Article Title:Auckland Pride: Mika's ready to roll
Author or Credit:Jacqui Stanford
Published on:4th February 2014 - 09:57 am
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Story ID:14542
Text:The Auckland Pride Festival will burst into live with a Waitangi Day dawn ceremony and Aroha Mardi Gras on Thursday. The man behind both events, Mika, discusses what he has up his sleeve and the importance of Pride. All are invited to the Aroha Dawn Ceremony Mika is of course an artistic force to be reckoned with, and someone who is not only a brilliant performer himself, but also a huge driver of young talent through the Mika Haka Foundation. His Foundation is joining forces with Ngāti Whātua and the Auckland Pride Festival Trust to put on the Aroha Dawn Ceremony at picturesque Okahu Bay on Thursday from 6AM, for a 6.42AM sunrise – and all are welcome. “Those people who don’t know what the sunrise looks like,” Mika laughs. “Will have the opportunity to see the sun rise.” There will be traditional performances from TAKI Māori and acoustic performances from Vee and Chainy Nathan, then a chance to enjoy the beach and the water. Love Your Condom, Auckland Council and the Ministry for Culture and Heritage have all pitched in to help with the gathering. “It will be a good mix of gay and non-gay all together,” Mika says. “Maori and non-Maori, all working together to create a really nice, chilled out breakfast atmosphere.” There will be a chance for an afternoon nap before heading to K’ Rd’s Legend Bar on Thursday night for the utterly crammed with talent Aroha Mardi Gras. It will feature the endless talent Mika manages to gather under his wings, including memorable X Factor contestant Ashley Tonga, the Identity Dance Crew who featured on New Zealand’s Got Talent and his frequent collaborator Megan Alatini. It will also showcase up and comers like Hannah Martin, Taylor Hori, Zakk d’Larte, PattyBoy, Yaya and the cast of Auckland Pride Festival theatre show Teen Faggots Come to Life, which Mika is producing. “We couldn’t take any more people if we tried,” Mika says of the line-up. “So that’s our Waitangi Day. You know, nothing to stress yourself,” he adds drolly. Part of rehearsals has been making sure acts who say they are doing five minute performances don’t take up 15 minutes. He says this year, they are trying to make it an experience, rather than a show. “You can leave and you can come and go from the show. It’s not like a theatre where you’re stuck and you can’t move. You can actually move around and mingle. We’ve made the whole thing way more clubby.” But of course what Mika is most passionate about is the young gay talent. He is pouring with enthusiasm about the show Teen Faggots Come to Life, which is made up of five solo performances by brave young gay, transgender, fa’afafine, fakaleiti and bisexual Māori and Pacific Island artists. “The thing with young gay talent is, there is a lot of it, but they’re too scared to come out, which makes sense, in my industry you don’t come out if you are gay,” Mika says. “You only come out once you’re famous: Boy George, Elton John, Ellen, it just goes on and on and on. Once you’re famous, you can be anything darling. But there is a lot of good gay talent and I am really enjoying producing them, because, not blowing my own trumpet, but if I don’t, who will? I am loving it, they are a great bunch, they are doing all the things they should be – good things and mucking up things – all the things that make emerging talent fun to work with,” he laughs. He has massive praise for one of the Teen Faggots cast members Jaycee Tanuvasa who is working on the producing side of things too and helping everything come together. On top of all that Mika will also launch his new single Dress to Express during Pride, where he is appearing at the Pride Gala, Big Gay Out and PROUD closing party also. He was really impressed with the first Auckland Pride Festival last year, and is delighted that we have such an event, especially since other major festivals don’t nurture gay acts, and the talent would never be seen. “The thing is with Pride, if you do a show and it doesn’t go very well, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Pride should be a place where you can experiment with new ideas, and that’s where it’s important to me. “As far as size, I think it’s probably got a certain size it can – I think we all know with Hero, it had reached saturation point by 2000 and we kept trying to keep it that size. But I don’t know if Pride needs to be any bigger. If I have one word of advice from my years of experience with festivals, it would be ‘don’t make it any bigger, just make it cool’. Keep it just as we want.” Mika says it’s a very important festival. “Because without it, while having all our gay rights, not having a gay festival would seem rather stupid … I think Pride’s very important.”Buy Aroha Mardi Gras tickets here Jacqui Stanford - 4th February 2014    
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