Betty Grumble’s ‘Enemies of Grooviness Eat Sh!t’: A Subversive Celebration

Acclaimed performance artist Emma Maye Gibson, aka Betty Grumble, discusses her acclaimed show, ‘Enemies of Grooviness Eat Sh!t,’ set to hit the Canberra Theatre in September as part of the Valance performance series.
David Blanco  |  Art & Culture
Betty Grumble’s ‘Enemies of Grooviness Eat Sh!t’

This adults-only avant-garde spectacle defies categorization, blending dance, music, poetry, clowning, drag, and cabaret into an unapologetic celebration of all things groovy.

Betty immerses the audience in a visceral experience, captivating them with her raw emotion, humour, and unapologetic authenticity. In an exclusive interview with FUSE, Betty shares insights about her influences, the show's themes, and what motivates her as an artist.

David Blanco (FUSE): What can Canberra audiences expect when they come to see 'Enemies of Grooviness – Eat Sh!t ?’

Emma May Gibson: Canberra audiences can expect a genre stir of performance art, poetry, rock n' roll and ritual. The show is an antidote to paralysis around taboo, somewhere beyond the polarity of victim and abuser, and a space to be with trouble in deep play and joy.

Who are the enemies of grooviness?

I try to keep that conceptual, but if you had to move some of those concepts around with particular language, perhaps you might include - people that hurt others with no accountability, pain causing systems and hierarchies and their unchecked levels of power, puritanical control freaks, dominant culture, the twin CEOs of patriarchy and white supremacy and their tumorous ivory tower of capitalism, cruelty of all kinds, greed, bad taste, bad manners, insults to spirit, entitlement, people who are rude to people in roles of service... tailgaters!

What Inspired the show’s name?

‘Enemies of Grooviness Eat Sh!t ’ is a tough and funny mantra. It is hard for anyone to disagree with. It was inspired by the tone of Valerie Solanas mixed with ‘Hair -The Musical’.

How does the show challenge societal norms and conventions?

My show asks us to expand our notion of the thoughts we use to think our thoughts. How do we talk about and feel into grief, pleasure, and justice? Where and how are we having these conversations? What can change in these ways or even, be remembered, to helps us heal? ‘Enemies of Grooviness Eat Sh!t ’ invites the audience to meet a body, composting itself live as an act of spiritual return and reverence to the power of creativity and collaboration.

What emotions or reactions do you hope your show will stir up in audiences?

I hope this show can be a vessel for space in-between the thoughts. A space for meditation, for oxygen, for dopamine and breath. I feel this is a chance for recognition, a place to go beyond, somewhere to make noise for revenge (fantasy) and release.

What inspired the character of Betty Grumble?

The avatar/sister/witness of Betty Grumble was born out of a loving rage energy. She was a protest sign, a shimmering rascal and mantric wish. She belongs to legacies of sex clowns, punks, border riders and artists. She worlds with drag, strip, clown, ritual, and endurance. She is the action of a very serious performance artist who loves to laugh very hard. She is a vulgarity goddess and a fractal friend.

How has Betty evolved over time?

Betty Grumble has evolved and de-evolved. Her base materials have seeped off and out of the body. The mask mutates and changes as she responds to new and emerging experiences. What once was a necessary rigid covering, has revealed the person within.

Who are Betty's muses and role models?

We meet some of them in the show - Butch Queen, Palestinian Poet - Candy Royalle & Buddhist Stripper - Elizabeth Burton, Annie Sprinkle, A Tree, Craig Slist. Then there has been the major influences of Glitta Supernova, Peaches, Patti Smith, Justin Shoulder, water, fire, earth, and air.

How does your show intersect with LGBTQIA+ themes and experiences?

This show was made in collaboration with queer audiences and spaces, the work is queer in its defiant sexuality and dramaturgy. It was made possible in legacies of queers, activists, sex workers and space makers who fought so we could have the space to play this way.

How do you navigate the intersection of queerness, feminism, and art in your work?

With grace in the dignity of meeting the energy anew each performance. In gratitude of all who have created before us and in hope for muscle to be able to keep this fire burning.

What advice do you have for emerging LGBTQIA+ artists?

Know your people.

What's next for Betty Grumble?

Bettina is excited to travel both nationally and internationally in creative residencies that will continue to explore new work. She is also in collaboration with a new performance company, Body of Work. She is working on music, film, and her ongoing boogie dance classes.

Would you like to share a memorable or transformative experience from your performances?

Being able to perform ‘Enemies of Grooviness Eat Sh!t ’ is a privilege. I acknowledge the power to speak to power and the sacredness of gatherings. We feel transformation in the room with other bodies who are meeting us in the moment. To laugh, cry, shake and feel together in this way has been deeply healing. Doing this show has helped me understand my relationship to pain, it has helped me conjure forgiveness whilst simultaneously remaining staunch in the quest for truth. Betty Grumble has been a way for me to process and celebrate being a woman.

Canberra Theatre
The Courtyard Studio
4 - 7 September 2024



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Betty Grumble’s ‘Enemies of Grooviness Eat Sh!t

Grumble does not belong to me, she belongs to the universe. Like the fractal landscape of a flower, like a drag face on the bum of a caterpillar.

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