Interview with Andie Flores
Art by Katy Somerville
Provocateur. Drag performer. Performance artist. Surrealist. Andie Flores, whether as a toilet or as baby Jesus, exposes the crap: our ever-present religious indoctrination or the embodied apology (which we drag around with us like a bear trap with its teeth in our leg). Flores puts public pain into her own body and carries it as a caricature. It resonates with the audience because we, too, feel grotesque, sentimental, and martyred—by religion, beauty standards, and societal dogma. Andie Flores tells us that we are beautiful, even when we’re knee-deep in our human mess. We are the persevering poo.
Cream Scene was gonna wax poetic on why we chose Andie Flores to escort us in our big debut. We were gonna say why she is the perfect fit for this magazine—a real poster girl—but then she said it better than we ever could.
So how did the toilet project come about? Tell us everything!
I originally made this costume for a Halloween drag show I didn’t end up doing. My first ideas tend to be my best ideas, and one day I just had the idea to be a caca-poo-poo toilet. I try never to perform in the same look twice, but that means I don’t really have one concrete LOOK as a drag performer. I’ve been experimenting with how to merge my desire to look freaky and otherworldly with my desire to look homemade and powerful. I wanted to look like a poo diva! Then it’s like, well, what emotions would this overflowed bowl of poo have? How would it lament? What would break its heart? I like to leave the answers up to my audience, but I decided on performing “It’s All Coming Back to Me” by Celine Dion to get the notion stirring. There’s only so much movement I could get inside the heavy foam toilet structure, so eventually the poo must be freed and socialize with the audience. And then it defecates inside itself—or rather, inside the former shell of itself. I performed this number at an experimental alt comedy show in town called Good Pollution, run by the fabulous Clara Blackstone and Ellie Winnubst.
You went TO extra effort for the toilet when you could’ve been a lazy shit.
First of all, I AM nothing if not a lazy shit! I also don’t know what a “lazy poo” looks like. Each time I’m on the toilet, it’s a labor of love.
Tell us about that makeup!
The makeup was a continued experiment in playing with my facial features and using aging lines and whatever not-totally-dirty makeup brushes I have at my disposal. (I’m truly still learning how to be good at makeup—I think I’m one of the worst in the Austin drag scene!) I hand-sewed the headpiece and wanted the makeup to really bring it to life. I tried to paint the face of a shit who’s lived a little and who’s persevered, you know?
The thigh lumps were a stroke of brilliance.
The foam in my tights was meant to look like weirdly shaped legs but ended up looking more like corn, which was honestly just a gift from God.
We love that you Chose to be an ugly poo rather than a “sexy” or “cute” poo.
I think trying to categorize this poo as “ugly” or “sexy” or “cute” misses its potential to be all of the things and none of them. It seems I approach drag differently than a lot of my peers—I’ve been told I’m not glamorous before, but when I’m in drag, the reality is I’m the most beautiful girl in the world. I think being scary can be super sexy. To be ugly can be super, super beautiful. I like my drag to live outside the conventions of what we THINK we should find attractive and give people an opportunity to fall head over heels for something icky.
Were there any psychological effects to playing a turd? Was it demoralizing or cathartic?
I don’t think I’ve ever felt demoralized in drag. I love a new idea, and I find hypervisibility and attention really energizing. Looking back at past performances, it appears I feel best in drag that makes people a little afraid of silences or slowness. I think the poo did that for this particular audience.
Did you method act yourself into the poo mindset?
I didn’t “method act” necessarily, but I did have diarrhea all day, if that counts.
One of the things we love about your work is how hard it is to classify you. How would you describe yourself, outside of being a shitty toilet?
Thank you! Lately, I’ve been labeling myself as an “embarrassment artist.” I think of embarrassment as my medium and my north star.
Is there forethought to thematic elements? Like, “This year, I’m gonna get low-down and Freudian.“
I wish I had the foresight to plan out a year of art-making, but usually my ADHD and anxiety take the reins on jumping from idea to idea. But I’ve learned a lot about the tempo and pace at which I work, and I’m just trying not to be my own enemy. Like I said, I work best when I don’t overthink my ideas and just trust my gut, butt, and brain.
Who would you consider your main influences?
I’d like to be something like if Pee-Wee Herman and Leigh Bowery had a baby with some ’90s high-fashion supermodel babe who had a scandalous affair with a dog playing poker. But I also really love other DIY weirdos, lesbians, idiots, and clowns in general. Also Daffy Duck.
Did you always expect your career to go in this “wild outsider” art direction?
I think I’m just doing what I know how to do and seeing where it goes! I’ve always performed and wanted to be in front of people who might then know and love me… But it feels like when I make art, I’m aiming for the moon and landing on some weird star no one’s named yet, which you can only see if you squint really hard after a glass of wine. I’d like to get closer to the moon so I can take a big dump on it, you know? It just takes practice and more, more, more. Part of being an “outsider” or a misfit, at least to me, is also being at least a little lonely all the time. I’m wondering how to best sustainably use that loneliness and trying to figure out how to give performances that express what happens inside this embarrassment machine I call a body.
As 2022 comes to a close, do you have any plans for the new year? What are your goals for 2023?
I just wrapped up some cool projects with friends and am looking forward to a quieter new year where I can maybe hide a little, experiment more with costuming and clothes-making, get BUFF, and slow down enough to write and develop a big ole’ weird solo show to perform and travel with. My dumb clown soul needs a big, big stage to explode on!
About the Interviewee
Andie Flores is a performance artist in Austin, Texas, who uses embarrassment as a medium for investigating hyper, almost obsessive, visibility in a racialized body. Her work has been shown at Presa House Gallery, The Museum of Human Achievement, Ivester Contemporary, MASS Gallery, Future Front Film Fest, Contrast Film Festival, Fusebox Festival, and The Dallas Latino Cultural Center.
About the Artist
Katy Somerville was beamed into existence on a Monday night in the mid-eighties by stars, glitter, and a glorious Italian woman from a long line of very strong women. In the present timeline, she likes to drink coffee, pat any animal that will engage with her, make collages, and spend time laughing and finding moments of joy wherever she can with her partner and her goofy, lanky dog.
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