A few years ago, I was at the River Rock Casino watching a benefit show featuring local gender illusionists. One in particular stood out Symone Says. Her character that night was Ella Fitzgerald. When an elderly version of the singer hobbled onto stage, the illusion seemed real. What ensued was a long, jazz number with a scat section performed so perfectly audience members left their seats to throw money at the stage. Then came Ella’s final high note, after which the elderly singer dropped unexpectedly into the splits. The audience leapt to their feet en masse and went wild.

About 18 months ago, I was at a Metro Living Zine get-together talking with a new acquaintance – Christopher Hunte. When he shared he had connections in the drag community, I did the crazy fan thing and raved about this performance. Then came the ultimate question, could he please introduce me to this talented performer. With a smile on his face he shared, “I’m Symone Says.” Needless to say I was embarrassed.

We have become friends over the last year and half and I was honoured when he – as Symone Says – both emceed and performed at my book launch in January 2015. I thought today it would be great for all of you Symone Says fans out there to get a chance to meet the artist behind the performer, Christopher Hunte. Enjoy!

8Q Spotlight Christopher Hunte

What is your current career(s) – paid and unpaid?

I am an Entertainment/Events Manager, Celebrity Host and Gender Illusionist. My contracts include Vancouver Pride Society, Vancouver Fashion Week, Lumiere Festival, Vancouver Christmas Market, Foundation of Hope, Out in Schools and the Goh Ballet Nutcracker to name a few. My unpaid job or passion is that of Saige Food Bank Coordinator.

Can you share an interesting thing (or two) about your journey to reach this moment?

For 23 years I was a banker with RBC, the last ten as a Manager. I left in 2012 to explore my true passion of helping to create events toraise funds in the non profit sector.

What 3 things would you like people to know about you to give them a sense of who you really are?

  1. I am a passionate self motivation
  2. I excel in relationship building, creative entertainment planning
  3. I love good food and wine!

Highest moment so far?

Tied for first are my sixth year playing the role of Mere Gigoigne (Mother Ginger) in the Nutcracker Ballet and the creation of the VanPride 13th,14th &15th shows (the largest in Western Canada) with attendance figures of over two million people. Honorable mention goes to Symone who opened for INXS during the 2010 Olympics Winter Games.

What are you working on right now? In the next 6 months?

Having just returned from an Inter-Pride conference in Las Vegas, I am set to start work on my holiday season contracts that include Lumiere – connecting communities with light, Vancouver Christmas Market, The Goh Ballet’s Nutcracker and my Christmas themed club/lounge shows and fundraisers.

Who and/or what inspires you?

People with direction and a means of telling a story inspire me. I am all about the under dog and people triumphing over adversity.

How do you personally define success?

I measure my success through the amount of people I can positively affect through my events and performances. Many years ago I had a dinner show called Dressing on the Side. One evening I was joking with the audience and, per usual, and I brought a woman up on stage. We commented on each others ample bosoms. I made a quick retort and removed one of my falsies. Not to be out done, the audience member did the same. After the audience’s standing ovation, Bonnie was her name, returned to her seat. When the show was over she told me that I was inspirational and taught her on this very evening that; “If you cannot laugh at cancer, you cannot beat it?”

Favorite Quote?

“Your comfort zone is your failure zone.” – Kerry Jackson, an ex banking colleague

Links –

  1. www.facebook.com/symone.says.5
  2. www.vancouverpride.ca
  3. www.vanfashionweek.com
  4. www.saigecommunityfoodbank.com