents. So it’s a long lineage in North Carolina.

HARRIS: You studied dance, correct?

FRALEY: I did.

HARRIS: Are you studying anything new right now?

FRALEY: Right now I am still a student of dance. But I’ve been working on music and trying to learn as much as I can about song-making and writing. That’s been fun because it’s something that’s really challenging me and it’s offered me a lot of space to write my own rules. I’ve been working under directors and choreographers for most of my career. I think having recently left the dance company setting has pushed me to figure out how I want to express myself and how I can do that in the most fine and sharply crafted way. I want to do new shit, but I want it to be really good. So I’m trying to take the time right now to be a student.

HARRIS: Wow, I love that. How tall are you?

FRALEY: I’m 6’1″. 6’2″ if I have to write it down online. [Laughs]

HARRIS: [Laughs] Why do you lie to people online?!

FRALEY: Because online is for lying! You only get fragments of a person. So yeah, that’s what you get.

HARRIS: But why only an inch? Why not two inches-6’3″ or 6’4″?

FRALEY: Because that one inch will really take you far. [Laughs]

Top by Maison Margiela. 

HARRIS: Oh, interesting! Speaking of taking you far, have you ever faked an orgasm?

FRALEY: Definitely.

HARRIS: Oh, wow. Explain how that works for a man.

FRALEY: I mean, I don’t think the acting that I put up was good, but I faked it. I think how it works for a man is it starts with a lot of sounds like, “Mmm, yeah, ahh,” or just, like, breaking into laughter. I feel like that is one of the things I’ve noticed, at least in my sexual experience, when someone is faking an orgasm: They break into laughter because they don’t have any other sensation coming over them—literally coming over them. [Laughs] I don’t know.

HARRIS: I’ve never faked an orgasm but I have faked different emotional states to get out of having sex with people. I’ll just be like, “I’m so sorry, I’m thinking about my ex right now. I’m just not in a good place.” Or whatever. Now someone’s going to read this and be like, “Oh my god, he did that!” Okay, who’s the best dancer you know?

FRALEY: Wow. I truly cannot answer that question. I mean, the thing about dance is that there are so many different types and types of bodies that make different shapes. The ones that I find the most amazing, I value them all on such a high level, but for the different qualities that they have. It’s hard to pin down one that is the best.

HARRIS: What if I said who’s the best social dancer you know? Like the person at the party who always is going to make you feel like you’re having a good time.

FRALEY: Kai Jmari definitely gets it. Generally I find bodies dancing in the club or in social settings way more interesting than on a stage or in a performance setting. To see somebody in their own pocket, I find that to be the most beautiful thing.

HARRIS: When was the last time you laughed until you cried?

FRALEY: Probably in Paris at a house party. I had done mushroom chocolates with two other friends, and when we started to feel the waves of the chocolates, suddenly all of the little interactions between people in the room got really, really funny. At house parties you realize how much is happening—small interactions—and everybody is just trying to find their placing in the room. We sat in the middle of the party while people were dancing and interacting and just laughed.

HARRIS: That’s amazing. Who was the last person you lied to? And what was the lie?

FRALEY: Probably my friend today, going to record with him in his studio. I lied about what time I would get there, because I’m always late. Basically, if it’s about time, I’ve probably lied to you.

HARRIS: What profession do you think is a sham?

FRALEY: I would have to say … to be an influencer that has to succumb to being linked to brands or having to sell product; that type of influencing I find kind of sham-y. But I’ve been a part of it and it’s fine.

Top by Prada.

HARRIS: I get that, it definitely can give, like, pyramid scheme or snake-oil salesman. Who do you admire the most?

FRALEY: The past couple of months I’ve been obsessed with Grace Jones for sure, because I’ve been thinking about a career in art and performance, and about who are my heroes or who I would want to model myself after.

HARRIS: Have you ever had an affair?

FRALEY: Who hasn’t had an affair before?

HARRIS: What would you eat for your last meal?

FRALEY: Southern comfort food. It would be like roast beef, some mac and cheese, some collards and, like, some green beans. Something that’s a very traditional Southern meal.

HARRIS: If you’ve ever been to Willie Mae’s in New Orleans, it’s the best of that. It’s the best fried chicken I’ve ever had. It’s one of the best meals I’ve ever had in my life.

FRALEY: So, you’re saying I need to die in New Orleans.

HARRIS: Yes. You need to die in New Orleans.

———

Hair:  Karim Belghiran at Total World

Production: Kitten Productions 

Photography Assistant: Pacome Dedieu

Fashion Assistant: Louis Portejoie

Hair Assistant: Gabrielle Pondy


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