Her style of performance sometimes gets accused of being OTT. That she made her name with a piece called Sex Idiot, in which she openly discussed her sexual history, including STDs, made some regard her as an exhibitionist. It is a tag she is aware of. “That one taught me how far to go, I think I went slightly too far [and] it damaged personal relationships with people…” but her work centres around her own experiences and so it may be one she has to deal with, however unfairly, for a while “I never wanted to tell any lies, I didn’t want to write plays that were made up stories about stuff. I wanted to say ‘this has happened to me, isn’t that interesting’, it’s a bit self important of me which is why I try to make myself look like the fool sometimes.”
Is it therapy? “Me and my boyfriend were talking about this the other day (he’s an electrician) and he said ‘I hate the way that artists use their work as therapy’ a couple of days later he said ‘I’ve changed my mind, at least artists acknowledge they’re quite bad as people and try to make themselves better’. Naturally if you’re trying to explore why you’ve done something, then I’m obviously going to have some kind of therapeutic effect but I’m conscious of the balance of making it primarily for the audience too.”
Just as I feel that I’ve taken the conversation in too sombre a direction she begins telling me about how some of her most serious decisions revolve around whether she should wear flats or heels. Whilst she sees the silliness in this statement she is proud of her fashion obsessions and has a clear belief in the importance of image. Each full length performance begins with a visual mood board and she works closely with her costume designer David to create “sick Lady Gaga” ensembles. As such she is most at home within the stable of queer artists such as Scottee (a guest of honour at her opening extravaganza last night and close friend). She excited tells me about the term ‘light art’ which Scottee has coined and Kimmings believes for her supersedes ‘live art’ “If they’re a ‘light’ artist and glitter and sparkle is important, they understand that they can use costume and lip-sync if it fits in with their more serious intention.”
I wonder if this approach will ever get old? She laughs and then is quiet for a while. “It’s something that I think about a lot. There’s one older live artist who I respect Marcia Farquhar, she’s still extremely glamorous but not trashy, she doesn’t look like mutton dressed as lamb which I think is something which could happen to me.” Images of too tight leather mini-skirts and bright blue eye shadow hang ominously in the silence. “I do get quite fearful that it’s going to have to evolve, I just imagine that the aesthetic will change as my taste will change.” Still I tell her, as we wrap up our conversation, we wouldn’t want all the glamour to go.
Bryony Kimmings will be taking over The Junction, Cambridge, from 21st – 26th October. For more details visit The Junction website.