Lil Nas X has already logged record consumption numbers for his debut single “Old Town Road” (14-times platinum in the U.S. alone and counting), proving he’s about as big an artist as it gets. And as of Thursday, June 3, and in time for the start of Pride Month, the out LGBTQ icon got an extra-large visual tribute in the form of a three-story-tall mural in the “Gayborhood” area of downtown Philadelphia.
Lil Nas X has received critical applause for his daring dance with the devil in both the music video and his “Saturday Night Live” performance of his latest single, “Montero (Call Me By Your Name).” Based on several of the characters in the “Montero” video, the deep blue 36-by-36 feet mural, located on the wall of the Writer’s Block Rehab bar on the 1300 block of Cypress Street, was executed by South Philadelphia muralist Ash Ryan and was commissioned by the bar’s owner, Ram Krishnan.
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“Three years back, we painted a mural on one side of the bar featuring Alan Rock, the great Harlem Renaissance leader, who also happened to be queer,” Krishnan tells Variety. “One hundred years after Rock’s time, I wanted another mural of someone who had made an equal name for himself in Black gay culture — someone who meant something to our community. As we looked at characters in today’s media with similar import, Lil Nas X revealed himself as that artist, one who is living his best self, was also an innovator, and an artist who best represented Black culture and queer culture. Besides, I love that video, as it tells a story of both gay culture and that of People of Culture.”
Starting on June 1, Lil Nas X sent out his own tweet celebrating Pride Month; first by teasingly promising “I will be having sex with 100 lucky fans to celebrate,” then, on a more serious note asking those who support the gay community, “For pride month if you have friends who are part of the lgbtq+ community let them know that they are loved. Give them all of your money.”
Check out pictures and video below of the mural in progress.
Philadelphia, known as the City of Brotherly Love, is a mural-rich city due to benefactors like the not-for-profit Mural Arts Philadelphia organization and the Ellen Powell Tiberino Family Museum along with individual local painters looking to make their mark in broad public portraiture. Of the over 3,600 murals that pepper Philly are many local music icons including jazz saxophonist John Coltrane; “The Twist” inventor Chubby Checker; 1950s and 1960s heartthrobs Frankie Avalon and Fabian; radio jock Jerry Blavat; and hip-hop group The Roots. Among the out-of-towners featured in Philadelphia murals are such crooners as Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra with his Rat Pack.
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