Rickshaw owner/operator Mo Tarmohamed has nothing but good things to say about Bif Naked, calling her one of the “awesomest human beings” he’s ever encountered. This presumably has something to do with why the heavily tattooed, vegan singer has been asked to headline the Rickshaw’s sixth anniversary celebration this Friday (May 29). It turns out, when she phones the Straight, that Naked is eager to reciprocate the praise.
“Oh my God, Mo is like a saint, first and foremost,” she gushes. “I wanted to support the Rickshaw no matter what. I’ve never played there before, but I’ve played everywhere else, and he was just so encouraging and supportive and great. He’s always been, like, ‘You know, you should really play a rock show,’ y’know? ‘You should really play a rock show!’ And then I was offered a show at the Hard Rock Café in December. It’s the first one I’ve played since my guitar player died. It was really kind of emotional. I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel. It was weird.”
The death of J.D. Ekstrom after heart surgery in November 2014 was one of several difficulties Naked has encountered in recent years. She had a grueling struggle with cancer in 2009, which led to the end of her marriage with Ian Walker in 2011. But the Hard Rock Café show, it turns out, was nothing but encouraging.
“It was amazing,” she says. “It felt great, it was loud, it was boisterous. After the shitstorm of the last few years, whether it was health or relationships or whatever the hell it was, I felt like I had returned to being myself. So I wanted to play Mo’s room!”
Tarmohamed is “almost like an art curator in a way,” she continues. "Because what he’s done is, he’s really selected acts that I thought I would love. And he’s right. All of the bands opening on the bill”—selected by Tarmohamed and colleagues out of a contest that saw more than fifty entries—“are female-fronted local bands.” These include Cobra Ramone, the Living, and the Wett Stilettos, the latter being the new project from the former Pinto Bonito of the Bonitos and Crystal Pistol, who now goes by the moniker Pinto Stiletto. (Wett Stilettos vocalist R.C. Guns says she has “been a fan of Bif since the song ‘Spaceman’, so being able to open for her at our first Rickshaw show is very, very exciting.”)
In addition, Naked continues, “We’ve got a burlesque performance by Ginger Avenue, Rahel is going to do bellydancing to one of the songs, and the Lover’s Cabaret is a dance troupe here in Vancouver. It’s crazy—a lot of different performers!”
The rumour is that Bif will also get to sing with Cam Pipes of 3 Inches of Blood, which she’s greatly looking forward to—assuming it happens. “Doing duets with Chi [Pig] and Joey Shithead were the highlights of my life, so if I can do this duet with Cam, I will die happy,” she says.
While fans of her harder, rawer material might be confused about the bubblegum pop of her recent single, “The Only One,” Bif reassures audiences that Friday’s show will be on the rock end of her spectrum. “No matter how many pop songs you do,” she says, “you can’t stop your roots.”
The Bif Naked Extravaganza takes place at the Rickshaw Theatre on Friday (May 29)