The Democratic National Convention may have gone virtual, but it was still full of star-studded moments, including a performance from Billy Porter.
The actor, singer and Broadway star closed out the Democratic National Convention’s first night of virtual events Monday night with a performance of “For What It’s Worth” with Stephen Stills, the music artist of Crosby, Stills and Nash, who wrote the song in 1966.
While Porter’s performance was highly anticipated (though certainly not more so than Michelle Obama, whose appearance preceded him), no one expected the video to be quite what it turned out to be. Against a green screen background that showed a collage of protest imagery, Porter performed wearing a white puff-sleeved shirt, black trousers, high-heeled black leather boots and a long waistcoat with a bustle-like taffeta of some sort on the back.
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The green-screen mashup of both Porter and Stills on guitar was enough for Twitter to run wild with the video at the conclusion of the convention’s first night.
I thought no one could successfully follow Michelle, but I was very wrong. This is the green screen chaos music video I need at 11:06 PM. I'm with #BillyPorter #DemocraticConvention #DemocraticNationalConvention #DNC
— KaeLyn “Too Ambitious” Rich (@KaeLynRich) August 18, 2020
— Corey Shirey (@thecoreyshirey) August 18, 2020
Billy Porter and Stephen Stills performance was awesome. The production looked like a clip from a 1970’s variety show. #billyporter
— Uncle Patrick #BLM (@PatrickH63) August 18, 2020
— Cy Martz (@cymartz) August 18, 2020
— Chip Thomas (@chipfunky) August 18, 2020
Twitter users also took to their accounts to denounce the fact that most of the major news networks airing the convention, including CNN and MSNBC, cut off the performance by Porter and Stills, since it aired after Michelle Obama’s speech.
@BWilliams @MSNBC you don’t know how much you pissed off a bunch of people who wanted to watch #BillyPorter and #StephenStills close out the first night at the convention! Don’t be surprised if you lose viewers to @cspan tomorrow night. pic.twitter.com/I1pfOYMQqL
— MsToucanSami (@MsToucanSami) August 18, 2020
PLAY BILLY PORTER AND
STEVEN STILLS PERFORMANCE
— Daphne L Portis🌊✈🇺🇸 (@MissLynneNYC) August 18, 2020
Porter has been increasingly politically active throughout the pandemic and as the presidential election nears, speaking out against racial injustice, advocating for LGBTQ rights and urging voter engagement. In April he released his cover of Stills’ “For What It’s Worth.”
“I’ve always been a political artist,” the actor told Rolling Stone back in April on the song’s release. “I came of age as an artist during the AIDS crisis and I’ve always used my voice in that way. So looking forward, I knew it was an election year and I wanted to find material that would speak to that process.”
In July, Porter posted a photo of himself on Instagram holding an American flag and wearing a pair of thigh-high red patent-leather platform boots (which many guessed were a pair from his role in “Kinky Boots” from 2013-2015), asking his followers to register to vote. Porter partnered with liberal political action committee Move On’s #MyAmericanFlag campaign, using the American flag as a visual symbol for patriotism and voter engagement.
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We are just 100 days out from the U.S. presidential #election. I know I asked y’all the other day but ima ask it again and again. Are 👏🏾 you 👏🏾 registered 👏🏾 to 👏🏾 #vote👏🏾? If not, please register today and encourage your friends to join you. If you are registered, drop a ✊🏾 in the comments below. And yasss I mean er’body! ✊✊🏻✊🏼✊🏽✊🏾✊🏿 #iAmAVoter #ChangeForGood ✌️#registerafriendday @iamavoter
Porter’s DNC performance is another marquee appearance in what has been a busy year for the actor and performer, who had a string of standout red carpet appearances during awards season, including the the Oscars.