Meet the Artist bringing out the weird and the wonderful
Portraits by Joana Lirio
The Sassy Show is back on Islington Radio and this month @bxsassy2 us joined by special guest @revoltingrosy. As a performer and workshop facilitator, Rosy is all about finding ways to put the 'silly' back into life. With multiple acts up her sleeve, Rosy moves between Burlesque and drag, to immersive theatre and protest performance, encouraging others to engage in a touch of sass.
Alongside Rosy's love for dressing up and becoming characters, she also has a tender joy for poetry and seductive sentences; leading her to create the infamous smutty letters workshop. Having witnessed Rosy travelling around the UK and Europe sprinkling her Sass on festival audiences, we were eager to talk with Rosy about the creative path she's carved today.
Tune in to hear Rosy discuss her journey into playful performance. As well as navigating a healthy relationship with eating and bodily appearance and her motivations for sharing this with others, openly. Its a hot, steamy, uncensored episode (as always) so of course we had to create a photoshoot that reflected Rosy's sass! Enjoy this stunning editorial shoot photographed by Joana Lirio capturing Rosy's sassy style.
We wanted to make a life drawing class where people could have a positive experience of having their body been seen and celebrated
As a performer, Rosy has multiple acts that take audiences on a journey of true sassy provocative, playfulness. "I do a lot of immersive character stuff, and Burlesque - not in a traditional sense but in a way that's a bit gross or a bit weird which is just how I like it!". For Rosy, the interactive nature of her art is something she enjoys due to the cocreation between audience and performer "it can be really fun to tease playfulness out of people, to share something vulnerable and have it held or share something ridiculous and have it celebrated". In these ways, Rosy tells us she's all about bringing out the weird and the wonderful.
This motivation to help people get out of their heads and into a shared experiences is something that leads us to talk about Body Love Sketch Club, a life drawing class Rosy cofounded with Ruby Rare. Rosy tells us how "We wanted to make a life drawing class where people could have a positive experience of having their body been seen and celebrated". Discussing how, similar to body image, creativity often gets subject to shame and critique, Rosy tells us how it's a space where people can express themselves away from any pressure or anxiety inducing expectations.
I really like challenging things through art; dysfunctional systems through my activism work or people's expectations of me through my burlesque performances or people's understanding of gender through my drag.
Becoming an artist and allowing her career to unfold is something Rosy describes as a journey of acceptance. Feeling the pressure to be more academic meant that it wasn't until Rosy was in her midtwenties (after studying academic subjects at University) that she fully focused on her creativity. Recognising the amount of messaging that enforces a negative attitude towards investing in a creative career leads Rosy to point out how important art and play is for the development of a child. So "surely nurturing our creativity and giving it an outlet should be an essential part of our process [of growing] throughout our whole lives". This encouragement to be creatively curious is something that shines out in Rosy's multi-directional life, forever finding new ways to share, explore and celebrate the art of play!
I think one of the beautiful brilliant things about creativity is that it can be a way of opening up our narrow ideas and being an agent for change; the power of imagination in bringing possibilities to life.
With a love for letters and a particular interest in how people have written smutty, dirty letters throughout history, Rosy started up her own workshop called 'Smutty Letter Writing'. Having taken these special sessions to the Edinburgh Fringe and festivals throughout the UK and beyond, Rosy tells us how "I think letters, love letters and dirty letters are really relevant today because we have these vast networks between 100s, maybe thousands of people... yet so many of those connections and conversations are very superficial and digital." For Rosy she tells us how "there's a different quality of communication that comes out with letters... they're these tangible physical objects. They're relics of our lives." This sense of romance is something that exudes from Rosy, echoing her love for dressing up and poetry, amongst many other "lovely" things she carefully surrounds herself with.
When discussing confidence, it's somehow reassuring hearing Rosy discuss her constant practice of managing anxiety when talking in front of a large crowd. "I often have to give myself a bit of a pep talk but it's thanks to some incredible people in my life who have been so encouraging, that I'm learning to trust the moment and get over the fear of saying or doing something stupid". Being able to defuse tension and remind herself that "we're living in a world that's designed to make us feel disempowered and bring brave with our voices is a way we can challenge that". This awareness of how so many structures are set up to limit the individual is something Rosy is consciously unpicking so as to give herself and others permission to express oneself.
Recovery is possible. It's not a quick or easy road but there is a road and you can find it
TW: disordered eating, self harm
For Rosy another area of her life that continues to be important to her is changing the narrative around body image and disordered eating. "We live in a world, with all these impossible standards that are designed to make us feel really self-critical of our bodies and that's what we're taught to focus on". As a teenager, Rosy had a really bad eating disorder that led to her being in hospital for a number of years. "It was really bleak... I had a whole mélange of mental health; I was depressed and self harming and suicidal, I had really bad anxiety and panic attacks, I had OCD which I was wrestling with at the time." Recognising the lack of people showing an example of healthy recovery was something that led Rosy to want to talk more openly about her experiences. "Since it being something I've recovered from to a degree I really didn't think was possible, I've been really vocal about it." A huge part of Rosy's journey has been life modelling; she tells us how it played a transformative role in helping her move away from shame in her naked body, to the complete and utter joy of being nude.
It's a deeply moving experience talking with Rosy about her life and the path she has carved for herself. The sense of openness, acceptance, and underlying care that Rosy exudes is what makes her art and her workshops so soul-nourishing. We can't wait to see where Rosy's love of language and playful character creation will lead her next, bring on the transparently sassy!
What's the best thing about being you?
It's the fact that I already look back on my life and can see that I've been through so many chapters or Pokémon versions of myself - so the best thing is I get to carry on doing that. I'm never a finished product, I keep on getting to turn the pages of my own book.
One law you want to change or cause that's close to your heart?
I would love everybody to be actively engaged in positive shifts we can make for the world - climate crisis and transrights are just a few.
Unchained Melody - The Fleetwoods Four Seasons, Spring - Recomposed, by Max Richter Champagne Shit - Janelle Monae Time - DJ Nomi, Rapturous, SCHEMELZER LOOOVE - Travis Scott, Kid Cudi Hugging You - Tom Roesenthal, Billie Martin
Keep up to date with Rosy's latest workshops and performances via her IG @revoltingrosy
Interview by Bethany Burgoyne
Portraits by Joana Lirio