they seem cool

The Performance Artist Playing Her Own Muse

To be clear: Jennifer Vanilla and her creator Becca Kauffman are both pretty cool. Vanilla is an alter ego imagined by Kauffman three years ago as a performance art piece. Vanilla is bold, loves wearing her own name on her clothing, and looks like Fran Fine had a love child with Little Orphan Annie. “She’s the distillation of all of my shortcomings turned on their head,” Kauffman said. “Jennifer Vanilla is my muse and escape hatch.” We spoke with Kauffman about neo-pagan chants, Berlin, and the Carpenters.

What is your most-used emoji?
The comedy/tragedy emoji.

What is your favorite holiday?
New Year’s Eve because of new beginnings and new goals.

If you could spend three months anywhere, where would it be and why?
I’m intrigued by Berlin and the club scene there. So I might fantasize about a Jennifer Vanilla fantasy in Berlin.

What superpower would you have and why?
Morphing my physical appearance into an amorphous, environmentally absorbent substance.

What’s the best album ever made?
Chalice of My Becoming, an obscure cassette tape I found at a yard sale in Massachusetts. It features a women’s chorus singing neo-pagan chants.

Go-to karaoke song?
“We’ve Only Just Begun” by the Carpenters.

Who do you think is cool?
My friend Elsa Brown, the video poet.

What fictional character would you love to hang out with?
Jem, from Jem and the Holograms.

If you could be a magazine, what magazine would you be?
A combination of Nickelodeon magazine and As Seen on TV.

If you could speak to animals, which animals would you want to talk to?I’ve always been curious about what the cat and dog who are constantly fighting in my backyard have to say to one another.

Jeans or sweats?
Sweats, for sure.

What’s something your social-media followers don’t know about you?
That I’m actually the artist Becca Kauffman.

What was the last website you looked at?
I’m always on YouTube.

If you could be outfitted by one designer for the rest of your life, who would it be?
I’m contractually obligated to say Jennifer Wear by Jennifer Vanilla.

What do you eat for breakfast?
Breakfast is my favorite meal, so we’ve got oatmeal, yogurt, fruit, eggs, and smoothies.

If you could only eat three things for the rest of your life, what would they be?
Chocolate chip cookies, popcorn seasoned in any way, and coconut water.

If you were a color, what would it be?
Deep iridescent turquoise.

On Becca Kauffman: Opening Ceremony dress, $425 from Opening Ceremony and Simon Miller x Leonard Urso earrings, $490 from Simon Miller.

The Performance Artist Playing Her Own Muse