Mar. 14—Born and raised on Big Island, Mark Imaizumi grew up interested in fashion and art. He graduated from Hilo High School and continued his education at the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising in Los Angeles. Working backstage at fashion shows gave him opportunities to experiment with the theatrics of makeup and clothing.
Imaizumi was living back in Hilo when a friend suggested that he go in drag to a Halloween party. The faux-femme character he created was such a hit that he got requests to perform professionally. Imaizumi explored several characters before he created his signature drag queen character, Marina Del Rey. That was 22 years ago.
These days, the 51-year-old lives on Oahu, and by day, works in the health care field. By night, he often performed as Marina Del Rey at Honolulu's "showgirl " nightclubs until the COVID-19 pandemic shuttered the clubs a year ago.
This month Marina Del Rey takes the stage once again with five other showgirl stars—GDolce, Shalani Dante, Apple Aday, Jerrica Benton and Maddalynn Ashton—in "Stadium Queens LIVE !" Presented by producers Darilyn Thomas and Kailani Young, the Imua Lounge and the Non Profit Fundraising Partners of Hawaii, the drive-in drag show will be performed March 26 and 27 in the Aloha Stadium parking lot.
The production is "COVID cautious, " with the audience watching from their cars. The concert's sound is heard through each car's radio. Tickets—$100 (general admission ) and $200 (VIP, for a reserved parking space closer to the stage )—are good for up to five people per car. Showtimes are 7 and 9 p.m. both nights. Buy tickets at Arena 808, 1020 Keeaumoku St.; call 808-591-2722. For more information, go to.
How do you take a nightclub act to a concert stage ?
This is a new situation for all of us (performers ). We're anxious and we're anticipating and we're bracing ourselves. This is the new vocabulary coming out of the quarantine and this is the new thought process of being able to entertain. It's definitely something that we are really, really anxious to do. The scale is literally going from a more intimate gathering to a concert situation. The sky is your ceiling.
Who is Marina Del Rey ?
She is a formed and fleshed-out—hopefully—glamorous individual who has absolutely no manners and talks like a trucker, but is a decent human being.
What do you enjoy about performing ?
It's almost like living a dream, but the dream isn't the performing in front of people. The dream is relaying what a song makes me feel. To be able to do a song and deliver the kind of feeling I have from it is fun. To do it for people who react to it is even more fun. I'm also (performing as ) a character, so it's not like I feel that my plain everyday boring self is onstage, it's the character that I created and developed. With all her appearances and garb and performance choices also comes her confidence.
Does Marina have an "expiration date " for you as a performer ?
As a performer you are only as good a performer as there is an audience to care. I've seen clubs come and go. I've been at the clubs that came and went. Will I still be doing this later ? I don't know if I want to. I'm feeling this could actually be my swan song, and I'm kind of retiring after this. But I am beyond blessed, and humbled, to be included in this cast—maybe there will be a few more years.
What have you been doing since COVID-19 closed the clubs ?
The beach is my escape every weekend. I roller-skate, and I took up walking when the lockdown started. For those of us who continued working (day jobs ) the lockdown turned life into just work and a lonely world. I started walking for mind clarity and it turned into a thing (I enjoy ). On the weekends I'll walk about 20 miles. On the weekdays I walk about five.