The Grapevine Questionnaire: Bif Naked

The Grapevine Questionnaire: Bif Naked
By Susan Wedlock

Bif Naked is an international recording artist, cancer survivor, advocate, activist, vegan, and now author of her new memoir “I, Bificus”. She will bring her acoustic “Songs and Stories” tour to the Evergreen Theatre November 25, at 8pm. Visit evergreentheatre.ca for ticket info.

I have read that you were born in India and your given name was Beth Torberts. Your professional name is so unique, what is the origin of it?

My name is a nickname that I received in junior high school, and “Bif Naked” has been my punk rock stage name since I was eighteen. It has stuck with me ever since.

You have a very individualistic style which includes many tattoos. Is there one that is your favourite and why?

My favourite tattoos are the newer ones I have that are cartoon drawings I did, depicting both of my dead dogs. There are also two cartoon bunnies near them, which represents their soft, little, bunny hearts. I just loved them so much.

If you hadn’t been a successful performer, what do you think you might have been?

Definitely, I would love to be a palliative care nurse or a celebrant or something like that. I love to be with people and certainly if there is a person in need of one-on-one help I would like to offer or lend a hand.

You have done quite a bit of acting in your career. Is that something you would like to do more of?

Oh yes, I enjoy every aspect of the performing arts a lot. I was trained in dance and theatre before I ever sang a note, and I will always enjoy all of them.

What would you say was the seminal moment in your life?

I think I have experienced a lot of different “a-ha” moments and continue to. The creative ideas we have today, or we dream about, grow into the successes of tomorrow. It’s pretty cool.

In your work as an inspirational/motivational speaker, what would you like people to learn from you?

The only thing I know for sure is that I am exactly like any other woman I know. I have faced challenges and overcome them, as a lot of other people have, and believe that when we share our stories that we motivate or inspire each other. I am just as inspired by the people I meet and talk to when I am speaking.

As an activist which cause is near and dear to your heart?

I never used to identify as an activist, and instead, preferred to say advocate. That has really changed for me, and I believe very much in non-violent activism and civil disobedience for the good of society. I am very much willing to fight injustice and want to fight for higher welfare rates in my home province, but believe it needs to be higher everywhere. I think there are too many Canadians living below the poverty line and there is a huge stigma against poor folks. And poor means every person who struggles. We all live cheque to cheque, and when I was a young person I was on welfare. I believe that I have a big mouth for a reason and I must use my voice to stand up for others. Also I am very passionate about animal rights and farm animal rights and animal safety. Women’s issues are an obvious passion of mine and I think there needs to be stiffer penalties for domestic abusers and more services for victims. I believe anyone who abuses or mistreats a senior citizen in Canada should go to prison. I could go on and on. The Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls need to be a top priority for Canada, and we should be doing more to raise awareness. So many things are important to me. Let’s just say I believe in the fight against all injustice.

What work are you the most proud of?

I think the work I am most proud of is the work I am doing now, in my life. Finally I feel like my writing and songwriting is something I am growing into, and the people I collaborate with are some of the most talented and inspiring people I have ever known. We are making a new record and it’s the heaviest rock record I have ever made. I am also working on a new book and creatively seeking out new mediums to explore like my art and dance. It’s a cool time.

I have read that your life has been difficult. Do you wish it had been easier?

My life has been incredible. I am incredibly lucky. I was adopted in India, I was raised by these two, really loving and deeply faithful parents, I was encouraged to pursue my dreams, and I have been able to feed myself from working at the job I love. PLUS, I laugh every single day of my life, especially now being a newlywed with my guitar player. We just have way too much fun!

After having lived such a full life, is there anything left on your bucket list?

I always say I could die happy anytime, and have been saying this for twenty years. All of my dreams came true. Or so I thought. Now my dreams are bigger than they have ever been and I really believe life is long enough for each of us to do and be everything we can ever imagine. It’s so good to keep dreaming!