“Fabulous is a state of mind, a fullness of expression,” says drag queen Pichi Keane (Photo: Alan Eason)
The fabulous Ms Pichi Keane is back in Mzansi after spending four years in the bustling Asian city of Hong Kong. While she loved the energy and pace of the city, she is glad to be back in South Africa.
Megan van Wyk is the originator, creator, and performer of the magical persona, Pichi Keane. This year, she is taking Pichi Keane on tour around South Africa in her Ripe n Ready drag cabaret, which premiered at the National Arts Festival. The show won a Silver Standard Bank Ovation Award as it celebrated sexuality and femininity – and took an irreverent stab at the patriarchy.
A quick look through Pichi Keane’s Insta reveals an over-the-top personality, with fun and fab thrown in. “Pichi Keane is the vibe! She’s bubbly, fun and a whole barrel of laughs. People often ask what kind of a queen Pichi is, and I struggle to find one label that accurately reflects everything she is,” says van Wyk.
Not only has drag been a creative experience for her, but it has had a profound effect on the performer’s personal life.
“Drag was seminal in my self-exploration, especially when it came to my gender identity,” van Wyk explains, “As an AFAB (assigned female at birth) person, I’d always felt inadequate as a woman – it felt like a role I needed to play and that I wasn’t fully achieving. When I started playing with costumes, makeup and wigs, I started to realise that I finally felt comfortable with this expression of femininity.”
Van Wyk describes traditional femininity as something she always had to ‘perform’. This pointed her down the path of exploring her gender, leading to her identifying as genderqueer. “It’s a term that is much more reflective of my experience of my gender,” she says.
Drag is van Wyk’s great passion, but so is her spirituality.
Pichi Keane, van Wyk reveals, was essentially born in Hong Kong. “I started performing in drag after participating in a Drag Incubator that was part of the Women’s Festival as a collaboration between the Eaton Hotel and DragJam. I discovered an art form that allowed me to be silly and play with gender, and I fell in love.”
Drag is van Wyk’s great passion, but so is her spirituality. Inauthenticity is a big turn-off for her. “My spirituality is very important to me” she says, describing it as an important part of healing for her in recent years. “And very closely linked to that is sexual liberation – the idea that your sexuality and spirituality can be interwoven as a full expression of being incarnate. That’s why I focus on sex in my performance.”
Of course, the next question asked is how she feels about the drag queen furore over in the USA. “As someone who has worked with young people for many years, both as a performer of children’s theatre and as a performance teacher, it’s challenging to think that some people may have a problem with me interacting with children when I’m dressed as a queen,” van Wyk says.
“Because the kids don’t care. In fact, they love the costume and the jewels and the wig. And I’m still me underneath all of it – a person who cares about the wellbeing of young people everywhere, who will treat them with the utmost love and understanding.”
Pichi Keane, aka Megan van Wyk (Photo: Christian Marco)
Van Wyk is also passionate about social injustice, political injustice, and… fruit. Of course. Because she is Pichi Keane. Her focus is also on promoting healthy sexuality: “My aim is to be a pleasure ambassador, and drag is one of the ways in which I hope to spread the good news of enjoying and loving every single aspect of yourself,” she says.
Her vibrant energy sparkles, and it’s clear that it’s not just Ms Pichi Keane who is fabulous, but Megan van Wyk herself. “Fabulous is a state of mind, a fullness of expression,” she says. And with both van Wyk, and Pichi Keane, that is indeed evident.
If you want to find out more about Pichi Keane or follow her on social media, visit www.pichikeane.com or follow her on Insta, Facebook or TikTok under the handle @pichikeane.