In Rolling Stone’s June 2023 issue, Monáe spoke about the freedom she feels when she bares her skin. The 37-year-old singer, who’s non-binary and uses they/she pronouns, explained that being naked has become a “big theme” in her life as she celebrates her “new era of liberation”.
“I’m much happier when my titties are out and I can run around free,” the Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery actor said.
Monáe, whose fourth studio album The Age of Pleasure drops on 9 June, shared a behind-the-scenes video from the nude photo shoot to Instagram on 22 May. The “Lipstick Lover” singer appeared on the magazine cover wearing nothing but a gold chain headpiece, as she covered her breasts with her hands.
Fans and friends of the Grammy Award nominee took to the comments section to praise Monáe for posing topless. “EVERYTHING,” wrote singer SZA, along with a red heart eye emoji.
“In love,” said artist Chloe Bailey, while one fan wrote: “Now THAT’S how you do a COVER.”
This isn’t the first time Janelle Monáe has showed off their skin. The Moonlight actor was featured topless in the NSFW music video for their new single, “Lipstick Lover”, off their upcoming album. Earlier this month, Monáe unveiled the cover art for The Age of Pleasure, which sees the singer swimming topless underwater.
The Hidden Figures star has also showcased a number of daring fashion looks on the red carpet over the past year. At the 2023 Met Gala, Monáe arrived at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City wearing a custom black-and-white Thom Browne coat – only to peel off the jacket and reveal a black bikini and sheer petticoat underneath.
Despite her unapologetic red carpet looks, Monáe previously called out a fan for commenting on some of her fashion moments. Last February, she attended the 2023 Grammys in Los Angeles wearing a black strapless dress with a plunging neckline and opera-length gloves. While praising the elegant look, one of Monae’s fans also poked fun at the “Dirty Computer’ singer’s previous wardrobe choices in the process.
“Janelle Monae finally showing off how fine she is instead of dressing like the monopoly man,” they tweeted. Monae, noticing how many likes the tweet was receiving, jokingly replied: “No new music just for this.”
Elsewhere in the Rolling Stone cover story, Janelle Monáe opened up about their non-binary identity and why they choose to keep their romantic life private.
Monáe, who first came out as non-binary in April 2022 during an episode of Facebook Watch’s Red Table Talk, told Rolling Stone: “I have a policy and agreement with myself - that is a part of my life that I want to keep private. I can talk about my identity, I can talk about my sexuality. I can talk about all things Janelle Monáe without having to go into detail. You know what I mean? It’s not necessary.”
Speaking to Red Table Talk co-hosts Jada Pinkett Smith, Willow Smith, and Adrienne Banfield-Norris at the time, Monáe explained that she prefers to perceive people based on their energy, rather than based on their gender.
“I don’t see how you identify,” she said. “And I feel like that opens you up to fall in love with whoever, with any beautiful spirit.”