August 13, 2022

Hualienrainbow

We Bring Good Things to Life

Omar Apollo Is the R&B Heartthrob Who Rocks Full Skirts and His Heart on His Sleeve

At 6’5”, he sweetly teases that he “looks good in anything.” And he takes advantage of it by wearing, for a recent performance, a see-through Jetpack Homme blouse and super-long bell bottoms by The Incorporated that only the tallest amongst us could ever hope to carry, so wide they splayed out on the dirt as he sang. He has a remarkable color sense, isn’t afraid to show skin, and has a penchant for Bode, Marni, and Dr. Martens, never leaving the house without a certified look. “I’ll dress up to go to the grocery store—like, girrrrrl,” he says. He loves wearing skirts because they allow him to show off stylish socks and shoes. “I’ve always liked the girl’s section at the thrift shop, even before I was making money,” he says. “My style was fucking wacky back in the day—I was just trying shit out.” His primary musical idol is also his style idol, the man who made assless pants and French lace look like the coolest thing a man could wear. “Prince is androgyny,” Apollo beams.

While he has not yet gained Prince’s level of celebrity, he has found enough indie heartthrob fame that when home in Indiana—the land of Mike Pence and Amy Coney Barrett, where you are more likely to see a red MAGA hat on someone’s head than blue hair—he causes a stir. “It’s nuts. If I’m with my tía or my mom and we’re out at the grocery store, somebody notices me,” he says of a recent trip to Indiana. “[Some people] hit up my mom, like, ‘My granddaughters really want to meet your son!’ So I had a little meet-and-greet.” It’s all been a relief to his parents, who were once skeptical of his choice of career. “It was hard for them at first. They wanted me to go to school, which is valid. They didn’t really come to my shows until it was a packed-out venue. Twelve-hundred people, and my mom was crying. They’re all screaming her son’s name, and she’s like, I gave him that name!”

Geeked to show off some more spoils of his success, Apollo flies up and down the stairs and in and out of rooms, phone in hand, to show me the layered Moroccan carpets on the ground of his at-home studio, the shoes stacked on a short rack in his closet, and the beauty products that line the long horizontal mirror in his bathroom (a little orange rug in the shape and design of a basketball is on the floor). “Girrrrl, I’m about to show you—I got too much shit,” he tells me of his skin-care bounty, which includes Olay Retinol night cream, Argan oil, an Aztec clay mask, a Good Genes lactic acid treatment, and the Derma E Vitamin C and collagen serums. He’s been on a plant-based health kick after quarantining for a month in Indiana and eating perhaps too hefty an amount of his mom’s delicious Mexican food. He loves her meals so much—especially her take on the Super Taco, a fried and a soft tortilla layered with cheese on top, filled out with beans, carne, and pico de gallo—that he’ll soon be releasing and selling a hot sauce called Disha Hot based on her own recipe.

The hot sauce, the wild hair, the unguarded music: They all seem to come from a profound and youthful drive to try new things and do as he pleases. During one of his recent conversations with Bootsy, the funk hero confirmed from decades of experience that the best rule for life and work is absolutely no rules at all. Find the brightest cheap blue dye, rock a knee-length skirt and a gleaming diamond, and most of all, when you’re writing the songs, wear as much of it on your sleeve as you can. “[Bootsy and me] were just talking about how it’s never mathematical or formulaic for us. He just kept saying, ‘Hold on to your creativity. Hold on,’ ” Apollo recalls, before summing up his own outlook on capturing the artistic inspiration in his head and heart. “You catch it, you do it. And then you keep going.”