Welcome to Episode 36!
Our guest for STIMY Episode 36 is Kyne Santos (otherwise known as Onlinekyne).
Kyne is a mathematician, YouTube/Tik Tok star with nearly 1 million followers collectively, Drag Queen & contestant in Season 1 of Canada’s Drag Race.
But how did it all begin?
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Who is Kyne Santos?
Kyne Santos was born in Manila, Philippines, and moved to Kitchener, Ontario at the age of 5. Since young, mathematics and academics were a priority at home and he developed a love and knack for it.
- 2:34: Maths & academics as a priority since childhood
- 3:27: Wanting to be a priest at the age of 12
In Grade, 9, Kyne began experimenting with makeup. What started out as almost invisible men’s makeup turned into full-blown, dramatic horror makeup that he would then post on his YouTube channel as part of his repertoire of makeup tutorials!
- 5:07: Coming out
- 6:28: Experimenting with makeup at the age of 14/15
- 10:15: Wearing makeup to school
- 12:46: How Kyne’s understanding of drag evolved over time
- 15:18: Coming up with his drag aesthetics
Kyne has 2 great loves: Being in drag & also mathematics – the latter was something he found to be truly beautiful and elegant when he entered university and he shares why:
- 16:04: Finding maths to be very beautiful and elegant
- 19:45: Maths can be used for evil or for the social good
- 22:01: Joining Tik Tok on 25th April, posting short educational math videos while in drag
- 26:30: How Kyne’s video showed that the graph for Georgia’s coronavirus cases was misleading, and how it resulted in officials changing the graph and issuing an apology
- 27:13: What constitutes a faulty graph?
Season 1, Canada’s Drag Race
In 2020, Kyne participated in the first season of Canada’s Drag Race and he shares his experience on the show and his future plans after graduation:
- 28:36: Participating in Canada’s Drag Race
- 30:46: Facing backlash after Canada’s Drag Race premiered
- 32:15: Advice for those wanting to get into drag
If you’re looking for more inspirational stories of people in the science/creative industry, check out:
- Ep 32: Darrion Nguyen (Lab Shenanigans) aka the Asian Millennial Tik Tok version of Bill Nye the Science Guy, with over 600k Tik Tok followers!
- Ep 10: Benjamin Von Wong: Mining engineer turned social artivist/photographer whose works in the social impact space has generated over 100 million organic views
If you enjoyed this episode with Kyne Santos, you can:
- Tag us at @OnlineKyne & @sothisismywhy
- Tweet your thoughts & takeaways from the episode to Ling Yah here!
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I’d love to include more listener comments & thoughts into future STIMY episodes! If you have any thoughts to share, a person you’d like me to invite, or a question you’d like answered, send an audio file / voice note to email@example.com
Some of the things we talked about in this STIMY Episode can be found below:
- Onlinekyne: Website, Tik Tok, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Merch Store
- What pronouns to use
- Subscribe to the STIMY Podcast for alerts on future episodes at Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Stitcher & RadioPublic
- Leave a review on what you thought of this episode HERE or the comment section of this post below
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Ep 36: Kyne Santos (OnlineKyne): Mathematician, Tik Toker/YouTuber & Drag Queen (Contestant on Season 1 of Canada's Drag Race)
Ling Yah: Hey, everyone! Welcome to episode 36 of the So This Is My Why podcast.
I'm your host and producer, Ling Yah and today's guest is Kyne Santos or Onlinekyne. A Filipino Canadian Tik Tok star with over 800,000 followers where he makes short educational videos on mathematics while in drag.
And was also a contestant on season one of Canada's drag race.
But how did all of this begin? Well, Kyne was born in Manila before he moved to Kitchener, Ontario, with his family in 2003.
Having discovered a love of makeup, he launched his YouTube channel Onlinekyne in 2013, where he posted lots of elaborate makeup tutorials and the musings of a high school boy.
His love of mathematics also blossomed and led him to study mathematical finance at the University of Waterloo.
When the pandemic hit, Kyne decided to get onto Tik Tok and began making viral educational videos about mathematics while in drag.
Everything from the traveling Santa problem and the Fibonacci sequence to riddles and how the graphs on pandemic cases can be misleading.
We also talked about Kyne's experience on Canada's Drag Race, how he handled the intense criticism that was directed at him when the show premiered and what his plans for the future are.
But before we begin, if you've been enjoying the show and you want an easy way to support it, please leave a review in iTunes.
It's probably the best way to help others find the show. And I'd really appreciate it. it
Now, are you ready?
You were born in Manila and you moved to Kitchener, Canada when you were five. So what was that transition like traveling and moving halfway on the world when you were so young.
Kyne Santos: My earliest memories were in the Philippines. I remember waking up in the middle of the night and driving to my mom's side of the family who live in San Jose, but my memories in the Philippines were so blurry. I don't remember really what it was like coming to Canada.
When I got here, I remember having school in English was a little weird because some of my first friends were fully English speakers. And I was just so shy and I feel bad sometimes for young Kyne. I was just so innocent and awkward.
Ling Yah: But academics and mathematics was always something important for you, right? I think your dad taught you math when you were young.
Kyne Santos: Yeah, he did. Math was one of the biggest subjects in school that my dad really had like taught me was a really good thing to get good grades in.
And so I think that was where the love for math began for me was just in school.
I felt like it came pretty naturally to me. It feels like all the teacher really has to do in a math class is set you up with all the rules and all the basics, and then you sort of just work it out for yourself, right. It's sort of like solving a puzzle.
And the thing that I love about math that you don't really find in creative writing or art, is that it's really not subjective. The teacher doesn't add marks or take marks off if they feel they don't really like it.
It's very much just about whether you got the right answer, which I tended to, like, because it just meant that I could just do my own thing and I could work really hard at it.
And I got out of it, what I would put in it.
Ling Yah: And I think when you were 12, you were a born again Christian and you wanted to be a priest. How did that come about?
Kyne Santos: Oh my God. Well, I'll tell you what I grew up in a Catholic family and I always went to Catholic school.
To tell you the truth, my parents weren't really that devout. It was really weird. I don't know where it came from for me.
I think I had this idea in my mind that I wanted to be a priest and faith was something that was this big power that was so much larger than me. And it just felt like it was very noble and honorable.
But the switch changed for me, like overnight.
I was introduced to these videos on YouTube. I found this YouTuber called ZOMG It's Chris and she had these videos talking about atheism and I would not even watch the atheism videos cause in my mind I was like, Jesus doesn't want me to go the way of the devil.
So I would watch her other videos, which were like kind of comedy videos. She was dropping in things about science and the big bang theory. And I was like, okay, well, that's not bad for me to learn about the big bang theory.
And when I started learning about science and evolution and the things that would contradict creationism and the thing I was taught, that's when the wheels started to turn in my brain. And I started to think well, all the science-y stuff that I'm learning isn't really compatible with me being a very good Christian.
And so I needed to make one choice. I can't be a good Christian and also be a man of science. And so I just chose to be a man of science.
Ling Yah: And do you feel that faith was also affected by the fact that you were starting to have feelings for the same sex as well? And you had to-
Kyne Santos: Oh, I never thought about it that way.
I mean, they both definitely came around at the same time. That was also the age where I started feeling gay, but in my mind Jesus loved the gays. I felt that gays went to heaven. it was never that for me, I don't know.
Ling Yah: And were you worried about coming out? How was that? I think you were testing with your mom, right, to see how she would react.
Kyne Santos: Yeah, I would like ask them, oh my God, like hypothetically, what would you do if I was gay, right. They wouldn't really always give the answer that I wanted.
But I mean, I always knew that my parents would support me. They would be okay. I think I just didn't want to disappoint them. And I was also scared for myself and for my future. I didn't want to have to live a life that was so stigmatized. I didn't want people to judge me before I would even walk into the room.
And I just felt being gay had such a big stigma to it.
And so I was just scared about what coming out would mean for my future. I felt like this was something that I can never take back. But my coming out experience was wild. My parents had called me into their room and they asked me we feel like you're hiding something from us.
I think there is something that you're not telling us about yourself. And I was like, oh my God, what are you talking about? What could this be? And then they got it out of me eventually. I was like, oh, I'm gay.
At the time I felt mortified. I was like, how could you take this moment away from me?
Like it was supposed to be my decision when to tell you, but I mean now looking back, I'm really glad that they did push it out to me because I feel like I never would have got the guts to tell them on my own. I think I would've just stayed in the closet for so long. And just tried to play it straight.
Ling Yah: Do you feel like there was a weight that came off you once you came out officially?
Kyne Santos: A hundred percent I do.
Ling Yah: I think you were 14, 15 in grade nine. That's when you started experimenting with makeup. You started with men's makeup and it was almost not noticeable, but then you transitioned on towards doing eyeshadow for Halloween.
Kyne Santos: Oh my God, yeah.
Yeah. So I guess shortly after I came out as gay, I was feeling my fantasy. I was really feeling like I could really be myself and I started wanting to wear makeup. I obviously had lots of girlfriends, and they were all wearing makeup and talking about it. And I was like, Oh, this seems like something I would get into.
And at first it started off with me, like just covering my pimples and covering my dark spots. My God, my skin was so nice back then.
I got one little concealer from L'Oreal and used it on my little pimples here and there. And it was just cute. Like, I honestly think I've just liked putting it on and fueling that fantasy while it was in the mirror, pampering myself.
And I remember my friends being like Kyne, makeup is only for girls, right. even my parents were a little confused. I would like have to hide in the backroom, lock the door and then put it on like so unnoticeably.
And in my school, the gym classes were separated by gender.
So I had a gym class with all the boys. So you can imagine the nightmare that was for me, I would hide in the locker room afterwards and like touch up my makeup. Oh my God. I was really just very, very gay in high school.
But I realized it was more the joy that I felt of putting it on and I loved the feeling of going to the store and looking for my color match and having something in common with all the girls that we could talk about.
And so I started getting powders and I started getting contours and bronzer. Cause I would also like watch a bunch of makeup videos on YouTube and try to be like the little beauty gurus online.
I just felt like they were so glamorous, right.
And so I leveled up one time to eyeshadows because I told my mom, I just want to like experiment. while I'm at home, I won't wear it out or anything. I just want to like, sort of play, have it be artistic.
And I'll tell you what it was that just flipped the switch from boy to drag queen was on Halloween one night. I went over to my cousin's house and she was doing her smokey eye. And I was like, maybe I should be fierce.
I didn't even know what the hell my Halloween costume was. I'm pretty sure I was just fierce for Halloween. Cause I put on a black smokey eye because I used Halloween as the excuse to go into my friend's makeup bag and introduce a winged eyeliner and mascara.
Cause these were things that I haven't leveled up yet. At the time I was just doing a little bit of powder and contour. And so Halloween was sort of the excuse to put on the eye makeup. And from then on, it was game over.
I had my own eyeshadow palette, and I was putting on that wing liner and the mascara. And I think the other thing that really amplified that for me was getting a YouTube channel when I was in grade 10. So my second year of high school, I found out that one of my friends at school had a YouTube channel and I was like, O M G.
This is like, look so fabulous and fun. Like, I totally want to get one too. And then the YouTube channel was a great excuse for me to put on makeup because I would do these two oils. Here's how to do a blue smokey eye.
So I would pick up looks that I didn't really have the nerve to wear out of the house.
Cause I could just do them on the camera, right.
Ling Yah: I feel like you level up very quickly though. They didn't seem as though you were trying. I was looking at all these things and I was like, well, it's a full face, dramatic, almost horror themes. So how did you transition to that?
Kyne Santos: Well, I mean, I started leveling off from just male makeup to eye shadow and mascara. I started feeling like I just wanted more.
I wanted more theatrical, more glamorous, dramatic. And yeah, it was the YouTube videos that sort of pushed me towards the creative side of makeup, not just the minimalist beauty.
I wanted to do stuff that was really colorful, over the top. And so that's what sort of encouraged me to lean into the special effects.
I mean, one time I went home with a face paint kit and started painting my face, like all these crazy galaxy colors. That's when it really started to become more of an art form for me, right.
In a way of expressing myself creatively, it wasn't so much covering up my pimples and insecurities that might've been how it started, but then it turned into self-expression.
Ling Yah: At what point do you feel that you were ready to step out into say the real world, quote, unquote and just wear all that makeup out and be among people you know?
Kyne Santos: Probably around the time that I had my YouTube channel, I started going to school with my makeup and I'm doing my just mascara and like, I would fill in my eyebrows too. Oh my God. That like blocky brow phase that everybody had in 2014, I was like the ringleader of that at my school.
It got to a point where I would wear like full smokey eyes to school.Cause I had leveled up that much, that my teachers would be like, Kyne, do you have a performance after school or what? Like you look like Lady Gaga.
Looking back, I cannot believe I could really have the nerve to be going out like that. I just wish I could give a round of applause to high school Kyne.
Cause I really did that. I think now that I'm a drag queen. I had this outlet to channel all of my artistic energy into and all of the makeup ideas. I have all the color combinations I want to put on my face. All the time I guess femininity I had in me, I just channel into drag.
I feel I'm embracing more my boy side because in high school, I just felt like such an awkward boy.
It got to a point where I would not be caught dead at school without a full face of makeup on. That's how much I started wearing it.
And I'm not saying that makeup isn't for boys and you can't be a man if you're wearing makeup. I feel like, , as much as I did want it to be all about the creativity, I felt like it came from me feeling a bit awkward about my masculinity.
And now as an adult that does drag, I feel that being able to really separate the two has made me just appreciate my masculinity more and be more comfortable with no makeup on.
Ling Yah: Were there other people around you who were doing the same thing as you?
Kyne Santos: Not at all.
I mean, in high school, I was really just the unicorn of the group.
It was in university that I discovered drag or maybe at the end of high school was when I started watching RuPaul's drag race. But then I never really thought that it was something that I could do until I saw a drag show in person when I was in university.
My first drag show was one of my university's student orientation things.
Cause I'm from a relatively small town in Canada where we don't really have like a street full of gay bars, like you would have in a big metropolitan city. So I'd never been exposed to it in my real life.
At my school's little drag show, they brought in a bunch of Queens from out of town. And I just thought it was the coolest thing, because they were sort of doing something similar to what I was doing because they were putting on makeup and cross dressing, except they did it and dance to music. And I felt that is just the natural next level for me.
And so that's when I started doing it myself.
Ling Yah: Do you feel that it shattered your previous conception of what drag was? What is it really, for those who don't know?
Kyne Santos: Oh yeah. If you had asked me what a drag queen was when I was young, I would have said that it was a man in a dress who told jokes in a bar and did celebrity impersonations.
I really had this notion that drag was full of perverts and something that was really weird and fetishy, and just I don't know, degenerate. I really had some bad stigma towards it. But then I think watching RuPaul's drag race, I started to see that it was more of an art form and more of a just as somebody would put on makeup to express themselves, a drag queen puts on drag to express themselves and put on an entertaining show for the audience.
That's really all it boils down to. It is just express and entertainment, and that's how I would define drag nowadays.
Ling Yah: At what point did you decide that you were going to do drag? Was it when you were doing YouTube? Because you could code online Kyne, right. When you take on that drag persona, it's still Kyne. So where was that moment for you?
Kyne Santos: I mean YouTube sort of factors into why my drag name is just Kyne because I've been doing these makeup tutorials on YouTube, right. And then it's slowly turned into like special effects and really like dramatic makeup.
And then when I started doing drag, I felt like to my YouTube subscribers, it was just the same old me in bigger wigs and more feminine costumes.
So I felt like I was already sort of making a name for myself on YouTube that if I started saying, okay, now guys, I want you to call me Stephanie or whatever, it would've just felt a little bit weird.
So that's why I've just always gotten by Kyne because I think that for me, my drag is really just an extension of myself. It's not an alter ego as it might be to some other drag Queens. It is just an extension of myself and my own creative mind.
Ling Yah: I was just so fascinated with the way that people get names like Brooke Lynn Heights. She shared this story about how I got my name, because my drag mother just announced, saying this is Brook Lynn Heights. And I didn't even know that was me. And so it was interesting for me to see how some people just get it. And sometimes you choose your name.
Kyne Santos: Yeah. Well, I feel my upbringing as a drag queen was very different from lots of Queens because I come from a town where there aren't really other drag Queens for me to learn from. And so YouTube was my drag mother , watching tutorials online and just teaching myself, how to style wigs and how to sew costumes and how to do my own makeup.
And so for me, drag was just all about the creativity and all about the craftsmanship. And I really didn't get into the club scene until much later on because I was also too young at the time.
Ling Yah: And how did you come up with your drag aesthetic, because it's quite a traditional sort of makeup, like long flowy hair.
Kyne Santos: Yeah, it is.
I dunno, I feel everyone's drag aesthetic is sort of based on their own childhood influences and the type of divas they love. I'm very, as you say, traditional. I love Celine Dion and Mariah Carey and Diana Ross and Donna summer. These were the people who I always had on in the house when I was younger, these were the singers that I always used to sing to on karaoke and still do to this day.
And that was sort of what I modeled my drag based off of. I sort of see it as like, what do I want to look like when I'm on stage? How do I want other people to feel? And I want others to feel the way I feel when I'm, , witnessing like this amazing goddess on stage, , that's sort of the presence that I tried to give off.
Ling Yah: So there's the other love that you have, which is mathematics. So you went to St. Mary's high school, and I understand your relationship with math. Changing started to see that it was. Very beautiful and elegant and great 11. When you went for the international FORMAT tests, how was that?
Kyne Santos: Yeah, so, all simultaneously to while I was doing makeup and having my YouTube channel, I was still up in the classrooms, getting A's on my tests and my math teachers in particular really encouraged me to do extracurricular math activities. And I know what everyone's thinking.
what's an extracurricular math activity. And at my school, it was a math club. There were math contests and a math contest. For anyone who hasn't done it, one is basically, it's like a math test, but it's more about problem solving. And it's questions that are really challenging and don't involve a calculator; it's questions that just really tests your reasoning and your ability to think outside of the box.
And so my teacher has encouraged me to do those, because I was really excelling in my math classes. And then one year when I was in grade 11, I had performed. Particularly well on the format test, as you mentioned. And on that test, I'm pretty sure I like tied for third place and the whole world which was very good.
I really felt like that was a flute because the way they structure those tests is it's 25 questions and the last five are like killer. And I got the first 20 all perfect.
Then I think I got two correct in the last five. And then maybe another one, like I just guessed and landed on the right answer, but for doing so good on the test, I got invited to a math camp.
I know it just gets nerdier, right?
I got invited to a math camp at the University of Waterloo where they flew in a bunch of students from all over Canada. All these students had performed well on the math contests. And so we had a week at the university of Waterloo where we would take some classes, play some games attend some lectures.
And it was sort of the university's way of saying to us, we think you're really exceptional students. Here's a taste of what university life is like. Here's a taste of what high level math is like. And that's when I started really to fall in love with math and see that math was something that was really creative and really beautiful and really interesting because in high school, math is taught . You just learn a formula and then you apply it to a bunch of word problems.
And then you just crunch numbers in a calculator.
And in high school I was really good at math, but I didn't really see it as something that was like fun and beautiful and elegant. And then in university, math is way more creative. It's way more abstract. And that really opened my eyes to the beauty of the subject because at the time in high school, I wanted to become a scientist.
I was really interested in space and astronomy. And cosmology and yeah, I wanted to study physics and astronomy in university, but I don't know. Something about the physics classes at high school, I didn't love.
I didn't love how, like, there were always so many decimal places and so much estimation and margins of error.
Whereas math class, it was always so perfect. Right. If you do all the steps correctly, you get a nice even number at the end of it. If you derive the equation properly, what you get from doing all the differentiation, the long way is the same as what you get, if you use the power rule and those other forms of differentiation.
So I liked how. Math was cleaner. It was more precise. And then factor in when I suddenly learned that math was so elegant and beautiful and abstract, it just tied the nod for me.
I told myself this was so fun and this is so interesting. And this is what I was born to study.
Ling Yah: Wasn't there a lecturer who also told you that math could be used for social good. And that it was in fact being manipulated for people to not be able to get their insurance claims.
Kyne Santos: Yeah. It was at that mock camp actually at one of our dinners one of the liaisons got up on stage and he was like, thank you for being here. We really appreciate it.
And as you go on into your career is just to remember that as you said, math can be used for good, or it can be used for evil. It can be used to deny people insurance.
It can be used to squeeze money from people, just a couple cents at a time. Just by using little tricks of accounting and it's really your responsibility to do it for the greater good and to do math with a conscience. And that really stressed me that math it's not just doing math tests.
It's not just plugging in a calculator and getting an answer at the end. These numbers represent people's lives and people's bank accounts and their financial futures. It represents real numbers to people. And so you have to do it with a sense of responsibility.
Ling Yah: And then after that you got the Schulich Leader Scholar award I believe, to go and study mathematical science at university of Waterloo. How was it going to university and studying math while being really active on social media as well? Because I think in 2018, you also joined the NYX Cosmetics face awards and you were Top 12, so-
Kyne Santos: Oh my gosh.
Ling Yah: Very busy life.
Kyne Santos: Yeah. Well, when I got the scholarship , part of my little essay that I wrote, I my YouTube channel to them and I talked about how I loved makeup. And I wasn't shy with any of it. I didn't hide any of it.
And I just told them, honestly, I have these two loves and I am really creative and I love to be artistic and it might not have anything to do with math, but I have other sides to me and I think they really responded to that and I did get the scholarship and they really changed my life.
It meant that I could devote more time in university to Having fun and having a YouTube channel. And I didn't need to work while I was in university so that it gave me lots of free time.
So I would do my assignments at school. And then when I got home, I would film the video for YouTube.
I wasn't doing like a video every day, you know . There were times that I took time off for school and people understood. That my subscribers understood that I have other things that I have to do. I wasn't never a full-time at YouTube or right.
Ling Yah: So during your university time COVID 19 hit, and that's when you started Tik Tok. It was only on 25th of April when your first video dropped and in two weeks, you got 160,000 followers.
Two, three months ago, half a million followers must have been crazy.
Kyne Santos: Oh my gosh. I didn't realize that it was that fast when you put it like that. I heard about Tik Tok back when it was still Musically and ever since then, up to the day that I downloaded it for myself, I was like, Oh my God.
Tick-tock is so nerdy. And it's so weird. And it's all these, cringy little kids doing dances, and then, the pandemic hit and everyone was at home bored with nothing to do. And I was like, you know what? These kids on tech talk are actually pretty funny. Let me just download the app so I can just scroll through and laugh because I was like, these videos are really funny.
And then as I was sitting at home doing nothing in the middle of the pandemic, I felt like I wanted to do something different. It was at a time where I was starting to feel burnt out because of YouTube. I started to feel tired of making all these makeup tutorials and wig tutorials. And I just felt like I was not very inspired by it.
So I was like, why don't I just try something different and feel creative again. And so I started asking myself, okay, what kind of content could I make on Tik TOK? I could do comedy. I could do Makeup stuff on tech talk. And I was like, Kyne, why don't you just do something totally out of the box and make a riddle of the day and do like a math video and, , it'll be cute.
You'll be a drag queen talking about math. It'll be different, right?
And so I did that and I was really excited about it. I like told everyone, I know I got like, watch my talk videos and it was just crazy.
I felt like my first three videos, it was just my friends following me.
And then I don't know, all of a sudden it just took off like a rocket. And I started getting a million views on this one video where I was folding paper saying how, if you could fold paper at 42 times, it would reach the moon.
And then yahoo wrote a story about it. And I started getting on Buzzfeed and pink news, all these publications wanted to write about, , the drag queen that does math and it was just wild.
Ling Yah: Did you feel the the whole world was not looking at you and thinking, oh my gosh, what next? Can he top the last one?
Kyne Santos: Yeah, it's tough. Cause I take pride in my content and I will always want to do stuff. That's interesting and stuff that's unique, but sometimes, the content that really takes off isn't the content that I necessarily think is the most important.
I think people on Tik Tok, they like stuff that's a little bit shocking, a little bit. I don't want to say provocative, but stuff that's like oh, this is a crazy math fact when sometimes, a lot of things in math are much more nuanced than that.
But the nuanced things don't always get the millions of views, but all the viral videos notwithstanding I feel like I have a core audience that is gonna love whatever I put out and they are willing to learn. They're really eager to see my videos and I really appreciate that. And they love making videos for everyone.
When it comes to mind for you page, I feel like I don't take inspiration from any of that. I take all my inspiration from everything else in my life.
From books I've read from movies, I've watched from things I've learned in school.
And I feel like I'm probably in the minority of Tik Tok when it comes to that cause so much of Tik Tok is about doing trends. It's about doing the viral sounds. It's about doing the viral dances and I think that's why my page appeals to people because it is so different from everything else on Tik Tok.
And I think people appreciate that, that it's just really refreshing content.
Ling Yah: Were you surprised by the fact that it took off the way it did. It's not your first time doing math in videos. you were doing on YouTube and using PI to do the circumference of a dress, but that didn't really take off.
Kyne Santos: Yeah, that's right. I had always wanted to. Blend the two together. But in the few times that I tried to sprinkle it into my makeup tutorials or some tutorials on YouTube, people weren't really into it. They were like, Oh my God, Kyne is way too confusing for us. We didn't go to college like you okay.
So I was like, okay, guess that's not taking off. So I was really surprised to be honest when my videos took off on Tik Tok the way they did, because I didn't really expect there to be such a big audience for a drag queen and teaching math. Like I said, I just started making the videos for fun.
If a hundred people saw it and liked it, I was like, Oh my God. That is amazing.
But I think the secret to Tik Tok and the reason why they succeeded on Tik Tok and not on YouTube is because people don't want to click on a 20 minute video about math. It would just bore them to tears.
A 30 seconds video of math, that they'd stick around for especially when it's a drag queen right in their face who looks really sparkly and glamorous people can take 30 seconds of that.
And I think that the short form format of Tik Tok is what really allowed me to grow the way I did.
Ling Yah: And I love some of the videos that you've done. Like there was one video where you showed the graph of the Coronavirus cases in Georgia. And because of the revelation that you showed, that the Georgia official had to officially apologize and correct the graph.
So that's a huge effect from what you were doing on tik Tok.
Kyne Santos: I don't know if it was because of me that they corrected it.
Probably other people have noticed it too. They had to. But yeah, I try to show people that math is important in real life too. It's not just these like fun riddles that we got to think of in our brains. You have to have mathematical literacy to be able to interpret graphs in the media.
You can't always just take things at face value. You have to be able to spot a faulty graph when they're out there.
Ling Yah: Can you share a bit for those who haven't watched your Tik Tok videos on how it can be a faulty graph?
Kyne Santos: Yeah, well, there's a number of ways the graph can be misleading. Number one, the axes can be a knock there or be scaled in a way that it makes a small difference, seems large or a large difference seems small.
There's inferring causation from correlation. Anybody can put two variables on a graph and say, they look so correlated. They have to be related in some way. And it can be a total coincidence, right? So people who make graphs can make it look like there's a pattern where there's no pattern at all.
And just because it looks really official just because it looks really academic, just because it looks really mathy doesn't necessarily mean that it's correct. , and that's another reason why I feel like people really desperately need to I guess, pay attention more in their math classes and why our education system needs to be better and we're enthusiastic about learning because these are life skills at the end of the day.
You're not really going to need the Pythagorean theorem at the end of the day, but you're going to need to know how to interpret statistics and numbers when you see them in the media and this math phobia that people have.
It stops them from really thinking critically about numbers in the news. And so when a talking head goes on TV and says cases have increased by 10% from the past week. People don't know what to make of that. They just see math and then they just zone out. And I think that's what we need to do something about.
Ling Yah: And another thing that you have done which is huge, was being on Canada's Drag Race. It premiered on 2nd of July last year, and it also showed on BBC UK. So it was really, really huge.
And I would love to know how you first heard of it and decided to apply and join the first season.
Kyne Santos: Oh, my gosh. Well, I was always a big fan of RuPaul's drag race and all of us Canadian Queens never thought that we would get the chance to do it. I feel Brooklyn Heights really was the exception because she went to the States and had a whole work visa and a lot more paperwork than any of us Canadian Queens would be willing to do.
And so I never thought that I would ever be on it, but when they announced that it was coming to Canada, I just knew it. I put it in my application right away. And I knew from the day that they announced it, that I would be on that show, which was probably very presumptuous to me, but I'm just very ambitious like that.
Ling Yah: Why not? What was the application process like to get in there?
Kyne Santos: I had to do an audition video and they sort of get you to do a bunch of little challenges, sort of similar to what we would be doing on the show. Like they want to make sure that you can sew. They want to make sure that you can act a little bit and they want to know if you could do a good snatch game.
So just little things like that.
Ling Yah: And I think you were prepping a lot, right? You said before that you wanted to go in confident because one of the things that Queensland we said was I did not feel that I was myself. So how do you prep?
Kyne Santos: Yeah.
Well as you said, I just went in very confident guns ablazing and for better, for worse that's how I approached it. And I wouldn't have done anything differently.
I just kept telling myself every step of the way, like Kyne, you're meant to be here. Kyne, you're great at what you do. Don't be nervous. This is your one shot. So just, be shameless, leave it all out there.
Ling Yah: One of the things that Ru Paul always say is this, you need to have four qualities. Charisma, uniqueness, nerve, and talent.
So what was it like having heard him say it, and then being there seeing him on screen as welcoming you, and realize that you're a part of that whole family.
Kyne Santos: It was crazy. It was just so surreal on that first day. We were all just looking at each other, just speechless, communicating with our eyes.
Oh my God. This is crazy. This is absolutely insane. I can't believe we're here. I can't believe we're doing this. I can't believe this is real. That was just the feeling.
Ling Yah: And what was it like having this season premiere and episode one come up because it seems like there was a lot of backlash that came out and Brooklyn Heights even had to send a tweet saying, please stop the hate and you'd have no idea how hard is.
Kyne Santos: Oh yeah. Well, I've told you that I've loved it and that it was surreal and amazing, but at the same time, it was also a very negative experience for me because I kind of went crazy on my two episodes, not going to lie.
And so when I knew it was coming out, I was really scared of what people would say. Like would people think that it was really funny and sassy or would people say that I'm a big bitch and that they hated me?
And it was more so the latter and that was really scary for me. But it was also, I knew what I was signing up for. I knew that everybody was going to form their own opinions about it.
And so it was I guess, very humbling for me.
Ling Yah: Do you feel that perhaps the show was trying to push a particular narrator for you and cast you as the Villain and if you're out to boost ratings and views?
Kyne Santos: I dunno. I don't know. Everything that you saw me say is stuff that I really said. Did they cut out some of the laughs, did they edit things to make it look like people were shouting at me when they weren't?
I would say that they did, but I mean again, that's what I signed up for. I put it all into their hands.
They're our story producers for a reason. I don't blame the editors or anyone. I did what I did and It made me a stronger person in the end. It gave me a different perspective on drag and drag race, but I think it made me a lot stronger.
Ling Yah: And for those who would love to start getting into drag, what's your biggest advice for them?
Kyne Santos: Do it for fun. Do it for the arts. Don't do it for the fame. Don't do it for the money. Cause you don't make a lot of money doing it. Just do it for the creativity and for the artistry and craftsmanship. That's all it's about.
Ling Yah: What are the best resources for them to look towards? Because there's so much to learn, right?
The makeup, learning how to make your own clothes, doing the catwalk. So how do they start?
Kyne Santos: Well, my YouTube channel is a great place to start.
I have wig stunt tutorials and sewing tutorials because I was a queen that made lots of things myself, because I didn't have other Queens to borrow from or buy stuff from but YouTube is a great drag teacher.
There's so much tutorials on there. Not even just from me, but from drag Queens all over the world.
Ling Yah: So what are your plans now moving forward?
Kyne Santos: It's funny. If you asked me this, like a year ago, it would have been all about drag and drag race, but I think all the negative experiences from drag race really changed how I see my future.
And I definitely feel like I'm leaning more into the math side now. And I feel like that's more my calling. I feel like I can really pour my passions into it because I have always sort of wavered between these two sides of my brain. Not knowing which one to really land on and which one to keep as a side hobby, and now being able to give math lectures and drag and give presentations and drag talking about math doing these Tik Toks, I really feel I'm blending my two passions together. And so that's what I want to continue doing. I want to continue making Tik Toks.
I want to continue just doing education.
Ling Yah: Do you feel that there is a common misconception you'd like to clear about what you're doing?
Kyne Santos: I'll tell you what, something that I sometimes see on straight websites when other people like publish stuff about me, people think I'm trying to brainwash children into masculine man, things like that.
It really is nothing of the sort. I'm just teaching people math. I just happen to be wearing glamorous costumes. I teach people that anyone can be a mathematician. I want people to see that math is for everyone, whether you're a man or a woman or you're gay or straight or anything in between.
Mathematicians don't have to look a certain way or talk a certain way.
Ling Yah: A while back, you did say that you were worried about doing drag because it might impact the way that people see you in academia. Has that been the case for you or has it just been not true?
Kyne Santos: Not at all. if anything, it has been the opposite. It's helped me stand out. Probably it's helped me gain more opportunities as a unique voice.
I hope that I can be that representation for other people and encourage them that Being gay and coming out and being really feminine. It doesn't necessarily hurt your chance. It can be something that's really liberating.
Ling Yah: In all your videos, you're always wearing something different for makeup. How did they come about?
Kyne Santos: To tell you the truth, I just sit down.
A lot of times. I don't plan ahead. I just think I'm feeling green today, right? I feel like I want to wear this catsuit. Sometimes I'll center under a wig or an outfit or an eye shadow color, and I just go with the flow.
Ling Yah: How long does it take you to come out with one of them?
Kyne Santos: Probably like two hours to fully get in drag the hair, nails, makeup, everything.
Ling Yah: So that's after you've planned the video, so you get into drag and then you film it.
Kyne Santos: Oh, yeah. Well planning the video is a whole nother thing. I'll sit down like while I'm out of drag of course, and think of an idea and then write out a little 60 second outline and then I'll get into drag.
Sometimes I like to shoot three or four of them at once to conserve the time.
Ling Yah: Fair enough. Well, thank you so much, Kyne, for this interview. It has been really, really interesting.
Kyne Santos: I normally love to end all my interviews with these questions. So her few found your why?
Yeah, I have for me it's math education, math communication, and LGBTQ representation in STEM.
Ling Yah: And what kind of legacy would you like to leave behind?
Kyne Santos: I want to leave behind a legacy of loving math.
I want to leave behind a legacy of being fun and irreverent and showing people that you don't have to take life all that seriously. You can do whatever you want and you can look however you want and follow your heart and follow your passion.
Ling Yah: And why do you think are the most important qualities of a successful person?
Kyne Santos: I think the most important quality is discipline.
Hustling and applying yourself and putting in the hours is how you get what you want. And that requires a lot of discipline.
Ling Yah: And where can people go to connect with you, support what you're doing. I believe there's merch they can buy from you as well? So give us all that.
Kyne Santos: Yes. You can get my merch at dragqueenmerch.com/kyne And you can follow me at onlinekyne on YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, Tik Tok, all of the platforms.
Ling Yah: And that was the end of episode 36.
The show notes and transcripts can be found at www.sothisismywhy.com/36
And if you want to get updates on the latest episodes, as well as other fascinating and inspiring things I've read and learned over the course of this week, you can also sign up for the weekly newsletter at the show notes link, which is www.sothisismywhy.com/36
And stay tuned for next Sunday because we will be meeting the co-founder of a Singaporean media company that makes beautiful timeless, poignant local stories in Southeast Asia.
Stories include Singapore's last giant joss stick maker and crab hunter at Pulau Ubin to the horticulturalists of Changi Airport.And what happens to Singapore's sewage.
We talked about what it was like establishing a media company while in college, collecting these poignant stories, many of them dealing with questions that most don't dare to ask. Like, what is it like for a parent to lose a child?
And the impact that COVID has had on their operations.
Want to know more?
See you next Sunday!