Hawai’i’s Rising Queens

Remember their names: Shezzy. Anna Mei. Boujie. This trio of next-generation drag queens find life and love in their communities and their art, on and off the stage.

Text and images by Marie Eriel Hobro

Drag in Hawai’i is always evolving. The queens who were considered “new” two years ago have since elevated their craft, and a fresh generation of newcomers are trickling onto the scene. The following photo essay follows three of those newcomers, Shezzy, Anna Mei, and Boujie, as they learn who they are and where they belong in drag. The following profiles are paired with quotes from each queen, in their words.

As an ally, I love supporting this incredible community from the sidelines. When I first moved home two years ago, I was struggling with immense trauma. I felt like a shell of my former self, too afraid to connect with people or pick up my camera.

That all changed when I began photographing the local drag scene in 2017. In this time, I’ve documented the evolution of drag families while also finding a drag family of my own.

Their genuinity and kind-heartedness helped me find myself and a sense of safety again and I will forever be grateful for that.

Drag is another form of art. I feel like stepping out into the world in drag is an inspirational sight for anybody to witness. – Tkani Finau

Lei Young Drag Queens

Drag Name: Anna Mei
Name: Sean Ramsey
Age: 25
From and resides in: ‘Aiea, O‘ahu
Occupation: Sales associate at BoxLunch

Anna Mei is the nerdy girl in those movies that didn’t know she was pretty until she took off her glasses and let her hair down. I am gender-fluid, and Anna Mei is a way for me to express my female side while also having the opportunity to perform.

I first started doing drag in a play at Mānoa Valley Theatre called The Legend of Georgia McBride. It was such a wonderful experience performing as a drag queen in the play. I decided I wanted to continue doing it after the show ended. My now drag mother, Candi Shell, watched our opening night and helped me get my first gig at Hula’s Bar and Lei Stand for her show, Mimosas and Marys. I love her kindness and support. She really is one of the sweetest queens on the island.

Everyone I’ve met has been such a big influence in my drag. I think the biggest supporters are my drag queen mentors and sisters who helped guide me and venues like Scarlet Honolulu, Hula’s, Wang Chung’s, who give me a chance to perform by booking me. There’s also everyone that comes to my shows and enjoys my performances enough to tip.

The thing I love the most about drag is performing. Every chance I can I get on the stage. Connecting with people I’ve never met, the lights, the music—they’re all incredible experiences.

Drag is very expensive. Regardless of what kind of drag you do, it costs a lot of money. Makeup, hair, outfits, they all cost a lot. If you’re at a drag show and see a queen performing, make sure you tip them!

Lei Young Drag Queens

Drag Name: Scheherazade “Shezzy” Springs
Name: Seth Ives-Hubin
Age: 19
From: Lāna‘i City, Lāna‘i
Resides in: Salt Lake, O‘ahu
Occupation: Beauty consultant at Longs Drugs

A huge struggle for me as an arising queen is wanting to be accepted. I want the experienced queens that I’ve looked up to for so long to validate me as a queen. I guess when it comes down to it, I fear their judgement. There’s also the issue of self-destruction. You truly are your worst saboteur.

My drag family is the Haus of Shell. They constantly push me to do the best I can and help me work on advancing myself. The local queens are also a huge support system for me and so much of them believe in me and my ability to perform. They all make me feel super talented and welcomed.

Outside of drag, the first ones to uplift me are my boyfriend, Brenden Clowe, my biological mother, Sherilynn Hubin, my Nana, Lenora Fabrao-Wong, and my close friends who constantly go to every single performance possible and help me emotionally with my gender identity. They never turn their backs on me. I’m so grateful for them because they support me not only as Seth, but as Shezzy.

What I love the most about doing drag is the feeling of being whole. It brings so many people together as a community to just celebrate life no matter who you are. It also allows me to feel a sense of self-love and security in who I am—celebrating what makes me unique in this world.
I started drag at the end of high school.

At first, I saw drag as something of disgust due to my Christian, Catholic background. Doing it made things very difficult for me. But as soon as I was in drag, this feeling of confidence, poise, and courage flourished through my veins and that’s where it all started.

When my grandma on my dad’s side told me the story of One Thousand and One Thousand Nights, it inspired me to name myself Scheherazade “Shezzy” Springs.

I see Shezzy as a Pandora’s box because when you open her, you never know what you’re going to get. I like to keep people on their toes whenever they come see me perform. I like doing things that are campy, fierce, and frightening! There’s so much more room for improvement and I’m so excited for the future.

Lei Young Drag Queens

Drag Name: Boujie
Full Name: Tkani Finau
Age: 21
From: Reno, Nevada
Resides in: Honolulu, O‘ahu
Occupation: Assistant operations manager at UFC Gym

I got into drag through Emma Gration, a queen here in Hawai‘i. When we first met, Emma asked if we could hang out at Scarlet—what I didn’t know was that Emma was performing. Before that, I honestly didn’t know anything about drag. After realizing that there was nothing wrong with it and that it was another art form, I really wanted to try it out.

I’ve always wanted to be an entertainer, so I figured why not? My friend Ron used to work at Scarlet and encouraged me to compete in the Miss Scarlet competition last year. He gave me the biggest push and kept motivating me to follow through with it.

I’m still trying to find an appropriate way to integrate my Tongan and Native American culture into my drag. It’s important for me because I feel like I don’t know any Tongan or Native American drag queens—they’re out there, but I don’t know them.

When I was younger, I would sometimes wish that I’d see someone like me on the big screen in acting and politics. I try to incorporate that into my drag because I don’t know who’s out there in the crowd watching.

Outside of drag, I want to run for office one day. I grew up very involved in my Native American culture and I’m very conscious about the issues affecting my people. I want to get into politics not only to help them, but everyone.

The hardest thing is the idea of belonging somewhere. I’ve heard of drag mothers and families, but I don’t have one. I feel like I have to do it on my own.

When I first got into drag, the only person that helped me was a drag queen I used to talk to back home in Reno. He showed me how to do my makeup through FaceTime.

Drag is another form of art. I feel like stepping out into the world in drag is an inspirational sight for anybody to witness. When I think back about going to a drag show at Scarlet for the first time, there was this feeling inside of me.

As soon as I saw the queens, I was obsessed. Seeing how alive they were during their performances, I was like, “Wow. I wanna go up there dance to some ‘Boogie Shoes.’” I felt like I was at home—not only with the idea of drag, but with other LGBTQ+ people and people of color.

It felt like a safe space.

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