With her gold spandex costumes and bouffant hair, Leslie Hall – satirical rapper and fashion risk-taker extraordinaire – is best known to parents as a frequent guest on the preschool series “Yo Gabba Gabba.” She appears occasionally on the Nick Jr. show and served as a special guest on its concert tour.
She also heads up a band called Leslie and the LYs, which brings its amusing electro-hip-hop to the Charlotte bar Snug Harbor on Wednesday.
Before her rise with the toddler set, Hall (pictured on the Yo Gabba Gabba tour in October) was an online star – one of the first actually. She began uploading original music and comedy videos before the term “YouTube sensation” existed.
“When YouTube came out, it was (videos like) look at what my baby looks like eating breakfast. It was a perfect place where people could view the videos easier. Thank God you were invented by nerds somewhere,” Hall says.
She also used the web to promote her collection of gem sweaters – bedazzled Goodwill finds that she displayed in her own museum. “It was like getting high off couponing,” she says of shopping for $3 sweaters. She now has 500 in storage in her hometown of Ames, Iowa. She titled her third album “Cewebrity” after her growing notoriety online – where “Yo Gabba Gabba” discovered her.
“They were looking for people for Season One and saw me on the Internet – a kooky lady from the Midwest,” she explains. The Gabba folks thought kids would “get” Hall’s act. “Thank God they were right. Thank God toddlers can’t speak critically of my dance moves.”
Hall grew up one of four and turned to dance and performance as a means to compete for attention.
“I was always dancing. I loved Paula Abdul. I turned to glitz and glamour. My brothers turned to getting in trouble. My sister is just so normal,” she says.
A former art school student (her paintings, handmade rugs and headbands are available at www.lesliehall.com), she began writing and performing silly songs and eventually combined all her interests in one visual package: dance-music videos that mixed visual and performance art with satirical humor. “I knew I wasn’t getting younger in the face and these dance moves don’t last forever.”
Hall has become a feminist icon for the Internet age, owning her “Tight Pants/Body Rolls” (the title of her biggest “hit”) and promoting everything from positive body image to dance to crafting in her songs.
Fans at Leslie and the LYs concerts come from both audiences. Some dress in gold pants while others bring items for her to sign for their toddlers. Hall alters her moves for the audience.
“When doing ‘Yo Gabba Gabba,’ I don’t do as much thrusting and jiggling,” she says.
The tour experience is completely different from the posh digs she enjoyed on tour with DJ Lance Rock, Biz Markie, and the “YGG” gang for 3 and 1/2 months last fall. “One is like fancy wine and cheeses and massages, and this one … I just ate a piece of bread with peanut butter on it using a plastic knife a lady cleaned on her tongue because we didn’t have any napkins.”
Leslie & The LYs brings its Destination Friends tour to town with fellow Iowans Pennyhawk and Ramona & the Swimsuits.
WHEN: 9 p.m. Wedsnesday
WHERE: Snug Harbor, 1228 Gordon St.