London – It was never Stan Fukase’s intention to go viral on TikTok.
“When the pandemic started, I started making TikTok videos like everyone else,” he says over a video call. “I was never expecting to be famous or anything.”
Yet after a brief dabble with the dance videos that TikTok is famed for, it was a video making fun of how drag queens greet each other that went viral, gaining hundreds of thousands of views. As Fukase began to post on TikTok more, however, those numbers started to pale in comparison to the thousands of followers he was gaining daily. At one point, Fukase, under the alias @worldofxtra, had the fastest growing TikTok account in Japan. Currently, he has close to 600,000 followers on the platform.
Born in Japan but raised in the Philippines, content creation was not a part of Fukase’s original plan. Although he’d started a YouTube channel at age 12 for a hobby, he put it on hold to concentrate on pursuing a career in the medical field. Attending pre-med school, he studied nursing for two years and was enthusiastic about his studies.
“I’d been telling my mum that I wanted to be a doctor since I was 5. I was one of those kids,” he says, looking back on his time at school.
But after gaining hands-on experience in a hospital where he not only witnessed death but also had to break the news to the family members of the deceased, he soon found the job mentally exhausting and stressful. He then moved to Japan to study at Waseda University, where he is currently a fourth-year student.
When talking about his experience as a queer person of dual heritage in Japan (his father is Filipino), Fukase is brutally honest. Creating Japanese-language TikToks about subjects such as the normalization of the slur “okama” for effeminate men and tongue-in-cheek takes on cultural stereotypes landed him in hot water.
“They were calling me ‘gaijin okama’ and telling me to go back to my country,” he says. “I’ve always had thick skin but at some point, that’s all I’d read every single day.”
The comments led him to switch to English-language content. It was then that his channel started to grow even more, netting him his first sponsorship deal in the process. Wanting to create long-form video content, he also recently pivoted back to YouTube. Now, Fukase has come full circle with his childhood hobby becoming his main priority, amassing close to 300,000 subscribers on YouTube. Post-graduation, Fukase plans to pursue content creation full-time.
Alongside this, Fukase has made steps into the world of drag. Learning to do makeup for the first time on Halloween 2019, his drag moniker World of Xtra came into being as an exaggerated version of his persona. Although drag performances were not part of the picture for Fukase at that point, he is a huge fan of the reality show “RuPaul’s Drag Race” and hopes to compete as a participant some day.
After an impromptu performance in the United States in January 2020, he was invited to join the Haus of Gaishoku, one of Japan’s biggest drag houses. He currently performs in Shibuya as part of the Haus of Gaishoku’s monthly “Beauty Blenda” show.
Being one of the only public LGBTQ+ figures in Japan who also speaks English, Fukase sometimes feels a lot of pressure to inform his non-Japanese audience about queer life in Japan. He frequently receives messages online asking about the LGBTQ+ scene from people looking to visit or live in the country.
“Sometimes, it’s about things I can’t answer,” he says, underlining issues with the lack of diverse forms of LGBTQ+ representation in Japan. “For example, I’ll be asked about what it’s like dating as a lesbian or finding employment as a trans person. It’s my pleasure to educate people but unfortunately, I don’t know everything.”
Despite the pressure, Fukase hopes to use his platform to inform as much as entertain with plans to delve into Japanese-language content once again on YouTube. This time, he hopes his videos can raise awareness and show that LGBTQ+ people can and do exist within Japanese society.
“One of the main things I want to do through my videos is show people that it’s OK to be different in Japan,” he says. “Not everyone has to be the same; it’s OK to stand out, it’s OK to be yourself and it’s OK to be gay.”
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