When Kathy Griffin retweets a post, calling it possibly the gayest video she’s ever seen “in my life,”or Jesse Tyler Ferguson keyboard shouts it’s “SO GOOD” in all caps, and Brad Goreski states it’s “a gift,” you know it must be something special. It’s a good thing their declarations aren’t mere hyperbole, because if you haven’t had the pleasure of viewing Mark Kanemura’s Pride video, then your summer is off to a lackluster start.
With over 6 million views at time of publication, Kanemura’s fabulously flamboyant viral video features him shasahing into Pride Month to the tune of Carly Rae Jepsen’s pop gem “Cut to the Feeling.” Bathed in a swath of balloons, pride flags, confetti, a handheld fan, a teeny-tiny speedo, and multiple drag-inspired wig and outfit reveals, the video is a wonder to behold.
— Mark Kanemura (@mKiK808) June 1, 2018
If you’re aren’t one of Kanemura’s many followers on Twitter and Instagram — he recently passed 100,000 followers on Insta alone — you may not realize that he was a contestant on Fox’s long-running dance competition show So You Think You Can Dance, that he toured and danced with pop legend Lady Gaga, and that he recently has another viral video when he choreographed a group dance performance to RuPaul’s club banger “Call Me Mother.”
Followers of Kanemura, however, aren’t likely all that surprised by the level of attention his latest performance is bringing. Kanemura is the rare social media star who has as much talent as he does sex appeal. His almost daily Instagram Live clips are delightfully whimsical. His energy radiates off the screen — both in terms of the clever and creative lip-synching performances he puts together, as well as the thirst trap that he is.
But for Kanemura, expressing himself through his movement is an opportunity for him to share positivity during a dark time.
If you caught Kanemura performing various routines throughout his season, you knew you were seeing someone tonally different. With his funky hair and oddball antics, Kanemura’s different take on traditional dance movement instantly stood out. Looking back, he recognizes he wasn’t the best technical dancer on the show but was able to connect to the choreography like a actor would a role. This commitment to a performance would serve him well later on.
While working on the weekly television grind was taxing, it also showed him that he was “capable of a lot more than he actually thought he was.” Ironically, Kanemura was eliminated from SYTYCD the same episode that Gaga made her first U.S. television appearance — on SYTYCD. Fate stepped in and about a year later, Kanemura was picked as one of Gaga’s backup dancers for her first MTV Video Music Awards performance, back in 2009. Eagle-eye viewers can spot Kanemura supporting Gaga’s as she strung herself up over the stage, blood oozing from her body. From there, Kanemura landed a plum gig joining Gaga on her epic Monster Ball Tour.
Kanemura quickly became a vital part of Gaga’s professional life. For four years he toured with her, made countless television appearances, and partnered with her both on stage and in her many visually stunning music videos. Watch "Alejandro" and "Born This Way" and you’ll see Kanemura front and center, rocking some complicated dance moves in some highly stylized looks serving face and personality as only he can. This was, arguably, Gaga at her most iconic, and Kanemura was along for the ride.
As a young gay teen growing up in Hawaii, it was the drag queens who would sneak him into the gay clubs. The queens “gave me a sense of home” and he speaks fondly of his time in their presence and his fascination with “their art and their dedication.” Kanemura was deeply inspired by the glamour of drag and could often be found trying on his sister’s prom dresses and his mother’s high heels.
It’s clear his love of drag continues to inspire him and has informed and influenced his recent viral video. For Kanemura, his videos are “a reminder to not take life so seriously.” He likens his clips on social media as playing dress up, a sort of drag-adjacent, without having to worry about “wearing make-up, shaving, or tucking.”
Kanemura is happy to play up his femininity while portraying a visually masculine image. “Gay culture has a thing about being masculine,” Kanemura says, adding that “I find that labels limits you.”
So, how often do his followers slide into his DMs? Kanemura laughs as he recalls the occasional messages he’ll receive telling him how “super sexy” he his. He doesn’t see sexiness in what he does, he only sees how “ridiculous” he is being on camera. Clearly, for some, ridiculousness is sexy.