We knew that with such an amazing style team and lineup, we would also need a magnificent host. Patsy would act as team lead for the Gold Team (Gorgina, Megami, and Patsy InDecline) and Ducky would lead the Pink Team (Ducky Sheaboi, Freeda Kulo, and Paris L’Hommie). But there had to be a more impactful moment to celebrate Japanese culture. There had to be a fuller tie-in that would be more meaningful with our following, especially the Japanese community living in New York City.
Life has an odd way of presenting answers. At the Pride festival finale, we were introduced to the stunning, beautiful, and amazingly kind Kubo Junko, who had hosted Kouhaku in years past. I actually saw 1999’s Kouhaku at a friend’s house in January 2000 (their grandparents had recorded it on VHS and sent it from Japan). I remember Junko in her stunning red kimono, her voice adding an uplifting quality to the large stage she was presenting on in front of a 4,000-person audience. 1999 was a major year for Japanese pop as the country’s entertainment industry boomed and record-breaking superstars were made. It was a total fangirl moment meeting Junko. We connected at a couple of Japanese community events where Michael was styling hair. Once she heard the idea, she was on board to host the Drag Song Battle at Culture Lab in Queens. To have such a star say they would host our event meant the world. Junko truly became the beacon throughout curating the event. Her input was very insightful as her career spans years of production, hosting, interviewing, and translating within television, internet-based outlets, books, and printed magazines. I remember her face lighting up during the event as audience members jammed to Japanese music artists like MISIA, Southern All Stars, and Hibari Misora.
In terms of affirmation, the only other moment that would come close to that was when the emails came through saying Patsy was awarded $5,000 and that I had also been awarded $5,000. Team Japan had a $10,000 budget to produce memorable, impactful events where artists came first. Michael created stunning wigs, beat glamorous makeup down upon our faces, and helped keep track of audience ballot votes with another friend throughout the show. Aya not only created Patsy’s nail gloves, but also stoned over 10,000 rhinestones onto the jumpsuit that included a cape with Patsy’s name fully stoned onto it! Yuka captured the entire show and presented a final video on YouTube. Everyone on Team Japan looks back on that night as an evening we’ll never forget because we did that! We were able to pay our team, support Aquihito and Culture Lab, book talent at a decent rate, fundraise for Black Girl Tutors & GLITS Inc, plus provide free space for vendors all thanks to the grant. Over 40% of the $10,000 went to paying artists for their contributions. This included photo documentation by Maryanne Braine, who’s taken quite a few of Ducky & Patsy’s portraits throughout the years. The remainder went to equipment needs and transportation. The grant process was a way for Ducky & Patsy as a duo to say thank you to our community and amazing team.