[Photo: Zak Krevitt]
This captivating night creature with club lewks for the gods is and EMT by day, on the path to a full medical doctorate. Thotyssey gets crazy with spirit clown Fet Fet!
Thotyssey: Hey Fet Fet! How was On Top the other night?
Fet Fet: Hi babe. Was so fun!
A proper Bartsch outing means you gotta serve LEWKS… how far in advance do you know what sort of look you’re gonna have?
I found out [Tuesday], literally a few hours before. But sometimes I start with an item that I really want, and then the outfit kinda builds from those one or two main pieces. Yesterday I just knew what my budget was, and that I wanted to be in a sparkly tiara, and then matched a mask and necklace, etc.
You are visual artist in a few different mediums, right?
Its hard to kinda classify and identify, but yes. Officially speaking, I’ve only been to photography school. But I love illustration, making sculptures, Making clothes, leather work, chainmail, studding, and large format collage… aka mixed media, I guess. I’m currently going back to school as a pre-med Science Major, hopefully eventually becoming an emergency doctor!
Whoah! I’m gonna ask more about that in a bit. Do you also consider yourself a performing artist?
Sure, but I haven’t really been doing “performance ar” lately. I used to perform more as a trapeze artist / butoh modern dance performer…..but haven’t really lately, other than hosting. I guess I’m self-identified as a witch/pagan, and that’s the flavor and base for manifestations of many of my club aesthetics.
I’ve just been talking to Thee Suburbia in Brooklyn, who also identifies as a witch. Have you two ever discussed anything witchy? And in general, are you in touch with other pagans in the city?
Not specifically Thee Suburbia, but a couple other witches have approached me, and I have interest in creating more of a community with them upstate.
[Photo: Oscar Ouk]
So, where are you from originally?
From Japan. I was born in Okinawa. [I lived there] for the first 8 years of my life.
Why did your family move to the states?
My dad is Japanese-American, who grew up with his mom in Tokyo. He immigrated to the States, then took a job back in Okinawa working for the US army corps of engineers. So, I went to school with other families who worked with the US Military. We moved back to Seattle, because that’s where both my Dad’s mom (my grandma) and my Mom’s sisters (my aunts) were.
Were you always an artist?
I grew up in punk aesthetics as well, so as a queer youth I was always into DIY culture, and figuring out how things were made, or how to design stuff.
[Photo: Luke Norton.
Custom Shirt / pants by Oliver Ward. Makeup / cape by Fet Fet]
How did you get involved with NYC nightlife?
Basically I was a bartender and involved at the Spectrum when Gage opened it up around 5-6 years ago. And through that, I met every queer underground performer/ DJ/ promoter etc. Actually, [DJ collective] The Carry Nation were the first people to hire me to host parties for them at Output, for their monthly party called Nights over BKLYN. Soon thereafter, Michael Magnan and Ladyfag would hire me for 11:11, and I was hired back every week. And so far, I’ve been hosting one or two parties every weekend for the last two years, almost. I also go out a lot, and am veraciously engaged about the NYC nightlife and underground culture.
What excites you about the scene these days?
Actually, that it’s involving some new faces and younger kids, who are way more involved with starting drag at such a young age.
From the cradle to the club, these days!
It also amazes me of how “the kids” are using Instagram and are Instagram Famous before even leaving their small country towns. And even on the flip side: I’ll go to places, and people will approach me and say that they follow me and know all my friends from NYC, and they’ve never been here before, lol.
So you can be internet famous without even knowing it! You’re looks are pretty stunning though, I must say… very Insta friendly!
What’s “Fet Fet” mean, by the way?
Fet was a nickname I got from the streets of Seattle. Everyone had a nickname of sorts – Pockets, Roscoe, Spike – kinda street kid culture, but also very punk. So my name used to be Rufio [from Hook, lol], but then people shortened it to Rufi, and that got awkward at parties.
So my nickname became Fetish, which was because of the dichotomy of the dual meaning coming from symbolism of spiritual, versus the more common meaning of sexual obsession. I wanted to be reborn of sorts from my gay youth, and negative association from my American name – and my bullied, sexually confused childhood. So I decided to pick something that was androgynous, and phonetically had both hard masculine features and soft feminine features.
I also liked that It kinda was a little nod to the fetishization of exotifying Asians to be some kind of submissive sexual fantasy. *sarcastic* That’s the short answer, lol!
Anyhow, I kinda grew out of Fetish, and friends called me Fet Fet, and I like that better now. So I go by Fet Fet, or my Japanese name, Sato.
When My dad moved to the States, the kids in his school couldn’t pronounce his Japanese name Sadao so they changed it to Jim. Which was necessary for him, as he wanted to be American more than anything else. But I also view it as kind of an erasure of his ethnicity and racial lineage.
What have been your own experiences with prejudice, in nightlife or the world at large?
It’s interesting how race comes across still, even though It should be kinda more of a “not an issue” kind of topic. But actually, it’s interesting because I’ve always been raised Japanese-American, and part of a biracial relationship. but how I identify sometimes doesn’t match what other people perceive me as, and I guess my privilege is somewhat invisible because It can change depending on what race people wanna see me as. It’s different than black or white for me.
So how on earth do you balance nightlife and medicine? These seem like the two most time-consuming fields a person can pursue.
I can’t seem to do night life forever, and I’ve always wanted to go into medicine. A few years ago, I became an EMT, and now this is the next step. I enjoy dressing up and doing looks; I just wish I had more time for everything, really.
[Nightlife hosting] is my main source of income at this point, other than student loans and odd jobs in fashion / photo assisting / production assisting. So I take them as they come.
But it’s also important to me that [the gigs are] queer enough, and my values are respected. I pick and choose which parties, and that who is promoting it really gets me and understands my aesthetic. Except for a few circuit parties that were kinda funny, and very outside of my normal comfort community.
I take it that sex positivity and sexual freedom are important to you when you’re selecting your gigs – like with that NYC Inferno underground event you hosted recently?
I think it’s funny actually that lately I’ve been getting gigs that are specifically representing a darker, more sexual experience. It’s also funny because I think I enrapture a darker, more spiritual representation of “energy,” almost traditional evil, playful spirits that I see from Noh theater, or butoh.
I always try to represent a spiritual medic of sorts, and i’ts important for me to represent more of a feminine, androgynous spirit in these “male only” / ‘”Masc only” scenes. I studied a lot of history about Shamanic Jesters. “Sacred clowns are adept at uniting joy with pain, acting on the higher and more inscrutable imperatives of the Great Mystery. They tend to govern transition, introduce paradox, blur boundaries, and mix the sacred with the profane. They are called upon to reestablish the bridge between the physical and spiritual worlds. They dare to ask the questions that nobody wants answers to.” I guess I pick that as an archetype for my nightlife inspiration.
Let’s talk about where you’ll be this weekend – your birthday weekend, to be precise! Ricardo Tavares’ sexy party Harder is now at Open House, and the kiki turns two years old this Friday! You’ll be hosting!
YES I’m excited for the 2-year anniversary for HARDER on FRIDAY! We’re moving into more of a new direction… still having a relaxed play space, but we also want the music to speak to more of a European feel, where you just wanna lose control and sweat the night away.
And Saturday night you’ll be at The Deep End in Ridgewood for Physique, an all-body type underwear party presented by Rify Royalty. How are you with body issues and hang ups, what do you look for in others in that respect?
I love men (and womyn, and others) of all different shapes and sizes. I feel like sometimes I’m more attracted to someone’s spirit or energy. I’m def not the most chiseled body at all, and I feel comfortable in my skin. My ass is big and juicy and has a mind of its own, so I guess that is what leads me in directions, sometimes. Gets me into trouble at other times.
I bet it does! Anything else for you?
Happy birthday to you, and happy anniversary to Ova and Harder! Okay, in closing… what are you going to be for Halloween?
Surprise! You’ll have to come see me in flesh and bones.
Tease! Thanks, Fet Fet.
[Photo: Daniel Ford]