We are inching ever closer to this year’s Cannonball Bash and from the looks of it its going to be bigger and better than ever before! Taking place from October 26th through November 1st, the theme this year is “A Whole New World” with parties and cuisine planned to help you live out your wildest Aladdin-esque fantasies. In fact, I’m even told there will be a wide assortment of lamps available for you to rub!
In addition to all that, the organizers of Cannonball Bash have secured top notch entertainment, including a performance from the one and only Tammie Brown at the Saturday night banquet and a Costume Concert Jam later that same evening featuring the amazing talents of Nakia and Zee Machine!
I sat down with the two musicians, no strangers to the bear community, to discuss Cannonball, their setlists and their personal relationships to the bear/chub communities.
John: Hi Nakia! Hi Zee Machine! I’m so excited to talk with both of you and I’m even more excited to see you both at Cannonball! Bash It’s my first time! Have either of you been to Cannonball before? And if so, what did you like about it?
Zee: Yes! I have been to Cannonball before. I was lucky enough to have done the banquet performance last year. I liked it because everyone was so free and sexy and horny, and it’s just this bubble away from the world outside. It’s not like your regular circuit event – everyone is being celebrated here, regardless of body type or kink or anything like that. It felt like a break from reality.
John: Sounds great to me! How about you Nakia?
Nakia: I have never been to Cannonball. I’ve always wanted to go. I’ve had lots of friends who have attended and friends who’ve played there, of course, like Zee and Tom Goss. Out of the blue, they reached out to me this year and offered me a spot and I jumped at it! I’m excited because some of my very first public performances were at bears runs and chub events. I’ve always felt performing for members of my own community is the best thing that I get to do because I can be myself 100% authentically.
John: You guys are playing at the Costume Concert Jam, so are you going to be dressing up and getting into the Halloween spirit?
Nakia: I’m gonna be Ariana Grande and Zee is gonna be Lady Gaga.
Zee: You got that right!
Nakia: I haven’t decided what I will dress up as, but I feel it would need to be something that I could change out of quickly once I’m done performing because it’s already gonna be super-hot, so I don’t want to have a whole lot of extra stuff on. I think our thing is poolside?
Zee: It is.
Nakia: Then, I’m looking forward to just performing in a Speedo.
Zee: I’m sure no one would complain.
Nakia: I haven’t really given it much thought, but I will say this. After the pandemic, one of the things that has reawakened for me is my love of Halloween. John, as someone who is a devout follower of Samhain yourself, all I really want to do is have a good time that weekend and just be the most fun version of myself I can be! I’m sure whatever it is that I end up doing will be something fun and hopefully cute.
John: How about you Zee, any thoughts to what you might dress up as?
Zee: I’m a bad gay in the sense of I’m not a devout Halloween girl. I turn out looks throughout the year so when it comes time to dress up for one night, I’m like, I don’t want to spend all this money and time doing something that is either going to look crazy or be uncomfortable. Last year I tried to dress up as Powerline from A Goofy Movie, but the outfit showed up late, so I didn’t actually dress up as anything for Cannonball. Maybe I’ll reuse that, but I don’t know….maybe I’ll just dress up as a slut…
Nakia: If you come as Powerline, I’ll come as Pete!
John: There you go! Though don’t be so quick to ditch the speedo/slut costumes, you two were really onto something there – Laughs – Other than sexy costumes, what can the audience expect from your performances?
Zee: I’m probably gonna be playing some new stuff that hasn’t come out yet. I’m trying to remember how much time we have – I think 20 to 30 minutes. I remember the stage has a very cool setup, the lights were great, the whole scaffolded thing. It’s right by the pool, it’s very interactive. This won’t be a time for me to be debuting any ballads, that’s for sure. I just want to get everyone hyped. I’m gonna try to be as interactive as I can.
I’m also gonna try not to suck too much dick that day so that my voice is still intact so I can give them the notes, give them runs! I know where to draw the line. After the show anything goes.
Nakia: First of all, I will be sucking lots of dick throughout the day.
John: Maybe Cannonball Bash should put that on the flyer!
Nakia: I actually have to fly back home the next morning, at the crack of dawn, because I’m taking my godson to see Kiss for the first time – and the last because they’re no longer touring after this. So, I will be doing my partying during the day and giving a great show that night. I will also be doing almost all new material.
John: Do either one of you have a favorite song from your repertoire that you love performing or always perform that is going to make the setlist?
Nakia: I think there are some songs from my repertoire that I will do that people probably know. I’ll definitely do “Dream Big”, the most recent version which is the one that we shot the video for.
Zee: I’ll probably be doing my newest single called “Making Diamonds” and “Thunder” seems to have had a surge of popularity. That one has legs and that one really pops off live.
John: I think that’ll get the party going for sure! And just as an aside – will there ever be a Nikia / Zee Machine collab at some point?
Zee: I’m down!
Nakia: One of the first things that I did when it got announced that we were both on the gig was, I sent a message to Zee that said, “We officially have six months to write and record”. We could have collabed but that’s apparently right when Zee was in the middle of doing like four other collabs!
Zee: The last six months I feel I’ve been in a blackout. It’s been amazing but rough and I’m very excited for not even just the performance part, but the experience of Cannonball itself. Last year it was such a nice break from life because I don’t do a lot of vacations. I don’t really have the time or the money to do that. So, this is a little bit of the best of both worlds.
John: I’d like each of you to talk about your relationship to the bear and chub community. What’s your link to them and when did you initially discover it?
Nakia: So, the way most people knew that they were gay when they were really young is the same way I knew I liked fat guys – at a really young age. It was the people on TV, the people around me. I always gravitated towards bigger people and as soon as I was old enough to really start dating and hooking up with guys, that was pretty much the road that I went down. In 1996 when I was a sophomore in college, the Internet hit. I had already at that point been sending self-addressed stamped envelopes to get newsletters from Girth and Mirth clubs in Illinois, bear clubs in Kentucky and whatever other group I found in the classifieds or personal ads in the back of various porn magazines. That was my original introduction to it all.
When I moved to Chicago that’s really when it blew up for me because I went to Touché, to assorted Bear Nights, and Girth and Mirth nights. When I got to Austin, I got plugged into more of the Bear Pride stuff. That was where I first discovered bear runs as opposed to chubby chaser runs. I think the best part about these events, when they’re done right, is that people feel free to be themselves and can really allow themselves the opportunity to connect in ways that we don’t always get to do. I think it’s a beautiful thing to see and I love going to them.
John: That’s wonderful Nakia. Zee?
Zee: I’m trying to think of a good way to approach this. Only because as someone who’s not necessarily a bear or a chub himself, I don’t wanna come across as pandering or seem like I need props for fucking fat guys. I don’t think that’s important or cool necessarily. It was just always what I was attracted to for whatever reason. It was never something I was trying to hide. As I grew up, I realized that it actually was something that a lot of other people tried to hide. And that always seemed fucked up to me.
The Bears and the Chubs have been a huge, huge, support for my music and my career and I am very grateful to them.
John: I think the key is the representation that the both of you give in your music and videos to bears, chubs and bigger bodied people. We all want to be seen and appreciated and you both make sure to do that for us. Things like that really make a difference to people, so I am unsurprised about how passionate the bears and chubs are when it comes to you two.
Zee: Another thing, and this is just my observation from being surrounded by this community – I observe that a lot of guys that might look like me and who might have a similar attraction as I do, don’t really see that they maybe have a bit of a privilege in this world or might be in a little bit of a position of power. I do know that in the world we live in today people with bigger bodies are told that they shouldn’t be, or that they are less than. I do feel as though there are people who take advantage of that. It makes me really mad. It is a goal of mine to try and break that down as much as I can, without trying to put too much of the focus on me.
John: Thank you for saying that Zee. I recently dipped my toe back into the chub/chaser scene and all I can say is the more things change, the more they stay the same. The odds are most definitely still stacked in favor of the chasers, for a variety of reasons.
Zee: It’s like a social hierarchy. I’m not saying that this is accurate or correct, but just what society kind of puts on body type privilege. It’s a structure that benefits chasers, so why would they want to change it? I just try to be self-aware and look at everybody on the same level. We’re all equal here. I’m just into who I’m into and I’m happy to be a part of it.
John: Well said Zee. And thank you both for your honesty. I cannot wait to celebrate with you both at Cannonball Bash! Thanks for taking the time out to chat today. Big hugs!