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Watch Bif Naked live and you witness pure, concentrated energy. Listen to her speak and you find the same level of intensity, but with every word wrapped in a softness that comes only when someone is truly comfortable with who they are. She is our Queen of Punk, with heart and soul.
You have referred to yourself as a health freak and a gym rat. Tell us about your wellness regime and how that has changed you not only as a woman but also as an artist.
Well I’m calling you from the middle of an hour and a half power walk in Regina Saskatchewan. I woke up in my hotel and looked at the gym, the air is dead, no windows, and I felt like I needed to get out. I can do a walking meditation like this and clear my head and I can also get my errands done, get my coffee... It’s been really difficult all summer to stay fit. In June when I started doing promotion for Superbeautifulmonster there was no time – for 45 days I couldn’t work out and it was driving me fucking crazy! Its not body issues, I have to be honest, I just don’t care about that anymore. It helps me with a sense of well being and helps with a stressful schedule. I spend a lot of time by myself at home with my dogs. I don’t have a boyfriend. I find that I really cherish that time for myself.
You are such an icon for so many young women. Everything about you screams confidence, strength, beauty and self respect. I recently read that you had been involved in a number of abusive relationships. Many of our readers will relate to your struggles and pain. Can you tell us how someone can get trapped in that dynamic and how that can happen to someone who is as focused as you are on spiritual and emotional wellness?
It’s awful and it’s been a problem for years. And the problem that we women have is whenever we started getting into relationships, when we were young, either forced or otherwise, we developed our own romance patterns. And as adults we start becoming repeat enablers and the problem is we have no healthy relationships in our background so we have no basis of comparing. So if one guy is a hitter and once a woman extracts herself from a physical relationship, the next man who extends any kindness towards her, she falls for him right away and she is like a sponge soaking up any kindness even if it's common courtesy. So hidden problems that the new man has will resurface and control a battered female, whether he is psychologically abusive or controlling or belittling or demeaning in general. And the woman is so grateful to not be with a hitter, she will stay in a psychologically abusive relationship instead. Then she gets into the next relationship with a new guy who is not physically abusive or psychologically abusive but perhaps in a covert, passive aggressive way he is emotionally abusive. And then she finds she is 32 and has no healthy relationships in her history. And so often I find women blame themselves probably because society blames them and families blame them. It’s frustrating for a woman who is 35. And finally for the first time I’ve been alone for over a year. I’ve never dated in my life so I don’t know how to do that and am quite resonant anyways. I find that there are a lot of things that can help empower women. But a lot of women in Canada don’t want to seek out therapy, its not part of our culture as it is in the United States. And so often physicians up here tend to prescribe anti-depressants before they refer to a psychologist. I think the best thing women can do is read. There is a book called The Verbally Abusive Relationship by Patricia Evans. It’s the best book I’ve ever read in my life.
Do you think it’s a good book for young women who are wondering about abuse in relationships? Sometimes young women can misread and mistake a man in their lives who is over controlling as actually being romantic when in fact he’s abusive.
Absolutely, they are also seeking validation that they aren’t getting from their families and often the only validation or love that they can feel is sexual and that’s how it starts to perpetuate itself and manifest itself in young women.
By the nature of your celebrity status, people will look to you. You’re our home grown queen of punk and such an icon for so many young women. How do you feel about that? Do you see it as a responsibility especially when you see so many very young women trying to be like Spears for instance and we know that sometimes that can be problematic. How do you see your own celebrity?
You know it’s a weird and strange thing. Ultimately I know that when you are an artist, whatever kind of artist, painter or writer, people will start to listen to what you say and want to emulate you somehow. If Britney Spears is an example, I don’t see anything wrong with her. She has ultimately been an honest girl. She’s doing the best she can. I wouldn’t want to be her. She can’t go to the grocery store- she will never have that life, ever. I can go on a power walk in Regina and no one follows me around with a camera, granted I wear a baseball cap and long sleeve shirt you know, but I’m still really fortunate. In terms of the responsibility thing I think I still would have been really outspoken, regardless of the kind of job I had. I still have to say what I think. I used to take things very seriously and very hard when I was younger. I used to go on stage with a real mission to empower myself and my peers. For instance I got a real bee in my bonnet when I was 19 about the C word. I said to myself that’s enough, I don’t like this. What is the C word about? Female genitalia? Well then it can’t be a bad word. So every show I would say take back the C word, this is our word don’t let anyone use it against you. It doesn’t have to have a bad connotation. It was a big thing for me and now 15 years later I think it’s really funny. My mother is still horrified that I ever did that. I think it’s funny.
I’m sure it resonated really strongly though for a lot of young woman in your audience.
I don’t know if it did but, when I was 15 years old I was an habitual runaway from my home, I was a rape survivor trying to deal with that and that whole guilt and shame business that goes along with that. I was really trying to maneuver my way, without realizing that I was trying to maneuver my way through my own psychological cobweb. See, I had a mother from the 50’s who smiled and did the dishes when she was upset and I think as a result, I did the same thing. I always put a smile on my face and put a mask of optimism on my face. I fine-tuned my compartmentalization skills and put lots of things away saying “look at me everything is great, go for it look how strong I am I’m not a victim”. And then it became imperative for me for my own sense of self to become resentful of women who allowed sex abusers to victimize them and I didn’t understand that. I wanted them to strive, to not be beaten down by anything that happened. I don’t think that I wasn’t compassionate. In hindsight, it was integral to my own empowerment to go for it- to create armour. I think that’s why I started getting tattoos quite honestly. If people didn’t talk to me then they certainly weren’t going to hurt me physically. I’m only starting to realize all these things in my 30’s and I don’t know how on earth a 15 year old today could understand that on her own, and if her reading what I’ve said helps, then thank fucking God for that!
Your story will help others, no doubt about that. You mentioned your tattoos being a sort of armour. One of our Youth Correspondents, Francesca submitted a question about your tattoos. She had read somewhere that you were once voted the “Hottest Female with Tattoos” beating out Pink and Christina Aguilera. What was your first tattoo and is there a story behind it?
My first tattoo was something that I just wanted to get- I was eighteen years old, it was the Egyptian eye, the all seeing eye. I got one because my friend had a tattoo and then it became a symmetry issue. Also part of the way I coped was through my interest in theology. I read a lot about different religions. When I was 20 I was really interested in Taoism and then I changed to Buddhism for a long time and found it really soothing and it really helped me navigate through the world. And then I went back to my roots a bit in my late twenties and got interested in Hinduism and got some tattoos of different deities on my arms and that brought me great joy. And over the years, I don’t know, I must have 30 tattoos, on my lower back and all over my arms. But the most important tattoo I ever got was the one I got 6 months ago on my arm and it simply says, Survivor.
And with that answer we finished our interview. It seemed perfectly fitting to end on that note. Bif Naked has clearly had her share of disappointment and sorrow. She’s likely sat through most of the darkness on her own, wondering if she would ever walk away intact. But at 35 she is beautiful, strong, talented, focused and self assured. She has accomplished much and she is a survivor.