Inspiration October 19, 2017
"It not only feels like a party or event, but also an exercise of self-acceptance and embrace."
Kayko Tamaki is a modern day Renaissance woman by day and night. If you are a queer kid on Instagram, like myself, you have probably run into her beautiful photos on popular community pages like The Invisible Femme, in your favorite queer nightlife feeds like UHaul SF (not the moving company!), and her own popular page.
If you didn’t know her before this article, you are thankfully finallyyy hip to the queer influencer scene, which sometimes falls beneath the radar of mainstream social coverage. (You’re welcome.) She dances, hypnotizes, counsels, paints, parties and models for her livelihood. That is as versatile and exciting as her home base of queer haven, known as The Bay Area.
We’ve followed her world travels and awesome style on IG. Now we get to know her on a more personal level. Kayko was kind enough to chat with ENTITY, sharing with us her honest dedication and passion to the communities and projects she is integrally a part of that embrace inclusion, spirituality and plain, old fun.
ENTITY: How did you get involved in the current queer nightlife scene? And how has it changed since you first started working and participating in it?
KT: I got involved in the current nightlife scene because I am friends with the wonderful pioneers who throw the events. We all know each other and I respect and support the torch that they carry to create a fun and safe environment for our community.
I started initially working queer events in 2007 as a result of starting an event when I was living in Hawaii. We found that there wasn’t anywhere for us to go on the island and after throwing a successful event, we got the feedback that it needed to continue.
From the time I first started to participate in it to now, I have seen it evolve and grow exponentially. It has also become a space that even people who don’t identify as being on the queer spectrum also feel safe and enjoy participating in.
ENTITY: What does it mean to you as a femme-presenting person to carve out a queer internet platform?
KT: In the past, I struggled with my physical presentation of being femme. I tried on the appearance of both masculine and feminine, because I feel both exist within me. I found it hard to be femme because I felt I was not taken seriously. It was difficult to be projected as straight and have my identity questioned because of how I looked, and this was experienced by people both within and outside of the community.
At other times, being femme was glorified. Even within dating life, it was difficult to navigate, because even if I present femme, that doesn’t entirely translate in who I actually am. The expectation to conform to looking and always being feminine was very hindering and frustrating.
This frustration came to a head when I felt driven to chop off all my hair. I had to really examine what gave me this urge. Freedom? Yes. To be recognized as a queer woman? Yes. To chop off societal beauty standards and sever the conformity to what a woman should look like? Yes.
But then I recognized the underlying current of emotions that came with this — the rebellion, the anger, the sadness, the rejection and the spite. For me, this wasn’t what I wanted it to be about. And then I thought about all the other women who are queer and femme-presenting. I thought about how there are already so many wonderful and empowered women cutting their hair off and making a powerful statement in the world. Androgyny has come a long way and has taken the spotlight. All of this is so wonderful and there still needs to be the femmes holding it down.
I love my long hair. I feel good in it. It is also practical for me, because I don’t do anything to maintain it. I cut my hair once a year, and I enjoy all the ways my hair can play.
Maybe one day I will chop it off, but when I do, it will be for me. For now, I wake up each day observing how I feel and how I want to present. Some days I put on a dress and wear my hair down, and others I throw on jeans and a T-shirt and tie it up with a hat. I embrace the femme that I am and I am confident in the unique combination of yin and yang that exists within.
ENTITY: What do you bring to your performances in queer spaces that is different from a general public mixed or straight audience?
KT: What I feel I bring is quite simple. In comparison to a general or straight audience — I feel like within the queer space, I am contributing my presence to the community collectively. That I am dancing in the pride and celebration of who I am and who we all are. In some way, it not only feels like a party or event, but also an exercise of self-acceptance and embrace.
ENTITY: How have you or the greater Bay Area LGBTQ+ community been affected by the exponential rise in real estate?
KT: I am witnessing it happening not only in the Bay Area, but all over the world. I see the gentrification and the cost of living rising, and while this brings much challenge and adversity — there is always an opportunity for growth and adaptation. This is nothing new in the broad sense of history.
For example: The beautiful historical buildings in the city of San Francisco that we love and cherish so much were once a tragedy when it was first being erected where the trees and animals had once made their home. Now we look at the historical buildings and are heartbroken that they are being remodeled or rising in cost to occupy. The light and shadow of all things are all right there.
The positive aspects of what is happening are that we all are now considering alternative ways of living, learning sustainability, minimizing and are embracing community living. I am not worried about it, because if we allow ourselves to, we will always find a way.
ENTITY: What attracts you to working certain parties? Is there anything that works better or worse in terms of event planning?
KT: If I am working a party, it is because I stand by it. I am attracted to taking gigs that are created by the stewards of our community, and who have positive intentions for their event and the people who attend.
ENTITY: How do you balance both the hectic atmosphere of nightlife with the quietness and calm of hypnotherapy and grief counseling? Would you say there’s correlation?
KT: I actually think that it balances me! I have found a sense of balance in the various forms of expression and work that I find myself in. We are always existing in contrast and I find that it creates a happy balance and harmony to allow myself to embrace it all. We are all multifaceted and multidimensional and I love that I have found platforms and outlets for all aspects of who I am.
ENTITY: What do you hope to see in this world as a healer? At a time of turmoil in the world, it seems important now more than ever to practice healing or self-care.
KT: I hope to see that we continue to unite together and empower ourselves and each other to be nothing more and nothing less than the spirits we are, having a human experience. I hope that we continue to reach out to one another, speak our truth and come from a place of love and compassion.
Yes, it is important to practice self-care, and we can do so by coming back to the self. What is happening outside of us is a reflection of what is within — so it starts from within. If I want to contribute my greatness to the world outside of me, I need to connect to and harness that greatness first from within.
ENTITY: As a queer influencer, how do you choose what to share and what to keep private? I know for many people on social, it’s a delicate balance.
KT: I am always ever-navigating this. I don’t actually know what is “right” to share and keep private — that is all perspective. I don’t think there is a wrong or right answer to this. What I use as a measure is my feelings. lf it feels good and sits right with me to share something publicly, then I do it. Sometimes it is because I feel my message will serve others, and sometimes it’s just for the sheer therapeutic benefit of doing it for me.
ENTITY: What is your favorite compliment?
KT: “Thank you for seeing me.” We all desire to be seen, understood, accepted and loved. The highest compliment for me is to know that I am able to hold that space for another.
ENTITY: What is your favorite curse word — “Inside the Actors Studio Style”?
KT: The most classic one of all time, of course: Fuck. Fuck can be a way of expressing the intensity of awe you are experiencing. Fuck can be said in the presence of beauty, in the presence of anger, of happiness, joy, excitement, passion, comedy, regret, mistake, applause, praise and so on and so forth. I love it because it can mean so many things and can be used in absolutely every context.
Kayko sums up what it’s like to be a modern queer in today’s world; it’s one that’s ever-evolving in which everyone around us seems to be wearing many, many hats. Most of us are juggling several side gigs while also making time to shake it out at any local queer watering hole, embracing our quirky community for all its flaws and joys.
If someone is looking to see what queer life is like today, in this rip tide world, look no further than Kayko’s creative mix of healing, media and art. What you should take away from ENTITY’s time with Kayko is that any chance you get to gain a more multifaceted look at the world through our passions — you should take it.
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