Morgan Carey, local candlemaker community organizer has been putting together a fundraising event at Starr Bill Brewery. On the second Tuesday of every month Carey has organized Good For Her, a monthly event that screens a film featuring a woman overcoming societal brutality and disadvantages. To learn more about what goes on at Starr Hill, and what inspired such an event, Audrey McGovern sat down with Carey to see what this hot new event is all about.
Who are you, and what’s your background?
I’m Morgan Carey. Professionally speaking, I’m a candle maker. I own a candle business called Candlecore. You can find it around town at Ashby, Saturn Return, and sometimes at Rest in Pieces. I make handmade and hand-poured beeswax sculptures in a variety of shapes and then I do concrete vessels– also handmade.
I think I’ve seen those– I’ve always wanted to buy one.
Oh, my God, I’ll give you one. But yeah, I started that in the pandemic. And I also have a background in marketing. I’ve worked for some event nonprofits in town, and now I’m helping the Richmond Arts District and the Downtown Neighborhood Association with their marketing efforts.
I’ve also always really liked movies, specifically horror movies. I originally went to VCU as a cinema student. I ended up dropping out of that because it was kind of misogynistic and pigeonhole-y.
Did they only ever talk about Fight Club?
Well, that program, in particular, was very Jean-Luc Godard– it was French New Wave.
Okay, that’s not really my thing.
Me neither. I was like– what is that? Can we watch Josie and the Pussycats instead? No? That’s not the vibe? Awesome.
But, I’ve always loved movies and I did work as a PA for a bit, but I came to the realization very quickly in school and in work that if I worked in film, I was gonna lose my love for it. Good For Her came from a creative rut I was in with Candlecore and from this idea I had that it be cool if I could just show movies I like and other people could come.
I had been really into the “good for her” genre since like, 2019, and when the idea came to me I put feelers out. Starr Hill liked the idea, and they’ve been awesome to work with.
So you do this repeatedly with Starr Hill?
Yeah. So, we started in May. Our first movie was Jennifer’s Body. I always say like, I peaked too high or came out too strong. Like, maybe we should have worked our way up to Jennifer’s Body, but at least it was a strong start.
Now, we do it once a month at Starr Hill– I guess, indefinitely. They said, as long as I want to keep doing it, they’ll keep showing them. It’s the second Tuesday of every month.
I can’t believe I hadn’t heard of this before. This is so up my alley. I’ll definitely be at the next one.
Yeah, that one is gonna be so good. I met, through announcing Good For Her, Caitlin Grant, who is a local podcast host of a podcast called Plug It Up, which is about the monstrous feminine. I’m very picky about podcasts, especially with the quality of audio, but her’s is very interesting and well done. She hosts trivia around town, and we had Caitlin do the first Good For Her trivia, which was at our showing of Pearl in August.
I love Pearl.
I know the, “Why don’t you like me?” monologue by heart. I feel that very deeply.
What else did she say– “I will not accept a life I do not deserve?”
That’s my daily affirmation. But yeah, I’ve been having a lot of fun with it. I didn’t know what to expect, and it’s still growing and I’m still trying to get the word out, but the people who’ve come out like it. I see the same people every month. I met my girlfriend through Good For Her and it’s just been really fun building this little community. For something centered around feminine rage in film, the vibes are very nice.
You also do a market, right?
We do a vendor market– that’s where the Candlecore piece fits in. So, I do a custom Good For Her candle each month corresponding with the movie. For Jennifer’s Body, I did two– a devil’s kettle scent and a snowflake queen. I’ll make custom labels and custom scents that I think represent the movie well.
Then we’ve got some vendors who are recurring there monthly now. One of them is Ew! Emmie Webb Art. They do amazing prints of final girls in film. There is also Gutsy Little Mama– they’ve been doing Good For Her apparel. Then my friend Sarah Apple who does Lucky Signs, is also involved. She does hand-painted signs around town and has done custom Midsommar pieces. And she’s the one who made the Good For Her logo.
And that’s the same day as the film?
Yeah, it starts at five and it goes until the movie starts. A lot of the vendors stick around to watch the movie. Usually, we only have four or five vendors, but the October one is going to be more like eight to ten.
How would you describe the “good for her” genre to someone who has never heard of it? What does it mean to you?
To me, it means a movie where you see a character– usually a woman but it doesn’t have to be– who is either outcast by society or brutalized by society. They have to endure acts of violence that could be coming from either an individual or maybe the patriarchy as a whole. And they have about enough and start fighting back and taking their power back.
I think these characters really show the resilience of surviving under the patriarchy. Whether they are being indoctrinated into a female cult, or eating boys, it feels empowering. And it feels very cathartic and healing to me when I watch them. I think a lot of people can relate to this idea, especially people who are brutalized by the society we live in, just on a day-to-day basis.
A lot of women feel like they can’t access their rage and anger how they want to, and have to emotionally regulate to a point of extreme emotional control just to function, and to not be deemed “crazy” or a problem. Let the record show I used air quotes there.
There’s a quote I like about anger. “Beneath your anger lies, your self-respect.” Rage is also something that I think is so sacred as an emotion. So that’s what I think of when I think of the “good for her” genre.
For a long time, I had a really hard time accessing my anger. I just pretended I was never angry and shoved it down. And then it got to the point, obviously, during the pandemic, where it was like, you can’t gaslight yourself anymore– like, shit is fucked. I like to remind myself that my anger is not something to avoid. It can be one of the only emotions that can inspire you to take action.
I think it also can be a very protective emotion in that it helps you to stand up for yourself when you feel you’re being disrespected.
Yeah. And that’s something that we should feel more empowered to do, especially as women.
There’s also another quote I like, this one is from Fleabag, I don’t know if you’ve ever seen it.
Yeah, well one of the characters– they’re talking about war– says something like, “Women are born with pain and anger built in, whereas men have to seek it out.”
Fleabag is so great. Do you think you’d consider doing any TV showings?
I think if I could do a TV series it’d be I May Destroy You. That was a huge one. It’s centered around Michaela Cole’s sexual assault. So, it can be triggering, but it’s the most important show I think I’ve watched in the past three years. And then Fleabag is obviously in second.
I’m honestly curious, how did this come about? Did you just go into Starr Hill and we’re like, “I want to do this thing?”
I started sending some, cold-calling type of emails. And I sent them to a couple of places around town that I knew had either done screenings before or had projectors. At first, I wasn’t hearing back.
And so I kind of did what I did with Candlecore, which was, to annoy people nicely. At one point, I put something on my Instagram story advertising, “Hey, I’m trying to start this thing,” and asked if anyone had any contacts for a location. Starr Hill was one of the places I tagged in the post– they saw it and reached out to me immediately, and they were all on board from the jump.
They’ve been so great, even outside of the Good For Her event. I do markets around town and they have been so giving of their space, personal time, effort, and resources to the queer community and the trans community. They just did Print Fest and they’ve done TransJam markets.
Yeah, they’ve been pretty enthusiastic with every idea that I brought to them. Except I’m still trying to get them to work on one thing– I’d love to do a collective scream before each movie. And they’re not really into that, which makes sense. Their rooftop is open and I’m sure they just don’t want to cause a panic in the neighborhood.
I think a communal scream could be very therapeutic, but it also makes sense that they’re not on board with that– yet.
It’s very cathartic. I love to scream. I always invite people to scream just in the daily act of living. Like, I love to scream in my car. I will just scream into pillows. If someone’s really upset, I’m like, “do you want to scream?” That’s usually– maybe not my first response– but definitely in the top three options I give people.
Good For Her also does fundraisers right?
Yeah, so every month we have a different benefiting organization that we try to raise money for and they’re very generous with that. They’ll give gift cards for the raffles, they’ll donate $1 from every pint sold during the whole day to that organization. In the past, we’ve done RVA Community Fridges, Mutual Aid Richmond or mad_rva, Richmond Reproductive Freedom Project, and Safe Harbor.
What’s the organization for this October?
We’re hoping it’s going to be River City Harm Redux.
Oh, yeah, I’m familiar with them. What has the community reaction been like in response to Good For Her? You said you got to know your girlfriend there, do you feel like you’ve made other connections as well?
I definitely notice the returning faces. Right now, there are maybe around five to ten people who have come to every showing and we’re getting on a first-name basis. Then I met Caitlin from Plug It Up, and she’s been awesome. I feel like it comes back to the idea that, if you build it, hopefully, people will come. I just wanted to find like-minded people to connect with who maybe I wouldn’t in normal day-to-day life.
As far as the viewers, I think a lot of the people who come feel attached to the movie that’s being shown. And that’s why I love going to movie theaters, especially for horror movies, because it is such a fun collective experience. It’s nice to share space in that way, even if we’re not all talking to each other all the time.
The community reception has been pretty good so far. I’m trying to let it be known that even though it’s Good For Her, this is very much a space where I want queer and trans and people of color to feel like they can come and share space and laugh and scream. I’m excited to delve deeper into the genre and show, hopefully, more Asian films for example, and more non-American films where the main character isn’t always a white cis woman. Because there’s a lot of that.
Yeah, for sure. Well, you’re gonna expose people to movies they maybe haven’t seen before.
That’s kind of my strategy thus far– casting a wide net and then luring people in.
Do you have any movies that are on your radar? That you really want to share?
Yeah, I want to show Barbarian.
That movie is crazy.
I love that movie. I did not know what to expect. And it was amazing. It delivered.
I feel like with a lot of movies, I can kind of guess what’s gonna happen, but I was floored by the end of it.
I love when the person who you think is the main character dies really early and you’re like– the fuck is happening now? And then Justin Long comes in and it’s like, what are you doing here? Yeah. Crazy.
What do you feel like is next for Good For Her?
I’m definitely happy at Starr Hill right now while the event is growing. I would love to hold maybe supplemental screenings in smaller spaces and maybe show movies that Starr Hill wouldn’t particularly love. I don’t know if super body horror stuff, like maybe Audition would do well there. I really want to show House, which is a Japanese film. That one is so bonkers-unhinged.
But again, is that going to be one that really brings people out? Maybe– but probably not. So how do I do the deeper cuts in addition to maybe more mainstream viewing for a casual movie viewer who’s dipping their toe into the genre? While also honoring the people who are really invested in this particular brand of film?
But as far as growing and goals, I would love to grow the community. I would love to maybe explore zines and maybe podcasting or some short films. With Candlecore, I didn’t really have any big plans– I just wanted to do something so I started doing it. Then from there, new ideas spawned– so that’s how I’m feeling with Good For Her. It honestly is really nice to feel inspired and supported and it has me thinking about all the ways that we can build on the momentum. So I have some ideas percolating around in my brain, but I’m really happy with how things are going.
I mean yeah, I can’t wait to go to this every month.
The October one is gonna be so fun– we’re gonna do a costume contest. Like, who has the best final girl costume?
Okay yeah, I’m gonna be decked out. I’m gonna look so creepy.
Is there anything else you want to add?
I’m just super excited to talk to you and hopefully, more people will find out about this because I feel like there are so many people in Richmond who I think this type of event would be way up their alley.
I think so too.
There are also many other film screenings in the city– so if Good For Her isn’t your jam– you’re wrong, but there’s a lot else out there. LC Cinema and Solitary Confinement do screenings, New Habit Cinema showed Possession I think earlier this year. Star and Moon started their own video club. So yeah, there’s no shortage of love for movies in the city.