blackface drag king teaser
blackface drag king teaser

The Internet Is Livid Over This Drag King Who Performed in Blackface at a Hawaii Fundraiser

A recent video posted to Facebook (embedded below and also here) of a drag show on the island of Kauai, Hawaii, featured a blackface drag king performance. After seeing the tone-deaf, controversial number, the internet lost its collective mind.

Referred to as “A Show Fit for a Queen,” the drag show, which took place on Friday, Nov. 9 at the Kauai Beach Resort and has been referred to as “a small charity event on the island supporting a youth suicide prevention group,” featured a bevy of queens who we assume are mostly local talents — Luna, Chastity Maybe, Zanna, Aliyah, Tatyana Deschanel, Chevis Regal, Alara Deschanel, Illyana Monroe and Vescois.

All were featured prominently on the event’s flyer, with one more name also front-and-center: Special Guest Male Impersonator Muddy “The King of Memphis.” A picture of “Muddy,” the blackface drag king performer, is also included on the flyer.

blackface drag king flyer

The video clip below features only 20 seconds or so of this blackface drag king performance, and the person who posted the video to Facebook has said, “The organizers did cut the spotlight and music about 45 seconds into their performance. It looked like this person had two other numbers on the set list but they cut them from the show.”

No one has yet taken responsibility for the performance. A Facebook post from Oct. 27 refers to the event as “put together by Matt Sagum . promoter of the biggest drag bar…. scarlet!!” Scarlet is a popular club featuring drag shows in Honolulu.

However Sagum has responded to the blackface drag king performance by saying he was not the producer of the event and merely helped promote it. He claims he’s the person “who went to the organizer and told her this shit needed to be cut immediately.”

Sagum says, “I arrived 20 minutes late. When I got backstage I didn’t notice her at first. Once I got settled in, I looked up and saw. One of the other Queens pulled me aside and was like “wtf is that?!” To which I had no response other than “that is not going to fly.” By the time this conversation ended it was my turn to go on stage. I finished my number and immediately went to the show organizer. I told her either Muddy goes or the rest of us are out of here.The organizer had her leave and the rest of the numbers were cancelled.”

Watch the short clip of the blackface drag king performance here:

2018: Drag King just came out in black face…WTF Hawaii?!?Update: A lot people with questions. I have no idea what…

Posted by Gary Clayton Brown on Friday, November 9, 2018

Comments on the video post have been a mixture of condemnation and horror, as people don’t understand how such a performance could be booked — and then allowed to step onstage without rebuke by any promoters or fellow performers — in the year 2018.

One commenter provided a succinct explanation of why blackface is unacceptable: “Blackface is part of a history of dehumanization, of denied citizenship, and of efforts to excuse and justify state violence. From lynchings to mass incarceration, whites have utilized blackface (and the resulting dehumanization) as part of its moral and legal justification for violence. It is time to stop with the dismissive arguments those that describe these offensive acts as pranks, ignorance and youthful indiscretions. Blackface is never a neutral form of entertainment, but an incredibly loaded site for the production of damaging stereotypes…the same stereotypes that undergird individual and state violence, American racism, and a centuries worth of injustice.”

Blackface was recently a big topic of conversation in the United States when Megyn Kelly, a Today show host, lost her job at TV network NBC after commenting on blackface with her all-white panel of guests. Kelly remarked that it was acceptable when she was growing up for white people to dress up as black characters. (It wasn’t.) Despite an apology the next day, her contract was cut short.

How does a blackface drag king performer get booked anywhere in 2018?