But that doesn't mean the gender-nonconforming, queer performer is above critiquing the institutions that are now providing a platform. Historically, Kunst says, drag has been relegated to nightlife spaces, and it's important to use the new platforms to spotlight this history.
"If those people who were doing the work of curation actually, really started to give artists and nightlife a chance," says Kunst, whose academic background includes a focus in performance studies and queer theory, "I feel like their curatorial work would be a lot more exciting."
Drawing upon found objects to construct a look, Kunst has an aesthetic that's starkly different from that of the queens and kings who dominate Miami's drag renaissance. Most striking is Kunst's conehead, jutting up like a crown for misfits.
"A lot of people think that it's about me trying to create an alien character — and I've started toying with that narrative — but it's not something that I'm really committed to. It's more
"What I want to do in my work," Kunst says, "is to take up a lot of the different elements of what it's like to live in the world as a queer person, as a gender-nonconforming person, and express those realities in hyperbole to make it as absurd visually as it possibly can be." That exaggeration lends itself to clearer critiques of the ways queer people are ostracized — a level of analysis Kunst believes is sometimes lost in drag performance.
"I think drag has always been at the forefront of a genuine political conversation," Kunst says. "This is one criticism that people know that I'm always leveling against the drag scene down here: I think we need to be more political. I think there's a tendency right now, here in the city, to make queerness apolitical... [But] everything we do as queer people is always political."
Janet Jones | Lawrence Page