Kristina Wong’s comedy often spoofs everyday life. She has paraded around San francisco’s Chinatown in a “Miss Third-Runner-up” pageant queen’s outfit; has spoofed an over-educated graduate student’s presentation at an arts conference; created a fake Asian mail-order bride website, and here she pokes fun at the formal glamour photo that never seems to go out of style. (Contributed photo)
By SAYMOUKDA VONGSAY
AAP staff writer
Kristina Wong is a Los Angeles-based powerhouse renaissance woman who writes, acts, educates, and makes films among other monumental endeavors.
Wong is a recipient of the Creative Capitol Award for Theater, a PEN USA Rosenthal Emerging Voices Fellowship, and a Creation Fund from the National Performance Network to create her solo-show, “Wong Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.”
She has written essays for Playgirl Magazine, Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul, the anthologies Yell-oh! Girls and Catching a Wave, and has contributed to numerous online publications.
Wong is refreshing, in that, she doesn’t necessarily take herself too seriously. I have personally witnessed an episode of Wong’s genius guerilla theater in action during a workshop at the National Asian American Theater Conference in Los Angeles earlier this year — Wong barged in, looking way too pregnant while rocking bright cowboy boots and a megaphone in hand.
With everyone completely held at attention on the edge of their seats, sweating, and questioning the appropriateness of it all, she gave birth to a 15-inch scroll promoting fellow artist, May Lee-Yang’s show, “Ten Reasons Why I’d Be A Bad Porn Star.” Wong is known for her high energy pranks and installations, including the mock mail order bride site, BigBadChineseMama.com, which continues to ‘provoke Asian fetishists, porn directors, activists, and klansmen.”
Let’s get to know her.
Vongsay: In the form of a haiku/senyru, tell us about yourself.
Wong: I reveal too much / At kristinawong.com / Marketing construct
V: What are some of the challenges you’ve faced within your discipline?
W: I have to straddle being the artist and administrator working as a solo artist. It often means my creative brain (“Dream big! Fly!”) is fighting the logical brain (“How much is this costing again?”). And what’s worse, is if not for my audiences, I’m usually alone at home where my two heads duke it out.
V: What is the future of your discipline? Where is it headed?
W: If I had a dime for every time someone asked me, “Do you put your shows on Youtube?”– I’d be a rich and annoyed person. Theater used to be that raw uncensored space where we could let it out and connect to people, but people don’t appreciate the risk of live work the way they used to. But that’s where I think theater will have its resurgence. In that need to share the same air with the artist.
V: Be innovative or stay classic?
W: Why can’t innovation be classic?
V: What else do you wield with your hands other than a pen?
W: A sewing machine. An ipad. A cat. (Oops, he just jumped off. Make that a sewing machine and Ipad… not at the same time.)
V: Where is your happy place?
W: I think I just found it a few weeks ago when I was backpacking through Southeast Asia—the happy place is not making any art and just being a sponge taking in new surroundings. I used to find joy in being a working artist and knowing that I could support myself as a creative, but then after a few years of nonstop output, touring the same show again and again, it stopped being as interesting.
Touring a show about depression and suicide was exhausting me. I decided to do what I should have done in my 20s and backpack through Southeast Asia — alone. I was ten years older than most of the other backpackers, terrified, and dying from the humidity but it was the best decision I ever made. And I spent a lot of times looking out the windows of buses taking in the lush greenery, jaw open, and feeling completely present with the world.
V: In the spirit of ‘wait 20 minutes before swimming,’ what should a writer NOT do before their pen hits the paper?
W: Wait a few days/ months/ years/ decades before going online to publish a tirade about your ex. (I admit to breaking this one frequently.)
V: What can we look forward to seeing from you in the near future?
W: My show Wong Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest which looks at the high rates of depression and suicide among Asian American women is now available on DVD (to the joy of all those people who keep asking me if my work is on YouTube).
You can purchase it for home or educational use at www.flyingwong.com. I toured that work for five years (still touring it now) and it was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to write and perform. I’m glad this DVD will allow me to move onto new projects while letting new audiences see my best work.
V: What has been your best work yet?
W: See above.
V: What would the title of your autobiography be?
W: I actually joked about titles of autobiographies with my friend Greg once. We came up with “Drowning in Bad Dick: The Autobiography of Kristina Wong,” “Unnecessary Head: The Autobiography of Kristina Wong” or the “The Mother Teresa of P#$*y: The Autobiography of Kristina Wong.” All these titles are a joke though as I’m totally a lady. Really.
V: Any last words?
Vongsay is a recipient of the Alfred C. Carey Prize in Spoken Word Poetry and a Jerome/Mu Performing Arts New Eyes Theater Fellow. She lives to write and dreams to fight zombies.