Brooke Candy Is An Artist: Or, in praise of gawking at people whose lives are more interesting than yours

January 31, 2013

Alexandra Molotkow is an editor at Real Life magazine. She was a founding editor of Hazlitt, an associate editor of the Hairpin and arts columnist for...

When I was a teenager I used to gawk at Hannah, an insanely great-looking girl from Vancouver with giant lips and teased ginger hair and an endless supply of excellent ‘60s dresses. I never had any contact with her; just stalked her Livejournal, where she posted photos of herself and her husband lolling around in twee living rooms and beautiful natural landscapes. He was just as attractive, in a Marc Bolan sort of way. They’d met on the internet.

Not only were they great looking, they were in love. So in love. Possessed with the kind of love that you or I—assuming you are average-looking—can only dream of. And that’s what I’m getting at: Hannah’s Livejournal account was for dreamers. (Google tells me they are still married and living in New York City. Congratulations Hannah and Landon, if you ever read this, and sorry for writing about you in the style of a panting fapper.)

If you lead an interesting life and you document it on the internet—thank you. People say they hate you, but they don’t. They love you and they love what you do, because their lives are boring and yours does not seem boring. They’re jealous, but they need you. And maybe they don’t want to live your life, exactly, but they get off on daydreaming about what it would be like. I think this is healthy. Lots of perfectly legitimate art is enjoyed as a fantasy of another life. Like the songs of Cole Porter, which offer a fantasy of being rich in Manhattan in the 1930s. Or the poetry of John Wilmot, which offers the fantasy of being ravished by a bawdy earl with decrepit loins smelling of dung and rotting beef. At least it’s something different.

Your average lifestyle blogger is not an artist, but there is an art of lifestyle. Take Brooke Candy, the model and rapper who rocks four-inch nails and eight-inch platforms and streamer-length fluorescent pink braids. Her friend and stylist, Seth Pratt, outfits her in amazing warrior-stripper ensembles; she wore one when she danced in the desert for Grimes’s “Genesis” video. “I don’t have money to hire actors,” Grimes told Pitchfork “I just need to get people who are going to do a good job being themselves. Brooke Candy was the first person I found. It was all about her.”

Brooke Candy is an artist. I think she’s a good artist, because I think good art is about refining your sensibility down to a form that others can get something out of. And Brooke Candy works really hard at that. As she told Vice, “It takes eight-to-ten hours to braid my hair... It’s a bit of a hassle, but I enjoy the final product so much that gluing on nails for hours or sitting in the chair getting braided for eight hours is all worth it in the end when I look exactly how I feel.”

Last October she released her first single, “Das Me.” I think it’s a really catchy song, but the video is more important. “I wanted it to be a visual representation of myself and the world I’ve created for myself,” she told Dazed Digital, on which it premiered. And it is just that. She looks like no one else on earth, stomping around in gold body armour, riding in a matching wheelchair, whipping her pink braids; same goes for her friend Niki Takesh, in alien/pentagram earrings and two-tone eyeshadow. There’s Labanna Babalon a self-defined alien whisperer who twerks very well; Seth Pratt, with green hair and grill; and Jesse Saint John, Candy’s best friend, who looks... I dunno, neat. They wander down Rodeo Drive, freaking out norms and posing for pictures with tourists. They pop champagne and do drugs and feel each other up.

And it’s great. It’s really great. Brooke Candy is a genuine freak with an excellent aesthetic that totally reflects her particular freakiness. I doubt we have much in common, but that’s OK. That’s cherry. That’s part of why I’m so into it. “Das Me”—and to a lesser extent, “Everybody Does,” her latest—work as art because they’re vivid representations of her world. The bonus is that her world is really compelling. There are sort-of political reasons for that—she is doing this, in her words, for “the weirdos the faggots and the freaks,” not to mention the “sluts”—but really, it looks like she’s taking one heck of a bite out of life.

God knows I’m not doing MDMA in jacuzzis with naked tumblr models who talk to aliens. If anyone ever invited me to a hotel sex party with drugs, which I doubt anyone would do, I would go, but I would not do any drugs and I doubt I would even have sex. I’d probably just sit in the corner holding my clothes over my midsection. An accurate representation of my life would be a PhotoBooth video of me in a turtleneck miming the lyrics to “Coconut” or laughing at Horse_Ebooks tweets in my housecoat. I have actually made these videos. You don’t want to see them.

Photo via Factory 77

Alexandra Molotkow is an editor at Real Life magazine. She was a founding editor of Hazlitt, an associate editor of the Hairpin and arts columnist for the Globe and Mail. Her writing has appeared in The Cut, The Believer, The New Republic, and The New York Times Magazine.