Kayla Tange

Interview with Los Angeles artist and stage performer www.kaylatange.com.
Photo by Jason Kamimura
Tell us where you were born and where you grew up.
I was born in Seoul, South Korea and adopted at the age of six months by a Japanese American Family. I grew up in Lemoore, California until I moved to Los Angeles in 2000.

What were your motivations behind moving to Los Angeles?
I always dreamed of moving to Los Angeles since I was a child. I had an aunt who lived here and I would spend summers visiting when I was a teenager. The town I grew up in was small and at that time, I felt like creatively I needed to be in a bigger city.
Photo by @greenbagphotography
As a young artist what were some of your inspirations?
Richard Kern films, Portishead, Oscar Wilde, Anne Sexton poetry, Deee-Lite, Real Sex and Sex Bytes, Sisters of Mercy, film photography, Barbara Kruger, abandoned warehouses, feeling safe in my sexuality in front of our cameras, dressing my friends up and taking photos of them to music...so much music and so much dancing freely to our favorite songs, discovering what a fetish was, heartbreak, death and longing.

Do you remember the first time you performed on stage? What was it like?
The first time I performed on stage as an exotic dancer was when I was 22. I was terrified, but also enthusiastic about navigating through this other world. I remember I was not used to men staring at me so lustfully.
Photo by Jason Kamimura
What is it about sexuality that you find so interesting in exploring in your works?
What I find so interesting about sexuality is that it’s human behavior in such an undeniably honest and raw state. I am fascinated by these interactions that begin as a monetary exchange, but then evolve or devolve into anything from complete disrespect to beautiful lifelong friendships.

What is the funniest thing that has ever happened to you while working on a performance?
I was wearing a vinyl coat and slipped onto the floor after sitting on someone’s lap while holding a piece of chicken...because vinyl on jeans is like a skating rink I found out!
Photo by Luka Fisher
Do you prefer to perform in public spaces or in private areas?
I like both. I like performing on large stages, although there’s something really invigorating and intimate about small venues. I like being able to see the expression on the faces of everyone in the room.

What has been your favorite piece that you’ve worked on so far?
So far my favorite piece I have worked on is the one I am currently working on. Boundaries, where the audience’s true anonymous stories are collected as they are told. The life of each audience member becomes a vital element in an immersive narrative – combining movement, constraint, live music and multi-media elements – where art and life no longer imitate each other, but instead are unified. 

Boundaries is a collaboration between myself, cellist Ro Rowan, sign language interpreter Caroline Blaike, and tango dancers Gabriel Magni and Romina Rodriguez-Crosta.
Photo by Stephen Lamarche
Besides performances what other ways do you see yourself pushing the boundaries of sexuality and the taboo?
My work is sexual in nature, but rarely about sex itself. The motivation for what I do is a strong desire for emotional connection and understanding of human behavior. Sexuality and the taboo exist so heavily in the mind, so playing with perspective and expectation is always a fun challenge.

What other cities have you performed at?
Miami, Florida during Art Basel. New York, New York for the Asian Burlesque Extravaganza, Slipper Room, and Hotel Chantelle. Montreal, Quebec, Canada for Montreal Burlesque Festival.
Photo by Jason Kamimura
If given the opportunity what would be your one wish for the world?
Oh, wow. How can I possibly choose one? I have so many wishes for the world right now. 

Who would you like to thank for inspiring you to never give up and continue on developing your work? 

My mother. She passed away when I was a teenager, but while she was alive she persevered through some extremely challenging times with her health. During these times, I never once saw her lose her spirit. I think about this everyday and especially when I want to give up.