Leigh Bowery outside his flat, 1993
Yeti—the Portland based journal—just published an interview I conducted with Nicola Bowery.
I had visited Nicola Bowery—wife of the late Leigh Bowery—in her Brighton, England home last summer, to interview her for my PhD thesis, a chunk of which revolves around Bowery’s extravagant costumes and performances from the ’80s and ’90s. My interest in Leigh Bowery had been spurred by Hilton Als’ New Yorker profile, which discussed Bowery’s varied “career” from fledging fashion designer to notorious club figure to performance artist—three strands of his practice which remain inextricably intertwined.
Nicola was extremely kind in taking the time to show me a number of her husband’s elaborate costumes which, having been painstakingly made to measure to Bowery’s large girt, appeared eerily empty—particularly as a complex systems of understructures kept them in shape, further highlighting Bowery’s absent body. Nicola also took the time to discuss her role as the slime-covered baby in the humorous, unsettling “birth scenes” which Bowery staged as part of his performances with his band Minty, from the early ’90s until his untimely death in 1995.
Leigh Bowery, Ruined Clothes Exhibition, 1988