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Comedian Atsuko Okatsuka Isn’t Afraid to Talk About Getting Sweaty: ‘Standups Are Open Books’ (Exclusive)

Secret's new spokesperson opens up to PEOPLE about her preshow routine, getting sweaty, her quirky style and more

<p>John Salangsang/Variety via Getty</p>

John Salangsang/Variety via Getty

Sweatiness isn’t exactly something that a lot of people like to talk about.

Comedian Atsuko Okatsuka has no problem starting that conversation, though.

“Standups are open books,” she tells PEOPLE exclusively of her willingness to discuss just how sweaty she gets on stage some nights to help break down the stigma.

“I'm a performer and I'm a pretty physical performer too,” Okatsuka, 35, continues. “Every night, I'm performing under hot lights for over an hour and then meeting fans afterwards. Sweating and smelling are something I don’t have to think about when I wear a Secret antiperspirant.”

<p>Astrid Stawiarz/Getty</p>

Astrid Stawiarz/Getty

She recently partnered with Secret as a spokesperson for Secret Clinical, which was the perfect fit, she jokes, not because she currently smells, but she “used to.”


“I used to sometimes wear darker clothes and then keep my arms down [while on stage], but that's not good for performing authentically as yourself,” she shares. “I wear bright colors. I love to wear bright colors but bright colors show stains. It’s like hiding who you really are, and I used to do things like that.”

Authenticity plays a key role in Okatsuka’s comedy routine. In fact, it’s the most important piece of the puzzle, and if she’s not feeling fully like herself, it comes across in her show. That’s why getting a handle on those sweat stains was so important to her. Plus, one of her idols and close friends, Margaret Cho, advised her to nip that sweatiness in the bud sooner rather than later.

“I once asked her, ‘Do you have advice for the third Asian American woman to have a standup special on HBO?’ Because I'm the second one, she's the first one, so we were giving the eventual third Asian American woman advice,” she says. “And she was like, ‘Wear antiperspirant, because I can still see my sweat stains 22 years later in that special going down to my waist.’"

Secret Clinical offers 72 hours of sweat and odor protection, which Okatsuka jokes is longer than some music festivals.

“My shows aren’t that long, but it’s nice that it’s one less thing I have to worry about,” she says. “They've got my back.”

Protecting her armpits isn’t the only part of Okatsuka’s preshow routine, though. She also has to make sure her face is ready to withstand an hour-plus under stage lights, and that means plenty of mattifying products.

“I can get really shiny,” she says, jokingly adding that if she could put antiperspirant on her face, she just might. “I use matte makeup, makeup setting spray and hairspray. All the products that'll keep things in place. From head to toe, I'm keeping things in place. Sometimes I'm falling on stage for dramatic effect. I'm running around. I'm dancing. Truly I'm an athlete, but I don't know if people would consider standup comedy athletics.”

<p>Diane Bondareff/Invision for Secret Deodorant/AP Images</p>

Diane Bondareff/Invision for Secret Deodorant/AP Images

The actress, who was born in Taiwan and spent her childhood in Japan and now resides in Los Angeles, loves to express herself through style, and she tells PEOPLE that her quirkiness — which includes a love of bright colors and her signature bowl haircut — stems from wanting to embrace a style she didn’t have in her younger years.

“It's like I’m embracing my inner child, my authentic self that maybe in the past I was afraid to show or I was embarrassed to show because I thought it wasn’t the norm or what people would typically wear, even though it's what I gravitated towards,” she tells PEOPLE.

Okatuska says that when she was a child, she always gravitated toward bright colors, but in an effort to “be cool,” she wouldn’t wear the clothes she truly wanted to wear.

“It’s the same with my haircut and the way I do comedy too,” she continues. “There’s a sort of childlike spirit to it — not because I’m actually a baby or stunted. Maybe a little bit. But it’s about embracing what I loved before. My style is also like I’m an art gallery owner.”

<p>Gilbert Carrasquillo/GC Images</p>

Gilbert Carrasquillo/GC Images

You’ll usually find her in an array of brightly colored clothes with graphic patterns and interesting silhouettes. And you’ll never see her without some sort of eye-catching accessory. During this interview, she was wearing a pair of handmade earrings resembling shrimp by the jewelry maker Onch.

She favors jewelry resembling food, but any major look that’ll get people talking will work just fine for her. In fact, she’s so known for her wild accessories that her fans have started gifting her with even more pieces, making her collection even bigger.

“These days, I’m all about embracing my true honest self,” she says. “And when you do that, other people will also meet you there, because they want that for themselves too.”

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Read the original article on People.