On the Couch with Candy Bowers

AAR Candy Bowers - photo by Anna HayWho is Candy Bowers?
Candy Bowers is an ever-evolving radical queer story maker, lyricist, teacher, truth teller and conscious outlier. I have spent the last 20 years writing and performing on stages across “Australia” (this stolen land on which sovereignty has not been ceded) and the around the globe, from Edinburgh to South Africa.

What would you do differently to what you do now?
If I had a crystal ball, I would have tried to circumvent a bunch of relationships with abusive collaborators and partners that blocked my buoyancy as an artist… but then again perhaps the art to come wouldn’t be as potent. Perhaps I’d just have given less fucks during my career more of the time… Imma make up for that in the next leg.

Who inspires you and why?
Audre Lorde inspires me because she wrote when no one was listening and put words to my existence long before I arrived. Lorde is my litany for survival and the embodiment of ubuntu. Lauryn Hill inspires me because she broke every record and filled my generation of Afro-femmes with ourselves back unto ourselves. She unleashed an undeniable voice and visibility for black women in hip hop. Lebo Mashille inspires me because in her I see the South Africa that is and could be. Wangechi Mutu and Nick Cave (the black queer American Installation Artist) bring visions of possibility, consciousness and human connectivity. Janelle Monae, Tessa Thompson, Childish Gambino, Laura Mvula, Ava Duvernay, Viola Davis, Lena Waithe, Steven Oliver, Indya Moor, Danai Gurira and Lupita Nyongo inspire me with their power, fierceness, choices and craft. Larrikiah poet Laniyuk moves and relocates, grounds and opens ground in ways that only a first woman poet can command. Leah Purcell revisions histories and remodels pathways with a realness that I have been inspired by since I first saw her onstage at Belvoir St Theatre as a teenager. But my current heart-throb is Lizzo, she is everything: talented af, unapologetic, live, juicy and hella funny.

What would you do to make a difference in the world?
To make a difference in this world and this country I would abolish prisons and invest in conscious decolonized education. I would shift policies that keep black women (especially trans women) the most raped, abused, violated and missing across the world. I would prescribe scholarship and invest in young people. I would shake foundations and smash the patriarchy. I’d nourish poetry and books, film and music from first peoples and conscious outliers. I’d fund music schools for femmes of colour, fuelling the next generation of drummers, horn players and beat producers. I’d make sure there were as many diverse bodies on television and in films as possible, I’m super bored of watching skinny able-bodied white folks in central roles, I mean some of my closest friends are skinny and white and they’re even sick of the body fascism on our screens. I’d dismantle white supremacy and ableism and replace it with a human approach. Easy.

Favourite holiday destination and why?
At the moment my favourite holiday destinations are Indonesia, New York and Cape Town for the serenity, music and culture respectively. I love Scotland too, and Montreal. In general, I’m looking for good food, beautiful scenery and mediation or music, theatre, fashion and galleries.

When friends come to town, what attraction would you take them to, and why?
When in Melbourne I take out-of-towners to restaurants and clubs. I love all the City spots – Supernormal, Chin Chin and Cookie (because you can dance one floor up as well). I follow DJ’s Mz Rizk and Colette across town because they always play my jams. I just discovered Williamstown Beach too – so fish and chips at dusk and a dip during the January heat is my new staple.

What are you currently reading?
She Begat This, 20 years of the Miseduction of Lauryn Hill by Joan Morgan, The Scarlet Letter by Nathanial Hawthorne and Fucking A by Suzan Lori Parks.

What are you currently listening to?
Lizzo. L-Boogie. Laura Mvula. Mumu Fresh. Anderson Paak. Sampa the Great. Kaiit. Kira Puru. Mojo Juju. Missy Elliot. Cardi B. Beyonce. Solange. Lianne La Havanas. Alice Russell. Aretha. Otis. Marvin . Big Freedia.

Happiness is?
Nieces. Poetry. Excellent sex. Giggles with old friends. Roasted eggplant in tomato ragu.

What does the future hold for you?
Emmys and Oscars of course… lol. I’m at critical crossroads in my career moving from the stage into filmmaking. I am transitioning from the ephemeral to the immortal, on the cusp of a discipline switch so my life as a storyteller is about to change in a big way. My future fruit will involve films and series that speak to and come from my heart. I’m currently the recipient of the Australians In Film LA mentorship program (12 months) and I’m attached to Peter Saji the Executive Producer of Black-ish (ABC). I’m also a part of the Arena Media family and I have my first Indie Feature on the slate. I’m being mentored by Louise Gough and Rob Connolly here and surrounded by black excellence in the US. Pretty dope. I plan to do what I’ve done in theatre and comedy for the last 20 years – make space and hijack centre stage with stories, characters and bodies that the world has rarely heard from. In the short term I’m touring my show Australian Booty with Regional Arts Victoria in March and out to Merrigong Theatre in August; I’m directing the first grad show for 2019 at the VCA (Acting) in April and creating a web-series based on my visual art work “King Shit and Lady Muck. Decolonise the fuck out!”

Candy is a participant in the British Council’s INTERSECT programme – as well as touring with her show Australian Booty in March.

Image: Candy Bowers – photo by Anna Hay