I got monsters. How 'bout you?
January 23, 2013 3:24 AM   Subscribe

Mina Caputo began her career as Keith Caputo, founder of the heavy metal band Life of Agony. In the early 1990s the band became huge in Europe, and the teenage Caputo found herself trapped in the life of a macho metal superstar when what she really wanted was to be a nice young lady attending Julliard. She performed as Keith for over 20 years, then in 2010 Niko Bikialo's quietly devastating music video for Caputo's song Got Monsters [brief nudity] put the viewer inside the mind of a transwoman as she struggles to find her place in the world and make a friend of the stranger she sees in the mirror. A year later, Caputo shocked metal fans when she officially announced she was transitioning.

If you'll permit me a moment of self-indulgence... As a transwoman, perhaps the highest praise I can give the Got Monsters video is that while parts of it are difficult to watch, every moment feels true. The next time somebody asks me what it's really like to be trans, I might just point them to this clip.

"This," I'll say. "Maybe not for everybody, but for me, it's like this. Some days, it hurts like this. And some days, it's this beautiful."
posted by Ursula Hitler (14 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite
Along similar lines, the transition of Against Me!'s lead singer from Tom Gabel to Laura Jane Grace.
posted by grabbingsand at 4:08 AM on January 23, 2013 [1 favorite]

Amazing - I had no idea of any of this other than having loved Caputo's first solo album 'Died Laughing'.
posted by Jofus at 4:15 AM on January 23, 2013

I've been following Grace's transition with interest. I'm not a huge fan of her music, but she seems like an awesome person. I think that people like Grace, Caputo and Lana Wachowski must be changing some minds out there. They're cool, articulate and unashamed, and since coming out they just seem so happy, they absolutely glow. Wachowski in particular seemed ready to burst when she was promoting Cloud Atlas, she was like a puppy off the leash. Just watching her, I found myself smiling.

I tried to minimize the biographical stuff about Caputo because I wanted the post to be mostly about that amazing video. The first time I saw it I didn't know it was about a transwoman, which gave the opening minutes a different, more surreal feel. The first time she sees herself in the mirror it was a shock, and I wasn't quite sure what was happening. It could be that the video is actually more effective that way, when you have to figure it out as you go. But I loved it so much that I wanted to share it with people, and it seemed awkward to be coy about the subject matter, like it was some big Crying Game twist.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 4:26 AM on January 23, 2013 [3 favorites]

Oh, crud! I should've mentioned that there is some brief nudity. I don't wanna get anybody in trouble at work, here. Could one of the mods make a note of it someplace in the post, maybe?
posted by Ursula Hitler at 4:39 AM on January 23, 2013

[Okay, added a note after the video link.]
posted by taz (staff) at 4:44 AM on January 23, 2013

I was a big fan of River Runs Red and Ugly in my high school years but lost track of the band later. Interesting to hear about this so many years later - she seems like a cool person.
posted by brokkr at 4:58 AM on January 23, 2013 [1 favorite]

I think I saw this video when it first did the rounds in 2010; it is brilliant and honest and does seem true to life even to this cissiest of cis men.
posted by MartinWisse at 5:57 AM on January 23, 2013

I'm sure that I alienated more than a couple people with ranting and raving about how great "River Runs Red" was. I have to go back and re-listen to it now with this broader knowledge of Caputo's struggle.
posted by DWRoelands at 6:43 AM on January 23, 2013

That's an intensely beautiful song, and the video makes it even more powerful. Thank you for sharing it; I don't follow metal, so was unaware of Caputo, but now I will look for her work.
posted by Sidhedevil at 7:29 AM on January 23, 2013

Back when they were Keith, their debut self-titled album "Died Laughing" was something I picked up on pure speculation—I had never heard Life of Agony.

To this day, it's still one of my favourite albums. Hopefully Mina's happier now. That was a great album, but the underlying darkness was rather striking.
posted by Dark Messiah at 7:39 AM on January 23, 2013

It was always a shock to see the raw edge of River Runs Red softening when they released Soul Searching Sun. Now it makes more sense.
posted by dr_dank at 7:47 AM on January 23, 2013

To me, this is their finest hour, especially at around the 3:00 mark. Originally appeared on this. Even though they left it off their first album, they opened every show with it back in the day.

Anyone else remember that time in 1997 that they replaced Keith/Mina with the dude from Ugly Kid Joe? You remember them, they were the band that put the SNL transgender punchline "Pat" into this video.
posted by snottydick at 9:55 AM on January 23, 2013

One of the things that makes it really work for me is that the woman who gives her a hard time in the bar is a tattooed hipster type. You'd expect the bigotry to come from jock dudes, but some of the supposedly cool, "edgy" people can be just as nasty and intolerant. That the intolerance comes from a woman in this case, and a woman you'd expect to be more understanding, makes it more shocking. In my experience women are generally much more accepting of transwomen than most guys (including gay guys), but you can never predict it. Some girl with a green mohawk can be less accepting than a mousy little lady who goes to church every Sunday.

The SNL Pat sketches didn't bother me, because it always seemed like they were more about the awkwardness of people being uncertain of Pat's gender than they were about making fun of trans people. What I mean is, when people couldn't tell Pat's gender they were in an awkward social situation, not being quite sure how to relate to Pat. And every time they thought they had Pat's gender figured out, it would turn out to be another false lead. I never thought of Pat as trans, he/she was just sort of an odd little person who had no idea people were confused about his/her gender.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 5:43 PM on January 23, 2013 [3 favorites]

That's an amazing song and video. Thanks for posting it, Ursula.
posted by deborah at 12:17 AM on January 24, 2013

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