Everything you need to know about 90s drag legend Moi Renee
Get to know the mastermind behind the addictive sample on Beyoncé's 'Pure/Honey'.
Before Moi Renee was a centrepiece of the underground gay scene in New York, they were just a kid with a big, fabulous dream. Now, exactly three decades after the release of their iconic dance single “Miss Honey”, the track has been given a new lease of life on “Pure/Honey”, the 15th song on Beyoncé’s Renaissance - act i.
Moi Renee is now remembered as one of the under-appreciated greats of underground house. Born in Jamaica, Moi Renee moved to New York City in the late 1970s to study dance. By the early 1990s, Moi Renee was not only a student at the prestigious Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, but also rapidly building their reputation in the queer club scene. Moi Renee took their brand of high camp performance style to electric live shows at iconic New York venues such as The Shelter, Midtown 43, Tracks, One Hot Spot and Better Days — boldly carving out their name on stages all over the city.
At The Shelter, a club “founded on expression and acceptance” which is unfortunately now defunct, Moi Renee was famed for their late-night performances. In fact, out of all of their performers and personalities, the drag legend was one of the venue’s most popular entertainers.
When the artist released “Miss Honey” in 1992, the song was only made available on a 12″ Vinyl Record from Project X Records — an exclusive gem. Though it is now categorised as a ballroom track, “Miss Honey” is considered by some to be the original “bitch track” — an early subgenre of house music. “An overabundance of queens yapping about pussies and beating on their boyfriends quickly killed the ‘movement’,” reads an archived page on the subgenre by The House of Diabolique, “but the influence of the bitch track lives on. Simply put: Peaches, Avenue D and any other electroclash artist who relies on raunch or cunty humour owes a debt of gratitude to the bitch track.”
“Miss Honey”, produced by Franklin Fuentes, received heavy airplay at the gay dance clubs, tea dances and balls of the early 90s. The attention landed Moi Renee a coveted spot on The Sybil Bruncheon Show, the public access gay cable network’s talk show, and led to the YouTube clip they are now so well-known for online.
Sadly Moi Renee died in 1997 in what was ruled to be suicide (though some have disputed that), and would never see the full extent to which their music was embraced by the dance community. Over the following two decades, “Miss Honey” found its way into club speakers across the world. But it was in 2018, when UK DJ and producer Eats Everything played a track he had made sampling Moi Renee’s vocals at a queer rave in London, that it was catapulted back into our consciousness. In 2020, Eats Everything released the popular bootleg, finally making Moi Renee’s iconic topline available to all — including yours truly, in our A-Z of Gen Z Style video below.
In our hearts and minds, Moi Renee is still standing, still singing, and still rocking the hell out of that acid green bouffant. Rest in power.