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photography: seth pratt

Mac·ro·phil·ia Noun - A fascination or sexual fantasy involving giantesses.

For Brooke Candy’s Inked debut, she went big. REALLY big. When given the freedom to create a concept for her cover shoot, Candy saw an opportunity to do what she does best—push the boundaries. “We wanted to do something that had more depth than your average photoshoot against a white wall in a sexy bikini,” Candy says. “I told my best friend and costume designer, Seth Pratt, and he sent me photos of this fetish called macrophilia. It’s a fetish where the individual derives sexual pleasure from being at the mercy of a giant. We thought it would be great to run with this concept and have me play both parts—both the dominant and submissive roles.” Think 1958’s “Attack of the 50 Foot Woman,” 1959’s “The 30 Foot Bride of Candy Rock” or the 1999 music video for Lit’s “Miserable” starring a larger-than-life Pamela Anderson.

Candy took this idea and turned it on its giant head, adding a contemporary, feminist and tattooed flair to a mostly male-dominated kink—which has become somewhat of a pattern in her life. Candy grew into her sexuality in her early twenties by becoming a mainstay of Los Angeles’ underground gay nightlife scene. This environment helped to build the Brooke Candy we know today: a multi-talented artist who continues to defy heteronormative expectations in every way, shape and form.

“It kind of happened by accident,” Candy says of her music career. “I worked with a producer who I met at a random party. He just came up to me and said, ‘Hey, I’m a producer. I’m not sure what you do, but you look really cool. I make music and I’ve worked with some people you might know, so if you’re interested, let’s try and make a song together.’ I was like, ‘Yeah, of course,’ because any time I’m able to create something I feel happy.”

photos by seth pratt

photos by seth pratt

Prior to this chance encounter, Candy’s preferred artistic medium was photography. Growing up, she aspired to emulate the provocative styles of Nan Goldin and Cindy Sherman. But when the chance to break into an entirely different medium was presented, Candy didn’t hesitate. “I just wanted to do whatever I could to express myself,” Candy says. “Music, funny enough, fell into my lap a lot easier than photography opportunities. It makes me think it’s fate, it’s what I’m supposed to be doing. I was on a path, that path was very open. That’s what came along and I just went with it.”

Candy’s debut single “Das Me” was released in 2012 and it was a collaboration between herself, the producer and a friend she was living with at the time. It was actually the first song she’d ever made and helped to form a brand Candy would continue to identify with a decade later. “It’s a hypersexual song and I think it’s kind of an anthem for women,” Candy says. “It was inspired by feeling sexually degraded by men. I wanted to express some feelings that were pent up, as well as this new freedom I’d learned from being in these queer spaces. They taught me a lot about how to articulate the things I was feeling.”

Candy broke into the music industry like a brightly colored bat out of hell and at the time, there was absolutely no one doing what she was doing. Her unique sound and unbridled attitude caught the attention of many fellow musicians, notably Charli XCX, Grimes and Sia, with the latter co-writing Candy’s debut EP “Opulence.” It wasn’t long before Candy ended up signing a contract with RCA; however, in hindsight, she admits she wasn’t ready to make the leap to a major label.

“When I signed, I think I was too young to really understand what was happening,” Candy says. “I had something going that I’d created that was so me—I was expressing myself and it was pure. I was around a lot of people who were much older and they steered me in the direction to sign to a major label because I could do what I was already doing and be seen on a grander scale. That’s a dream come true and I don’t think anyone would pass that up.”

photos by seth pratt

photos by seth pratt

Unfortunately, that didn’t wind up being the case. Candy found herself in a situation where people were trying to change who she was in order to fit her into something the label thought would sell. Candy gave it her best, but she ultimately made the decision to return to being an independent artist. “I appreciated the experience, but I left because I felt like I never finished what I started,” Candy admits. “I left and I decided to make an album that finishes where I stopped when they came into the picture.”

Free from the label’s restrictions and influence, Candy released her long-awaited debut album “Sexorcism” in 2019. After years of anticipation, Candy’s fans were thrilled to indulge in the next chapter of her artistic evolution. “Sexorcism,” a clever blend of the words sex and exorcism, is an update of Candy’s OG sound and much closer to the album she always wanted to make but was unable to with RCA. For this project, she roped in many Hollywood powerhouses, including Charli XCX, Ashnikko, Iggy Azalea, Rico Nasty, La Goony Chonga and several “RuPaul’s Drag Race” alumni.

Candy went on tour in February 2020 to promote “Sexorcism,” but the pandemic would soon bring everything to a halt. With her tour on hold, Candy needed to find something to occupy all of her newly found free time, but instead of idly scrolling TikTok like the rest of us, she found a new artform to pour her artistic energy into. “I started tattooing during the pandemic and I found it to be such a passion that I was ready to quit music forever and only do tattoos,” Candy says. “I was like, ‘I love doing this. I can be mindful, I can be present, and I can put my phone away to just draw all day.’ It’s always appealed to me and all of my best friends are tattoo artists. [Tattooing] has the best people and a really good energy.”

photos by seth pratt

photos by seth pratt

Candy learned to tattoo through her partner Kyle England, a tattooer who operates out of a private studio in Brooklyn’s Bushwick neighborhood. England is responsible for many of Candy’s eye-catching pieces and it wasn’t long before Candy caught the tattoo bug for herself. “Every day we’d put our masks on, leave the house and walk to the studio. I would just sit in there and draw, draw, draw,” Candy says. “Once I felt like my drawings were OK, I started tattooing myself. I tattooed my inner and upper thighs and my feet. I did a lot of tattoos on my partner as well. He’s totally covered, so I was tattooing over other tattoos.

“I learned how to tattoo on flesh by doing it myself, but I had little help learning about machines,” she continues. “I wasn’t taught much, so I had to teach myself what my power source was doing. What it means if you turn up the voltage and the needle’s hitting harder. Now I’m learning the mechanics of the machine. I’m going to take one apart and learn exactly what every piece in the machine does. You can’t really get better at something unless you learn everything that is working toward the end result.”

As Candy developed her skills and grew as a tattoo artist, she began taking on clients and soon enough, her business boomed. I mean, who wouldn’t want to get tattooed by Brooke freaking Candy? By becoming a tattoo artist herself, she’s taken on a new appreciation for the work her fellow tattooers put into their craft. “Some days, I do a good tattoo and it’s the best day of my life,” Candy says. “I can’t even express the feeling. When you do a good tattoo, you give someone something that makes them happy and you also know that it’s going to heal perfectly. Then you do a bad tattoo and your day is over. I have to go home and sleep because I’m so depressed. Now it’s been nearly two years, which isn’t long at all, and some of my friends are 20, 30 years in. But after tattooing for 20 years, they have days where they still have trouble and I think that’s so cool. Something that will challenge you for 30 years? That makes me feel like [tattooing] is the coolest artform.”

photos by seth pratt

photos by seth pratt

Candy’s tattooing career is still a work in progress, but that’s the way being an artist should be. She’s not one to settle and get complacent, no matter the artistic endeavor. If you think picking up a new skill would be enough to deter Candy from making music you would be sorely disappointed—she couldn’t stay away from that world, even if she tried.

In the midst of working day in and day out as a tattooer, Candy was approached by some of her old collaborators about getting back into music. And once she returned to the studio, Candy remembered how much she’d missed recording, realizing she was meant to do both. Eager to dive back into recording, she made her way to London and began work on her sophomore album. “It’s funny because I’m making another album now and it’s much more pop and digestible,” Candy says. “It’s still cool, hard, and has the same message, but it’s kind of what the label had originally wanted for me. I wasn’t capable of doing it [at the time] because I wasn’t well-versed enough in music to create the music I’m making now. I’ve been doing this for 10 years and now I kind of would sign with a major label. [Now] you can’t pull a fast one over on me and it would be a totally different game. I would be at the helm controlling the ship. I’m not opposed to having my voice, visuals and the work I do seen on a larger scale because I think that’s what all artists strive for.”

photos by seth pratt

photos by seth pratt

Candy has undergone immeasurable artistic growth since making her debut at the age of 21. She’s taken the time to lock down a new tone as a rapper, experimented with different genres and learned how to fine-tune every part of the process. She’s even taken a more developed approach to expressing her sexuality.

“There’s still a lot of sexuality being explored, but it’s being explored in a more thoughtful way,” Candy says. “Before, it was hyper-crass, blatant and kind of grotesque, which I loved. I loved being that artist who was kind of gross. Now I’d like to explore the same topics, but do it in a way that’s more clever. But I still want the edge and the core of what I’ve always expressed to exist.”

photos by seth pratt

photos by seth pratt

creative direction: brooke candy & seth pratt

art direction & digital FX: seth pratt

lighting tech: chris baldwin

styling: seth pratt

makeup: anthony h nguyen

hair: sami knight

producer: nichole servin