Chenta Tsai aka Putochinomaricón (translated as “FuckingChineseFaggot”) is a Chinese electropop singer and musician who talks about racism and being migrant and LGBTQ+ in this homo/transphobic country that is Spain, minorities, being bullied, and pop culture. His videos are always very DIY, and he’s so charismatic. His first hit in his career was to sing about pink washed shitty World Pride and migrant oppressive politics in Plaza del Sol (the centre of Madrid and Spain) in front of millions of people, inviting to the scenario a lot of people from minorities called by his Instagram, people that wasn’t represented in the official Pride. In his Instagram and interviews he always denounces oppressions from a feminist intersectional point of view, and he’s a so pure human being with a lot to say.
Who was Chenta Tsai before Putochinomaricón?
Oddly enough, Chenta Tsai pre-Putochinomaricón was a repressed person who didn’t accept who he was. I deconstructed myself extremely late in my life. At 25-26, I came out of the closet to my parents. I remember that day very well. My mother burned the boiled eggs. And she didn’t talk to me for a year. I completed a masters degree in Architecture and Urbanism. I never understood the program, I think these things happen when you like the discipline but you don’t understand the people that are part of it. I was really fucked on a personal level, since I was not happy with my life, and that was going to make me fail. Until I said it’s over. I’m going to put myself and my needs in the foreground and stop trying to please everyone.
You are always referencing elements of pop culture. Who are the most important reference points for you?
All of the idols and leading figures who exercise and take advantage of their position and voice to vindicate without giving up on music, fun and dancing. I do not want to fall for the cliché, but I’ve always been fascinated by girl groups, women stars, empowered dissidents, like Rina Sawayama, Quay Dash, Grimes, Le1f, Brooke Candy, The Donnas, Shampoo… starting from banal and empty themes, they create a discourse.
You once made reference to young people who come to see you at concerts, teens you have identified as “emo kids” or in general “the weirdos in the classroom,” and this is something that I find so exciting and endearing, because It makes me (as an ex-“weirdo in the classroom”) wish that I could have had someone as great as you as a rolemodel when I was in high school. Who empowered you? Who were your childhood idols?
Thank you very much Zazi, same here. I feel that my childhood and my adolescence would have been more enriching if I knew powerful, empowering and empowered figures like you. The truth is that I had no rolemodels in which I felt reflected. Still, I did have Ellen Degeneres in “The Puppy Episode” as my first homosexual reference point, Marilyn Manson on MTV introduced me to “otherness,” and the Spice Girls introduced me to the celebration of femininity.
Earlier we heard you denounce racism in the gay community, which is seen in issues such as the “no Asians” profile comments in gay dating apps or the prevailing representation of the muscular white gay man, but what is it like to be LGBTQ+ in the Chinese community?
My family is of Taiwanese origin, so I can only speak about Taiwan, which is going to be the first country in the area that legalizes gay marriage. Still, the issue of the decolonization of beauty is necessary. This is seen not only in Western countries but also there. In Taiwan, everyone modifies their eyes with contact lenses in order to have them not look slanted, and they put on makeup and use products to whiten their skin. The beauty canon is the same in Asia. The concept of sexuality is different in Taiwan.
As an activist, what issues concern you right now and which do you see as urgently needing to be addressed? What are you focusing on right now?
Personally I’m concerned about immigration law and how it affects me and, especially, how it affects my undocumented friends, my fellow racialized people, the victims of institutional racism. I’m working as a collaborator in SOS Racismo with Paula (who is the new president of SOS Racismo Madrid) and others on the cartographic part of a project to visualize and prevent racist stop-and-searches.
Besides being a singer, musician and architect, you are also something of an influencer. In that world in which appearance predominates and in which brands try to mold our personalities in the pursuit of business, how do you handle yourself? Does it bother you? Do you worry that this vortex of commercial coolness is trying to take advantage of your image or censor your messages?
I’m worried about us being instrumentalized, that they take away what we stand for and we just end up being beautiful vacuous images. We have to play and learn to dance with the devil, take advantage of the media and take a stand there within the same system.
Recently Instagram censored you and deleted your accounts because the app considered your artistic name “offensive” (when it’s clearly an appropriation that you have made of an insult). This had a lot of repercussions and in a very short time you received a lot of support from innumerable fans. How did you feel? Did you really expect so much support from so many people?
That was something that opened my eyes and taught me that there is support, that I am not alone in my struggle, that our struggles, despite being different, converge into one. It was emotional for me and the only thing that this censorship has achieved is to make me even stronger. I am very grateful.
I know you love making recommendations. What would you recommend to us right now?:
- Something to hear: Drugs, by Uffie.
- Something to see: Mary and Max, by Adam Elliot.
- Something to read: Loops vol.1 and vol.2, edited by Reservoir Books.
- Someone to follow: @erchxspinha or @sosracismo.
Last week I tried to go to a Chenta’s concert and the line to enter was so huge that I had to go back home. He’s flying high and so fast, and I hope that all those people appreciate Putochinomaricón’s messages as much as they appreciate his funny and creative live shows, because he always makes this clear: he’s going to continue annoying.