By Isabella Ortiz
“I have never attended an Asian-themed cannabis PRIDE event, so I created it,” Olive Hui states. The non-binary BIPOC artist, performer, and producer is talking about their project Hotel O.K.ByeBye, a multimedia variety show integrating music, comedy, and cannabis that had its most recent iteration take place this June at The Red Pavilion in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Featuring a lineup of eclectic and exciting performers including Sabrina Wu (Joyride), Jes Tom (Netflix’s Dear Jes, Hulu’s Crush), and Sarah Suzuki-Harvard (Shut Up & Laugh), the night shone a rare spotlight on Asian creatives.
Olive Hui's Hotel O.K.ByeBye: An Asian Pride Variety Show Featuring Cannabis, Music, Comedy And More
Hui, commonly known as Pineapple O on social media, has a multifaceted career that led them to create a space which involves highlighting the mental and physical health benefits of cannabis. They first created Hotel O.K.ByeBye in 2019 as a site-specific psychedelic art party. The inaugural event lasted 12 hours at Gymnopedie, an immersive Bushwick venue.
“You could say my events are in flux like me, an interdisciplinary artist practicing multiple creative expressions,” Hui remarks.
When prepping for the event, Hui was excited to create an original Asian PRIDE variety event featuring many BIPOC entertainers in New York City. “This was a no-brainer,” they add.
Hui, co-creator of the popular musical project Late Cambrian with their partner John Wlaysewski, reached out to invite their closest friends in wellness and cannabis to get on board. They created an evening of nightlife and wellness experience which became HotelO.K.ByeBye IV.
“We are so proud to have pulled it off in 2.5 weeks,” Hui enthuses.
Behind Hotel O.K.ByeBye: Producers Olive Hui And Nivi
Although Hui is the mastermind behind the show, they had a lot of helping hands with their co-producer Nivi.
Hui and Nivi met when Nivi was 9 years old; the former was her piano teacher. Because they stayed in contact over the years, the duo promised to tackle a creative project one day together.
Nivi always looked up to Hui. The fearless mentality and authenticity Hui carried throughout their life has inspired Nivi. Specifically, Hui’s refusal to be bound by traditional Chinese ideals of “womanhood” and success that Nivi saw all around her colleague.
Nivi comments, “Fast forward to our present-day friendship – we’ve since peeled back some of each other’s ‘layers’ and I understand now that their life is hard-won.” Producing the event, she notes, was about “being in/uplifting queer creative community as it was about supporting Olive in their element and nurturing our friendship.”
Improv Performance Art At Hotel O.K.ByeBye: Olive Hui's Bedtime Ritual
Many of the guest performers Hui convinced to sign on for the evening are friends of theirs. Hosting Hotel O.K.ByeBye gave Hui the opportunity to witness the variety of different acts unfold in real time.
With a mix of performers, wellness experts, and audiences, everyone was able to showcase their experiences.
“We have a basic structure and rundown, but we kept the show pretty loose so that performers and wellness experts get to introduce themselves and ad-lib. We have the most fun feeling like big kids putting up a school play spontaneously,” Hui explains.
Hui’s favorite act was a performance based on their Bedtime Ritual. The performance captured an early exploration of boundaries, comfort, and self-care (performed by Hui and Nivi themselves, plus Zhen Qin, Wendy Hu, and Tench Cholnoky AKA Tench.nology).
One of the audience members, Michelle Zeng, shared her thoughts on the ritual. “It represented how there will always be enough room for everyone no matter the size of a space. Also, the idea of togetherness, that we want to spread out when given more room.”
For some audience members, Hotel O.K.ByeBye was their first improv performance. Hui was excited to hear the various thoughts and opinions they had. By integrating comedy, wellness, and cannabis, the results could have gone many ways.
Nivi expresses gratitude and happiness at the responses of the attendees; they believe that no matter the experience they had, they can leave with a smile on their face due to the immense turn out.
“Maybe you were among those who accepted the quirkiness, didn’t overthink it, and enjoyed the show,” they reflect. “Or maybe you were among those who felt uncomfortable and/or confused! Either way, I hope it left folks with food for thought.”
Queer And Asian Comedians At Hotel O.K.ByeBye: Joyride's Sabrina Wu, Netflix's Jes Tom And Friends Bring The Laughs
A large part of Hotel O.K.ByeBye included featuring queer and Asian comedians, an aspect that was very important to Hui. Sabrina Wu, Jes Tom, and Shenuque Tissera (HBO’s Human By Orientation) all discussed queer identity in their comedy. Other performers bringing laughter to the event included Sarah Suzuki Harvard, Mike Durkin, and Moss Perricone (Beavis and Butthead).
Harvard, a Moroccan Japanese comedian, shares how special it is to feel represented and surrounded by like-minded individuals. It is rare to be able to perform alongside Asian creatives and for the audience to be engaged. “I felt seen, heard, and represented and these are feelings that are so hard to come by so I’m cherishing it still! It’s my favorite show of all time and I can’t wait to see it continue to blossom.”
Which Musicians And Wellness Experts Participated In Hotel O.K.ByeBye?
Another large accomplishment of the event was Hui co-hosting with their partner, music producer John Wlaysewski. “It was a blast to be able to perform Cantonese and Mandarin classics on a Brooklyn stage as if we were all transported to a surreal space where Asian culture and cannabis are mainstream.”
Offerings of the night also featured genre-breaking musical performances by Heather Mo’Witz, Jasmin Malave, Annina Christensen, Brifrei, Miu, Valentina, Zhen Qin, Arin Sang-Urai, Kai Chuang, nguyendowsXP, and Tench Cholnoky.
Amy Chin, a cannabis coach and founder of the brand Calm Better Days, participated as one of the event’s wellness experts. A key quote she said that many took from the night was, “The beauty of the variety show was how it seamlessly connected comedy, music, and even playful role-playing as a cannabis cigarette girl, all woven together through the thread of wellness.”
Chin went on to say, “It offered a unique and uplifting experience that not only entertained but also nourished my soul, leaving me with a profound sense of well-being.”
Other thought leaders showcased in the wellness pavilion included Patricia Wright of PDUBZHighBevz, acupuncturist Dr. Venessa Lee, author and life coach Dr. Tori Ellis (best known for her book The Sound of Business: Seeing Entrepreneurship Through Hip Hop), fashion stylist Gloria Lim (who created the looks for the whole event), and creative director and visual conductor Wendy Hu, who also appeared in the “Bedtime Ritual” performance art piece.
With hosting Hotel O.KByeBye, Hui accomplished creating a welcoming space for the queer Asian community, and is pushing the envelope of how cannabis consumption can be paired with culture in a safe and fun manner.
Hui affirms that their preferred form of consumption is through edibles. Throughout the evening, the producer inserted intermissions to give the attendees an opportunity to socially smoke and converse. Noting that this setup takes the pressure off of guests who need smoke breaks, Hui invited Dr. Venessa Lee to speak about the benefits of cannabis on mental health.
Olive Hui’s Hotel O.K.ByeBye event was an overall success with bringing a variety of different communities together. Moreover, it proved what the creator knew to be true: Cannabis, comedy, and wellness all can thrive under the same umbrella.
To learn more about Olive Hui and upcoming projects, follow @pineappleo on Instagram.
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Featured image: Olive Hui hosting HOTEL O.K.BYEBYE (C) Arin Sang-Urai @photojuice