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  • Writer's pictureDemi Lynch

The Kaleidoscope Quiz: Kween Kong



Kween Kong just continues to make history. Last year she was the first queen of Samoan descent to ever compete on the Drag Race franchise. And this year she was nominated for ‘Most Popular New Talent' at the Logies making her the first drag queen to ever be nominated for a Logie award.


I sat down with Kween to talk about her history-making career and how she continues to use her platform to educate others and elevate marginalised communities. We of course also had to talk about the little things in life that make Kween be Kween - like how she's a big slut for seafood, how she created her iconic gravity-defying dance move, and of course her beautiful friendship with her season two sisters Spankie Jackzon and Hannah Conda.


 

Last thing you googled?

This is so embarrassing the last thing I Googled was where is the closest McDonald's.


What is your go to Maccas order then?

Me and Spankie Jackzon, we order everything! We normally get a value box between the two of us. You know those four burger pieces for a small family? We get one each because we're a small family. Especially after a long night of drag, me and Spankie put it away. Hannah Conda can, you know, she can eat, but me and spanky are big mamas.


What's on your TikTok/FYP?

- Lots of drag because I try to be as supportive as possible - not just the Ru Girls but also the local queens. Someone said to me you're like a lovely troll because you're always in the comments section of every drag queen with the good affirmations.

- Lots of thirst traps. For some reason people keep calling me trade so therefore I get all of that version of the community as well.

- Lots of food videos. I fall asleep to people eating.


What TV show are you currently loving/binge watching?

Black Mirror and Sex Education.


RuPaul’s Drag Race Down Under season two top three: Spankie Jackzon, Kween Kong, & Hannah Conda on the red carpet at AFI’s AACTA Awards. Source: Brendon Thorne

What's on your phone background?

My family. I think it's really important to sort of have pillars and I think for me, the larger my platform grows, it's so important to keep your circle tight.


Least favourite chore to do at home?

Cleaning the drag room. There's makeup everywhere, hair everywhere, costumes. The drag room is always a mess.


You recently moved to Melbourne. What's the best and worst thing about living in Melbourne?

Worst thing about Melbourne is the weather, because I do like to be in the sun and I like warm weather. The best thing about being in Melbourne is my family. Not only just family, there's a big Pacific community out here too.


Favourite meal?

I eat a lot of seafood. Oysters are my favourite. Also mussels and sea urchin. I'm a big slut for seafood.


Would you rather appear on I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here or The Amazing Race Australia: Celebrity Edition?

I would actually love to do either, but I think Amazing Race would be better. And I would love it if they would let us do it as a trio.



Where were you when you found out you were going to be on Drag Race?

I was on tour in Brisbane with the Briefs Factory, which is like a circus company. We were at the Brisbane Festival. I was backstage putting on my eyebrows when I got the call. I remember I drew my eyebrows on so high because I was so excited.


You met Lucy Lawless, Xena Warrior Princess - what was that like?

When I came out [on the runway], she said she could tell that I'm like an "actor's actor." She said, "you're an actor that I would probably hire, because when you walked out on the runway, I could feel your presence." She said I was so commanding and powerful, and that after this competition we're going to work together.

I told her she has no idea how many sofas and couches I broke at my house tumbling to Xena The Warrior Princess. Zoë Bell, Lucy's stunt double, really changed my life growing up. I loved how fearless she was - she's a warrior princess, I'm the warrior queen. She really was the blueprint to who I am today.


What does RuPaul smell like?

Money - period!


Did you take anything from set?

I came to Drag Race with five bags and left with twelve! They literally were like, "take whatever you like, whatever you want, we'll pay for extra bags." So me, Spankie and Hannah we ransacked the place. I was literally trying to unscrew light bulbs. I wanted to take everything. Spanky was trying to take the makeup chair. We took all the Anastasia Beverley Hills makeup . We took all the shoes even though they didn't fit me or Spankie.


What's something that didn't air on the show that may surprise fans.

I'm probably one of the most articulate speakers you'll ever meet. I know how to speak from the heart and I know how to mean what I say. So during the TicTac finale questions with Ru and Michelle so much was cut out. The last few questions Ru asked me, there was not a dry eye in that room, including Ru. She literally said at the end of one of my answers, "all hail Kween Kong." She literally gave me that moment. So I would've loved to have seen that again. I was a little bit upset about that initially, but it's been a year, and since then I might have lost a crown, but I've won all the bookings.


Kween Kong's RuPaul's Drag Race Down Under promo look. Source: Stan

What food do they give you on set?

If it's not Uber eats orders, they've got catering on site. For dinner they provide every meal. But it's totally up to us. For me, I had groceries because we had kitchens in our room. I think one of the things that I needed to do for my mental health was cook. So I had groceries bought for me and then whatever they had on site I ate.


What's Snatch Game really like?

It's actually fun. It is a bit weird because you feel like there's a lot more volume but there's not. It's a lot of pausing and playing to camera, so you don't necessarily know how to play with Ru. Sometimes the reactions are delayed so you don't know if you've landed the joke.


Would you ever appear on All Stars? Absolutely. I would never say never. And I feel like knowing now what I know, those bitches better be ready.


Who are you most excited to see on this upcoming season of Down Under?

Amyl - there's something about that energy that I love.

Bumpa Love - we come from the same drag mummas and I know I'm excited to see her on there.

Isis Avis Loren - oh my god, fashion!

Hollywould Star - The Naomi Campbell of Oceania.

Rita Menu - I'm excited to see what she does this season. She's got a real humble approach that really reminds me of myself when I first started.



Go-to artist to lip sync to?

My favourite artist is Spice - the official Jamaican dancehall queen.


What's been your favourite drag outfit?

My costume creator is based in Adelaide and I will always use her to the day that I die because she is one of the best collaborators I've ever met. She's done so much research of my Pacific lineage. She even taught herself how to weave. So my favourite outfit for me would be the finale viewing gown. There's just so much detail, it made me feel like an ethereal goddess. It really showcased my perspective as a Pacific person that was born in an urban environment, raised with Western education and pop culture.


In an interview with The Age you spoke about your conversations with producers and how that led to more POC representation in the editor's room. How did this happen and why was that important to you?

Even before Drag, people knew me as an activist. I am very outspoken, but not outspoken in a way that's inflammatory. My approach is always very anti-inflammatory because I want to include people in the conversation and actually have conversations with people. I want people to feel safe enough to say the wrong thing so that we can educate together. Because we are wanting to move forward as a community rather than what continues to happen where someone levels up and then it's always like this cat and mouse situation, which is hierarchy, which I fucking hate.

Anyway, I knew my purpose in the room after watching season one. And the reason why I even reached out to go on to the season was because of how horrible the conversation was handled with race. And that's a lot of responsibility to have for RuPaul, who was the only POC person by that point in front of the cameras. And so when you're already in a position where you're like the head of the thing, it's really difficult to actually have that conversation and hold people accountable. Because that's a lot of weight and that kind of thing has to happen within the community that's experiencing this. I don't want to say her name, but the season one queen that had the situations revealed, there wasn't really a balanced conversation that came at her and it was hard to hold her accountable without anyone of that experience in the room. And so I knew that the reason why I wanted to go into Drag Race (aside from trying to win) was to offer a perspective of what drag is, which is leadership. The future of drag needs to be about leadership. It's not about being the one that's leading everyone, but offering a way of leadership that includes people. So when I joined the show, I think they [the producers] were very clear about my boundaries, not only as a queen of colour, but just as a person. If there was going to be a conversation that was compromising, if it was going to be something that is bringing up a past grievance that is serious, it needs to be handled with care and with just the right sort of parameters for it to be safe. Not only for myself or the other people within the room, but everyone in general.

[The conversation about Hannah's past] I kind of led the way. I told the producers if this conversation is going to happen then I'm going to lead it and it has to be edited by someone that understands how nuanced this topic is. You can't have a person of colour lead the conversation and then have non POC people in the editing room cutting it up to make it make sense to a narrative. Otherwise it's perpetrating an issue. So let's get together on the same page and work together.


HOW does one do that iconic spin twirl you're so famous for ?

I come from a long career of contemporary dance and I'm classically trained. We did lots of break dancing in the company that I used to work for, so we would just create all these new moves. That one in particular is called a full barrel - like a full twist, because you revolve and then you land on your landing foot.

Kita Mean called it the sushi roll. I think people need to call it the Kween Kong.


Earlier this year you performed with the iconic Nelly Furtado as a backup dancer. What's she like?

We constantly check in with each other. She is so beautiful. Even when I got the Logie nomination, she was like the first to write how much she loved me and telling me I am the future. She is probably one of the most generous people I've ever met in my life in terms of a celebrity. She's so generous with her time and is so loving.



You also recently worked with Tynomi Banks and Sasha Colby - what are they like? Tynomi is like my soul sister. We are literally the same person. It was so wild. We dance the same, we have the same sense of humour. Me and her constantly message each other on Instagram with memes and voice notes laughing at each other. I love her.

I recently worked with Sasha Colby, another Pacific queen. She's family. She's someone I can really understand, coming from a Pacific perspective. Before we met in person we were connecting online because of our backgrounds. She was a Jehovah's Witness growing up and so was I, and that's so common within our Pacific communities. When we finally met at DragCon we just had this embrace that just felt like family. I don't know, there's something about the Hawaiian lineage and ancestry that is so royal. She's making waves, she's trailblazing. She had dinner with the Vice President of America. Like, I want Sasha Colby to be the President of the United States.



Where were you when you found out you were nominated for a Logie?

Susan my publicist is not only amazing at her job but is just one of the best human beings. She fights to get me the best spaces to make sure that people hear about my work and take my work seriously, especially as a queen of colour. Like, everything I do, she's in there having a conversation with producers so that by the time I rock up to do like the Today show or The Project, the questions that I'm asked are questions that put me up on a pedestal that I deserve to be on and that regard me as excellent. So anyway Susan was the one that called me and said I'd been nominated for a Logie. She had to explain to me the Logies were like the Australian Emmys. It took me a while to understand what had happened. I didn't really understand how big it was until I was at the press event when they did the nominations and I saw the Home & Away crew.


What has been the public's reaction since your nomination was announced. Because you wrote on social media how the reception hasn't all been positive? I think I knew that there was going to be a lot of that. I was just hoping that it wouldn't come to my forefront. I think for the most part, I've been good at just filtering it out and anytime a comment comes up, I'll just delete it and move on. I don't dwell in hate because I never have and I don't engage in it. It's hard not to let it affect you when you are receiving really hateful comments or even people threatening your family. But I know that it has nothing to do with me, so I don't wear it. I don't even give a fuck if you accept me, but I deserve respect because I give respect. I don't walk into a space and claim it or push people out. We can coexist, we can see each other and not see each other. It's totally up to you. But don't be a dog and don't be a cunt.



Over in America it's very scary right now to be Queer, to be a drag queen - political leaders are trying to ban drag, there's protests outside drag shows. However, do you think people seem to forget that drag is also under attack here in Australia? How can we be better allies to the drag community?

[In Australia] we're feeling the echoes of what's happening there. I'm feeling it with this nomination and people accusing me of grooming. I'm like, I don't even like grooming myself. Like, are you joking?

I think the best thing that you can do, especially as an ally, is firstly check in on your friends, on the people that you call friends, that you call loved ones. Check in on them and see what they need. That's the best thing you can do. You need to actively listen in these situations. And if we're saying we need support, you better hear it and figure out a way to support. And if you don't know how to support us - ask. Michelle Visage is probably one of the best versions of that allyship. She's not fearful of putting herself in the forefront of the conversation, of doing the fighting and taking the weight.

And lastly... what is a recent career goal you're most proud to have achieved?

There's something about watching yourself on TV or seeing yourself outside of yourself that really does change you. I think recently I've come to a place where I've just been really content, really happy and also just really secure in what I'm doing. I think after having all those conversations with Ru on the show about shame, guilt, owning your stardom and just being proud of yourself - I've really felt all of those conversations and all of the work that I've done for myself. I've been feeling that personally within myself. This means that everything that I'm doing feels like it's winning. I feel like I've really achieved a sense of peace.


 

Be sure to vote for Kween Kong for ‘Most Popular New Talent' at the Logies. Voting closes Sunday July 30 at 7:30pm AEST. CLICK HERE and get voting now.

You can also find Kween Kong on Instagram and TikTok.


 

Header Image Source: Instagram / kweenkongofficial

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