Former porn star Mickey Taylor says being asked to be on MCR merch was “bizarre and fever dream-ish.”
American rock band My Chemical Romance embarked on a world tour on Monday, returning to the stage for the first time in a decade in the town of St. Austell in Cornwall, England. The show followed last week’s surprise release of a new single, “The Foundations of Decay,” which introduced a new yet familiar chapter in the band’s audiovisual aesthetic, combining various aspects of their former sound to create something wholly original.
That careful mixture of old and new extends to the band’s revamped merchandise, which similarly pays homage to the band’s past — and, I might add, to the band’s extraordinarily large LGBTQ+ fandom.
One standout design is a white T-shirt printed with the very hot pink cover for an imaginary teen tabloid called Boy Zone (think Tiger Beat), introducing the band as the “saddest boys in the world.” The shirt was designed by illustrator Kerin Cunningham, who described it as “a bit whimsical, a little bit ironic, and a whole lot stupid in the best way,” but it was conceptualized by none other than MCR co-founder Gerard Way himself.
The second must-have item — which I will be purchasing as soon as humanly possible — is a black T-shirt printed with an enormous (and rather homoerotic) image of a man wearing nothing but tighty whiteys, with a My Chemical Romance logo tramp stamp on full display.
As someone who has unfortunately been waiting for their mom to be right about this being a phase since 2011, I knew immediately that this design had Tumblr roots. I immediately clocked it as a reference to a relatively obscure post that had alerted me to the existence of an unnamed gay porn star with an MCR tramp stamp, though at the time I had no idea whose body bore the ink.
That’s where MCR did me a solid, though, because concert photos revealed that the band labeled the design “Mickey Taylor Photo T-Shirt,” which subsequently enabled me to find Taylor’s Twitter. And that’s how I was able to confirm that My Chemical Romance did indeed contact the gay porn star from the Tumblr post (which only has 2,000 notes) to use his image for official merchandise.
Today, Taylor is a musician and animation student, but he still identifies as a former sex worker with pride. Via Instagram DMs, he told me that he got the tattoo when he was 18 while living in a hostel with a friend. The friend, who had never tattooed anyone, inked the logo on him after Taylor drew it for her.
“This was my peak fandom mixed with my rebellious who-gives-a-fuck phase,” said Taylor. “[In] hindsight I shouldn’t have got a friend to do it, haha. Seems reckless now but still zero regrets. But don’t get home tattoos. Ever!”
The origins of the shirt, though, began when he received an email from a member (“shan’t name names”) inquiring about his tattoo. Although at first Taylor was afraid that he was being sued, it turned out that the unnamed member had seen the tattoo from one of his “movies” (quotes his) and “thought it was cool.” The member added that Gerard Way also thought it was cool and “wondered if I’d be down to take some photos for the merch.”
“Tbh I was just freaking out as fan of the music but also just the fact they even knew me, haha,” Taylor said. “And that they’ve most likely seen me doing some very slutty things.”
Although Taylor, who’s also a huge fan of Gerard Way’s comic book series turned Netflix hit The Umbrella Academy, tried to negotiate some signed merch, he agreed to a “cool deal” with the band and took the photos for them.
“Honestly the whole thing has been a pleasure,” Taylor said. “I had no idea when [the shirts] would drop or if, but it happened and I found out through Twitter which was WILD! The hilarious and also super friendly comments have been incredible and it’s made the whole situation even more bizzare and fever dream-ish haha. None of it feels quite real.”
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Although one could be tempted to see both the Tiger Beat-esque and tramp stamp designs as cynical pandering to a very queer fanbase, it’s important to note that this band has pretty much always been like this. Gerard Way, famously, loved to talk about sucking dick on stage in the aughts, whether for cocaine or to distinguish himself from fellow New Jersey musician David Cassidy.
The band’s inclusion of Taylor, including identifying him by name at the merch table, instead seems to be a meaningful, if cheeky, tribute to the band’s queer past and to its fanbase — an assessment that Taylor, who identifies as panseuxal, agrees with.
He told me that to be “seen by a mainstream band is a huge level of respect from them,” and that he really appreciated being asked to do it, though he also said that it was “all still totally nuts.”
“I just think they could have hired anyone, like some hot woman smoking a cigarette as so many bands do and call it ‘edgy’ but they didn’t,” Taylor says. “They hired the mixed-raced, queer guy, ex-sex worker and were the ones who came up with it.”