Artist, choreographer and ‘mother’ of the House of Iman, Jaycee Tanuvasa was “born and raised in the underrated, infamous place that continues to put NZ on the map in sports, arts and dance. The tahi, the one and only, South Auckland”.
Jaycee is one of the pioneers of Aotearoa’s ballroom vogue scene that began in Ōtara with the history-making FAFSWAG, and a vocal and passionate advocate for queer communities. The dynamic creative co-produced the Iman Ball at the ASB Tennis Arena in March, as well as the Legacy Ball at the Auckland Town Hall during the Auckland Arts Festival - two events that helped put the spotlight on the past, present and future of Tāmaki Makaurau’s ballroom culture.
Her latest project is FEVER, a show that’s part of the wider Auckland Cabaret season featuring Jaycee alongside dancers from the Fine Fatale collective and musicians The Taka Tu Wops.
Ahead of the performance, we asked Jaycee to share some of her favourite local spots.
• FEVER at The Civic’s Wintergarden, June 23, 25 and 26; July 2. Buy tickets here.
Favourite place for a drink?
Anywhere where good Tongan ‘otai is.
Best place for breakfast?
I’ve got hips and thighs that don’t discriminate against pies... hmmm, pies. New Zealand is famous for our savouries. Windmill Bakery, Sunrise Bakery on Coronation Road and Wickman Way Bakery (all in Māngere) have some bomb savouries.
The restaurant you’ve been going to for years?
Eugh. I can’t really afford to go to restaurants often, so I’m gonna say the Tanuvasa kitchen, and the cooks are Oliana Tanuvasa and Sam Tanuvasa. Rating - 5 STARS!
Favourite restaurant to visit with friends?
Any place with hookah!
For something fancy?
What do you mean? I’m broke...lol.
Best ‘cheap eat’?
Brunch on a Sunday: where would we find you?
To'onai at home. My family stay traditional by having family lunch together where mum and dad serve Pacific cuisine.
Your local bar or pub?
I’m a homebody and only just started drinking a little, so at home or Club Tivvy which is an exclusive club in Avondale that is safe for queer and trans sissys hosted by my friends, Frankie Cruella, Management Manda and Cia Iman (it's their house which has a bar).
Favourite place for date night?
Uhh people are too fragile to to go on dates with me, an unapologetic fa’afafine, transgender woman. So if you’d like to ask me out, anywhere in public with respect and good food in the evening is cute, follow me at @jaycee_babyyy... if you are not fragile and giving toxic masculinity.
Where do you go for a workout?
What’s a workout? Workout? Me? How rude...jokes! I DANCE! Dancing is my workout, voguing brings me joy and at the same time, puts my body to work.
Your regular supermarket?
Mangere Town Centre! Local, affordable and home.
Where do you go for ‘special’, non-supermarket food or drink?
Favourite place for live music?
Soul session nights at Sweat Shop!
Favourite gallery or museum?
Moana Fresh in Avondale.
Best kept shopping secret?
Buying two of the same clothing item that’s cheap and reinventing both of them into a garment that gives you insta baddie vibes that nobody knew was from a Westfield mall.
Favourite clothing store that never lets you down?
I’m thick, tall and built diffy - they’ve all let me down…
Where do you go when you’re after local art or design?
If someone was visiting your neighbourhood/city for the first time, what’s the one place you would recommend they visit?
Piha! The black glittery sandy beach with the beautiful hikes for that breathtaking view. And South Auckland.
Anything - or anywhere - you’d like to add?
Support the House of Iman and Aotearoa’s iconic ballroom scene and culture! Support indigenous storytellers in all forms! Support local Pacific businesses! Support young people and their voice and autonomy over their bodies! Support liveable incomes for all! Support trans bodies!