Kristina Wong in the Arts District of Los Angeles, CA. Shot by Allie Pohl
You are a writer, comedian, and performance artist. What led you to this career?
I had no access to therapy for much of my life and this was the only socially acceptable way I could act out publicly without ending up in jail for killing somebody.
Your work deals with racist stereotypes, the fetishization of Asian women, and the perception of women in media. How do you use humor to further further bring light to these issues?
I started my career thinking I was going to make really serious performance work that people would watch in galleries and use words like "haunting" and "layered" to describe. The humor just came as a defense mechanism because after exploring the same issues so much, I'd find myself joking or making fun of myself to get through it. Now that's my tactic, I try to find that ray of good in a shitty situation. For example, I might ask, "Ok, so what's good about Asian women being fetishized by white men in online dating? Well, lots of creepy white dudes willing to pay for the first meal! I guess that's my reparations for Yellow Fever?"
I LOVE your series on white men fetishizing Asian women (
I'm Asian American and I want reparations for Yellow Fever?"). What was your experience like making this series and is your current boyfriend a white man?
Damn, get straight to the question why don't you? My current boyfriend is NBA superstar Jeremy Lin. Nevermind reports that we've never met and I'm just a psychotic woman who is public stalking him. Just because we've never met doesn't mean I cannot consummate our marriage!
I've been obsessed with reality TV since Flavor of Love and have really been into the idea of being on a reality dating show since college. I actually had auditioned for shows like Blind Date and the Dating Game (when that was a thing) and never got picked. I think because this was back when reality TV dating shows didn't purposely cast outrageous unstable people for their shows. I was really into the idea of going on those shows as an embodied character version of myself that would skewer the whole premise of a dating show and point out racism and sexism baked into most dating show premises. But I always knew that editing and producing would never be on my side and that it would be really tricky to hijack a television narrative in my favor.
So when MyxTV approached me about doing a show where I'd be the center of focus and doing all the dating, I was super excited about making the same racial and feminist commentary without being eliminated or completely humiliated by editing.
The process of shooting reality was so much fun. I went on all real dates on camera with real creepy Asian fetish dudes which is a lot harder than you'd think. It's like you simultaneously are being yourself, but also performing. And every so often the producer tell you to "hold" your conversation so they can put a new memory card in the camera.
For one of your performance pieces- you dress up as a vagina and and read a poem about how you are more then just a hole. What is it like to be a large vagina? How have men responded to this performance?
I really like the idea of making fun of "cliche performance art pieces". And there was something about taking the stereotype that all women comics do is talk about their vaginas a step further by actually having my vagina do stand-up. What I've liked about doing that is I'm really just telling a lot of hacky jokes as a vagina and the costume gimmick is enough to get the jokes halfway to laughland.
I performed as this vagina and delivered a performance called "Funeral for a White Man's Penis" at MOCA in Los Angeles where I officiated the funeral for a severed 6 foot fabric penis that lands unexpectedly on the stage. We had people from the audience come up and offer their eulogy for the White Man's Penis. We quoted "inspirational liturgy" by Woody Allen. It was hilarious though I had consistent feedback from audience members that the white people were uncomfortable. I love it.
A couple of white men I know of who weren't there but saw the image from the show online were pissed. I don't know what they were so upset about. It was such a ridiculous premise to begin with. But I think when you aren't used to anyone challenging or critiquing your power, it can seem really frightening to experience just an ounce of what women and people of color experience all the time.
What does empowerment look like?
Having briefly volunteered with women in Northern Uganda who have received microloans, I would say that empowerment means having the tools to self-determine your life and destiny. This means having access to education, leaders who support you, ways to make your own money without relying on a man, and a platform for creative self expression.
What do you like most about being a woman?
The periods! The fear of being assaulted when walking alone at night! Making 77 cents to a man's dollar! The harder climb in Hollywood! Being mansplained!
Oh wait... you asked what I liked?
That's so weird. I never thought about that. It's like my whole identity is shaped by me as a woman that this question is like, "What do I like about what makes me a woman?" I think women are expected to be emotional in ways that men are not. But we are also chastised for being too emotional. But I can't imagine having to be a guy and have my masculinity judged every time I started crying. So as fucked up as it is that men aren't supposed to cry, I'm at least glad that I'm only affirming a gender stereotype when I ball my eyes out (rather than lose all credibility for my gender identity). Because if I couldn't let out a good cry every so often, I'd probably kill somebody.
Wow, that was the second time in this interview I said I'd kill somebody.
What is an ideal woman to you?
I think an ideal woman is a woman who makes her own rules, lives by them, and brings up others along the way. And is also hilarious.
Who are you crushing on and why?
My friend Jade Chang just debuted her first novel "The Wangs vs The World".
It's fabulous and consuming and she spent five years writing it. She's been so humble about the whole thing but her creativity and ability to finish the project inspires me.