Fortune Kookie: Serving Up A Heaping Plate Of Smiles For 12 Years
Adorned in a vibrant pink kimono and a massive frizzy neon purple wig, Fortune Kookie has been putting smiles on people’s faces, performing and entertaining children and adults for nearly 12 years.
Before the creation of her Fortune Kookie persona, Chinatown local and personality Korene Tom, 52, started developing her own characters and businesses after she laid off from her administrative assistant job during the dot-com boom at the turn of the century.
With the help from friends like long-time partner Dale Chung, Tom became immersed in the clown world, the balloon world and, of course, the entrainment world. Through their help, Tom learned about the ins and outs of the performing industry without attending clown school.
“I’m one of those ‘unedumacated’ clowns,” Tom said. “I never went to clown school or clown college.”
Tom said that she wanted to have a clown character that represented and be a distinct role model for the Asian community. This inspiration spawned her Fortune Kookie persona.
“She’s considered a glam clown. It’s very eye-catching because no one has that look,” Tom said. “It’s a little bit more of a quasi-clown anime type of deal.”
Tom has over 15 characters she plays, which creates marketability for her business, she said. Tom can play characters that range from Ms. Claus and a snow princess to Texy the Cowgirl and rainbow girl.
“Each character comes from a little piece of myself,” Tom said. “Once I start putting the makeup on, I’m a whole different person. For some reason, my persona changes. It’s in the making.”
For her performances, Tom says she draws inspiration from the slapstick humor she’d watch as a child from the The Three Stooges and I Love Lucy. Tom has performed in many local festivals including the Moon Festival, the Union Street Festival, and the Cherry Blossom Festival. She is scheduled to perform at the Asian Heritage Festival on May 21.
Tom says that before the dot-com boom, she had never expected to become a performer. Now, she can’t think of anything else she’d rather do.
“I love being able to have a craft that I could take with me and share wherever I am. I really enjoy seeing the smiles on people’s faces. I just like seeing people happy.”