|TastyKeish, media personality, professional hobbyist|
When I was invited to participate in A Monthly Bondfire's Ladies Night in 2009, I met her backstage to go over my place in the line-up and the pronunciation of my name. I remember she was wearing "sexy time pants". Since then we've become fast friends over boot camps and rum cake and gchat brainstorming sessions. She still amazes me with the extent of her DIY life. No stranger to the interview, TK!, as I affectionately call her, sat down with me after a Rise Up Radio show on a Friday night. Then we hit the streets.
~ ~ ~
My name is TastyKeish, also known as my regular name, Keisha Dutes. My craft… media personality, professional hobbyist. I have lots of hobbies that I enjoy and I also enjoy making money off of them. So radio, video, web and all hobbies that don’t fit into that circle.
How long have you been involved in radio, a radio personality?
Seven years not counting college but college is where you learn stuff.
I’m gonna jump right in ‘cause I know you’re excited [about this], what’s upcoming for TastyKeish? What can we expect in the next couple of months?
Well I’m really excited about this radio show, TK in the Morning. I’m gonna do my own morning show podcast, Monday, Wednesday and Friday—I’m gonna start the week, take you through hump day and we’re gonna party on Friday—TK in the Morning out of Caribbean Flatbush.
Your name being TastyKeish, your logo being a microphone which is quite phallic how do you deal with the underlying erotic tones? Do you accept it? Do you have to battle it?
Before people meet me they always assume something—maybe I’m a stripper or something like that. They usually meet me in the capacity of work. I guess they assume I wasn’t gonna be professional—TastyKeish or Keish someone that shortens their name, oh she must not be professional—and then I end up getting to the event before they do, I’m ready to get my money, you know, I’m professional so… it surprises people. I like that actually ‘cause you and your lower expectations aint got nothing to do with me. I keep it classy.
So being ‘classy’ and ‘professional’, for you that means being a lady, being strong and independent?
Is that what led to all your DIY and your nail art?
[laughs] Yes. You gotta keep yourself up, A, and if you can do it yourself why pay? If you’re gonna pay for something, make sure it’s a service that you don’t like doing. I don’t like cleaning. I don’t have the money to do it all the time but maybe three times a year I’ll get a Groupon for a house cleaning service. If you’re gonna pay for something, really make it worth it. If you can do it with your own hands you have more pride in yourself. I always feel like I wanna share it with someone like, “look at me, oh I made this”. I’m still wearing this bag that I made last year in sewing class. I haven’t even bought a real purse. So yeah, that’s part of it, independence, being professional and also teaches me patience which I don’t have but I’m learning. You can’t finish a project in a day but I always wanna finish it in a day… ‘cause I already have the next project on my mind.
What has travel done for your career and for you, personally?
Well I’ve always been open to it, no matter what. I’ve always been that type of person that dreams, I always wanted to go somewhere different. Professionally, it opened me up to a whole ‘nother audience, people knew me from online but then they got to see me, they got to feel me, I felt like they really got a taste of Keish, like for real, I was just showing them what I had offer on the menu and then when they met me they were like, “Word?”
Explain Real Time Travlr for those that don’t know.
The original [Real Time Travlr] concept, which is still the concept it’s just that I need to be on-the-go to do it, is while I travel or other people are traveling you get feedback or you learn stuff in real time during their travels. Then I expanded the idea with my vintage luggage that I sell online which is kinda a throwback, like time machine stuff, it’s with the whole motif of time and travel so I just meshed it together. It’s just another part of my hobby life and personality life‘cause when I travel I get to be me but then I also get to give you another taste of it.
How important is collaboration to you?
Very important. A lot of my best professional relationships have come from collaborations but I’m also learning that when it’s time for you to do something by yourself, which is my time right now, it’s just time. Time to have the thing that has your own name on it, not TastyKeish and whatever. The dudes that made my logo, FunkTheFormula, they are professionally some of the better friends of mine. And collaborating also shows me how you are as a person—how you treat your brand. If you’re coming at me late or you don’t wanna make that call or the meeting, I see where you’re at so after that, I’m not gonna work with you anymore. So yall hear that, think about it, if I ain’t called you in a minute there’s a reason for it.
Is there an event that you’d love to host that you haven’t yet?
Yeah! Several. I mean you have to climb the ladder. People see you on the lower end of the totem pole, you do events at night, the underground stuff. I wanna get to do more community type events… well honestly, forget it, let’s cut the middle man out, at the end of the day I wanna host a fashion show. I would like to host The Grammys, MTV Awards, so if anybody knows anything that’s gonna lead me there, holla at TastyKeish.
I notice that the people that they hire to host and the people that really should be hosting they don’t quite match. They hire these comedians, and I love comedians, I love comedy – ha-ha! – I love it, but at the end of the day, they’re comedians. People go to the comedy clubs to laugh. But they don’t come to the awards show to get comedy. You have to adjust how you talk to the audience, you have to feel them out and there’s also other pressures that I haven’t even faced yet—teleprompters or crazy people running up on stage Kanye West-ing—I haven’t faced that pressure yet but at the same time when you choose somebody to be your host you have to make sure they’re gonna vibe with the audience, they’re gonna be able to handle things without the audience knowing that there’s something going on, or if they bomb how to pick up gracefully and I think a lot of comedians get hired to host ‘cause they think, “oh the person knows how to talk to people”—that’s not always the case. They know how to talk to people who come see them not for them to entertain the people per se.
You kinda touched on my next question. How do you manage a cold room or on the other end of the spectrum a really rowdy crowd?
Cold room? You just stand there for a while, you have to let them feel your presence. It gets real existential with a cold room [laughs]. You stand there for a while and then they notice you. And a cold room is a business room; they want to just get down to what they seek. So that’s when, my event organizers, I need them to be on board, they need to be ready, whatever’s happening backstage needs to be on now. So a cold room is just about facilitating the show—I’m gonna get you on, I’m gonna get you off, I’m gonna say minimal stuff, I don’t wanna incite the audience, just let them have their show. They’re obviously not here for me.
And then a rowdy room, they’re so ready for a show, they don’t know how to act. So those are the rooms you have a little bit of leeway and you “put on”, you put on more. With a rowdy room I give a little extra swagger and depending where I’m at, demographic, I change how I talk to people ‘cause that’s what you do. I’ll just pick one guy, or I’ll pick the loudest dude and be like, “What are you drinking? Can I have some?” you become a part of the rowdiness and then you facilitate the show. You have to take back the control from them. Don’t let them control you—that’s your show.
What’s the best interview question you’ve asked someone?
You know what? I can’t even answer that ‘cause it’s been so long that I’ve been doing it and the diversity of our show that it’s never the same questions.
It doesn’t have to be from your show…
Oh man, like I don’t even know. The best question?
Have you had a favorite question?
No. I just let it go naturally. Everybody’s so different. And sometimes there’s just so much going on, right afterwards, I just empty it outta my head. It’s a lot of information. You memorize the questions and you memorize information about them. So when I’m done, I’m done. I don’t relive shit. It’s over. I bring it back later when I post it.
I’m gonna ask you to relive something: The day that Biggie died.
Oh! That Biggie died? Me and family had just moved to Long Island so I was the new girl in school and that happened on a Sunday ‘cause my Dad was driving us somewhere and all I heard was Angie Martinez was crying and it wasn’t her day—it was Sunday, why was she on?—so that’s where I was. Fuck. I’m a avid Biggie Smalls fan. My parents didn’t let me go to the procession. If I lived in Brooklyn, I probably would’ve cut school but I couldn’t even leave my block in Long Island.
What is your favorite word and why?
Is it wrong for me to say nigga? But not in the way that people are offended civil rights-wise, but in the way that it means so much shit. Like when people say “fuck”. It either means “fuck you” or “that’s fucked up”. So when I say it, I do mean “that nigga” or sometimes it’s like, “yo, my nigga, Abbie” you know, like everybody’s bros. I use it in the same way some people use “fuck”. Does it make me a bad person? No. I do my part for the community, yo, so deal with it.
What stereotypes do you fit?
Tomboy, so I’ve heard. I’m gonna go by what other people say about me. I think people assume I’m more “yo yo yo” than I think I am. Besides that, people seem to be pleasantly surprised like “oh, you read?” “Ah, you’ve been on an airplane.”
Speaking of reading, what would you have to phone-a-friend about on “Millionaire”?
Let’s clear up the context, we’re talking Regis “Millionaire” not Meredith Viera. No shade, I wanna be on real “Millionaire”. What would I have to phone a friend about? Math. Yes. I don’t wanna do it. Nope. I don’t wanna think about it. 2 plus 2? Phone-a-friend. 2 times 2? Phone-a-friend. Amazing that 2 plus 2 and 2 times 2 is the same answer, right?
Complete this statement: If my muse were an animal, it would be…
Oh snap! If my muse were animal? Ok, I’m gonna have to give a two-part answer. If my muse were an animal, it would be in the chimpanzee, monkey, ape family. But nowadays, if my muse were an animal it would be Feisty Misses Peabody, my cat. Because they say animals are like their owners… well, we just like to sleep and eat and she’s just my spirit right there. I love her to death. Feisty Misses Peabody is my spirit animal at the moment and if a spirit animal had music, it would be the Pandora channel of Total, from back in the day, the group that Diddy killed… so yes, those are my spirit animals and that’s spirit animal music to me.
* * *