Full of starry pomp and drama as it may have been, the 59th Grammy Awards this weekend also featured its—perhaps needless—share of politics. Katy Perry performed with a “persist” armband in front of a giant projection of the US constitution. A Tribe Called Quest railed against “president Agent Orange” for “perpetuating all of the evil.” Chance the Rapper wore a hoodie from his new Barack Obama-themed clothing line. As had happened prior to Donald Trump’s inauguration as US president, few musicians seemed to be on Trump’s side.
Then there was Joy Villa, who, at the pre-show red carpet, threw off a white robe to reveal what amounted to a Donald Trump election campaign banner that’d been hastily folded and stitched into a dress. The gown proclaimed “MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN” on the front, while its back spelled/yelled out “T R U M P.” Both, in glitter.
But who is Joy Villa? (See: Who is Jackie Evancho?)
Villa is a 25-year-old singer who, according to her website, goes by the performance name “Princess Joy Villa” and moonlights as an author, model, and vegan health coach. Also, she is a Scientologist. Most interestingly, despite causing a sensation on the carpet at the Grammys (where she was not actually nominated for a Grammy herself), she has a history of wearing provocative gowns to the awards.
It’s beside the point whether Villa is legitimately a Trump devotee; what matters more is the stack of numbers that her dress debut racked up. The singer amassed 11,000 new Twitter followers in an hour. Her EP, I Make the Static, jumped to the top of Amazon’s best-selling album chart this weekend and was #16 on Apple’s iTunes chart this morning. “Go big, or go home,” Villa tweeted. “You either stand up for what you believe or fall for what you don’t.” As a relatively unknown musician, Villa didn’t have much to lose with her publicity stunt; the attention-grabbing dress was a smart strategy, because it could only win her more renown.
Bigger names in Hollywood who take an unpopular political stance—Kanye West, for instance—are, of course, a different story.