When the pandemic first hit Italy and masks became scarce, Myss Keta, the mysterious Queen of the Milan Night, came to the rescue. The Italian rapper, performance artist and L.G.B.T.Q. icon had amassed a vast collection of face coverings that she wore for years to hide her identity. So she began distributing them to her friends in need.
“I had so many,” she said. “Surgical, cloth, vinyl, silk, whatever material.”
This month, with a second wave of the coronavirus rising and Italy requiring the wearing of masks in public at all times, grandparents, politicians, middle-management businesspeople, doctors, lawyers, delivery people — just about everyone — is covering up. That has rendered Myss Keta — whose use of masks took her from underground clubs to the cusp of national, if incognito, celebrity — an improbable authority on life behind the surgical veil.
It has also threatened to strip her of her defining shtick.
“Before, it was a distinguishing characteristic. Now, it’s something we all have in common,” she said as she lifted a black surgical mask — the casual black T-shirt of her vast collection — to sip a Bloody Mary at Bar Basso in Milan. Under her trademark blond bangs, her eyes remained covered as usual in dark Givenchy sunglasses.
It used to be only the front-row fans at her concerts who emulated her by wearing masks. “Now, everyone seems like a Myss fan,” she said.