Kings of Joy podcast interview with Kaizer: bringing your whole selfJul 20, 2022
Danica Lani 0:01
Hello and welcome everyone. My name is Danica Lani. I am the King Coach aka Mother of Drag Kings aka Daddy Joy, aka Dario DiBello. And I am here today on the podcast and welcoming my very special guest Kaizer!
Kiki aka Kaizer 0:25
Hello, guten tag Danica, how are you doing?
Danica Lani 0:29
Gut, gut, danke. I know limited German, but you know, we'll see how we go. We'll do it mostly in English. I think.
Kiki aka Kaizer 0:40
That's fine. I've prepared all my material in German, but I guess I can accommodate you know,
Danica Lani 0:44
So multi talented already. Amazing. So welcome Kaizer aka Kiki. So, here we have. I'm so excited to have you here. And to share about your journey. Can you take us through your journey with the Kings of Joy?
Kiki aka Kaizer 1:04
Yeah, I can. So I was introduced to it through the Queers of Joy night through another - which I found through another Kings of Joy alumni, Plastic Persephone aka Choking Hazard aka Bio Hazard the absolutely talented performer and someone that I'm very lucky to call a very close friend. And they sort basically sort of explained the night I said, that sounds great, got myself a link, was just sat in the backyard and watching the show. And just the way that you know, Queers of Joy creates that kind of space where you felt so held. Which was something Yeah, that was like a time in my life that wasn't like, yeah, it was sort of the end of a pretty significant relationship in my life. Also tailing lockdown after readjusting, from moving to Berlin, to moving to Australia, having a long time being financially dependent on my partner, and sort of feeling quite lost in terms of creativity and inspiration. And sort of trying out Drag Kings was something that I sort of started playing around with in the lockdown. First it was femme drag. And that was actually Rae/Plastic and myself, just getting on Zoom, and just doing our makeup during the lockdown. And I always just thought, ah, you know, it would be really cool to do king stuff. But because I've seen like, yeah, I artists like Landon Cider on the Boulet Brothers' Dragula thinking - wow, wouldn't it be amazing to do that. But being very 'Oh, I don't know if I can.' And then just watching the Kings of Joy come out and then seeing this scene thing. She was like, 'Oh, if you want to do this, just sign up.' And I went, 'I really want to. I don't know if I should? Ooo, maybe.' And yeah, I just signed myself on. And that was that kind of little bit of trepidation. But I just sort of - as soon as I'd filled it out and sent it off, I just knew, Okay, that's- we're doing this. And when I got the email invitation I was over the moon. It was also very special, because I really did have Rae in my court supporting me the whole time as well. And also just saying, like, you can do it because I needed that at the very beginning. I was really, even though I'm quite sort of charismatic as a person, I was at a very wobbly time in my life and feeling - second guessing a lot. So.
Danica Lani 3:44
Yeah, I think that's understandable when we have big life change, you know, to feel that wobbliness. So what difference did that make to be in a group, a Drag King group?
Kiki aka Kaizer 3:58
Ah, it was so so good. Even though the first meeting it's just saying hi and seeing everyone's beautiful faces, getting to know a little bit more about these people and just said it was, funnily enough, I think that's a little bit of the magic of the Kings of Joy, because every group is different. And one of the themes that came through I think, when people were sort of talking about in our group, what they were sort of looking for, I think that new friendships was something that came through quite strongly as a theme. And also this like trying something new creatively and maybe feeling a little bit out of our comfort zones, you know, and once I heard that coming back from everyone, I thought this is the right place and the right time.The transformation over the six weeks really went above and beyond my expectations. Like I'd already heard such good things. And I just Yeah, I couldn't kind of believe I was like, this is actually happening to me. I can't believe it. It's just excellence. I have some very beautiful friendships but also... Well, yeah, this is sort of my number one creative pursuit at the moment. I'm so passionate about it. I absolutely love it. And it's opened up so many new friendships, but also just yeah, this whole range of creativity that I really wasn't expecting.
Danica Lani 5:25
Amazing. And so how did you can you share with us how you came across Kaizer? Or how did you develop - How did Kaiser arise as your Drag King persona?
Kiki aka Kaizer 5:37
Yeah, well, that was like sort of the homework assignment I guess. So Kaiser, spelled correctly with the 's' is means emperor in German. And I wanted to tie the German side of myself in there somewhere because I wanted to draw on what's authentically me. Also the 'k' corresponding with my, you know, non drag name. And more, funnily enough, as I was just writing down some different ideas and sort of left the notepads and I came back and looked at the notepad. So and thought, oh, Kaiser, if you change that 's' to a 'Z', that's actually really good letters. Like I got really into like, painting and spray painting while I was living in Berlin. So I knew a lot of people that were into graff and stuff like that. And while I sort of focused more on characters, a lot of my friends were doing letters, and I was just like, Those are excellent. If this was a tag, that would be excellent. So that just solidified it for me. I guess. I was like, Yeah, good. Gut name. Gut letters. Yeah. Okay, Kaizer. And then it just felt really natural.
Danica Lani 6:50
Love that. That's like a measure everybody, you can use a measure of, does your Drag King name - Would it look good as a tag? Love that. Okay, so you got the name. So the name kind of came first? Was that how it worked? And then the imagery and the persona came through? How did that work for you?
Kiki aka Kaizer 7:20
It's funny cuz I'm a very visual thinker. And so part of it was that. I could just picture those letters. And I could picture them in this kind of like really 80s middle Judas Priest-y kind of font or something and then that you know, I tried out a few different things and I really enjoyed like it's you know, you can be fluid you can change your character doesn't need to be one specific thing. So it started off sort of going a bit more in a rockabilly direction you know, with a quiff and maybe a suit. And I was like, I like it. But I felt the most at home once I was in my spandex with all my chains and all my spikes and things. And yeah, with the hair up, I guess it organically kind of came from there. What felt the most close to me as a person. The rock and roll kind of character I liked that one lot. Obviously, I enjoy that you can play with different ones. So I've got sort of the cowboy character as well. I'm interested at some point to show off the more rockabilly sort of Elvis-y side as well. But yeah, that's the wonderful thing with Drag you can make it whatever you want.
Danica Lani 8:39
You really can. Amazing and Kaizer you've been someone who has like just gone from Kings of Joy first group performance - was that the first time you'd been a Drag King on stage, but was that also the first time you'd performed on stage or what's your background?
Kiki aka Kaizer 9:00
Basically, yeah. Both. I yeah, I was really nervous because I didn't think of myself as a dancer. Like I can boogie femme on the dance floor maybe but I was that was actually I was very nervous about that. So also props to you because you created a routine that everyone in our group was capable with all the various different levels and I felt so you know, even though I was nervous I felt like supported the whole time too. That was a really big thing to overcome. I think the only time apart from that I've ever been on a stage was when I spontaneously go tup at a jazz night and performed a song but that like you know cuz I can say I sing as well but I used to a bit more. But yes that was really the first time on stage in front of an audience I think that was there to see everyone but yeah, and as a King, it was just mind boggling, blowing.
Danica Lani 9:57
Love it. So first time officially performing on stage, first time Drag King performing, and then tell us, what happened after that debut performance.
Kiki aka Kaizer 10:16
So I went and the following week, there was an open call for a concert called Vonni's Poxy Concert happening in the basement at the Imperial. So Vonni being an absolutely iconic queen from the Les Girls lineup from the Cross - previous generations opening stuff up for us. I heard about that at the Kings meetup the weekend before. And I decided, okay, well, now, I managed to do that on stage. And I enjoyed it. Let's just dive in. I gave myself the green light. I applied and they want me on. So yeah, I performed a number that I had sort of been working on adjacently while we were working on our Kings Joy routine, because one of the songs I discovered when I was trying to find one to recommend for the whole group, I was just like, Oh, I haven't heard this in such a long time and actually, this might be one I'll save to do myself.
Danica Lani 11:24
Kiki aka Kaizer 11:24
So I debuted that. Some of my fellow Kings of Joy came along to support me. It was an excellent MC'd night and a really, really great experience and especially having my brothers there to support me. That sort of started it. And after that, I was like, well, that number works. Okay, I can do this by myself. And from then after that, I sort of thought, well, Choking Hazard aka Plastic Persephone aka Bio Hazard aka my lovely friend, Rae, was performing at an event called Wildside, which is the Newcastle Fringe. And I'd been to see that a few months previously, and the theme of the night is sort of, you know, various different acts, kind of Cabaret, but a very sort of 80's, overall feel to it. And I thought, well, Kaizer's pretty 80s. I think this could work. I just reached out to the producer and just said, 'hey, if there's anything in the future, by the way, I'd be really interested to do this night.' And they just basically said, 'Well, we've got an opening. Do you want to do it this weekend?' And, yeah, immediately just went, 'Yep. Okay, well, I know another king. If you want more Kings for your night, he's also got some pretty, you know, sort of 80s inspired numbers. And that was JSTARR And we just all jumped on and yeah, just went for it. And from there, it's just been sort of, yeah, just this rolling momentum of just keeping reaching out and keeping that ball rolling. And then having opportunities open up through, either, you know, things like being recommended by friends like JSTARR as well and sort of paying it back. And everyone is, you know, plugging each other and supporting each other too.
Danica Lani 13:17
Wow, so good. Will you tell us a bit more about your artistic process? Now that you're doing the solo gigs, what's some of your artistic process and creative process with your music and how you come up with a routine?
Kiki aka Kaizer 13:36
I like watch a lot first of all. I go with people, my friends, people in the broader community that I just like what's happening there. I find a lot of inspiration just going into shows. You can just draw so much energy from people who are performing onstage. Me. I think that what I really enjoy is I get really into my lip syncing, like, you know, I love the expression I love conveying.... Yeah, you know? Absolutely. I've got a playlist on my Spotify that's just called Kaizer where anything when I hear something, and I go 'oo', it gets added to it. So there's a rotation. I'll listen to it sometimes. So far, it'll just be a song that just gives me an itch where I go, Ah, I love first of all, I love this. And second of all, I think I could do this and I want to share this with other people. Every song that I've created a routine for, I genuinely absolutely love. And it's whatever that little seed is that creates the routine I guess around it. A lot of it comes just from an excitement of wanting to share that music with people and share that love that I've got and the excitement that I've got and how good it makes me feel you know, just bring that out to people.
Danica Lani 15:07
Nawww you're so gorgeous. It just makes me tear up. You've got such a beautiful heart Kaizer.
Kiki aka Kaizer 15:16
Ja, it's tiny and black but danke schon.
Danica Lani 15:22
Well, it's working. Amazing. Wow. And what about the gender journey aspect? Gender, sexuality, community? What about that aspect that you'd like to share with us?
Kiki aka Kaizer 15:37
Yeah. So well, it's kind of funny. Sort of, gender, for me, just in my day to day life, but my whole life always felt very fluid. I really enjoy playing around with gender and aesthetic. I really, like, some days I'll be running around looking incredibly femme, you know, with my hair down and yeah, a lot of the time it's other things as well. And running up to people that I've seen when I've been in Drag, be like 'Hello again!' and they're like, 'Hello...?', and I'm like, 'Kaizer.' Even just, yeah, running around in suits, as well, you know. To be honest, I never really thought about it that much. I just kind of did it. My understanding of gender I've just never really questioned and so much to be honest, which I guess is that's privileged in a lot of ways. I've just sort of done my own thing and haven't had too many negative experiences with gender nonconforming aesthetic, I suppose. With the sexuality side of things, that's an interesting one for me to talk about because again, I was thinking about this and again, running into the Queers of Joy community and just seeing so many different expressions of just who people are. Not even just their sexuality, but just being in this really open and supporting space, made me reflect a little bit more about my sort of approaches and understanding of my gender and sexuality as well and really opened that space up. I hadn't really let myself do that before because - Ok, get this. This is a kid who was born in the 90s so we're very progressive. The Internet is around but I've managed to miss it somehow. I've gone around my whole life just being sort of attracted to just whoever. Right, men, women and everything in between. But thinking well I don't really feel entirely straight but I also don't feel like a bisexual. And that's like the only word that I had kind of come across. And I sort of thought oh well I don't really identify as that so I maybe I'll just I'll go with what's probably - I have the privilege of being like I can present it straight and I can be straight and I think that maybe I'll be taking away from something if I explored my whole self. It seems it's kind of silly when I think about it like that. As if I need a label to just be myself. But just being in that Queers of Joy space and being like hey, anything goes and just you being you. That's what's important. That just really let me like actually accept all of myself. In that sense, and that's been that's been really beautiful and really special. So I have to thank you and Chris and the whole Queers of Joy team just for creating that space and just letting people be whoever they want to be. That's been so special.
Danica Lani 19:07
That's so beautiful. And Kiki, we really do love you. We love you exactly the way you are and exactly the way you're not. We don't care who you sleep with. We just love you. You know. And we love your expression and love. You know who you've been in the community and you've been so inspiring to so many people who are in Kings of Joy and done the group performance and there you've gone and just gone the solo path and got up there and you're doing it. And you're fully self expressed. You're so unleashed on stage it's one of the things I love about you. You're unleashed. Your lip synching is next level. You've got that amazing makeup skill, the hair -it's a whole thing people. You have to see. You have to experience Kaizer and the whole thing and you'll get it. But we just love you. We love who you are and thank you for being such an inspiring beacon of light for our community. You really are.
Kiki aka Kaizer 20:09
Oh, thank you. I'm gonna have to breathe and let that in. That really means the world to me. It's so cool these worlds kind of, you know, blending and getting to share the... getting to share all of me. That makes me really excited. And the thing with being on stage and also bringing that, I guess all the parts. It's like everything gets to combine, it really feels like there's a synergy where it's just like the makeup, art, the music. Everything gets to combine, and it's really fun to be able to share that with people because it's something that's such a yeah... I'm sorry, I got a little bit lost in my words there.
Danica Lani 20:51
It's perfect. And what I want to say is the world needs you. We need you. We need your unique self expression. Because there is no one quite like you. There's no one quite like Kaizer, and that expression. And I know that there'll be people out there who see you and resonate. Something resonates for them where they feel seen. And they feel heard and they feel gotten and they feel like there's more room in this world for them. So that's the gift that you are. And yeah, thanks for just bringing all of you because we do, we want all of you.
Kiki aka Kaizer 21:48
I love that. One of the things that keeps me going actually is just hoping that it reaches out and resonates with people too. That's that's part of the beautiful thing that we do with drag. You know? It's the most beautiful medium for that, you know? Yeah. You never know who you're who you're touching.
Danica Lani 22:11
That's right. And sometimes we never know the difference that we've made, because we don't hear. People don't always feed it back. And then you'll hear it fed back through one person. But know that there's 10 people that person represents in the difference that you've made. Yeah, just have that faith. Thank you for sharing your your journey with me and with us today. And it's a complete honor and privilege to be with you, and your expression. And I can't wait to see Kaizer continue to develop and bring everything, bring everything to your performances.
Kiki aka Kaizer 22:51
Oh, thank you so much. It's been an absolute honor and a privilege to spend some time with you and have this chat as well. And I just want to say also back, you know, how much you've given me how much you've given every one of us kings that have you know, passed through the Kings of Joy experience. Thank you for being our Daddy Joy and giving us so much so much love, so much light and just opening up the space for us. It's groundbreaking. I keep saying this to people that come up being like, 'I've never seen a King before or wow, where are there more of you?' And it's so exciting to be able to say, I feel as though we're a part of a movement that's really starting to shake things up. You know, like just in Sydney at the moment. It feels like there's fertile ground here. You know, and I think that you've been really instrumental in creating that ground for us to shoot out and rise and take over...
Danica Lani 24:02
Yup, that's the plan. It's great being part of this resurgence of Drag Kings and new generations and yes, thank you to all the Drag Kings before us. Leading the way, paving the way. Yeah, absolutely. Thank you, Kaizer. Love you. And we'll see you soon.
Kiki aka Kaizer 24:24
Yep. Okay, love you.
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