Australian Booty

BRISBANE POWERHOUSE: Why isn't Candy B a bigger star? For humanity’s sake, let’s hope we see her shaking what her mother gave her on a TV screen very, very soon.
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There weren’t a lot of people who looked like Candy B on TV when she was growing up. It’s a tough ask to relate to Sally from Home and Away when Sally’s dramas revolve around an imaginary friend and yours involve schoolyard taunts about your skin “being the colour of poo”. And yet Candy B, currently starring in Australian Booty at the Brisbane Powerhouse, prevailed – proud, big, black, sexy. Still, there are only ever one or two women who look like her on TV. “At the moment it’s Faustina Agolley,” she says, stopped by the occasional person on the street with a “Hey, Fuzzy!”. It begs the question: why isn’t there more racial diversity on Australian TV? Or, more specifically, why the hell isn’t there more Candy B on my TV?

Having graduated from NIDA in 2001 and performed across the world in acclaimed comedy act Sista She, Candy Bowers, the once self-conscious Australian/South African girl from Dandenong, is now a confident and celebrated performer. However, strutting out in a skin-tight red dress to Salt-N-Pepa’s ‘Push It’ in her latest star-vehicle, a sort-of hip hop cabaret called Australian Booty, you’ll wonder why she isn’t a bigger superstar.

Fresh from a stint at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, Candy B commands a crowd in a way I’ve rarely seen (and I saw Benita at the very height of Play School). Sister and musical director Busty Beatz stands behind a laptop, creating a party vibe before Candy B even steps foot on stage. There’s almost a permanent beat and the entire performance has an infectious rhythm to it. Well-known songs are woven through stories and original raps riff on topics as cavernous and broad as race relations in modern Australia and as narrow as the love of rice pudding. She speaks of her adoration of ginger men, on her feuds with shopping assistants who try to hide her curves within a caftan, on her failed romances (dropping some pretty big hints about the identity of one former partner and fellow NIDA graduate). There’s even a shockingly accurate piss-take of modern dance set to The Beatles ‘Blackbird’.

The music/lighting cues come thick and fast and Nelly Thomas has directed a very smooth production that hits upon the right mix of Candy B’s brand of sweet and sour comedy. Loud and unapologetically crude, Candy lampoons misogynist rap by translating Akon’s ‘I Wanna F**k You’ (and channels the song’s stripper character in a blistering right-of-reply). Then there are more natural, awkwardly funny moments, like Candy feeling the need to explain to her niece why black Barbie seemingly doesn’t have a job – “She was a human rights lawyer in the Seventies and she made a lot of money and she doesn’t need to work”.

Oh, and she shakes her booty too. A whole lot. And for humanity’s sake, let’s hope we see her shaking what her mother gave her on a TV screen very, very soon.

Rating: 4 stars out of 5

BootyPhonics presents

Australian Booty
Written and performed by Candy B
Directed by Nelly Thomas
Featuring: Candy B and Busty Beatz

Brisbane Powerhouse
May 30 – June 10

Peter Taggart
About the Author
Peter Taggart is a writer and journalist based in Brisbane, Australia.