Imagine what you hold in your hand at the quiet moment is a tiny mirror instead of this phone right now. Where do your eyes go first? What pieces of yourself do you immediately search for? How wonderful it is, to see your reflection here. Taking the time to finally appreciate where and who you are in these moments of uncertainty is what I would imagine, stopping to smell the flowers looks like. It’s love with a personal directness pointing square at you. Take it all in and show it all off. There’s no better time than now to observe your current and continual growth, finding yourself falling in love with the process over and over again. As someone living and thriving in this process, Kiki Uchawi brings an empowering statement to Kansas City Drag and overall art scene.
September 8th, 2019-
The show starts at 10pm but best friend Jesse and I are meeting up at Missie B’s a couple of hours early on this cool Sunday night. We’re fortunate enough to get a behind the scenes take on the night’s performances to come. We head to the bar to grab drinks while we wait for our illustrious host, Kiki Uchawi, to lead us to where the night’s enchantment begins. Only a few queens in the room when we arrive as it is still fairly early, however the rushing energy from these artists surrounded the room. I take my seat behind Kiki’s dress station, positioning myself at an angle where I am able to still observe the preparation and easily slip in a few questions to this majestic queen.
I immedately took note of the time and detail that went into finding the perfect layers, working in those warm colors and vibrant tones. When asking Kiki about the inspritation for each performance look, the Kansas City, Missouri queen states, “People of color in general inspire me…when putting together a look, I’m drawn to the Black aesthetic, searching for styles that specifically look good on Black People”. Gazing at the mirror, Kiki did not disappoint with a choice of golden and earthy hues, finishing with a show-stopping lip stain to match the boldness of attitude. After performing regularly at Missie B’s for the past 3 years, Kiki embraced yet another talent by Co-hosting and curating the Sunday spectacular show, “Slay“. As the night rolled on, anticipation was building to see the life of the stage at showtime.
Between brush strokes, Kiki was seen and heard coordinating the show and creating the line up while throwing in some fun banter with the other artists in the room and an enjoyable amount of Beyonce’ references. What could also be felt was the confidence and empowering errogance that claimed this space. Rightfully so, I might add. These artists get to express themselves in ways that I’ve always wanted; standing in the mirror and really seeing myself, loving and learning all the small details as they are. I was beyond moved to see how Kiki’s afrocentric stage presence would inspire me and empower me to stand out as my true self and nothing less.
As Kiki steps out in front of us, lights and eyes are glued to this outstanding performer, gifting the audience monumental energy to Normani’s recent single, “Motivation”. This definitely set the president for the remainder of the evening as each queen brought their extravagantly unique talents to this prestigious stage of wonder. This particular “Slay” event brought in fans across the country, specifically Miami, Seattle, Los Angeles and even Toronto. One of the other queens on the line up actually took a 16 drive to show out. Week after week, this show has brought community and culture together under one roof.
If there’s anything that I wanted to take away from this experience, is that it felt like watching a caterpiller become a butterfly whenever they wanted to. Both part of their being, both striking and necessary. However things may go, they are their true selves in exploration and freedom. Kiki is a remarkable example of the mixture of art and chaos, placing a spotlight on our beloved city. Thank you for showing up for Kansas City, while encouraging others to follow their paths in the artistry.
Written by Michelle Hill
See you next Sunday for our next Kansas City artist review: Terra Hill
*Photos used from @africanqueen_uchawi on Instagram*