In the 1980s, Chris Nagle moved with his family to the Cape where his father’s involvement in art instruction, painting, sculpting, and carpentry provided a path toward immersion in design. Chris’ pursuit of architecture ultimately led to his teaming up with Adam Slone in 2019 to launch Provincetown’s Outermost — a collection of art and modern furnishings that might make John Waters get up and leave the room. Chic but not cliché. Let’s find out how Chris’ dog keeps ruining his sweaters.
What was your first queer experience with a home furnishing and did you immediately journal about it?
Chris: My parents had a butterfly chair in our A-frame house and I was completely aroused by its shape. It was rather unisex, but much sexier with men in bellbottoms sitting in it. And no, I didn’t journal about it. I kept all my early queer furnishings experiences to myself, unrecorded.
What sort of queer neighborhood were you confined to growing up and who in the family first identified your colorful spirit?
Chris: I lived in a small New Hampshire town for many of my formative years. It was very small in its thinking. If by “confined” you mean the imprisoned sense, then there you have it: small town New Hampshire. Thank god there were second home owners from cultured areas who knew the world was round. My godmother first identified my colorful spirit. My parents were too busy raising four kids all within five years of each other. Three are gay. There is a lot of color in this family. A whole f-n rainbow under one roof.
How influential do second home owners and visitors remain in exposing younger and less mobile queers to outside culture in small New England towns?
Chris: Absolutely influential. They show the less mobile queers that there are places to go, people to meet, houses to make pretty, and furniture to select. They inspire younger queers to pack their bags and get out of Dodge. They are a change of scenery — fleeting, fun, often sexy. Now, kids get exposure through television, film, and social media. When I was growing up in the 70s, we had three channels to choose from and we could only wish Lee Majors was gay.
Do you think aliens exist? Your Outermost logo looks along the lines of the alien language from the film Arrival.
Chris: I do think there is life out there given the size of the universe. I think it’s rather funny that we imagine them in bodies that resemble the human form but with egg shaped heads, big eyes, and long fingers — males and females all dressed in glittery unitards. I never saw Arrival. I’m not a sci-fi guy. I roll my eyes and seek the nearest present day drama. Although Star Wars nailed it. Great grunge look!
What do you imagine an alien’s mental construct of sex identity and orientation looks like?
Chris: Unisex without orientation. I imagine them to have the feeling of an orgasm whenever they want and that it likely powers their spaceships. Perhaps I will change my image to an island of all men who are super fit and scantily clad — sensitive, intelligent, funny, creative, and supportive of free love.
Nix that. I don’t want to lust after aliens. What was I thinking? I just came off Fourth of July Weekend in Provincetown. Alien enough.
How did you decide on the name Outermost and how much trouble would I be in if I broke something at the store?
Chris: Outermost came from the title of the 1928 book from naturalist Henry Beston, “The Outermost House.” He spent one full year, including winter, in a 150 sq.ft. cottage called The Fo’c’sle, on the Great Outer Beach. I have since loved that word— how it sounds, describes the land and seascape, and describes the feeling of standing at the water’s edge on our outer beaches. It speaks of the people: the curious, the characters, the artists. As for breaking something in the store, I would abandon all sense of peace and love and restrict your shopping to the few blocks in the very center of town, what we call “Taffy Alley.” There you can break all you want.
My partner’s sense of frugality keeps him from enjoying finer home decor pieces. Yet he giddily splashes out on these obnoxious circuit parties. How do I convince him that the key to an enhanced sex life involves pleasing me in a nicer furnished home?
Chris: Have an intervention. Round up your mature A-gays and gather around your partner. Take turns slapping and shaking the circuit parties out of him. Then parade house porn images in front of his face. Start with Dwell.
Outermost’s fancy kitchen and diningware are as queer as a 69 degree angle. Have you forsaken both straight lines and straight people with your whimsical plates, bowls, and goblets fit for a dinner with John Waters?
Chris: Queer, but not whimsical queer. More Greek or Roman queer — ancient simple strong shapes. Smooth. Natural. Architectural. In an early concept exercise, I was asked what Outermost was not. I said not whimsical, not fleeting, not playful, nor glossy. John Waters would yawn or doze off if dinner were served on my things and that’s what I was after. Stylish straight women are loving this. If together with gay men they are buying, you’ve done good.
How involved do you get with the design process for certain Outermost products? Are those original tees soft enough for bear daddies to hibernate in?
Chris: I work with any of the vendors open to creating custom products: ceramic trays, nautical hardware, leather work, tote bags, concrete work, Outermost chair colors, and finishes. Plus, I go junking for all of the vintage pieces. As for the artwork, I don’t allow much in the door that doesn’t fit a certain color palette. No red. No gloss. Nothing bright. Can’t stomach it. As for the tees, they are plenty soft and XL for our beloved bears.
What’s the jurying process for artists looking to present in Outermost?
Chris: I am a jury of one. I look for artists that capture the look and feel of being out here. That doesn’t necessarily mean they are living here. It is about a certain color palette and texture, natural materials, and simple shapes. Coastal. Chic but not cliché.
How have you put your own spin on the classic sweater or pullover look in Provincetown?
Chris: Only own two of top quality that were bought second hand. Wear them until they fall apart. Never tie it over your shoulders.
Do they fall apart in the hands of a lover or some contraption used to design Outermost products?
Chris: They fall apart after getting creased under my saltwater soaked dog in the back seat, eventually corroding the fabric.