HONOLULU (KHON2) — Part 1 of this story is Open heart, open aloha: A local drag queen goes to Hollywood, Part 1.
It was this fortuitous encounter with Angela Bassett that changed Jada’s career path forever.
“That’s how I met Angela Bassett, my bestie, my BFF; and that was through 911,” said Kaohi.“When I was just a PA, production assistant, our job was just to make sure the set was going, directors were ok, everything was running smoothly. And, one day, everyone was so star struck by Angela Bassett; and everyone was so nervous to talk to her.”
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So, Kaohi did what any self-respecting person who carries aloha with them would do. He embraced Angela Bassett with an open heart.
“I walked up to her; and I introduced myself, you know being the local boy that wala’au, talks a lot. I started talking to her like she was just another person. And, of course, my co-workers were, like, ‘why are you talking to her; she’s a celebrity’. But, I just started talking to her with human interaction, as a heart-felt one,” explained Kaohi.
“After that, she pulled me to the side; and she literally told me, ‘you are the first person to have a one-on-one connection with me, and I really appreciate that.’ Ever since then, we built this on-set friendship. That first interaction with with Angela Bassett turned into a personal interaction and friendship with her on-set. It’s the biggest blessing I’ve ever had to this day,” said Kaohi.
Bautista went on to explain that being a part of the Hawaiian culture, you learn that you’re supposed to work hard, represent you parents well and breathe and stride in aloha. He said that each day, he repeats this mantra, to care and love with aloha.
“I feel like it paid off for me in Hollywood and working with Angela Bassett,” he said.
While Kaohi was working on sets, he decided to take some time off from drag performing. But, in February 2022, he realized how much he missed this creative outlet and decided to embark on a solo mission to integrate into the drag performance scene of West Hollywood.
“I am currently at a club known as Rocco’s West Hollywood which has been there for many, many years. It is right in the heart of West Hollywood. It is the best place to perform, to have brunches, to get some food and also to watch some good drag entertainment,” said Kaohi.
“Just like on the movie set, I went into West Hollywood with this open heart, this open aloha; and I started to market myself. I started to go out. I ended meeting some other Hawai’i girls that’re there, like iconic to Hawai’i, Sasha Colby, Lolita Colby. I ended up building this bond, this family with them in West Hollywood. Because of that, I got employed in West Hollywood, and I started performing,” noted Kaohi.
“My name started getting out there. Everyone wanted to know who Jada Slayy was. After my very first brunch where I ended up having backup dancers, the club has ever seen backup dancers because I was very extra like that. Because I started making those waves, my name started going out to everyone, every promoter, every business that was going into West Hollywood,” explained Kaohi.
Since restarting his drag career, Jada has represented Amazon in Pride celebrations. Amazon affectionately calls itself Glamazon. He has also worked with Christian Louboutin, Red Bottom and Alaska Airlines as well as being a part of Pride celebrations for Los Angeles and West Hollywood in 2022.
But, by far, his most incredible experience was his performance on the Kelly Clarkson Show.
“I got to be on the Kelly Clarkson Show because of Angela Bassett. I actually surprised Angela on the show; she didn’t know I was going to be on it. Kelly Clarkson was a really good one,” exclaimed Kaohi.
So, what are Kaohi’s future plans for Jada Slayy?
“My goals for the next five years are honestly to continue to build my name as Jada Slayy, my drag performer, my company, the way that I perform. Of course, every drag queen wants to be on the stage of RuPaul’s Drag Race. I want to be the second Hawai’i girl there because currently, Miss Sasha Colby is the first Hawai’i native to be on the show,” explained Kaohi.
“So, I am planning to work my butt off to be the next Hawai’i girl to represent the islands in the next five years and just make Hawai’i proud,” added Kaohi.
Being a part of something like RuPaul’s Drag Race is an incredible opportunity for drag performers who have spent many years being marginalized.
RuPaul has provided a resource for these performers from which to draw in their quest for validation. With the immense amount of talent that Hawai’i has to offer the world, it is only a matter of time before more of our drag performers take the world by storm.
“There is so much talent out here in Hawai’i from football to sports to musicians. Being a drag performer and creating those types of waves in Los Angeles, I wanna put Hawai’i back, back, back, back on the map and just let the world know what our people have to offer here in Hawai’i,” said Kaohi.
As far as his relationship with Sasha Colby, Kaohi said they are ‘ohana.
“Sasha Colby is my gigi. She has been such a help to me in Los Angeles. I remember seeing her for the first time as I moved up. She had already heard so much about me; so, to finally see me in Los Angeles, her hometown where she worked her butt off for 15 plus years, to now see another girl from Hawai’i that is creating waves,” Kaohi pointed out.
“Our relationship has just sprung. I can count on her. I can text her. She has guided me to be the best performer I can be, and I just owe my heart to her and her haus, Haus of Colby. I just love them so much. They have really been a seeded ‘ohana in Los Angeles for my drag career and my personal life. Having that ‘ohana in Los Angeles is just so heartfelt and means a lot to me,” said Kaohi.
KHON2 was able to have a more serious discussion with Kaohi on the very dangerous phenomenon that is sweeping conservative states. There are at least 18 state legislatures in the U.S. that are attempting to make being a drag queen/performer illegal. With a quest to inhibit self-expression, these politicians are attempting to gain control over people’s personal lives.
“It’s such a hard topic, especially with everything going on now with the news, people’s input, the stereotypes about us drag performers. I feel like it’s just kind of disheartening. I wish a lot of the people that had inputs about banning or not letting drag shows go on in their state would step back for a bit and realize that time is changing, society is changing,” explained Kaohi.
He went on to explain further to explain that LGBTQ2+ establishments have become a safe harbor in a world that has difficulty understanding a life outside of Euro-centric binaries.
“What we used to think of before as taboo is now coming to light. Before, you would never see drag queens on billboards and TV and commercials. I wish people would step back and come into our establishments knowing that certain bars or brunch places are a place of safety,” Kaohi explained.
“There’s love, and we never mean any harm because we always say drag is art and drag is a place for us individually to express a certain side, our creative side that we can share with others. It’s never going toward a certain individual or to a certain age group. It’s just for us personally as drag performers to share our love and our craft with others,” he noted.
Of course, the world is in love with RuPaul. His show garners millions of fans world-wide and has spawned successful careers for many who are on his show. But, with this fame comes more tolerance.
“For RuPaul, it’s different. Everyone gives RuPaul the respect because he had made it as high in the net worth and the money and the fame. I feel like RuPaul gets a lot of respect as a celebrity, as an icon; and then, he is still in the same bracket as a drag queen. But, she has created a platform for us. But, it is confusing that we can be ok with RuPaul being a celebrity and an icon, which I love; but the same drag queen in a local bar is shunned with all the stereotypes, rules and bans,” explained Kaohi.
KHON2, of course, had to ask Kaohi what he would say to RuPaul if ever given to chance to meet him.
Kaohi said jokingly, “Mama Ru, please look at my audition tape for season 16!”
“But, seriously,” Kaohi said with composure. “I’d say RuPaul, thank you so much for opening for all of us younger generation queens and all these upcoming new queens in the drag world. Thank you for letting us shine and giving us a platform and showing the world what drag is.”
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If you are ever in Los Angeles, you’ll have to pop by Rocco’s and share some aloha with Jada as she slays her way through Hollywood.