Credible Likeable Superstar Role Model had me in tears at the beginning and at the end and in the middle. All good tears; it’s a work that doesn’t just talk about optimism and alternatives, it creates them.
Bryony Kimmings is a performance artist from the UK. She adores her niece and when she started seeing the world through the eyes of 9-year-old Taylor, anger turned her protective switch turned on.
She talks about typing words that a 9-year-old might want to know about into Google and seeing what a child can see on even a secured family-secured and monitored iPad. She talks about the pop stars and a media whose main market is girls who are presented as sexualised and sexual before they are even teenagers. She talks about what these girls say they want to be.
Yep, it’s easy to turn that switch on.
So, what Aunty Bryony did was work with Taylor on making two art projects. And, yes, there were lots of family meetings about them.
One was to create a pop star role model who really is a role model and is credible, likeable and a superstar. The result is Catherine Bennett, who is played by Bryony and based on what Taylor wanted and still wants in a credible likeable superstar role model.
Catherine is a palaeontologist and a singer. Bryony and Taylor are going to make her world famous. She already has film clips and a web site and has become friends with Yoko Ono, Amanda Palmer and Neil Gaiman. Taylor wants to get her on the Ellen show, so that millions can see how much songs about friendship and a future with self-painting nails, equality and polar bears rock.
The second project is the show Credible Likeable Superstar Role Model, which is about creating the show Credible Likeable Superstar Role Model. It’s performed by Bryony and Taylor, but it’s for adults; Taylor’s offstage or in sound-blocking headphones for parts.
It opens in a fairy-world landscape where Taylor dances on a lead held by her aunt (she’s looking after her niece while she’s away from home and the lead is handy). It’s about Bryony seeing what Taylor and her friends were exposed to, how this is different from what non-internet and instant communication generations grew up with and what she can do to try and empower her niece, and all girls, to be themselves a world that doesn’t seem to even want them to be kids.
With women knights ready to fight or go so far as to wear a naff princess dress, it’s made from a love that has stakes so high that winning is the only option. Even if Bryony thinks Catherine is a bit weird, she’s what Taylor wants, and it’s this love that exposes and shares its vulnerability. A vulnerability that’s always Bryony’s, because this show and world is a place where Taylor is loved and safe. And my tears were from wanting my very happy and loved niece to always feel this safe and loved.
My niece is six. She lives interstate and I don’t see her anywhere near as much as I’d like to, but she’s still one of my absolute favourite people ever, and she draws me pictures of cats. I hope that if there’s ever a time when she needs someone to be completely on her side, or she needs to feel safe, or needs someone to tell her an uncomfortable truth that she’ll trust her Aunty A. And I hope that I can continue to be as cool an aunt as Aunty Bry.
Bryony is also doing a show at the Comedy Festival called Sex Idiot. She thinks Taylor doesn’t know, but there’s a part of Superstar when Taylor makes Bryony put on the headphones…
Sex Idiot is a fearless, hilarious and heart-touching look back at her loves, lovers and others and it started when she had a sexual health check that revealed a common STI. It’s also absolutely brilliant and Byrony Kimmings may as well book her tickets back to Melbourne because we want to see everything that she makes.