Volume 74, Number 20 | September 22 - 28 , 2004



He’s too sexy for his shirts; hoping to be a male Madonna

By Tien-Shun Lee

As a teenager, fashion designer Apollo Braun decided that he was either going to commit suicide or conquer the world. Now the owner of a Lower East Side boutique that features artsy and outrageous outfits, Braun is concentrating hard on the second option.

“I want to be famous,” Braun, 28, says at least several times per day with his smooth foreign accent that stems from his upbringing in Jerusalem. “My ambition is monster ambition — you could put it in a bottle and sell it. I will sell my body and soul for fame.”

Located at 193 Orchard St. in the trendy bar and boutique neighborhood that still bears “Bargain District” signs, Braun’s 2-year-old boutique, Apollo Braun, showcases unique clothing by designers who don’t have stores of their own, as well as Braun’s own designs. Materials used to make the clothing range from heavy, purple rubber for a tank top to periwinkle cookie fabric for a miniskirt to genuine Barbie dolls used to decorate a Hawaiian, floral button-down.

Braun is most proud of his T-shirts, which feature his own personal slogans, such as “Madonna is my mother” and “Sex is Freedom” and some that are a bit racier.

“Britney Spears took one of my T’s when I was in the flea market at W. Fourth and Broadway,” Braun said, his eyes sparkling with baby-blue eyeliner. Naturally, the shirt picked by the pop tart was not one of the tamer ones.

But clothing is not what Braun is focusing on to make himself famous. Braun’s goal in life is to be an internationally famous recording star — a male Madonna.

Braun is on his way with two well-received songs he has performed at weddings, local venues and at his own fashion shows. The songs are entitled “Sexy” and “Shut Up.”

Dressed in his own fuzz and leather fashions, Braun puts 100 percent of his erotic energy into performing each song.

A sample lyric: “Love is sexy, hate is sexy, war is not sexy, but peace is sexy. You are sexy, with me you’re more sexy, without me you’re not sexy, with me you’re so sexy.” He never fails to simultaneously both crack up and titillate the crowd, while busting sinewy moves that would make even Esther, er Madonna, blush. His music is infectious, almost too much so.

“My music is definitely commercial,” said Braun. “People say they hate me because my songs stay in their head and they can’t stop singing it.”

“ ‘Sexy’ is an optimistic song,” said Braun, who finds sushi to be a sexy food, as well as falafel. “And ‘Shut Up’ is for all those people who say ‘Don’t do this, don’t do that.’ ”

Achieving what he has so far has not been easy, Braun said. In Israel, Braun claims he “slept his way up” to become the manager of a theater group and the head of a public relations group that promoted music concerts. Braun said his father, the manager of an industrial supplies company, did not believe in him and was critical of his tendency to be drawn towards the world of makeup and fashion.

“When you come from nothing, you need to do what you need to do to get what you need,” said Braun.

As a child, Braun often wore hand-me-down clothing from his two elder sisters. He often felt confused about his sexuality, he said. He experimented sexually with both men and women and now considers himself a bisexual who is proud to be a man but at the same time experiences the feminine feelings of women.

Braun was 25 when he moved to New York City. He worked at the Soho hip-hop fashion store Yellow Rat Bastard for six months before getting into nude modeling and eventually fashion design and performing.

“My mantra is ‘work hard and die pretty,’ ” said Braun. “My dream is to have a show in the Jacob Javits Center. When I’m onstage, I feel happy. I make my audience dream.”

To advance his music career and help him get gigs, Braun has produced a demo CD that, as well as his two signature hits, includes a third song, “I Love You.” He is working on writing more songs, some of them ballads.

Braun said he sometimes feels lonely, but he knows that with hard work he will one day achieve his dream of being famous. For now, he is promoting himself by word of mouth and through a mailing list that he has started where he announces his fashion shows and upcoming gigs.

“For me, stage is life itself. I feel like a horny animal when I go on stage,” Braun said. “The people make me feel sexy — they look at me and they admire the clothes that I wear.”

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