By Laura Latzko, July 2018 Issue.
The following program contains strong language, a liberal bias, mind-boggling homosexuality, shade, frequent complaining, over-sharing, sh*t talking, the occasional uplifting anecdote and all around verbal debauchery. All opinions expressed are that of our Supreme: the gorgeous and talented Sister Indica … Consider this your ‘trigger warning.’”
With an introduction as colorful as her contour, Sister Indica teases fans with her signature sass and boisterous bluntness. The following program she’s referring to is “Joy Bomb with Sister Indica,” a weekly podcast that she’s produced and hosted for 13 seasons – 250 episodes to be exact.
But don’t judge a book by its cover. While this one-nun show promises special guests, a little serving of tea and heap of holy humor week after week, “Joy Bomb” was actually created as an outlet to fulfill her desire to heal others, as well as herself, and to make deeper connections through her artistry.
“The show has become all I wanted it to be and even MORE,” she shared via Facebook on the show’s three-year anniversary. “What started as a platform for me to promote events and my fellow Sisters has turned into a confessional where I share my deepest, darkest secrets and personality flaws in hopes of making others feel less alone. I don’t do ‘interviews,’ I have conversations and LORD HAVE MERCY, have I had some conversations on this show! I don’t make a dime, nor do I charge a penny ... but the support I’ve gotten is PRICELESS.”
A No-Nunsense Show
When the show launched, nearly four years ago while she was an active member of the Los Angeles Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, she used it as a platform to promote the nonprofit’s events, to spotlight other Sisters and tell her own story in a confessional format.
On occasion she would invite special guests to join her, but it wasn’t until somewhere between episodes 180 and 200 that this became a regular component of the show – and subsequently a key factor in the direction she would take it.
Today, most episodes are centered around a special guest with whom Sister Indica exchanges stories about their work, their passions, their experiences and, in some cases, their pasts.
“The more I have them on, the more walls get broken down,” she explained. “People will forget we are recording, and we’ll just be having a conversation … There is a certain vulnerability that comes when you tell your story publicly. I’ve gotten to know my guests well, and I really feel they are my friends, and I feel like my listeners get that too.”
The show’s format, she explained, allows for her to get to know her guests, especially reoccurring ones, on a deeper level.
Only a few topics, including her day job and her partner, are off limits. But anything else is fair game, including politics.
“Being a Sister, just by the nature of it, is a political act … Every time you do anything that shakes up society’s balance of gender norms or gender roles, you are pissing people off … You’re making waves,” she said. “It is natural for me to be political.”
In hopes of inspiring others, the podcaster often talks about adversity she faced throughout her childhood.
“I overcame poverty. I overcame an alcoholic father. I overcame being bullied and tormented by redneck trash in Southern Michigan,” she shared. “I overcame all that, and I made something of myself … I want to impart that in what I do and want to encourage people to follow their passions.”
Through these conversations, she manifested a new purpose for the show.
“I felt [that] if someone else heard me talk about [these kind of experiences] in an open and honest manner, then maybe they would feel like they had someone who understood what they were going through and they would feel less alone,” she added.
Sisterhood to Hollywood
While the podcaster hails from Detroit, and because the Motor City Sisters weren’t established until about three years ago, her journey with the Sisters began in 2008 with the San Diego Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. In the years since, she has worked with houses in San Diego, Los Angeles, South Florida and Phoenix – all places she has called home throughout the years. And, yes, she’ll be back in Detroit this summer to host the Motor City Sisters’ Black Veiling ceremony.
Since submitting her resignation in August 2016, while serving with the South Florida Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, she’s taken on the identity of a rogue nun. “Not ‘rogue’ in the negative sense,” she shared on Facebook, “just unaffiliated with any specific chapter.”
This, along with her podcast, has allowed her continue to promulgate universal joy and keep in touch with Sisters near and far.
In fact, Sister Indica likens her podcast to her work with the Sisters.
“It’s very similar in the sense that we put on this makeup and put on these outfits to go out and give back to people to make them feel better, to make them feel joy, to make them feel not guilty about life because society or religion told them they are a bad person,” said the self-described recovering Christian. “We’re trying to sit there and do this soul surgery, but what happens is in doing that, we’re healing ourselves.”
Although, she’s not currently an active member of any particular chapter, Sister Indica has become increasingly involved with the Grand Canyon Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence since moving to the Valley in October 2016.
“[When] I moved to Phoenix, I kept the habit hung up until February 2017, when I was finally invited to manifest for something. From then to now, I’ve manifested 17 times with the Phoenix girls,” she shared via Facebook. “How long will we stay in Phoenix? Who knows ... but being ‘rogue’ has allowed me to focus 100 percent on The Work. No politics. No business. Just the work.”
In the meantime, she continues to do “the work” each week via her show.
The Bomb Squad
Through her podcast, Sister Indica able to combine nearly a decade of “the work” (she became an “Aspirant-in-Waiting” at her first Sister meeting in 2008) with the connections established and nurtured in so many cities throughout her journey.
While she’s been known to serve an array of guests up for audiences listening pleasure – including performance artists, drag queens and Sisters – there is a special designation for those who have become regulars, being featured on the show five times: The Bomb Squad.
Easily the most notable Bomb Squad member is the podcaster’s longtime friend, Big Mel. Not only has Big Mel appeared on his show more than any other guest, but her next appearance will mark her 20th.
Big Mel and Sister Indica have known each other since high school and shared many embarrassing memories on the podcast.
“I think people like it when I play the fool in the story, which I often do because I am a complete mess and disaster,” Sister Indica indicated. “By showing my vulnerability a bit, I think it makes people feel more comfortable.”
According to Big Mel, who lives in the Big Apple, straying from the intended topics is quite common when these two get to talking – which only happens in-person about once a year.
“Sometimes we’re having too great of a time we don’t get to everything,” Big Mel admitted to Echo. “We have such a great chemistry we can sometimes get off on a topic and great things can happen.”
Over the years, Big Mel has generated positive reception from listeners become quite the fan favorite.
“I never thought anyone gave a damn. I’m always surprised when someone’s a fan, because I’m not a fixture in the drag community,” Big Mel said. “Sister Indica is my only connection into any of that, and the only reason I know about half of the things I know drag-related. I’m just a woman who lives in New York who has a lot of whacky interests.”
One of their favorite moments from the show involved Big Mel reading a dramatic letter written by Sister Indica right after the two had a falling out several years ago.
Along with more humorous memories, the special guest has shared personal stories about herself, such as her journey overcoming cancer.
“I think I’m just really being me and bringing in topics that I’m interested in,” she said, adding that she would never have done a podcast if it weren’t for her longtime friend.
“It’s definitely strengthened our friendship because we get an opportunity to discuss memories and moments lost in time,” Big Mel explained. “To be able to go back in time with the best friend and discuss all of these forgotten things that have left your brain is amazing. And the fact that we will have a lot to talk about, despite not being together physically, that’s an amazing takeaway.”
Although “Joy Bomb” rarely features celebrity guests, Skarlet Starlet and Daniel Cox of the band LOVUR, parody singer Wendy Ho and Dr. Jen from Atomic Cosmetics and Xerion Skincare are among the past guests who’ve earned this designation.
Local legends ranging from drag performers, including Dixon and Jenna DuMay of VAMP (for more on VAMP, visit phoenix.outvoices.us/vamp), to members of the Grand Canyon Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence – are increasingly becoming a consistent fixture of the show.
But don’t take our word for it: Just tune in each week for the tea on events, pop culture, drag, self-improvement, politics and – sometimes – just everyday occurrences.
“Thank you for being part of this with me,” Sister Indica signs off on a Facebook note. “Whether you’ve listened or you’ve been a guest ... thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you! [Signed] Your homegurl for life.”