Let’s say you are my friend Denise and we bump into each other at the Northridge Mall.
“Hey Denise!” I’d say. “Looking good.”
“Ahoy, Grams,” you might say. “You’ve got something in your – oh, yeah, it’s gone now. How’s it going?”
A perfectly nice greeting, wouldn’t you say? You’d probably be a little weirded out if I skipped your Christian name altogether and shouted “WHAT’S UP INTERSECTION OF TAMPA AND NORDHOFF?!”
But that’s just what the cowboy-hatted Celebrity DJ Diplo did at the 2020 AVN Awards (except he said “WHAT’S UP LAS VEGAS?!”) and people went batshit. I assume it was because they were also in Las Vegas.
Just know this: You are more than a geographical location to me.
And so is Doja Cat, whom I feel I treated poorly, and to whom I apologize. If I’d only known who she was beforehand, our conversation on the AVN Awards red carpet would have been more pleasant. As it was, the 24-year-old rapper just seemed a little weary, but politely answered my questions regardless.
“Would you tell me your name?” I asked. Sometimes red carpet walkers are announced by a handler, and sometimes they fill out little cards in Sharpie so that the waiting press phalanx can be prepared. Doja didn’t have either.
“Doja Cat,” she said. “D-O-J-A, C-A-T.”
“And do you work on the movie side of the adult industry or are you a cam model, or both?” I asked. My own learning curve, having been away from the business for a while, was steep, and the explosive growth of cam services and their stars is still something I’ve got to get my head around. Not only that, but my radio presets are all very left-end-of-the-dial or otherwise representative of someone who spends a lot of time in Costco.
But Ms. Cat is neither a cam model nor a porn actor. She was performing in the show, as was Diplo, who had a great light show But I Still Don’t Get Celebrity DJs, Even Though I Can Now Name Four of Them. (The others are Skrillex, DeadMau5, and DJ Break4a5t, who only plays Supertramp remixes.)
“No,” Doja Cat gently corrected me, “I’m a rapper and producer.”
“Well, it’s very nice to meet you,” I said, uncertain of how to proceed, “and I think your dress is beautiful.”
“Thank you,” she said, and moved on to some TV crew from Norway. I hope they treated her better, or socialized her healthcare, or something.
Later, imagine my surprise when Doja Cat and two backup dancers appeared onstage, with Cat having changed from her dress to a patchwork of glitter. I determined 1.) that I could be forgiven for mistaking her for a porn star and, 2.) that Doja Cat is really talented, fun, and misunderstood.
“Bitch: I’m a cow,” Doja explains in the rap “Mooo,” which she says that she wrote and recorded in a day, “as a joke.”
“I’m not a cat,” she continues. “I don’t say ‘Meow.'”
Ms. Cat and her dancers put on a sexy, dancey, and juicy performance.
The AVN Awards show has improved its production value in recent years, especially since its partnership with Showtime, which broadcasts an edited version of the show later in the year. Still, comedian Aries Spears, of “MadTV” fame, and co-hosts Nikki Benz and cam model Emily Bloom often struggled with weak material. Doja Cat and Diplo both delivered, however, and I wanted to know more about her (but not so much about Diplo, because I already own a laptop and a cowboy hat, and have a GPS on my phone so I know how to greet you).
I found this interview with Doja Cat from Radio One D.C. She talks about her father and mother being artists from Durban, South Africa, and New York, respectively, how she feels bad for her boyfriend because of the highly-sexualized attention she gets, and how she was surprised by the popularity of the “Mooo” video. It’s charming, enlightening, and made me glad that I’d found an interview where she was asked questions by people who knew her work.
I was also impressed with the grace with which she handled the passive-aggressive questions of the female co-host, about rumors, plastic surgery, and her dating preferences. It made me feel a little better about my own poorly-educated but otherwise innocuous question.
“My curse is writing about love and sex,” she says, while still bewildered by the success of the “Mooo” video (“I made that with my eyes closed and my hands behind my back. It was an inside joke that everybody just happened to see.”) She describes her genres as “Pop, Rap, Hip-Hop, and R&B, just to be safe.”
If you come back, Doja Cat, I will ask you all the best questions.
Previously on Porn Valley Observed: Last Call At the Hard Rock—an AVN 2020 Gallery