#365: Natasha Stagg
Being a Merch Girl, Poodle-watching, Cemetery, and more.
Perfectly Imperfect is a newsletter offering “A Taste of Someone’s Taste” from guests like Charli XCX, John Cale, Julian Casablancas, Lena Dunham, Mac Demarco, Dasha Nekrasova, Tim Heidecker, Ayo Edebiri, Michael Imperioli, Rayne Fisher-Quann, Mel Ottenberg, Chloe Cherry, Matty Matheson, Anna Delvey, The Dare, Caroline Calloway, Snail Mail, and more. Check out our full archive here.
Cool people like cool things, which is why we asked Natasha Stagg to share a taste of her taste on Perfectly Imperfect.
Natasha Stagg is a New York City-based writer that I’d been aware of for years, but regretfully wasn’t super familiar with until her publicist offered me an early copy of Artless. I was blown away by the (seemingly effortless) way she distills these big themes around the modern media landscape, pop culture, NYC, and identity, into such a sharp & funny collection of essays/stories. If that sounds like your speed you should pre-order a copy (it drops in late October) and maybe check out some of her other acclaimed work, such as Sleeveless and/or Surveys, in the meantime. She’s doing an official book launch hosted by Miranda July at McNally Jackson on 10/25, and introducing some movie picks + doing a signing at Metrograph on 10/27. Don’t forget to subscribe to her Substack (Selling Out) while you’re at it. Lucky for us, Natasha is here to tell us what she’s been into.
Without further ado
Natasha Stagg (substack)
RIP Danny Gallegos, love of my life and tragic figure, also (maybe little known to his New York friends) frontman of one of the best death rock bands, Cemetery. Danny and I had already been dating for a while when he told me he was in a band back in Chicago and that they had a show coming up at a goth fest. I was nervous it was going to be something I didn’t like (what are the odds I would?), maybe one of those cooing synthy groups with like a water drop sound effect or whatever, but Cemetery rocked: like if Christian Death was led by a drunk hockey player, as Danny would say. The albums are great, but the live performances were incredible. Too bad you missed them, losers.
💿 Being a merch girl
Of course I was a Cemetery merch girl after that (their t-shirts and patches, Danny’s designs, were pretty inspired: nothing said “Cemetery,” just other goth band names in the wrong typefaces, like bad bootlegs). And actually, I’ve been a merch girl for a few bands before, usually on tour, which is my absolute favorite mode. It’s probably genetic: my family are all people who work in theater, but are not performers; we thrive behind the scenes. If I like you and you want me to sell merch for you at a show, I’m not saying I’m really good at it, I’m just saying I will do it for drink tickets and love every minute I spend behind the table.
Me and Danny and my twin sister Sonia had a text thread called Send Poods that was strictly dedicated to sneaky pictures of poodles with good haircuts: a shaved snoot, pom-pom or bell bottom ankles, and a wasp waist. The best poodles in the world are in the Upper East Side of Manhattan, still, by the way. None of us wanted/want to own a poodle, to be clear (way too much work, with our high standards) or a dog at all, but they have come to represent perfection for us, the tensions between wild curls and refined silhouettes, an archaic upper class aspiration and in-the-moment, fun-loving behavior. Danny called me his poodle, and sometimes when I see one now I cry a little to myself.
❤️🔥 “Nobody Lives Without Love” by Eddi Reader and “Life Of Surprises” by Prefab Sprout
If we had gotten married, Danny and I would have played these songs at our wedding, for sure. We used to play “Nobody Lives Without Love" from one of our phones and sing it together walking around Chinatown at like 3am. It was on the Batman Forever soundtrack but feels long lost. We liked the dramatic buildup and the sincere vocals, but lyrically, it might also crystalize something about our relationship and individual outlooks. It’s about giving yourself over to some recklessness—this can all go away, sure, but even if you think the pain wasn’t worth it, you can’t totally suppress a desire to love and live fast. Similarly, the sentiment expressed by “Life Of Surprises” is one to live and die by. Danny had a Prefab Sprout tattoo on his leg, and it wasn’t a logo or album art or anything, just the name in simple prison-style font, as in: the very concept of this band, their entire catalogue. When we’d listen to “Life Of Surprises,” he would turn to me and look into my eyes when he sang the lyric, “Never let your conscience be harmful to your health” and I’ll feel that forever now.
Bonus (🎷) recommendation for paid subs from Natasha below!
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