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Hello Kitty / Asian Hooker

calamitychang

Hello Kitty / Asian Hooker

Photo by Tory Williams

Photo by Tory Williams

Before anyone get their panties and thongs all up in a bunch over the title of my act "Hello Kitty/Asian Hooker" let me explain what this act is about. This is by far one of my most popular and well-known acts. As far as I know, no one else has a Hello Kitty act to this scale with the giant foam head and wacky dress and pink shoe cover. I bought the whole thing online from a cosplay costume site in China, and then I “burlesqued” it by adding rhinestones, ribbons, feathers and other embellishments. Ultimately I would like to cover the whole head with rhinestones! But for now I’ve lined her eyes, ears, and whiskers.

The song I dance to is by a LA “ironic” hair-band called Steel Panther and the song is called “Asian Hooker”. Anyone who listens to their lyrics will know they are a parody band. Their lyrics are as un-PC as they come, no holds barred, no topic is sacred. The first time I heard this song I knew immediately I had to do an act to it - and I knew instinctively that the character HAD to be Hello Kitty. She is recognizable worldwide and the biggest Asian icon. Her brand has been internationally franchised, and Kimora Lee has partnered with Sanrio to create a line of luxury fine jewelry called “Kimora Lee Simmons for Hello Kitty® Fine Jewelry Collection”. What used to be a children’s toy has now become this emblem of excessive wealth and a symbol of posh lifestyle (think Paris Hilton). If that’s not the ultimate prostitution of an icon, I don’t know what is! On top of that, it’s no big secret that Hello Kitty has always been depicted with wide-eyes and having no lips. Check out the image search here. She is a literal manifestation of the silenced female, a perpetual child arrested in her sexual development as a wide-eyed, rotund figure of innocence and ready to be exploited. This depiction has something to do with Japanese anime’s depiction of girls - something widely written about in popular culture studies.

So I wanted to use the same kind of irony that Steel Panther uses but put a political slant to it - to subvert and redefine stereotypes. Trust me, I am fully cognizant of the paradoxes I am dabbling with. On one hand I am trying to combat the depiction of Asian women as fetished commodity. Every porn site includes a category just dedicated to “Asians”, isn’t that grand? How about the back of the Village Voice with pages and pages of ads for oriental beauties and escorts? I can say for certain that no other ethnicity is more fetishized than Asians. But on the other hand I am a burlesque performer and I present myself as a desirable fantasy on stage. All these things were on my mind as I set to develop this act.

A lot of things had to be worked out through sheer trial and error when I started performing this act. Things I had no way of knowing when rehearsing at home. For instance once the foam head is on, I can’t see. The eye holes are too far apart so unless I kept my head turned to the side, all I see is the white foam inside. There was one show where I tried a new choreography and twirled around a few times on the stage. Then I took off the dress, the bra, and no one was cheering even when my ta-tas came out. When I yanked off the head towards the end for the grand reveal, I realized that I had gotten so turned around that I was facing the BACK of the stage! Thankfully this has not happened again.

As I strip through the song at times re-enacting some of the lyrics such as:

Tried to score some blow
But I don't speak Japanese
Find a geisha girl
Take her for a whirl

And -

I'm in South Korea
Broke out with Gonorrhea
Now I totally figured it out
That's why it hurts when I go pee

Towards the end of the song I have one grand gesture that subverts the stereotype of the silent/silenced female. I made a giant pair of glittery hot pink lips that I peel off of the front of my thong and I stick it on Hello Kitty’s face and give her a voice.

Jillian Steinhauer wrote a great journalistic article about the reality of being a burlesque performer called "The City Revealed" in which she describes my act in greater detail.

Here is a good clip of my act filmed at Pookie Patootie's "Yellow Fever Burlesque" show at Coney Island earlier this year. Enjoy! I hope one day Steel Panther will see this and let me perform in their show!

Related Photos:




Comments:

That should read "a VERY desirable fantasy........"

This is a really great bit, and its superflat!

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