Miami, meet Twinki. Corporate salesperson by day, the “Bubble Booty POP” star rips off the business suit at night, straps on some stilettos, and transforms into Jacksonville’s “sexxxcore, drag raunch” rapper.
“She’s my alter-ego persona,” explains Carl Cochrane, the man behind the woman. “Twinki is a drag-queen rapper.”
On May 14, the Magic City will get a taste of Twinki’s “homo rap” when the J-Ville diva makes her 305 debut at South Beach’s Kill Your Idol.
Born in Brooklyn, Cochrane left New York City for northern Florida about 15 years ago. This move from one of the most liberal cities in the nation to one of the most conservative was a drastic change, but Twinki has witnessed progress for lesbians, gays, and transgendered people in Jacksonville over the course of the decade and a half she’s resided there.
“It was kind of shocking, in that we are in the Bible Belt,” the rapper says. “But I never felt like an outsider. I felt part of the group, and being as vocal and out as I am, it’s changed people’s minds when it comes to LGBT rights.”
And Twinki adds: “In Jacksonville, there are a lot of gay performers out there now. We are changing the culture. That’s what excites me.”
Twinki has always been a hip-hop junkie who used to “freestyle just for fun” back in the day, and she was a theater kid in high school, but drag rap is a fairly new pursuit for her.
“I was doing drag performances, and it was fun, but I didn't really want to be a pageant performer — it wasn’t fulfilling enough,” the diva admits. “So I wanted to incorporate my own writing into my performance. That’s why I started doing drag rap.”
But just because she and others like her are beginning to remake the rap game in northern Florida, that doesn't mean sexist and homophobic hip-hoppers have ceased to exist. Still, Twinki doesn't hate the haters. Instead, she lets her talent speak for itself.
“I think I’ve always known that I was good at what I did,” she says. “I felt my sexuality shouldn’t have anything to do with it. I felt that immediately, whenever I went to a hip-hop event, they had to respect that I was good, whether or not I was a he, she, it, whatever you wanna call me.”
Though confident, the J-Ville star has been in drag rap long enough to know that she sometimes has to win over the crowd, especially if said crowd has never been exposed to the “sexxxcore” ways of Twinki.
“One of the main challenges, more so than anything, is getting people over that initial shock they experience when they see me come out onstage for the first time,” she explains. “It’s just like, ‘Here we go again.’ But by the second or third song, I win them over.”
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And it's no surprise, considering Twinki's ability to drop rhymes like bombs and make the crowd go ratchet, that she almost always turns haters into fans.
“I do it because I want people who are gay or different to feel that they're not weird,” she says. “But more importantly, I want people to be inspired. I am about my bars and my work, but above and beyond that, I'm about lifting people up and making them feel empowered.”
Twinki. With Sandratz. Presented by Cheap Miami Records. Thursday, May 14. Kill Your Idol, 222 Española Way. The show starts at 10 p.m., and admission is free. Call 305-534-1009, or visit facebook.com/killyouridolmiami. Ages 21 and up.