Numéro: Wasn’t growing up in Georgia, the birthplace of America’s Christian right the worst nightmare ever?
André Benjamin: I had a strict Christian upbringing, my parents and I were members of a southern Baptist church. But with age I got closer to God all while moving away from the church. Today, I have my faith without having to listen to those purveyors of nonsense.
Are you a good Christian who rejects the bling adopted by so many of your colleagues?
When I signed my first contract with a record company at the age of 17, I raided the jewellery stores of Atlanta and covered myself with rings, chains and rhinestoned belt buckles. I was a travelling hardware store, what people call a “boogy”: a redneck pretending to be a nabob. I even went as far as having my teeth redone in 18-carat gold. The girls in the neighbourhood started teasing me, saying things like: “Hey dude, where’d you find such a small bumper?” So I ended up getting rid of everything that was shiny and threw it into the nearest gutter.
“The height of bad taste in menswear? Wearing a dress”
Aren’t girls suspicious of men who draw too much attention to themselves with what they wear?
Some do find overdressed men disconcerting, others see it as an outward sign of wealth and find it very attractive. What worries me, is that today it’s impossible to take care of your personal hygiene without being pointed at and ridiculed. Worse than that is being treated as a metrosexual. As if filing your nails and ironing your shirt calls a man’s virility into question. God knows if I was a woman, I’d like the man who’s all over me to have clean hands at the very least.