Omnibus Theatre: What can audiences expect to experience when they come to see Hotter?
Mary: Joy! You know that feeling when a friend confides in you, maybe tells you something that makes them feel insecure, and you’re able to be their comforter, the one who builds them up again? That. Or that feeling when you dance on your own, in your kitchen, or in the rain, or in your pants, that your whole body is fizzing and burning with happiness? That.
Ell: Yeah, there’s a lot of joy in Hotter. But there’s also a sprinkling of sadness, which is sort of inevitable when talking about the complexity of having a body. Like I’m grateful to my body for existing and letting me do the everyday things I take for granted, but that doesn’t mean I love it all the time. In fact a lot of the time I don’t love it at all (I sometimes even hate it). Hotter is not afraid to shy away from that and confront those hangups head-on.
Mary: You can expect to meet two best friends on a crusade against bodily embarrassment.
OT: How did you make the creative decision to explore themes of body image in Hotter?
Mary: Was it a decision? It certainly didn’t feel like a creative one. It was an obvious choice for us.
Ell: The concept for the show actually came about because we realised our surnames ‘Higgins’ and ‘Potter’ conveniently combined to make the word ‘hotter’. Then we realised that notions of ‘hotness’ can mean totally different things to different people; it turned out to be a great springboard to work from. So I suppose the idea for the show was born from the complete narcissism of wanting to have a show named after ourselves. At least ‘Hotter’ is better than ‘Piggins’.
Mary: Odd as it sounds, we weren’t friends before we decided to do a show together. We made fierce friends so quickly because we held nothing back. Not even the ugly stuff. We talked to each other while the other one was having a poo, shared wanking techniques, our darkest lows and giddiest highs, felt able to boast when we felt great and cry when we felt shit. There was and is nothing we won’t talk about. And we found that for us at least, sharing our bodily insecurities made them feel smaller and made us feel less lonely in dealing with them. So then we went out and interviewed other women and transfolk, grannies, mums, drag artists, teens, on what makes them blush and their answers are the stuff of HOTTER.
Ell: Our dream aim, our impossible hope, the one we chant to ourselves when we’re unsure of what it is we’re making, is that no one who leaves HOTTER is ever embarrassed of their body again.
OT: Where does the culture of negative body image start? And when will it end?
Ell: Where do we begin? In December I saw a Christmas card which read, ‘Dear Santa, I want to lose weight lying on the sofa eating mince pies, okay?’ and it filled me with a hot wrath for our capitalist overlords. Fatphobic messages like that are endlessly regurgitated. They are everywhere, they are ubiquitous, and they are toxic. I can’t go a day without hearing at least one girl mention her weight or how ‘naughty’ the act of eating is, and that’s heartbreaking. Food isn’t immoral and this gal has weight she doesn’t wanna lose. Someone find me a sofa and some mince pies.
Mary: Yeah. It starts with the patriarchy, with capitalism, when a select few of rich and powerful men are allowed to decide what sexy looks like and plaster that image everywhere. And it thrives on ideas of perfect, on heteronormativity, on white privilege, on gender binaries, on porn, on anxiety, on Coca Cola adverts. It feeds on our desire to be loved and teaches us that our right to be loved is determined by what we look like. It dies when we realise that we are loveable as we are, powerful as we are, and gorgeous as we are.
OT: Tell us about a moment where your bodies gave you away…
Ell: The obvious one for me is farting. I fart pretty much constantly. Farting is definitely your body giving you away. It’s your stomach going ‘YO! I’m DIGESTING. DEAL with it.’ I suppose I should try to be more profound for this question but farting is a BIG part of my life.
Mary: Honestly? How honest can I be here? Brace yourselves cos I have no shame: When I get wet – I often think myself into headspaces where I doubt everything I think I know about myself, including who I desire (and ergo who I am?), but occasionally my vagina rescues me from the void by letting me know that she, at least, knows what she wants.
Ell: Can I change my answer about farting? — Actually no. Hotter is about banishing embarrassment. We must embrace the fart.
OT: If you could give women and indeed men one piece of advice about learning to love their body what would it be?
Ell: A lot of the time, I don’t feel like I have a leg to stand on when it comes to preaching about how to love one’s own body. I’m not there yet. The road to self-acceptance is long and hard, and it often doesn’t feel like I’m even on that proverbial road, more like I’m lying in a ditch next to the road and hating my belly, my bingo-wings, my eating habits — even hating my brain for letting me think so badly of myself. But one thing has really helped me, and that’s talking to other people about my bodily insecurities. We’ve interviewed so many people for Hotter, and every single person we’ve spoken to has some kind of hangup about their body, whether they’re 13 years old or 97 years old. That in itself is a little tragic — that we all have this inexorable capacity for self-loathing. But I have to remind myself that the things I am self-conscious about are the things that make me me, and make me loveable. Sounds cheesy but hey, I bloody love cheese.
Mary: Oof. Erm… come see HOTTER?!
Hotter is at Omnibus for one night only on Saturday 24th Feb – to buy your ticket now click here →