A hot new starlet of New York drag, Indonesian born fashionista Kekoa is making it work. [Cover photo: Syra Sparkle]
Thotyssey: Hi Kekoa! So March is already nearly behind us now… how did the month treat you?
Kekoa: Its been kinda a wild month! A lot of new experiences and changes, so it’s been a lot of fun!
You’re starting to pop up a lot now in popular bar shows everywhere. Have you had a favorite show or competition experience in the scene yet?
Honestly, it’s hard to pick a favorite! Not to sound cliché, but I’ve been lucky enough to have met and worked with such amazing people lately that they’ve all made it all so special!
Can you tell us a bit about where you’re from originally–and were art, fashion and performance always parts of your life growing up?
Born and raised in Indonesia! And definitely, I was raised in the art scene; I was literally that kid in art exhibitions and weekends in museums and galleries, and meeting artists all the time. So it just became second nature to me naturally, because I always got to meet and hang out with these artists in their studios or homes as an eight year-old, which was fun! That definitely influenced me in fashion and performance.
I love drag and the art of it, but performance is where my heart lies. Being on that stage and getting to challenge myself with different sounds and stories is something I love doing. So getting to do that with so many visual elements has been nothing short of a blessing, to be honest!
Besides drag, do you work in fashion or art? You have a very eloquently curated IG!
I studied fashion design in university and worked in it for a couple years after graduation before transitioning into the art world. There I was working as a gallerist / project manager up until a year after the pandemic. It was then I decided I wanted to come back to NYC and do drag!
What was your first night out like in drag, and how did you get your name inspiration?
Okay, so my drag origin story is kinda funny! My first night out was actually at my university drag seminar where Mocha, Misty Meaner and Princess Bitch were my drag professors; they taught us some Drag 101, and we performed that night! I had garage door eyes, made my [look with a] black button-up tied around my chest with blue mesh boy shorts in white pumps, doing Marina and the Diamonds’ “How to Be a Heartbreaker.” They took us shopping at Payless for shoes, and went to Ricky’s for hair things… it was such a moment.
And I actually don’t have a drag name! Kekoa is my real name, birth certificate and all!
Love that! How might you describe the looks and numbers you serve today… what is Kekoa’s “thing?”
So, I personally would consider myself a bit of a jack of all trades. Like, I love to do a campy mix or perform music from the Wiggles, but I do love a good alt-pop vibe. There’s definitely a charged sensuality in my looks and performances though, for sure. As a performer, I do think versatility is important because life’s way too short to only be doing one thing or one schtick for the rest of your life.
You’re gonna be part of a massive show at 3 Dollar Bill this Tuesday: “Stand Up NYC,” a benefit to fight Tennessee’s bizarre and hateful drag ban. What are your thoughts on this crazy legislation?
Oh it’s ridiculous! Legislation around the LGBTQIA+ community should not be falling into the hands of the same people who think it’s okay to put a shotgun in a 10 year old’s hand! Banning drag, which is an art form in itself–why not ban entire theater, or just Halloween? Putting on clothes and makeup and a suit and tie or whatever is drag in itself. On top of the legislation around the trans community, and trying to dictate someone’s own story? Who is anyone to decide someone else’s fate?
It’s all gross and idiotic. On a lighter note, how amazing will this benefit show be!?
I think Julie J creating this show and event to increase awareness, support and most of all change to the table is important. I’m so so honored to be able to contribute what I can to the show, because it’s going to be one for the books! Having so many entertainers and people in one space sharing love and kindness is gonna be so beautiful!
Looking ahead, I see you’ll be back at 3DB on April 27 for Nicky O’s “Night of 1000 Taylors!”
Oh my God yes, I’m so so excited for that as well! My mother is from the south–aka Alabama–so I spent a lot of time during the summers watching CMT! So I remember when Taylor Swift came on with “Our Song,” and I was watching it and was like, okay white girl, yes! So getting to do some Taylor is gonna be so much fun!
And getting to work with Nicky, Jo and the whole team who have opened their hearts and shared their time with me has been such a blast! And also getting to perform at 3DB? Like, that’s a dream! I love having a big stage where I can just let loose and be free! Also excited because that’s when I plan to make my “blonde” debut.
What else is coming up for you?
So every other week I’m at Metro doing the pre-show for [Wednesday’s] “Dream Queen!” I definitely would love to start producing more. I’m in the headspace, especially as an Asian performer, that I want to create new kinds of experiences for the Asian community! Often times when people think of an Asian cast / show, they have a stereotype of either super traditional or a K-Pop style of aesthetic of experience. But there are so many things as well to add to those, and ideally would love to incorporate more of my Asianness into the drag landscape!
We’d love to see that! Okay lastly… as we’re approaching the end of Drag Race S15, who’s team are you on?
I’m Team Untucked! Honestly, I love love love a lot of the girls, but I’m all Team Anetra! Like, learning about her on the show and seeing what she brings and more has been such a privilege! I think her taking the crown would send such a new energy into the Drag Race world, and would inspire a lot of young performers and people.
Agreed! Thanks, Kekoa!
Check Thotyssey’s calendar for Kekoa’s upcoming appearances, and follow her on Instagram.