Ep. 5: Don Kwan and Ed Kwan AKA China Doll

Episode 5 November 10, 2020 00:44:06
Ep. 5: Don Kwan and Ed Kwan AKA China Doll
To Be Continued: Troubling the Archive
Ep. 5: Don Kwan and Ed Kwan AKA China Doll

Nov 10 2020 | 00:44:06


Hosted By

Anna Shah Hoque

Show Notes

Welcome to Episode 5 of “To Be Continued: A Stonecroft Symposium Podcast”! 

In this episodeDon Kwan and Ed Kwan AKA China Doll talk about developing an artistic practice, Drag and growing up in Ottawa’s historic Shanghai Restaurant. 

“To Be Continued: Troubling the Queer Archive” is on view at Carleton University Art Gallery. Featuring: Barry Ace, Howard Adler, Aymara Alvarado Sanchez, Pansee Atta, Rosalie Favell, Ashley Grenstone, RJ Jones, Don Kwan, Ed Kwan AKA China Doll, Kole Peplinskie, Adrienne Row-Smith, Pride Is Political, Shanghai Restaurant. 

Produced by Fin Xuan Tran, Anna Shah Hoque, Cara Tierney, this episode was recorded in Ottawa, on unceded Algonquin territory. 

The graphic for this podcast features beaded pins by Ottawa-based artist and musician Larissa Desrosiers (Anishinaabe/Ojibwe). The pins were commissioned as gifts for the podcast participants. You can find more of her work at @bangishimonbeadwork. 

CUAG acknowledges with sincere gratitude the support of the Stonecroft Foundation for the Arts, which promotes education in the visual arts and fosters the public’s appreciation of the visual arts. 

Find more about the exhibition on CUAG's website: http://cuag.ca 

View Full Transcript

Episode Transcript

Speaker 0 00:00:03 <inaudible> welcome to, to be continued Speaker 1 00:00:13 Stolen cross symposium podcast in today's episode honor, Shaw discusses developing an artistic practice drag and growing up in Ottawa, historic Shanghai restaurant with Don, Juan and ed Kwan also known as China doll. Speaker 0 00:00:31 <inaudible> all my recording law. Speaker 1 00:00:47 Yeah, basically. Yeah. So I'm trying to remember, like, you know, you told us a bit about your own work and yourself growing up as one of the qualms and then what community look like. So we'll just backtrack as much as we can. It's it's sucky, but that's okay. We roll with it. Speaker 0 00:01:05 Your computer doesn't work for my voice. Speaker 1 00:01:08 No, that's the bumpy part. Yeah. All right. So are we ready for round two? Speaker 0 00:01:17 Okay. Speaker 1 00:01:19 All right. So Don, do you want to share with us a little bit about yourself? Speaker 0 00:01:24 Yeah. I'm Don visual artists based here in Ottawa, born and raised here in Ottawa. Um, now I have a video in the outskirts, in the Ottawa Valley, my family, we also run and operate the Shanghai restaurant. This is going on almost two years. We opened in 1971. Art work deals a lot with my different experiences growing up in Ottawa as a third generation Canadian first generation born maiden. I use a lot of my experiences growing up here and it percolates into my art, my work. Speaker 1 00:02:16 How did growing up in diaspora feel for you? Like, did you have a lot of like lateral community as support family? Um, you mentioned Shanghai. Do you want to tell us a little bit more about Shanghai? Speaker 0 00:02:26 Yeah. Growing up Chinese community was very small back then in Ottawa, China town was, you know, considered maybe three blocks homes. Everybody knew each other. My family, my parents generation, like the older generation, they were all very familiar with each other. So that way the kids growing up, like my generation, my brother and sisters, my cousins in laws and all that, we were inner city kids growing up, getting into trouble, getting into shenanigans, being born and raised downtown Ottawa. Speaker 1 00:03:05 So Shanghai is known as the first Chinese restaurant on Somerset street. It has developed so much into its own sort of being, how did growing up inside the Shanghai environment help foster your own creativity, your own creative process? Speaker 0 00:03:20 Yeah, growing up, it was like living in two different worlds. We had the home life, which was, you know, my bedroom underneath my parents' room. And then I also considered the restaurant going up in the restaurant where my parents and my grandparents worked, my uncles and Lonsdale worked there. I consider that part of my home as well, because that's where, you know, we had a lot of family dinners. We learned a lot of our lessons in life, you know, like our value system and our work ethic. We learned a lot of that through the restaurant, helping out every summer and just watching others work like others, adults in our community, you know, working and trying to carve a life for themselves so they could raise their own families. They could all get ahead in life and then think about retirement themselves, things like that. And then there was second life. It was kind of outside our community bubble, which was, you know, going to school, learning different things like French and English things. Speaker 1 00:04:27 Was it difficult inhabiting those two worlds, like growing up in diaspora, inside your own community, but also the specific world that Shanghai provided along with the support of your siblings and your larger inside community. And then having to basically like walk as a lot of like diasphoric third-world kids have to do like third space kids have to do like straddling two worlds at the same time. Speaker 0 00:04:52 Right? Yeah. I think growing up, we never consciously was aware of it, but we never focused on it or Dell about it a lot. It's just growing up later on, like people don't look back and ask yourself the, the five W's, you know, who, where, when and why and all those questions kind of start rising. The older you get for me, like in my art career and just my journey in general, like I've learned that there's a six w which is whatever. W Speaker 1 00:05:31 What is the whatever w look like for you? Speaker 0 00:05:34 Oh, it's just the everything you've kind of, you have to relearn, like, forget what you've been brought up with and forget what you've learned and just start fresh and search for your own truth, then search for your own answers. Speaker 1 00:05:51 So both you and ed are queer. What was it like growing up in the local area Speaker 2 00:05:58 As queer East Asian kids? What did that mean for you? Both inside family, but also with like larger community. Speaker 2 00:06:06 I know, I never think twice about, uh, being gay because, well, Donna and I, the story be between me and Don, uh, the way Don came out. I mean, I was out since I was like 16 nightclub days and hall member hall. And then anyways, so Donna and I, you know, we grew up together, but we didn't come out to each other, but, uh, we went to, we were in Los Angeles at the time and we went to a Sandra Bernhard concert as Sandra Bernardo was that you should open that house lights. Like, where am I gay? And then Don on bass looked at each other. I said, so, so Don kind of, Speaker 0 00:06:47 We knew we were both gay, but you know what, back then, honestly, it was the worst thing to reveal or there was a lot of trauma and there was a lot of stories, like, you know, I knew about Stonewall and I knew about queer history in North America. And most of the stories were about negative than how badly they were treated. And, you know, I didn't want that upon myself. So, and also there wasn't any role models out there for me to, you know, relate to, Speaker 2 00:07:18 Um, from what I read over the years before internet, that's how old I am. You read all these things like in China being gay is not a taboo. It's like, uh, you know, foreign, you'd probably be like, go to concentration cabinetry. Speaker 0 00:07:32 You came out. Yeah. It's Speaker 2 00:07:35 Forbidden love. Yeah. Speaker 0 00:07:37 Going back to my parents, raising us and how we were raised in a very loving community and a community that, you know, got, we all got along for the most part when we were younger, growing up, my parents household, my both, my mom and dad were very, you know, tried to create a very loving, inclusive space, not just for their children, but also like cousins and other people, other families, every weekend, it was very common that maybe six or seven other cousins would be sleeping over all, be having dinners together. And we'd all be joining our clients together. Um, and then my parents would put food on the table and then head off to work. So we kind of raised each other while our parents did their 18 hour days. We realized that they worked a lot. One of the lessons that I learned at a young age was the value of hard work Speaker 2 00:08:37 And growing up in a household that they, with all our aunts, uncles, Asian immigrants coming through our doors, we were always breezed to respect our elders. And we also spoke Chinese at home and also sent to Chinese school. So we won't lose our heritage, our culture and whatnot. So I am very Speaker 0 00:08:56 Thankful for still knowing how to speak Chinese fluently. Yeah. Yeah. The older you are in my family, the better your Chinese is ed spent a lot of his time hanging out with, um, elder the elders, me, not so much because of the generation gap. I used to play Mahjong a lot with the, with the Asian, Chinese golden girls back then. Speaker 1 00:09:27 Amazing. So Don, you were talking about how, you know, growing up as queer also like along with just like the general fears of outing yourself, or like even claiming your queerness meant so many negative sort of taboos or stereotypes for violence is that, could, that could potentially, uh, ex that you could be exposed to. You also talked about how, like there wasn't necessarily role models to look to. Um, can you both speak to the nature of like, what is your own individual practices, Don, as you know, as a, as a visual artist and, and, uh, China doll as a performing artist, what did that mean for your work to produce role models like you yourselves as role models when you knew what the hunger and like the appetite that never got fulfilled at a time when you needed it, what has that done for your work now? Um, Don, do you want to go first and then ed? Speaker 0 00:10:28 Yes, sure. I like I'm older now, so I can look back with hindsight and I can look back at my track record and, and realize, you know, like what I did back then to fill those needs, to fill those needs. Um, and you know, I did it unconsciously and now I can look back and, you know, say that I know before there was internet, I had search out in libraries, let's say in a high school or something like that, but it was always that fear of being outed. Or if you took that sign, that book out, you know, you would find out that you sign that book out over things like that. Um, but like I was saying, like, I didn't have role models, but our household was very loving. And I remember like growing up, I was 15 or 16 and every summer we would have a summer job at the restaurants. Speaker 0 00:11:31 We would be helping out doing what we can in Washington to make bowls, make things like that, just to alleviate the workload off of our parents. And, um, I remember one summer by it was my father and I, we would always sit at the back table. The table's still there. The two are still there to this day. And then it was just before September and we had to go back for our fall school. And I said to my father, I said, you know, like he said, I have something very important to tell you. Then I came out to him at that time. And his reaction was so unexpected. He literally said to me, look at me in the eyes and said they don't care. And then he like together represents something. Obviously it was like two penises or something humorous and it made me laugh and it completely put all my concerns to rest. That's beautiful. And the thing is I went back to high school and I was still confronted with enormous coming out queer issues that you have. And I was already struggling with like cultural mentally. I spent a lot of the latter years in my high school, kind of like internally trying to push the envelope. Once I graduated, it was almost like an open world. Like I had the freedom to kind of be more alert. I found my voice Chinatown. What about you? Speaker 2 00:13:08 Well, growing up, like in my teens and uh, in my youth, um, I was always a rebel, the kind of like the black sheep of the family as a middle child. So I kind of did the opposite of what I was told not to do. So I went out a lot, uh, hang out with, meet a lot of gay friends in the community because we're all like we're all in one boat. So we all supported each other. If you fall back, I'll catch you. So to this day, I still have friends that I've made from the eighties that are very loyal, very loyal to each other. I have so many fond memories of queerness. The examples, like I'm going out to San Francisco when I was young because our grandfather lived out there from like 25 years. So I would go there and, you know, in my early twenties, late teens anyway. Speaker 2 00:14:01 So I would see all the gay culture there. And it was fascinating to me. And I always knew I was queer since I was a little boy. I had to see with my own eyes, what it was like, and being influenced by all that and continue my life as is I consider myself an introvert extrovert. I mean, I've been only doing China doll now it's almost 15 years, 13 years now doing China doll, being a clown in a gown, you know, pick with a weight check with a deck, right. That's how I refer to myself. I mean, it sounds weird, but that's how I look at myself Speaker 0 00:14:39 Performing. You were saying 15 years ago, uh, how did that come about? Speaker 2 00:14:45 We had a private karaoke party that we, uh, had, uh, a karaoke host named Carmen. And he was like the annual Warhol. He was the good retired school teacher that hosts karaoke. So it was around almost Halloween and Nicole, the birthday girl wanted someone from the Shanghai staff to come up and sing and really, Oh no, no, no. I'm too shy or no, but as, Oh, well I got to work. I might go pull up there and sing. Cause I love singing anyways and all that pop culture, but Dante, well, you need your name when she chose an Anton, just out of the blue, came up with China doll, just like that. So it just went out and just like sang my little heart. I think my first time was at last by Etta James. And that's actually my signature song. After all these years, I just belted out. I always had this fire in my belly. So to perform like our father was a performer, he did all the things in church and welcoming immigrants to Ottawa and getting him settled in and whatnot. So here's a really a community builder. And I learned a lot from him, Speaker 0 00:15:54 Got a big performer, going back to the story about Nicole, writing the restaurant, being a karaoke party. We, we didn't want to be that restaurant because we had preconceived notions that love. So we were like, know, it'll just be one night. So then we, on the night, on the actual night we had a great time and it was like Harry, who was hilarious and it was fine. And we always had Halloween parties like once a year where I actually had a wig, had sunglasses and who would dress up, come out of the kids and kind of do a little bit of a cabaret show. Speaker 2 00:16:52 I went into my mother's maternity clothes. So, you know Speaker 0 00:16:56 Yeah. But that was just once a year. So, and then in the kitchen and would sing like his favorite Olivia song while he was cooking. So we all knew ed had a great employees and then Nicole, the birthday girl, she was like, you know, trying to get someone to come up and sing first person, we bought it, but it was ed. So yeah. And we actually enjoyed karaoke and the bar did well. People were having a good time and the most important thing is we enjoyed it. So we started embracing it and we invite reinvited the, the host Carmen back. And then he became part of the family. And then the next thing you know, it's like now we have karaoke weekly, sometimes three, four times a week. It's an Ottawa institution all on its own now. Yeah. Speaker 2 00:17:55 Growing up with very interesting, um, little side note, um, also we're raised to go to Chinese church. So we went to the Chinese church in Ottawa and um, I actually left the church when I was, I dunno, like 18 or some because was an issue of the church being split between gay, the topic of homosexuality and lesbianism the men. It didn't jive with them. And I was like, love is love is love in my mind. So I had a lot of conflicts with going to our own Chinese church and I kind of abandoned it because I thought, well, it's just a way of Asians to hook their kids with other Asian kids and not, or whatever. So I, all these notions, so my, my mind was I was like spinning and I was so I decided to go to the metropolitan church. So it was just United church. Speaker 2 00:18:53 And I talked to the preacher at the time there about my sexuality. Cause I was like, what, what, how do I look at religion and spirituality and being gay? And then he tell me about the doctrines of the Bible. I said, and I didn't accept it because you know, the Bible doesn't accept queerness. So I was like, well, who do I look to as a role model? So I was disappointed again. And I said, I'm going to just believe in myself and my own God and my own stillness with my relationship with God. That's it? Speaker 0 00:19:29 Yeah. I think at that time too, like the trans community was getting bigger. There's also a thing like, you know, like trying to community, it was frowned upon to have others take care of your, your elders at the time, you know, there was rumors of the Chinese community, um, retirement home, like a senior's home being built and things like that. So it was almost like people were giving up the old ways of what they had embraced before. And life was getting more complex. You were working more hours, the community was getting bigger and then this happened in the church. So that whole divide kind of made things more complex, but these were the lessons we learned at a very young age. That again, being queer is not a positive thing. I think how we've kind of transformed that is. And I think like looking back at it now, now that we have time to reflect in 2020 at what we've done in the past twenty-five years, like, you know, I don't think we consciously thought of becoming a hub. Speaker 1 00:20:50 I mean, Shanghai has become the hub for so many like young, um, newly, uh, developing their own practices, artists, so many queer folks from across communities. It's, you know, one of the things that like Kara and I and seminar, so many of our conversations with folks, senior artists in the area, they speak fondly of Shanghai, you know, in the seventies, eighties, nineties, two thousands and young folks now talk about Shanghai. So like there is something that both your parents and grandparents and then what your generation has done. So I'm so curious about like, how did that, I know you said there wasn't, you know, an action plan let's say in place, but how did that come into being, how did Shanghai start to host events? Um, and what happens when, as both of you are talking about, you know, there's lateral conflict about being gay and also occupying your Chinese identity, um, and your parents having a restaurant that like, you know, it, it sits in the middle of community, but also as a business. And so there's, there could be lashback on, um, on who they choose to host for. Right? Speaker 0 00:22:00 Yeah. I think our parents did a really good job at kind of creating the foundation. Um, they made their Mark as, you know, people that help build the community to create a stable business that had longevity and it support them in their own way. They supported others. Um, so when we inherit those hours, um, and did that the restaurant. So, you know, my dad had a stroke in 1994, so he was like, the patriarchy was the steering, the ship kind of thing. So we all dropped what we were doing. I had was in Toronto at OCAD. And then I decided to come back to help with the restaurant and then sing with the ed was working elsewhere and like siblings that we all had other careers and we all dropped what we were doing. Just kind of come back to help the family restaurant in time of need when my dad had a stroke. Speaker 0 00:23:06 So not knowing that we weren't going to stay there 30 years. Like, you know, life, you don't have a path in front of you. We just make the choices. So we inherited my parents' work ethics to, you know, like seven days a week, 18 hour days, they were so long and laborious and super exhausting in our generation. We were like, Oh my God, like, how could you do this? How can you provide this is impossible. I remember there was a defining moment. We decided to, to say, you know, this is, if we're going to doing these long hours, we have to do it and enjoy ourselves and put ourselves in it because it's like living in the business. So we slowly discovered that we did to make the feed, our souls and our creativity, the easier it was, do those long hours to do those seven days. Speaker 0 00:24:08 Not anything hours, we reduced it to 12 hours like that. So fairly long, but yes. Yeah, yeah. So we learned to do things early on and that was, you know, one of the things was having work shows. You know, my sister was Cheryl, she was a creative, she was an animation at the time and she had paintings and my son's place. And I was just coming back to art school. So my focus is sculpture installation and art history. And so I came back and I, you know, I still wanna, I still want to pursue a career in the arts, but how can I do it? So I decided to create the space in the restaurant using my sister's artwork and then eventually my own artwork. And then I think that kind of resonated with our customers. They started approaching us saying, you know, like you guys are the vets or improving the lighting in the restaurant and you're putting art in your own artwork up. Speaker 0 00:25:07 Like, would you be interested in putting my artwork out? So we really tat learned to tap into like the creative community in Ottawa. So that kind of reinforcement those little baby steps and experiencing those reinforcements really gave us, um, a lot of strength to keep moving forward. And, and what we were doing was, uh, you know, there was positive feedback and at the same time we were feeding our souls. So there was an empty kind of newness in Ottawa. Ottawa was considered kind of Dell back then, right. But the STP STP government form. So, you know, things would quiet that nine o'clock would be, you'd be twiddling your thumbs morning. So we, you know, the creativity and necessity is the mother of all invention. We've learned to do things to kind of spice, spice it up our own lines. So in a selfish way was doing things like DJ nights, playing records at the restaurant and making popsicles and being creative, this issue, it is a way for us to kind of tolerate the long hours and the hard work. Speaker 2 00:26:32 Well back then, like in the seventies and early eighties, there was like, not even like L LGBTQ plus like a download. It was very underground in Ottawa with, uh, you know, the nightclub here in nightclub, their bar here. And it was very secretive and because Ottawa is very conservative, it was kind of like fat cities. So the gay community was very closeted in many, many ways, because if you came out, you know, you'd be septic losing your job or whatnot, right. To be lynched Marvin sense back then. No, not that serious, but, but there were people of all walks of life has gone through Shang and we've had generations of people, no three generations, people coming in and out, and we got invited to the best parties, home, you know, home setting. But we really got to know the community of all walks of life from, you know, Speaker 0 00:27:36 I think also like watching our ancestors, our grandparents, our parents with their own struggles, we realized it was a very difficult life ahead of us. And, you know, like we dealt with racism, my parents were silent about it, all the staff at the time, you know, they just accepted it as their lot in life kind of thing. But then growing up, you know, by like we kind of interpreted it differently. Like we learned about injustice very early on. So I think what comes out as for us is we empathize with others that have a voice that aren't heard, or we can really relate to people when they have something to say or know something to express, and they're kind of, they feel alone or other or misfit. Um, we can kind of relate to that. So I think that's why we do a lot to support Speaker 2 00:28:45 Don and I even like, I've been to China a few times and Japan, Australia. So I've traveled a lot in my younger days. But anyways, when I took Don to China in 1997, during the Hong Kong, going back to China after that 100 years of the lending city. And so we saw a lot of things that, you know, I mean, I w I kept on thinking if our parents never left China and we are all born, there will be, we will most likely be living because we were living out in the country in a small town called white pain in Guangdong province. So from what I saw, there was a lot of, um, working poor, but I saw a lot of simplicity and happiness there, and it's not how much you have. It's what you can look through it. You have, and they utilize what they had and very giving. Speaker 2 00:29:46 And so seeing that their lifestyle made me very proud of where our ancestors came from. I mean, they would, they would cook and use, Hey, just shoving in an oven to cook. And we pin Puente a hole like that, but there was a lot of barter system. So that was a great thing. And, and when Don and I went, I mean, gay we're like we were surrounded by matchmakers. Women were putting photos and proposal of love with their daughters. And we were like, no, we're not going to tell him we're gay. Cause he, he probably won't even understand it anyways. Or we might be ostracized. Who knows? I didn't, we never came out to them anyways. But, but, but you know, we S we spoke Chinese, so, or you can take, you can learn to love them. You can, they immigrate to Canada. Yes. Yeah. Learn to love them. I said, Hmm. Speaker 0 00:30:48 As we came back and we told our parents that they, the matchmakers in the village brought like, like binders with, um, you know, potential brides. And they were all like baseball cards, you know, in their little slots. Um, and our parents kind of laughed and they were like, Oh my God, if they only knew you guys were the boys in the family. So we grew up thinking it was very normal for us, but then you would hear stories applied into almost all stories and beatings and whatnot. Speaker 2 00:31:26 Yeah. Well, yeah, we are raised in China. We're raised in China. We will be like the sound of music, the kids, like, you know, wearing tans and hanging on trees, Speaker 0 00:31:37 But also that, you know, that simple life, there was a real sense of generosity and, um, pride that you went through, all those hoops, all those struggles to bring your family to a different country and now you're successful. Right. So they always looked up to that. And, uh, you know, every, I think every immigrant really strives or everybody's rights to like improve their lives, but you get that, that kind of tangible, um, reaction and your family back home in China, three generations later is very heartwarming. Like when ed took me to China and that was the first time I went to China, it was my mid twenties born and raised here in Canada. I had preconceived notions of how I would feel. I felt I would feel other, I thought I would feel uncomfortable or awkward, but when I arrived, because I saw others, I wasn't the visible minority there. I felt very comfortable. It was the complete opposite of what I was feeling. So I was really comfort and it's cute. And then going back to my parents' village, like everybody spoke the same language as also Speaker 1 00:33:08 There's something incredibly powerful and beautiful in that. Speaker 0 00:33:10 Yeah. And we could speak it fluently, like go to a corner store or exchange money order forward dinner, where here you would be asked like six different questions. Like, where are you from? Which you speak, Oh, well, I don't speak that language. And then it's so complex where there, it was so free. And so connecting to your roots, I think is really important. Yeah. Speaker 1 00:33:39 I want to go back to something you spoke about Don, you were talking about how, like, for instance, you know, when you have immigrant parents, uh, like first generation immigrant parents, first or second generation immigrant parents, um, and they're in, in meeting to protect themselves out of necessity of the space that they're in, where the reflection is not majority of their own, where they silence their own uncom, like their discomfort and the pain and interactions with racism. But at the same time, what, what both your parents did, mama and Papa Kwan while being silent about certain things, also advocated and so beautifully created space for folks who experienced similar yet different moments in the same geography. And I think that speaks so loudly of both what Shanghai as a place and really a being has become because of the people that invested their time, your parents, your grandparents, yourselves, um, and you're, you're all carrying that legacy forward in such incredible ways. Speaker 0 00:34:43 Um, Speaker 1 00:34:46 It's, it's both really, uh, as someone, as a queer racialized person, it, you know, growing up in like multiple geographies, like that's something that, um, also offers me sustenance and like offers others, uh, in a similar situation, like hope and nourishment, um, in ways that like Don, when you're saying, you know, when you go back to visit where your parents or your grandparents are from that moment where you don't have to like, make all the answers visible where you can just be, and there's something so incredibly beautiful about that. Speaker 0 00:35:20 Yeah. That's very, that's very kind. My parents never were the kind of people to give advice. They were more <inaudible> through their actions, work, stop crying. Yeah. Speaker 2 00:35:44 Yeah. Mum passed actually traced or anniversary. I always, every month is an anniversary. So I'm so sorry, Laos. So it's not almost a year, almost a year, three more months to go, but you know, I am, I am still in there. My parents passed away in the same room, uh, like a year apart in their home that w we, we are still living in. So I'm always reminded of, you know, the good, bad and ugly stories of just living there in a, in a, the house is very quiet now, but it was always something going on. And I cherish those memories. I mean, we all should cherish our families because you only get one family unless you're queer. If you're not near your family, you meet your own family. So that's, which I've also started to, I mean, for years that I added and like, not add it, I mean, um, and blessed and grateful for being in other people's lives, queer or not, we all share the same love and comfort. And, you know, you, life is a banquet, so let's eat. Speaker 0 00:36:57 Yeah. Speaker 2 00:36:59 Well, turn it off. I mean, I will use hysteric glamour. So all that pop culture that I absorbed growing up is the influence heavy influence on what I do. I mean, um, I'm, I'm just in a, three-year making of, um, a documentary in China doll with Dale Wendell from Adventist films. He, after three years of filming, we're finally editing, uh, uh, again, well, it doesn't have to be gay, but a feature documentary on China doll, like a day in the life of China doll, like the world, according to John doll. So that will be released hopefully this year. And, uh, I hope you guys can see that from my perspective, because China doll, it's not about me. I'm not like a narcissistic sociopath, queer crazy like Donald Trump. I always focus on the people around me when they're with China doll. So I always it's giving it's giving back to the community and being one-on-one or getting everyone involved and finding a happy place. I mean, through song, through karaoke or bingo or whatever community events we do, it's all for love and everything has an intention. So just try to live a well lived life. I wish that for the world in this scam, demic pandemic times of COVID. Speaker 0 00:38:29 Yeah, yeah. We're really fortunate to have had the opportunity to like, you know, create a space that's inclusive where people can come feel comfortable welcomed. Um, and it's about like, like, I always loved how everyone from every different vantage point or view or race or political background, everyone, because the restaurant is a restaurant. It's a public space. Everyone you come in and whether you like, and they're not, and then, you know, the lights will turn turned down and then it'll come out at all. And then those that never expected that to happen are all of a sudden part of it. And then, you know, you're exposed to something that you're not typically used to, and it's not as threatening or as awkward as maybe you thought, well, I love that we kind of opened up people's minds to think differently. So we've invited them to kind of engage in different light the conversations. More like there is break those stereotypes break, like think each other embrace have more empathy with others, you know? Speaker 2 00:40:01 Well, China doll, I just want to mention, I'm just backtracking. I just want to mention some of the more memorable events that Shanghai for me, we had a centenarian party, someone that was 100 years old and they were generational and they came, they brought their 100 year old mother on a private party. And we've had weddings there that were so beautiful. And we actually had a call tin university frosh week, busload of Toga, whereas coming through a karaoke night on a Saturday night, and I was just sitting there in the corner, minding my own business. And one of them, I don't know that you are drinking or whatever, decided to just steal my wig and run off with it down the street and never came back. And I was like mortified, but it was returned the next day, but that was a memorable story. And then he rushed off to another party, or we had another bus full of Marilyn Monroe's gay men dressed like Marilyn Monroe in the, the white iconic dress and the wig. And then like maybe 1520 that cascaded through a full dining room and just wrecking havoc. But it was so fun. Speaker 2 00:41:19 I think there's something to be said about stories from Shanghai, um, that could possibly be a future project, Don. Speaker 0 00:41:29 Yeah. You should write a book, Speaker 1 00:41:34 Carl and I both so thankful for both of your works for sharing your archives with us, the Shanghai family archives. Um, we're both really looking forward to having folks come in to see your works, uh, independently and collectively, and to also listen in and to hear your stories. Um, so I just want to, once again, thank both of you and, um, and hopefully we'll reconnect in the near future to have more conversations. Speaker 0 00:42:04 Thank you, China Dawn says, yeah, thanks for, um, and have a show together too. It's like, I think this is the first time we've ever been invited as together. Speaker 3 00:42:23 Thank Speaker 0 00:42:24 You. My gear. Thank you. My little fortune cookie gobble, gobble gobble, Halloween Thanksgiving Speaker 3 00:42:36 To be continued. A stone crop symposium podcast is produced by Finn sun on Shaw Hawk and Carra Tierney music provided by Ben sound's dot com. Thank you to today's speakers, Don Kwan and ed Kwan also known as China doll. The podcast is part of Carleton university art galleries, virtual stone process symposium. The symposium is organized in conjunction with the exhibition to be continued troubling. The queer archive, curated by Ana Shaw, Hawk and Cora, and presented at the gallery in fall 2020, the exhibition and podcasts expand conversations around local peer histories and futures. We are grateful for the support of Carleton university, the Canada council for the arts Ontario arts council and the stone cross foundation for the arts, the stone prof foundation promotes education, visual arts and fostered appreciation of find out more about the stone prop symposium by visiting wag.ca AIG dot.

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Episode 4

October 20, 2020 00:57:43
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Ep. 4: Mikki Bradshaw and Ghaida Moussa

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Ep. 9: Taib Boyce and Tyler Boyce

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Episode 2

October 07, 2020 00:45:47
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Ep. 2: Howard Adler and Kole Peplinskie

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