Kim Petras is a newcomer on the pop music scene, but she’s making headlines Friday (Nov. 15) because someone is using her to target the Westboro Baptist Church headquarters in Topeka, Kansas.
According to TMZ, there are four billboards advertising the transgender singer’s song “Got My Number” that feature a sexy Petras and the tagline “Call me baby” and they are directed at the Westboro headquarters. Sources connected to Petras tell the site that they don’t know who put the billboards up, but that it wasn’t anyone directly connected with Petras.
Here’s everything you need to know about this up-and-coming singer.
1. She’s Originally from Germany
Petras was born in August 1992 in Cologne, Germany. She began recording music as a teenager, followed by launching a modeling career with a chain of German hair salons. But she always wanted to move to the United States to pursue music.
She tells Galore Magazine in a 2019 interview, “There were really no opportunities for me in Germany to make pop music the way I wanted to make pop music,” but she adds that moving to Los Angeles “wasn’t easy.”
“I could barely afford anything. I got the plane tickets by waitressing and saved up money to come out here and it took a long time before anyone heard any of my songs,” Petras recounts. “It was definitely hard, I didn’t know anybody, but I knew it was what I had to do. Being an immigrant and feeling like you don’t fit in, you don’t understand the culture. Even though I always watched American TV shows and was really obsessed with speaking English and have always been really good at it and always knew that I wanted to move here.”
2. Kim Underwent Gender Affirmation Surgery at 16
In 2009, Petras became the youngest person to undergo gender affirmation surgery. According to an interview with the UK’s Telegraph newspaper, she began hormone therapy at the age of 12 and then was allowed to have the surgery after being evaluated by the head of the psychiatric unit at Frankfurt Hospital, Dr. Bernd Meyenburg.
“I was always against such operations on children so young, but after seeing how happy one of my patients was and how well adjusted after returning from having the operation abroad while still a teenager – I realized that in some cases it is the right decision,” Meyenburg told the Telegraph at the time. “Kim is such a case – she always knew what she wanted.”
In the same 2019 Galore Magazine interview, Petras said that she had known since she was 5 years old that she was transgender. And right after her surgery, she told the Telegraph, “I was asked if I feel like a woman now – but the truth is I have always felt like a woman – I just ended up in the wrong body.”
3. Kim Has Been Compared to Lady Gaga
Petras is slowly but surely taking the music world by storm. She has had four singles make it onto either the Billboard Dance Club Songs Chart or the Billboard Dance/Electronic Songs Chart. But none of them have risen higher than 23. Still, it’s only a matter of time, especially since she’s about to have a song released on the upcoming Charlie’s Angels soundtrack called “How It’s Done,” featuring Kash Doll, ALMA and Stefflon Don.
Her sound has been compared to none other than Oscar- and Grammy-winning superstar Lady Gaga.
“When I heard Kim perform live in our studio, the hair on my arms stood up,” Troy Carter, head of creative services at Spotfiy, told the New York Times in 2018. “I hadn’t been blown away like that since seeing Gaga at the start.”
And actually, Gaga is one of Petras’ biggest influences. She told Billboard in a 2018 interview that Gaga’s The Fame album was everything to her when it came out.
“I’ve listened to that record a thousand times. I think that’s my favorite Gaga record,” Petras said. “I’m obsessed with that. I just remember stanning her super, super hard. Crazy that that’s 10 years old!”
Petras also said that she hopes to make the kind of pop music like Gaga, Britney Spears, Kylie Minogue — fun music that can make you forget your problems.
“I hope that my music can make you forget about your problems and make you have a fun time for three-and-a-half minutes … for me, as a kid who hated school and just ran home to watch Britney Spears videos, I felt like I could forget about the stuff I didn’t like about my life and listen to pop music and just escape,” said Petras. “There’s a lot of escapism in my music.
4. She Has Some Dream Collaborations in Mind
Petras previously toured with Troye Sivan, the Australian singer-songwriter behind the Golden Globe-nominated song “Revelation.” Petras told Billboard that he’s an incredible songwriter and she hopes they can collaborate one day.
“I’m obsessed with him, I think he’s an amazing artist, an amazing writer,” Petras said, adding, ” I totally hope [we can collaborate].”
But he’s not her ultimate dream collaboration. That title belongs to an artist that might surprise you.
“I wanna work with Cher really bad. I think Cher is amazing,” Petras said. “I’ve gotten over a lot of heartbreak by listening to Love Hurts, it’s an amazing, amazing album, I love it. Cher is unstoppable and so gorgeous and over decades just did the thing over and over.”
5. Kim Has Faced Transphobia in the Music Industry
In a 2019 interview with the Washington Blade, Petras revealed that she has faced some serious transphobia in the music industry, which caused her to go the independent route.
“There was literally this one very high up woman who was like, ‘You’re going to hell if you work on Kim’s project because being transgender, you’re going to hell,'” Petras recounts. “So that didn’t work out. People were really freaked out by it, a lot of industry people.”
Because of that, Petras decided that her best choice was to work with Artists Without a Label (AWAL). But she still worries about people being “weirded out” by her being transgender.
“I still feel like there are a bunch of people being like, ‘Who is this transgender girl?’, people are definitely weirded out by it, but just having a fan base and just being able to sell out shows — I’ve been putting in the work, changing things and I think people are starting to think that maybe a trans artist can do the damn thing and be a real pop star, but yeah, let’s see,” Petras said.
One power person she definitely has in her corner is none other than businesswoman and socialite Paris Hilton, who appeared in Petras’ video for her single “I Don’t Want It All.”
Hilton interviewed Petras for PAPER magazine’s 2018 Pride issue, telling Petras at the time, “You’re killing it and I’m so proud of you.” And the admiration is mutual, with Petras telling Entertainment Weekly that Hilton is “the sweetest, most lovely professional person” to work with.
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