TikTok’s well-known ‘Hokagay’ chef – Life-style
Japanese pop singer Anri’s “Last Summer Whisper” plays in the background while a dramatic slow-motion close-up shows a cup of rice pouring into a rice cooker – all in a glittering pink filter. If you have an account on the popular TikTok social media platform, there’s a good chance you know what video it is.
The 27-year-old Indonesian Stacey Nikolay, who is known on the Internet under her pseudonym “Hokagay” and the user name @queerkunoichi, creates signature videos with dynamic angles, lots of zooms and anime references as well as her energetic voiceovers. Her nickname is a piece containing the word “Hokage” made popular by the anime / manga series “Naruto” and referring to the strongest ninja in the fictional village of the series, and the word “gay” is a reference to Staceys Identity as a bisexual woman.
The TikTok aesthetic
Millennials and Gen Zs will be familiar with the term “aesthetics” as slang, which means images that use a special sense of visual elements that relate to retro hues and imagery, as well as the particular individuality of their creator. Stacey’s visual uniqueness is very “aesthetic” and separates her cooking videos from other cooking videos on the platform.
“I’m so glad someone noticed!” She said when the Jakarta Post mentioned this quality as one of the reasons for its popularity (it currently has nearly 900,000 TikTok followers). Questions she is asked generally revolve around her experience as a TikTok star.
“I don’t like being called a star or an influencer. What am I influencing anyway? “She’s happier talking about what it’s like behind the camera, which her fans usually don’t consider.
Salmon Chazuke, a Japanese dish that Stacey made in relation to the manga / anime Bungou Stray Dogs (instagram.com/queerkunoichi/ Courtesy Queer Kunoichi’s Instagram account)
“Research on Gen Z’s behavior on social media, especially at TikTok, concludes that attention spans are shorter, which is made easier by simply scrolling. As soon as you find the content uninteresting, it can disappear instantly with a scroll. “
“I try to get the audience interested from the first second. That explains the fast pace and dynamic angles – I make the videos as if there wasn’t a free second to take a breath. “
Most cooking videos seem to keep a template with static angles and monotonous editing, but Stacey wants to escape that to show everyone that cooking can be fun. “I want to reach as diverse an audience as possible, from housewives to middle school students scrolling through TikTok.”
The dynamic text she displays on the screen of her ingredients is another visual element.
“I want my recipes to be accessible to people who are hard of hearing or who have difficulty keeping up with the audio,” said Stacey. “In the future, I’d like to add subtitles to make them more accessible.”
It does all of this with a minimal setup. “I don’t have a fancy camera or a stabilizer. It is expensive. My only equipment is a cheap ring light I’ve owned for years and my phone, ”she chuckled.
Manado meets Japan
“I grew up in a Manadonese household. Every Friday my mother prepared different dishes for the Sabbath (Sunday). I’ve always wanted to help, but she refused. “So she explored cooking on her own.
“I’ve experimented with the supplies available in the kitchen and added spices to suit my tastes. I even decided to join a culinary arts club in high school. “
Stacey chuckles as to why she’s focused on Japanese food, “It’s just the Watashi Otaku (I’m a Japanese subculture fan).”
Stacey cooks in her ninja gear (instagram.com/queerkunoichi/ Courtesy of Queer Kunoichi’s Instagram account)
“Food in the anime looks so appetizing! It looks like the kitchen of another universe that I haven’t seen in my entire life, ”she remarked. “After growing up and exploring Japanese restaurants, I was curious about how to create the dishes. But I didn’t have time – at least not until the pandemic. “
First, Stacey started cooking at home to make up for not eating. She started searching the internet for Japanese cuisine, not just for recipes, but also for the history and culture behind it. “I actually started learning about the kitchen through (Japanese) movies, anime, and dorama (TV drama). There I learned the little details – like zaru soba (cold soba) for summer and warm soba for winter and the new year. Or how (the Japanese pancake) okonomiyaki is different in every city. “
Stacey watches a lot of Japanese YouTube cooking videos. “If the recipe is from Obaasan (grandma / old lady), so much the better. There’s no way you can question your grandma’s kitchen, can you? It has to be the authentic, traditional recipe that has been passed down for generations. “
She remembers her own grandmother’s cakalang fufu, a dish common in a Manadonese household.
“From these authentic references, I learned the basic ingredients that are normally available in a Japanese kitchen – soy sauce, mirin – just as sweet soy sauce is a must in a Javanese kitchen.”
Identity and Visibility
Now that Stacey is known, she has no intention of removing the visibility of her identity as a bisexual woman.
“It draws some attention. There are comments that question my gender and my orientation. “Are you LGBT?” they ask with unkind tones, ”she said. And since Stacey is now friends with some other well-known social media presences through her work, her followers sometimes drop “warnings” about Stacey and say things like, “Be careful, it is her [bisexual]. ”
“It upset me at first, but now I think it’s an opportunity to make them understand better [LGBT people]. My new friends asked a lot of questions about me [bisexual] first, and I didn’t mind answering them. They don’t seem to have a problem if they understand, ”Stacey explained.
“And I have a bigger platform now. It can be nothing or it can be used to amplify the voices of the queer community. “
Stacey was once offered a contract requiring her to drop “hokagay”, which she disapproved of and kept the name. “This is who I am and I want to keep mine [LGBT] Visibility. “
Not an influencer
The term influencer is becoming an umbrella term for those with sizeable followers on social media, but Stacey declines to be classified as such.
As her social media presence increased, Stacey met different types of people in the social media industry. Even though they’re nice, she says, sometimes Stacey doesn’t feel in touch. She is unfamiliar with the lifestyle of other niche influencers who spend their time on their lavish interests.
Yaki Udon, a Japanese dish made by Stacey (instagram.com/queerkunoichi/ Courtesy queer kunoichi’s Instagram account)
“This TikTok content thing feels like a different world,” she admitted. First and foremost, Stacey is still a struggling LGBT internet personality who survived an unequal environment. As a content creator, she makes her feel safe, and that’s why she is here: she makes a decent amount to get by regardless.
Her current position is not a lifestyle for Stacey, but a means of supporting her life.
“I’m a content creator, not an influencer.”
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