‘See me. This is who I am’
Danielle Clent talks to Spencer Papali’i about his persona.
Spencer Papali’i first realised being gay was considered different at intermediate school.
He had told a friend he liked another guy, the school found out, and the bullying began.
‘‘It felt like the end of the world,’’ the 24-year-old said.
The Henderson resident created his drag persona, Shanita Kunteee, to help him deal with his past struggles.
He said growing up a gay Polynesian male was difficult as he was expected to be an example for his younger brothers.
He didn’t come out to his parents until after high school, and although it wasn’t talked about much, his parents were supportive, he said.
Papali’i described his persona as fierce.
‘‘She doesn’t care what anyone says,’’ he said.
‘‘When I’m her, I can get away with most things that I couldn’t get away with if I was just Spencer.’’
He said Shanita was very new and he was still in the process of discovering who she really was.
The look came from inspiration of other drag queens and Papali’i playing around with different makeup looks.
Sometimes Shanita’s eyebrows would be raised higher as to say ‘‘see me. This is who I am’’.
Other times, the makeup would be more subtle and conservative.
‘‘It really just depends on her mood at the time and how she feels,’’ Papali’i said.
Shanita Kunteee would be shown to the world at Papali’i’s debut solo show, O A’u, Samoan for ‘‘me’’.
O A’u will play at Basement Theatre from September 19-23.
Tickets are $18-$20 and available at iTicket.