Local Produce: Ann Arkii

Local Produce: Ann Arkii

Ann Arkii is the Monarch of the Ōtepoti drag scene. Having performed drag for over a year, Ann is often credited with revitalising the drag scene in Dunedin through the Ōtepoti Drag Directory, which helps feature and encourage emerging drag artists. Critic Te Ārohi sat down with Ann to talk about what drag means to them and the wider community. 

Ann’s debut was on May 7th 2022, when she was finally able to get the opportunity to perform drag. “I’d been wanting to drag for years because it had been in pop culture here and there and over time I really wanted to get into it,” she says. The lack of opportunity to perform has made it difficult for many performers to get started and to continue going. Ann says,“The barrier to me was firstly, the money to get the good make up and a good wig, but when I got the opportunity to perform I realised I didn’t actually need those things. I’ll just use what I have and go on stage and perform.” 

The Ann Arkii persona is based on goth characters from cartoons who she brings to life. Characters like Ruby Gloom, Sam Manson and Buttercup inspired the look. “Elvira Mistress of the Dark was a huge inspiration. I also just love the trad-goth, classic punk style and music,” she says. The name was also an intentional play on anarchy: “I wanted to have an outright political name so people can’t get mad when I just shit on billionaires and their private jets.” Asked what makes a good drag song, she says, “Something that you can tell a story with […] favourites of mine are ‘Money, Money, Money’ by ABBA. The first song I did was ‘Toxic Love’ by Tim Curry and people loved it so I have performed that one a lot.”

Ann works at Yours, an all inclusive, all ages venue that has been popular for hosting gigs and drag performances. This has meant that Ann was able to avoid a lot of the barriers most drag artists start with. “I didn’t have to pay a booking fee or deal with an outside party. I could just start the thing. It is often about creating your own opportunities.” Ann did this by creating the Ōtepoti Drag Directory in January. “There was a scene that died out about a decade ago and I am often credited with revitalising the scene here in Ōtepoti,” she says. 

Ann puts in a lot of mahi to create a stage for drag artists, whether it’s ‘Drag! Music!’ hosted monthly at Inch Bar, or the ‘Revolution’ showcases hosted at Yours. The next Revolution show on April 27th at Yours also includes music as it is a fundraiser; “creating a more diverse night of entertainment will bring in more money for a good cause.” The money raised will go towards The Starfish Collective, which is an inclusive group that provides support for refugees in Aotearoa. 

You can follow Ann Arkii on Instagram @ann.arkii and @otepotidragdirectory if you’re interested in getting involved with the drag scene. You can see Ann Arkii perform at Yours on April 27th and May 25th, or at Inch Bar on May 10th.

This article first appeared in Issue 8, 2024.
Posted 5:25pm Sunday 21st April 2024 by Jordan Irvine.