Daily Style Phile Kalup Linzy: James Franco's Right-Hand Performance Man

by Ross Kenneth Urken · February 1, 2011

Kalup Linzy is blowing up. When we caught him singing "Asshole" with James Franco at the Rob Pruitt Art Awards back in December, we had an inkling he was on the precipice of grandeur. Now he's officially arrived.

The 33-year-old American video and performance artist has added some street cred to Franco's attempt to establish himself within that quirky artistic niche. A Stuckey, Florida native, Linzy got his MFA from the University of South Florida in 2003 and studied at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculptutre video art workshop. He lives in Crown Heights, Brooklyn.

His daring work has been included in the public collections of, for example, MoMA and the Whitney.

When I first saw Linzy at Webster Hall at 10 p.m. on Dec. 8 as the Art Awards presentation wound down, he was dressed as a tranny and took the stage with Franco to sing, among other songs, his famous "Asshole."

"Fuck it up," Franco crooned about the asshole in staid nonchalance, affecting a sort of Backstreet Boy hold and a smidge of vibrato.

Linzy, who actually appeared with Franco on "General Hospital," indulged in soulful singing to this sodomitically-themed ditty. Franco wore a sleeveless tuxedo shirt, and the two wore super tight pants.

Here's a clip of him singing "Asshole" at The Moore Space Miami in 2008.

The two actually met in December 2009 at Art Basel Miami Beach, where Linzy performed at MoMA P.S. 1's party honoring Klaus Biesenbach. It was during Linzy's performance there that Franco was sold on incorporating him into his "General Hospital" stint.

Check out Linzy as "Kalup Ishmael" on the July 14, 2010 episode of "General Hospital" with James Franco playing his character Franco, a deranged serial killer.

This week in New York Magazine, Rachel Wolff profiled Linzy, who tells her:

"James always tells me that I inspire him, and he inspires me, too. Creatively, it's like fireworks. I realized that it was best for me to just let things unfold."

The two perform debuted publicly debuted at the Bowery Hotel last May; Linzy's character in the duo is often Taiwan, Franco's lover.

Franco tells Wolff that Linzy has given his career a boost in unexpected ways:

"Kalup has given me a lot of confidence, showing me how you can boldly and nakedly put yourself into your work. He has no fear when it comes to art or performance, and I admire that. I look to him for guidance."

Linzy's cred has officially been established, and he appeared with a be-wigged Franco at Sundance to sing Linzy's song "Chewing Gum."

[Kalup Linzy and James Franco at Sundance]

The big question now is whether or not Linzy will perform with Franco at the Oscars. As he tells Wolff cryptically: "I haven't uttered those words--and I don't know if I should....If I tell James I want to do something, he pretty good at making it happen."

["Best 2K I Ever Spent": Sundance Serves It Up With Chefdance]

[James Franco Sings About "Asshole," Explains The Real Reason Why He's Hosting Oscars]