The Afflicted: Holly Bass, an Adams Morgan performance artist who stages stereotype-shifting dance routines.
Diagnosis: Shaken tailfeather. “I was getting tired of seeing hip-hop videos all about the big booty,” says Bass. “While it’s nice to celebrate black women’s bodies, it can also be exploitative. I thought, ‘What if I could objectify myself?’” Bass’ challenge: “Create the biggest booty possible—so big that I could drop down to the ground and it would bounce me back up.”
Symptoms: Booty fall. At first, Bass’ augmented ass was crude. “I just bought some balls at K-Mart, stuffed them in some granny panties, and tried to bounce,” she says. “You could definitely bounce, but the balls weren’t very secure. You want your booty to be secure.” When Bass began incorporating her “Booty Ball” prototype into performances—including “WNBA,” in which three ‘players’ bounce Bass’ booty like a basketball—the junk failed to stay in the trunk. “The spandex would get overstretched. The safety pins would pop off and stick me,” she says. “Sometimes, the balls would fall out.”
Treatment: Baby got backup. After wearing out her DIY derriere, Bass enlisted some professional help in Sarada Conaway, a Baltimore artist and seamstress who Bass knew from past performance work. “She’s made me a strap-on elastic basketball booty casing, and it’s awesome,” says Bass. The new booty incorporates a climbing harness, black elastic straps that fit the pattern of the balls, and sewn-in hooks that allow for easy access for periodical pump-ups. So far, Bass likes the look of Conaway’s booty: “She’s also working on a gold lamé version,” says Bass.
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