Throughout her life, people have approached Iva Bowers if not to hug her or ask her for an autograph, then to ask the inevitable question: "Do you know that you look just like Tina Turner?" Now not only is Iva aware of the resemblance, but so will millions of television viewers when a new episode of the Queen Latifah Show airs in the next few weeks. Iva, now a part-time professional Tina Turner impersonator, beat out Christina Aguilara and Mariah Carey impersonators for the title of Best Female Celebrity Look-Alike Performer.
So how did Queen Latifah hear about you? One of my dancers, Zanetta Hadley wrote about me. [The Queen Latifah people] called me the end of last month and asked me to send a video.
How did you become a Tina Turner impersonator? About three years ago I went to one of Tina Turner's Weatherstream concerts. I wore my hair like her, and people reacted to me like I was her, and took pictures and wanted autographs. A man came up to me and said, "You have to do something with this!" and he put the idea in my mind. I used to teach dance at the Hillside Community Center, and I asked a student if she wanted to join me as a Tina Turner dancer. My daughter Heather was at college and when she came back, she joined us as well.
Is your daughter a big Tina Turner fan? Neither of my two dancers are big fans, but with me around it rubs off. I'm a very vivacious person, and it's like a domino effect. I'm not obsessed with Tina, but I look up to her very much. After all she's been through ... she's an icon.
Have you mastered the gravelly Tina voice? Well, I was not a singer. Before I was on the show, they [the Queen Latifah people] thought I was singing. I was very upset, because I'm not a singer. I was always lip synching in my act. But I started taking voice lessons and my pastor and my sister helped me. I am working on imitating her. It takes a lot of work.
Did you sing on the show? You know, I put it in God's hands, and I was in the studio before I was supposed to go on, and my voice started hoarsening up. And I remembered my pastor saying, "Keep it in the nose, keep it up, keep it in the nose...," but when I went out to rehearse, I just sang and the audience kept saying, "It's Tina Turner! It's Tina!" The winner was determined by audience response, and the audience loved me.
Did you win anything? Yes, I got this crystal award and tickets to Tina's next show in Denver. I was very fortunate and I thank God for that.
What do you do when you're not being Tina? I've taught kids multicultural dance with the city for the past 10 years.
If you could make a living being Tina, would you do it? Well, it is a job, but a hobby also. I'd love to do this full time, but I would not abandon my kids. But if through the impersonation, I can better the program with the children, oh yeah, I'm all for it. If I can represent her, I'm giving people something that is positive.
Look out for Iva on The Queen Latifah Show on UPN, cable channel 7, or regularly on channel 57, within the next two weeks. She'll also be singing at the Fountain Valley Senior Center on Sept. 29; call 520-6471. To book Iva for an event, call 635-0463.