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Kings of Joy podcast interview with Slaychuan Peppa: being true to who you are

drag king kings of joy lgbtqia+ podcast queer queers of joy the king coach Jun 23, 2022

Danica Lani 0:01
Hello, welcome everyone. I'm Danica Lani. And this is my podcast and blog and the Kings of Joy episodes. So I'm here today with Slaychuan Peppa.

Kit aka Slaychuan Peppa 0:17

Danica Lani 0:18
Aka Kit! And I've known Kit for a little while now having been their King Coach. What are your preferred pronouns?

Kit aka Slaychuan Peppa 0:30

Danica Lani 0:31

Kit aka Slaychuan Peppa 0:32
Yes. Although Slay has he/they

Danica Lani 0:37
Yeah, that's interesting. Dario, Dario Di Bello is my drag persona. And he's definitely a he. Okay, cool. Well, thank you so much for being here. Welcome.

Kit aka Slaychuan Peppa 0:51
So excited to be here. Hello, audience.

Danica Lani 0:56
And it's so nice to be here together - in person.

Kit aka Slaychuan Peppa 1:00
Yes. With the plants giving off talk show vibes.

Danica Lani 1:05
That's right. So I wanted to ask you about your journey with Kings of Joy, and what it was like before Kings of Joy? And then what your journey was like, in that process?

Kit aka Slaychuan Peppa 1:18
Yeah, well, I guess, thinking about how I got caught up in all of it. Quite by chance. And I think that happens with, you know, a lot of my friends. You know, it's not something I ever imagined doing. Actually. It's not a dream I'd had sitting on the back burner. I was taken to a Queers of Joy by my friend Laura, aka Glen 20. Hello.

Danica Lani 1:49
Hi Glen 20!

Kit aka Slaychuan Peppa 1:50
And I'd almost never seen a drag show before. Now I have to think -yeah, that was probably my introduction to live drag performance. And I was blown away. And just the energy, the fun, the joy, Queers of Joy. And Laura was keen to sign up and just kind of grabbed me and said, 'Kit, you must like, do this with me.' Yeah, I actually couldn't make the next round, because I was going away. But then I made a promise. And I said, I will do the the one after that. I'm keen. Sign me up. So yeah, got in touch with Danica and joined the next group, which was due to begin around June and perform in August. But of course, that was the lockdown.

Danica Lani 2:49
The long, long, long lockdown.

Kit aka Slaychuan Peppa 2:53
Yeah. So yeah. And what a, I guess, a privilege it was to be a part of that group that went on the lockdown journey together. You know, we had you know, seven of us in that group. And we met on zoom with Danica for the first six weeks. I think we did.

Danica Lani 3:18
Yeah, I think we went a bit further. Because of lockdown I kept going and then I had to start the next group.

Kit aka Slaychuan Peppa 3:24

Danica Lani 3:26
For something or other. Yeah. And then -

Kit aka Slaychuan Peppa 3:28
I think it was Show Ponies wasn't it?

Danica Lani 3:29
Yeah. Show Ponies and Kings of Joy All Stars.

Kit aka Slaychuan Peppa 3:31

Danica Lani 3:32
And so I said to you guys, okay, just keep rehearsing. Like, just go, just go.

Kit aka Slaychuan Peppa 3:37

Danica Lani 3:38
And what actually happened?

Kit aka Slaychuan Peppa 3:40
Well, we had no idea when lockdown was ending. You know, it was just that ongoing, who knows, who knows... One day we'll get on stage, you know. But as our rehearsals started to move from, you know, practicing the choreographed dance, we would actually just cha., We would just hang out and it was a lockdown support group of your dreams. We also had two psychologists in the group. It was perfect and we really were able to lean on each other. And it was a high point I think. We've shared amongst us. It really was a high point for all of us that meeting on Tuesdays.

Danica Lani 4:26
Did you know anyone in the group before?

Kit aka Slaychuan Peppa 4:28
I knew Nadia a little bit and got to know Nadia a little bit better...

Danica Lani 4:36
Yes, very good.

Kit aka Slaychuan Peppa 4:38
..throughout lockdown. But no everyone else I met for the first time in the group and yeah, lifelong friends.

Danica Lani 4:49
Ah, that's really cool.

Kit aka Slaychuan Peppa 4:50
Yeah, built the bond. So yeah, that was I guess the start. Eventually December well eventually lock down finished. And you know, Queers of Joy was locked in for December and the Kings of Joy group number five debut..

Danica Lani 5:11
Wow, what a performance. What was it like coming out of lockdown and onto the stage finally?

Kit aka Slaychuan Peppa 5:18
Oh, it was out of lockdown and onto the stage. I don't even know. Yeah, I think for me, I had been practicing not just the Kings of Joy, group performance in my bedroom during lockdown. But I've been rehearsing or exploring a bunch of other dances as part of my art practice in my bedroom during lockdown. Dressing up, you know, I was also I went through this phase of exploring YouTube makeup tutorials. And I went deep during lockdown. Like I was learning kind of drag makeup.

Danica Lani 6:08
Drag King or Drag Queen?

Kit aka Slaychuan Peppa 6:10
Both! Because I actually felt that, you know, there's such a tradition, I guess, makeup wise, even like a language that I wanted to learn. And I wanted to learn, I guess, feminine makeup, but almost through from a male perspective. So I kind of moved into my, I guess, masc drag persona, who was then doing femme drag make up. Not making it easy for myself at all.

Danica Lani 6:52
And hopefully confusing everyone out there as well.

Kit aka Slaychuan Peppa 6:55
Yeah, exactly.

Danica Lani 6:56
Love a bit of gender confusion.

Kit aka Slaychuan Peppa 6:58
Yeah. So I think during during lockdown, a lot of it was very private. And it was in my bedroom space. You know, in my own safe world. Just me and a mirror. You know, and the internet.

Danica Lani 7:16
Oh, my God, that sounds like a great title for an album was something Just me and a mirror.

Kit aka Slaychuan Peppa 7:27
Yeah. And then onto the stage. Wow, what a what a shift. And it was, thank goodness, I had a group. That's all I can say. Yeah, we really supported each other. And that friendship that we built over the weeks. It was there on the day, and we were just able to hold each other and really psych ourselves up for it. And yeah, wow, what an adrenaline kick. That was. Yeah.

Danica Lani 7:59
Yeah, I think it's one of the things that held that group together as well and really came through in the performance from the stage. Because I always talk about that in performance terms, energy is the currency of performance. So to you know, bring that energy through, and that bond and connection, it was palpable. Pretty sure you've got a standing ovation.

Kit aka Slaychuan Peppa 8:24
Potentially, it's hard to know actually. I learned so many things about being a stage performer that night and and in subsequent performances. I hadn't actually been on stage before. That was my first time in the spotlight.

Danica Lani 8:42

Kit aka Slaychuan Peppa 8:42
Yeah. And one of the things I learned is that the spotlight blinds you. And you can't see the audience. And so if there was a standing ovation, I didn't know. And, you know, so much adrenaline is moving through your body, and the memory is just playing a different game altogether. So, yeah, I've almost got no idea what happened.

Danica Lani 9:07
It does go so quickly doesn't it?

Kit aka Slaychuan Peppa 9:10
Yeah, very quickly.

Danica Lani 9:11
But you've performed it a couple of times since haven't you with the group?

Kit aka Slaychuan Peppa 9:14
Yes. Yeah. As a group. Yeah, yes, we've done two since then, over the last few months, which has also been great because, you know, we get to refine it and try out different things and, also that the pressure was kind of taken off. Because we knew we got it right. We knew we...

Danica Lani 9:39
Nailed it!

Kit aka Slaychuan Peppa 9:40
Yeah. So it was kind of like and now we just get to do it for fun. And it's already you know, written into our bodies. Like the choreography and the energy our, you know, how we want to interact with each other, the games we want to play with each other on stage. You know, we knew. And that that was a real joy to just have that up our sleeves and be able to hey, can we get together? You know, there's there's a performance available for us next weekend. Let's do it. Yeah, it was really lovely.

Danica Lani 10:15
And so can you tell us a bit more about Slaychuan Peppa? How did you come through - you've told us a little bit about the makeup exploration. But how did you come into your Drag King persona, the name, the embodiment of Slaychuan and also that the choreography was all designed around Slaychuan's coming out? It was coming out flashmob right?

Danica Lani 10:15
Yeah. I think after signing up, like I said, it wasn't something I had been sitting on for a long time. So actually, in the first meet up on Zoom, and you're kind of prompting us and you know, like, who is? Who is your drag persona? What do they like? What do they not like? What are their qualities? I was really quite thrown because I've not thought about it before. But I'm so happy I got to imagine Slay. And for me, like moving towards masculinity, I didn't feel like - I don't even know how to describe it. But if it wasn't - Slay's not a masculine energy. I would say they sit very much in that beautiful fluid space.

Danica Lani 11:55
Very gender queer. Gender fluid?

Kit aka Slaychuan Peppa 11:58
Yeah. And also part of that was my preoccupation at the time with kind of Asian pop culture that I was exploring kind of as my art practice on the side. And kind of Asian standards of beauty for men. I find fascinating. You know, this kind of youthful, beautiful boy. Boy, not, man. And it was very clear to me that I was a boy and not a man. And yeah, these realizations were quite profound, actually. And have - and did end up kind of shaping. Not just my drag persona, but me.

Danica Lani 12:56
Yeah. Oh, yeah. You know, there's you as Kit and there's you as Slaychuan Peppa. They're all of you, right?

Kit aka Slaychuan Peppa 13:06
Yeah, absolutely. That's another thing that surprised me. I have so many surprises on this journey. But another thing that surprised me was how much Slay was me. It wasn't this other person. It wasn't a switch I would flick. It really was just a version of me or I don't think version is even the right word. And yeah, just a different combination of aspects of me that I got to enhance and kind of, yeah, reconfigure and just be like, and now this, you know? Yeah. And so Slay's ambitions were mine as well. You know, it went that deep.

Danica Lani 14:04
Yeah. It does and I love your artist brain. I love how you see things. What do you do for a living and your can you tell us a bit about that and your fine arts practice?

Kit aka Slaychuan Peppa 14:18
Yeah, sure. Yes, I have an art practice. Which is actually a really new thing for me, as well. You know, but I am living it. I'm living for it. But that came out of the pandemic. Last couple of years. I went to art school back back in the day. And then since then, I've had a kind of little career in architecture, and that's what I do for my bread and butter. I am an architect. But my art practice is really where I want to move to now. And so I do installation, I guess kind of sculptural work. But performance. I love performance. And so drag for me has really integrated so nicely with my life.

Danica Lani 15:11
Have you got the performance bug now?

Kit aka Slaychuan Peppa 15:12
Lol, yeah, maybe.

Danica Lani 15:15
Maybe a little bit? Tell us about what's happened since Kings of Joy.

Kit aka Slaychuan Peppa 15:19
Yeah, well, it definitely gave me performance bug. That's for sure. And I've been wanting to continue performing. And I was really lucky to, through a friend get in touch with Dyan Tai who runs Worship Collective, and the Dynasty events that have been going for the last few months. And I've been helping out as much as I can with those events. And I was given the opportunity to perform onstage recently. Solo.

Danica Lani 15:54
First solo!

Kit aka Slaychuan Peppa 15:55
Solo. That was at the Bearded Tit a few weeks ago. Yeah, and that's been huge. And the performance that I devised for that, I would say, is very much my art practice. So I was lucky enough with Worship Collective, it's queer Asian performance. That's the kind of platform. And with my art practice, I do explore my cultural heritage. So I'm Eurasian. I'm part kind of British and part Hong Kong Chinese. And so in my debut drag performance - Slaychuan Peppa. Yeah, it was a, I guess, a mash up of kind of pop culture that was coming from Asian pop culture, but also kind of Western pop culture. And I was doing all these Tik Tok dances as my boy. Yeah. As Slay wanted to do. Yeah, but it was really to - it was an expression of who I am.

Danica Lani 17:13
I love it. Give it give Slay a stage and he just goes and does the things that he wants.

Kit aka Slaychuan Peppa 17:18
Yeah. And he loves it. He'll be doing it again.

Danica Lani 17:26
Yeah. And what else is in store for you as an artist and Slaychuan Peppa in the future?

Kit aka Slaychuan Peppa 17:34
I think at the moment, hit me up. Yeah, I guess as an emerging performer, it's you're there for any and all opportunities. But you know, there are few. They are few.

Danica Lani 17:50
Tell us your - how do we get in touch with you?

Kit aka Slaychuan Peppa 17:54
Definitely on Instagram. My Instagram thing is @kitchn___sync, which is spelt kitchen with no E. And then sync as in like, Nsync like the band Nsync. Yeah, so yes, definitely Instagram if you want to have a chat. But yeah, I think I'm definitely keen to continue having drag as a medium for my art practice, and to be a part of queer community and kind of, you know, helping to lift up everyone around me. Like it's yeah, I find it's really integrated into who I am at this point. Yeah.

Danica Lani 18:36
Awesome. Great. Love that. And any other projects on the boil?

Kit aka Slaychuan Peppa 18:42
Yeah, things things are happening. I've got a wonderful show with my two best friends in August. And we're going to be doing a Wellness Center. Where we will be performing and maybe Slay will be there too. You know, I think it's entirely possible. And then I'm going to LA in September for another show I'm doing. So things are really picking up. Yeah, it's good.

Danica Lani 19:09
Oh my gosh. Well fabulous. Well, thank you so much. Kit, Slaychuan Peppa. Yay. So happy to have you here. And thanks for everything that you're pioneering. I know that you're inspiring other people. I know that there have been people who have come up to you after your performance.

Kit aka Slaychuan Peppa 19:27
Yes. I've had people who I don't know, recognize me as Slay in my everyday life. Maybe because of the hair. And just tell me, you know, yeah, basically, how inspired they are and yeah, how to begin that journey. So you know, the amount of times I've talked about you Danica I can't even count.

Danica Lani 19:53
Thank you. Well, yeah, I'm just thrilled that you've gone on this journey and to have gone from being not a performer, debuting as Slaychuan Peppa in your own coming out flashmob. And then seeing you evolve and you know all the amazing contribution that you're doing with you know, Worship and Dynasty and all of that, you know really important work as well, is really inspiring people. So keep doing it. Keep going doing it. Wind beneath your wings!

Kit aka Slaychuan Peppa 20:23
Yes. That's you. That's Drag Mum in the background.

Danica Lani 20:28
Yeah, that's right. Yeah. Thank you. Anything else you want to share?

Danica Lani 20:35
Just thank you. Yeah, what a journey. What a journey we've started.

Danica Lani 20:42
Yes. Great. Thanks.


Follow Slaychuan Peppa @kitchn___sync

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