Hunx and Stix: Seth Bogart Is Recording New Music and Raising a Punk Princess
The artist, front man, and queer icon on his terrier, Stix: “She’s like a little stuffed animal that’s come to life and is oblivious to all the hate in the world and just wants to give you love.”
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Seth Bogart is the front man for the joyously riotous Hunx and His Punx, whose first single in nearly a decade finally drops on Sub Pop in August. He’s a multidisciplinary artist, creating everything from “wonky” outsize ceramics of feminist books and bondage gear to riot grrrl-inspired tees, and the man behind Wacky Wacko — aka the best store you’ve ever visited. He’s also an underground LGBTQ+ icon-in-the-making. But one of his proudest achievements is simply being a dad to Stix, a Terrier mix who serendipitously entered his life eight years ago — thanks to actress-writer Tavi Gevinson, Kirsten Smith (the author of Legally Blonde), and (in a roundabout sorta way) actor Elliot Page.
We caught up with the hilarious Bogart, fresh off a tour with Bikini Kill, to discuss how Stix fits into what he once described as his “nontraditional sexy ass bomb life,” as well as his future ambitions.
How did you actually meet her?
Do you know [actress-writer] Tavi Gevinson? It was her 18th birthday party. There’s this woman’s place…her name is Kirsten Smith, but we all call her Kiwi. She wrote Legally Blonde and House Bunny and all these rad movies. She’s also into, like, riot grrrl music and was a fan of mine. We had told her the story about how we [previously] found a dog on the streets and now we kind of wanted one. Three days later, she emailed me, like, “Guess what? My friend Shana is passionate about Terrier dogs, and she volunteers at a kill shelter and is obsessed with this dog.” So Kiwi put us in touch.
I later found out that my dog was supposed to be Elliot Page’s dog. But this woman said, “No, give it to these gay guys, because they’ll give her more attention.” So we went to this woman’s house a couple of days later, and Stix jumped up into my arms and started kissing me. So she kind of has this weird shelter-to-Hollywood-to-us life story.
When we got her she was really, really thin and had super long legs that reminded me of sticks. She was out of a kill shelter. This Hollywood woman was fostering her. That’s where we got her, but her name from the shelter was Shakira [laughs]. Her other name is Shi. We thought it was more chic with an “I.”
What’s her superpower?
She’s just, like, an extremely friendly people dog. She’s one of those dogs who will jump in your arms and demand you pet her. She has this special skill of dividing her time equally between every person in the room. So she’ll sit with you for two minutes and move to the next person and make the rounds — unless it’s, like, a gross man coming over to do work or something. Then she’ll bark. She has man-hating superpowers.
What’s she like when you’re working in your art studio?
She likes art. I find a lot of dogs get bored at art studios. Not mine, specifically, but just in general. I think they’re like, “This is boring. You’re painting. Pay attention to me.” She is like a teen-grandma, which is really fun in some ways, and then she likes to sleep.
You create the best T-shirts. Would you ever make doggy tees or other pet gear?
We’ve made samples of dog clothes, and it’s something I have always wanted to do. I just haven’t gotten around to it. But absolutely yes, I’ve wanted to do something. I was even in communication with this company about making leashes and beds and all this stuff. I think it’s just a matter of time. I tried to make her model, but she hates wearing clothes. I think that’s kind of why I never went through with the pet thing, too, because anytime I get samples made she’s like, “Don’t put them on me!”
How do you spoil her?
She has her own cabinet. If you open it up, there are, like, 20 bags of treats. Every time we go to the grocery store we buy something, because she gets so excited and puts her head into the bag. She’s so spoiled that she’ll turn down treats because she knows that we have other kinds of food. So she’ll be like, “I don’t want that one right now.”
What is the most exotic food you’ve ever fed her?
I gave her lobster. She loves cheese. She knows the word. In the middle of the night, if she’s sleeping in another room and I go to the kitchen all stoned, trying to get something, she can hear packaging sounds — through multiple walls and fans going on. She’ll come out and be like, “What are you eating?”
Is she into your music?
I sometimes record music at home. And she’s pretty demanding, needing to sit in my lap. So when I record, especially when I track vocals, she’ll start, like, frenching me while I’m recording. [Laughs] So she loves my music… she’s smart. I’ll start laughing and have to stop. I even captured her barking on a lot of recordings, like when the mailman would come.
Let’s talk a little bit about the music you’ve been working on.
There’s a new single that is by Hunx and his Punx. We haven’t released music since like 2013. We just recorded six new songs. The first two are coming out on Sub Pop as a single in August, there’s that. Then we’re planning to record more and do an album, but probably not until next year.
You’ve also been busy touring. How do you know Bikini Kill?
From writing them letters as fan mail. They would write me back and send me zines…yeah, just, like, in high school. And then I met Kathleen [Hannah, the front woman] in person with my band Gravy Train. I was like 20 or 21. I’ve kind of known her ever since then. I didn’t get closer with Tobi [Vail, the drummer] until more recently. She played drums on my last [solo] album on some of the songs. Kathleen also has a dog! Actually, Tobi has a really cute dog, too. I think my dog would be friends with their dogs, because they’re, like, little scruffy cuties.
Did you take Stix on tour with you?
I actually thought about it and think it could work because she likes to sleep a lot, and she loves traveling. Maybe if we had a hotel nearby, [so she] doesn’t have to be at the venue. I wouldn’t want to put her in that loud situation.
Speaking of, can you give us a tease of the new album?
So far, a few of the songs are more classic punk songs. And some of the songs are really dark. Like, one is about everything that has happened with all these problematic men in the rock music scene. I’m sure you heard about all these men getting canceled. We were contacted by the press and, like, forced to make statements and all these things. Well, especially Shannon [who’s in Hunx], and all these women I knew. And it’s like, why should they have to do that? It was also confusing, because it was some our friends — a really complicated situation. The song is about that, and how it’s not our mess to fix.
Another song called “Lose My Mind” is about how bad the world is right now. All the horrible gun stuff. So many scary, terrifying people have them, and I’m like, Fuck, what should we do, all the women and queers and weird people that don’t like guns? Do we need them to protect ourselves?
How has Stix helped you, emotionally, get you through all this?
She doesn’t know about any of that stuff. She’s always happy to see me. The worst, shittiest thing in the world could be happening, and she’s just pure love. She’s like a little stuffed animal that’s come to life and is oblivious to all the hate in the world and just wants to give you love and receive love.
How the musician’s pets — present during the making of her new album — counterbalance the weightiness of her work.
“He’s my support system when I’m making a beat. He’s kind of like my A&R — he listens to all my music and tells me if it’s good or not.”
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Nisha Gopalan has been a writer/editor for The New York Times, New York magazine, Entertainment Weekly, Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, and NYLON magazines. She currently resides in Los Angeles.