Paisley Yankolovich Is Out Of This World -- And He's Not Of It, Either
Paisley performing in The Kitchen (via YouTube)
As the leader of his own home-based ministry, Paisley Yankolovich is a mentor to the oppressed, the freaks, the weirdos and even quite a few normal people, never missing an opportunity to tell someone they're loved for who they are. But Paisley is also an accomplished singer, his records a mesh of glam rock, show tunes and disco, his shows mixed with cross-dressing, spoken word, music, theater and preaching. His lyrics cover everything from AIDS to abusive parenting to suicide to a strained relationship with mainstream churches that value dollar signs over compassion.
Embracing both his queer identity and outspoken love for Christ (somewhat akin to The Rocky Horror Jesus Show, as others have noted) Paisley's music is preceded by his Christian message, but it can still appeal to the unchurched masses. How? It's truly the essence of Christ's decree of unconditional love--none of the convoluted anti-gay, anti-drug, anti-rock and roll bullshit that Jesus never even spoke about that somehow hijacked mainstream religion and turned into a charade of hate. Paisley is here to remind you of your value and he'll do it by being himself. Which is, of course, fabulous.
The Kitchen, as Yankolovich's ministry is known, meets every Wednesday and Sunday evening at 3206 W. Lamar Rd. in Phoenix. There's free food at 6 p.m., plus one of Paisley's signature performances. Furthermore, all his music, spanning nearly a decade of releases, is available for free download on his website, therealpaisley.com. His next show is Saturday, October 12th at the Arizona State Fair at 5 p.m. We sat down and spoke to Paisley about his unique relationship with Christian spirituality, being "of this world" and what his latest album, Typhoid Mary, is all about.
Paisley Yankolovich: I'm not obligated to tell the truth. I want you to know that.
Up On The Sun: You are obligated. You're obligated by Jesus.
Who? Who? [laughs]
Briefly, describe your ministry in your own words.
Nah, I got it. I think my perception of what I do and everyone else's perception rarely coincide. In my mind, I am taking every aspect of my personality, my talents, my life experience, my Jesus experience, and doing as much as I can with it on a day-to-day, moment-by-moment basis to reach as many souls for Christ.
I hear that I'm a performer, I hear that I'm a preacher, and I hear that I hold Bible studies, and I hear that I have rock shows. And I do all that, but the difference is, for everyone else, they're taking a snapshot out of a moment of my life and defining my entire life by it. But I'm actually living to get to these moments. So to me, my ministry is whatever's in front of me and whatever's the most useful, powerful, and memorable tool to affect another human being's path.
I realized I had a lot of neat stuff to work with, so I took everything that I've been given and poured it into my mission, which is to use every available tool God's given me to affect the next person's path towards Christ.
You say saving souls for Christ. What does that mean to you, and why is that important?
As nonconformist as I've been about going about it, I'm pretty mainstream traditional in my reasons for doing it. But simply because I know Jesus, I'm beyond convinced that once we get in a right relationship with him, our entire lives are called to be devoted to the salvation of others. Our lives as we knew it ended when we accepted Christ. That is the fullness of being born again.
It's not just being born again in the Spirit, and born again into acceptance with God, but it's literally dying to a lifestyle of pursuing our own whims and fancies, but fulfilling the great commission to present as many souls to Christ as possible.
When you say it that way, it's almost as if you're keeping score. I know that's not what you mean, but to a non-believer, it could come across that way.
Yeah, and far be it for me to give much thought how I come off to a non-believer. I think there's unwritten rule that says non-believers can come off any way they want, and I have to mind my P's and Q's to not come off weird to a non-believer. I say, you can come off any way you want, and I can come off any way I want.
Paul, in the Bible, compares our experience to running a race. Now that sounds kind of competitive. Jesus compared it to pushing a plow, and being the best farmer is competitive to other farms. However, when one is walking through the actual experience, one realizes it's carnal to be in competition with other people, but it is not carnal to be in competition with yourself.
I feel I have no competitors in this life. I'm compared to every music artist I've ever copied, I mean heard of, [laughs] and I don't feel in competition with them. I have no competition. If you put me and Marilyn Manson in the same room, you'd have two completely different human beings. I don't feel threatened by what other artists do, nor do I feel I should be threatening, but in the same way with ministry I feel I'm in competition with myself. What can I do today more effectively than I did yesterday? So I hope it's more like being on a team. And trying to be the best player in my position on the team.