Varvara Ionanova, better known by her stage name Red Bubblegum, is a Mecharussian musical artist known for her wild performances and appearance, modelled upon that of contemporary Western pop singers. She is regularly employed by the Ministry of Propaganda to perform both in the country and abroad, singing modernised variations of classical Russian folk songs as well as works of her own composition, and is popular among young people both within and without the Mechanocracy. Additionally, she is an accomplished guitarist, oftentimes using an electric guitar to embellish her performances.
Ionanova is also notable for being the only Mecharussian to have a single amongst the top five in the Western charts. The single in question is Pizdit kak Trotskiy, an angry lyric about an unfaithful lover from her school years; the song's title comes from the Soviet-era proverb "to bullshit like Leon Trotsky". Such socialist undertones are a common theme in her music, as is to be expected from a Mecharussian performer.
Behind the façade of the lively, almost absurd character of Red Bubblegum, Ionanova is a deeply-troubled young woman with a harsh past. Raised in a rough Stalingrad neighbourhood by her widowed, alcoholic mother after her father died fighting Pandemonium's Raiders during the Salvagings, she claims to have had "more abortions than driving lessons" and has only recently conquered a heroin addiction. The struggles of her life, however, have been greatly helped by both her music and an idolisation of Elena Trotskaya, the Red Tigress, and the Song of Experience in particular – the metaphor conveyed by it of drawing strength through one's negative experiences is a message that resonates strongly with her. Her second album, Songs of Experience, is full of expressive, emotional songs as a form of tribute to the Tigress.
It is her own application of the Song of Experience that has kept Ionanova so lively and happy, almost all of her bottled-up anguish and fury being poured into her music. As a result, she is considered amiable and good-natured by her peers and fans (one of whom is none other than the Chthonian Peley) alike. She is also well-known for her humility and self-deprecation, stating that she is "just another girl, I'm not that interesting", which is also reflected by her lifestyle: she lives in a small penthouse in Greater Sunikagrad's Sertolovo District, despite being entitled to a mansion in Central for her services to the State.
As Red Bubblegum, Ionanova is statuesque, wearing a skin-tight striped jumpsuit, and conveys an almost demonic image, incorporating blood-red, white and black into her physical appearance. She possesses a number of cybernetic augmentations to help her with her performances: her eyes can change colour from snowy-white to blazing red in an instant, in her throat is an inbuilt microphone and auto-tuner, and an array of gyroscopes keeps her steady as she dances on the stage. One of her most dramatic acts of all relies upon another augment: the synthskin on her back opens up and her back ribs fold outward as she spreads her arms like wings, resembling a blood-eagle.
Naturally, Ionanova is blond and possesses a light build, and actually rarely makes use of makeup save for the occasional lip-gloss.
Ionanova has not yet appeared in person, but has received a handful of passing mentions (such as in the Aralkum wargames).
- Ionanova's musical style (and surname) borrows from real-world Russian pop singer Natalia 'Glukoza' Ionova, whose songs are frequently bitter and/or sombre (such as Schweine and K Chertu).