Openly gay Honolulu homicide detective Kimo Kanapa’aka is the protagonist in three of Neil Plakcy’s Hawaiian mysteries: Mahu, Mahu Surfer, and Mahu Fire (April, 2008).
Interviewed by Anthony Bidulka, author of the Russell Quant mysteries, this is the twin of last weeks interview
1. Boxers or briefs? And how many other people than yourself can answer that question?
Boxers, in patterns and prints that many men would find embarrassing, like shamrocks for St. Patrick’s Day, hearts and cupids for Valentine’s Day, tropical fish, surfing dogs and naked Santas. But hey, I’m secure enough in my masculinity to wear goofy shorts. If you get me stripped down that far, you’re thinking about what’s inside the shorts, not what’s on them! And as to how many people can answer that—a gentleman doesn’t kiss and tell (or strip and tell, for that matter.)
2. Many would say, Kimo, that you had a rather interesting coming out process. Is there anything you regret about how you came out? On the other side of things, what is your favorite thing about how you came out?
I wish I’d been able to come out on my own terms, on my own schedule. Being dragged out of the closet by the media, when I wasn’t really ready, was tough. But then, everything happens for a reason, right? Who knows, I might have stayed in the closet a lot longer otherwise. And think of the fun I’d have missed!
3. What do you think of the word “mahu”? When is its use appropriate?
Mahu is a really tough word in Hawaii. I remember when I was a kid, I’d hear people mutter that word like it was some kind of a curse, and once in a while, when I was being whiny, my dad even said things like “Don’t be a little mahu.” And that hurt, you know? But I think we can take the sting out of any word, like mahu or queer or faggot, that we claim as our own. When you use it from a position of power—like “I may be a mahu but I can still kick your ass”—then it’s fine with me.
4. You are a Hawai’ian boy. Some say Hawaii is a paradise. Others feel it is too small and isolated. What is your opinion? And if you would ever live anywhere else, where would it be and why?
I went to college in Santa Cruz, and I liked California—but it wasn’t home. There’s something about the islands that connects to me. I look out at the waves and imagine my ancestors sailing across those seas to this place. I grew up here, and every street, every corner, every beach has some connection to my past.
Yeah, sometimes I get island fever, and I get jealous of my college friends who live on the mainland—you can just get in a car and drive for hours if you want. Cross state lines and climate zones. You can’t do that when you’re stuck on a rock in the middle of the Pacific. I can’t imagine living anywhere else. But if I did, it’d have to be a place with great surf!
5. What would life be like if – for whatever reason – you could no longer surf?
Man, that would be a tough one. Surfing gets me away from all my troubles, makes me concentrate on the wind and the water, live in the moment. If I couldn’t do that I’d go crazy. Or start parasailing.
6. What is your definition of despair?
That’s a tough one. But I have to say I’ve seen people in despair—criminals at the end of their rope, victims who’ve nearly been destroyed—and it’s not a place I want to go. I think despair arrives when you lose faith in happy endings—the chance that things will work out for the best some day. When you lose that hope, you’re prey to all the bad things in the world.
7. Who is your best friend and why?
I’m lucky to have two best friends. The three of us were high school friends, and now Harry Ho is my best guy friend and Terri Clark Gonsalves is my best gal friend. With Harry, I can kick back over beers, surf, and talk stink. He’s always got my back. My friendship with Terri is different; I feel like she can see into my soul, and she always knows what to say when I’m feeling lousy. She’s a beautiful person, inside and out, and you can see that in the way she treats everybody.
Of course, I’m in the market for a third best friend—the kind that includes romance. Maybe that guy, when I find him, will take the place of these other two—but I hope not. I’m a big-time romantic, despite the reputation I’ve got for sexual adventuring, and I’m waiting for that special guy to come along who’ll be my heart’s best friend.
8. Of all the bad guys (gals) you’ve come across in your career as a criminal justice professional, which one still haunts your dreams and why?
Sex is such a powerful force, you know? When we’re chasing some sexual dream, it can be enough sometimes to make us do all kinds of things we wouldn’t usually do. When I was struggling with coming out, I was also chasing this big, handsome, sexy bad guy named Wayne Gallagher—and he knew just how to manipulate me. Teasing me. Touching me. It made me ashamed to be attracted to someone I knew intellectually was just bad. I put him behind bars, but when a guy’s chasing me in my nightmares, it’s Wayne.
9. Describe you dream date – not only the person, but how the date/event would unfold.
My dream date will make me laugh, and I’ll be so interested in him and what he’s got to say that I won’t notice the time passing. I’ll be totally attracted to him, dying to rip his clothes off and run my hands and lips over his whole body, and yet I’ll want to talk to him, and listen to him, even more. Am I a romantic, or what? As for the rest of it, well, I live in a tropical paradise, so we’re talking a fabulous meal of local seafood, accompanied by a couple of tropical cocktails. Then a walk along the beach with waves as our sound track, gentle ocean breezes, the scent of plumeria blossoms, the stars of Orion’s sword twinkling above us. And then, of course, amazing, hot, passionate sex afterwards! (Oops, did that last line make me sound like a slut?)
10. What makes you belly laugh?
Slapstick. Watching the stuff they put contestants through on reality TV. The Three Stooges, the Marx Brothers and anything made by the Farrelly brothers. You gotta laugh, right? It’s nature’s best medicine. It keeps you young. And it sure makes you sexy!
You can find ‘Mahu Surfer’ and the other books in the series HERE