I am Niko Wirachman…Living his ‘Best Gay Life’

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Niko Wirachman isn’t just your regular chiseled hunky flawless Instagram gay sensation…he is obviously all of those things, but he is a lot more. Having trained at the prestigious Urdang Academy he has gone on to wow West End audiences in ‘Aladdin’ the Musical. Even more telling is his “I am Niko” campaign that encourage teens and children to accept themselves as they are. It seems to me that there is a lot to Niko and I’m looking forward to finding out more. 

What does a typical day for Niko look like?

I am a very busy boy and take my job very seriously. Being a performer I try to keep my body as fit as possible whilst keeping the balance of enjoying my life. I lift weights at the gym and sometimes go there to stretch and for general fitness. Of course in the evenings I am at work performing on stage. The few hours I have left I am trying to do my normal house hold stuff, but most importantly I make time to see friends in London and FaceTime my family and friends from back home and abroad.

Aladdin… talk us through the moment you got the news.

As far as I remember I did six rounds before I finally got the news. I remember sitting in the room with the other boys in the final after hundreds of boys already got cut. I remember thinking that only a handful of us will get this job. After I sang and danced in front of a large panel for the last time I left knowing I had done my best, but I’m sure so did everyone else too.

I went back to Germany where I was performing in ‘Bodyguard’ the Musical. I was at the final stage for the ‘Dirty Dancing’ Tour when I suddenly got the call from Disney’s head office. “We would like to tell you that we would love to offer you to be part of Aladdin the Musical in the West End.” I will never forget that moment as I fought so hard for it. I broke down, couldn’t get my words out…but I was surrounded by friends at that moment who were auditioning with me for Dirty Dancing and they all started screaming and celebrating with me.

What would be your dream job/role?

I am just happy being on stage and performing to an audience. My dream was always to be in the West End and I finally made it. There are still so many musicals I would love to do; Hamilton, Wicked, Strictly Ballroom, Dirty Dancing…

What inspired you to start the “I am Niko” campaign?

I was running for Mr Gay Germany, and then Mr Gay Europe when I started the campaign. Many interpret the Mr Gay Competitions as a beauty contest but it’s actually more about the campaigns the contestants create to help the gay community.

“I am Niko” is my story. With the campaign I wanted to reinforce how important it is for children and adolescents to embrace their differences and be proud of themselves. I was badly bullied in school and made fun of for being too femme, too skinny, a faggot… I was made fun of in the middle of the class, on the playground, on the bus, it was relentless. I definitely try to avoid thinking about that time as I always thought that everything they said was true and that is who I was. It took me years to understand that all these things might be true but they are not the things that define me. Society loves to put you in boxes. Yes I am gay, yes I might be femme, but at the end of the day “I am Niko”- I am my own definition.

When I went to schools I spoke about the uniqueness of each and every student to make them realise everyone is different and that this world is full of colours which makes it so beautiful. It doesn’t matter about your skin colour; your ethnicity; what religion you believe in; if you are gay, straight, bi, transgender etc. What matters is that we are all humans and we shouldn’t just accept the difference but learn to love the beauty of the variety we have been given in this world.

I was hoping to help the next generation with my story and change their view on the world and other people.

What exactly happened at Mr. Gay Europe, was it a gruelling process?

It was definitely not an easy competition. There was a lot of preparation as you had to study for a test about the gay rights in Europe and what has changed over the years. You had to be up to date with the news and history of the gay community: the Stonewall riots; Christopher Street Day; Harvey Milk; the rainbow flag; meaning of transgender, transvestite, transsexual, intersexual etc. At the same time you had to keep working on your campaign, stay healthy and fit and complete a daily designated task. The process was quite intense  but I learned so much and I had the best time being part of it.

Do you have any interesting backstage gossip from the Mr Gay Europe Competition?

I actually don’t. Every contestant really just spread positivity. Each and every campaign was very inspiring. I can’t express how much I have learned and how it helped me. I really got to know great people. One contestant was fighting for gay people who struggled being open at work, another was creating a platform for activists to communicate and support each other and another contestant helped gay couples who are fostering or adopting children. Each contestant had their own story and each campaign was very personal and inspired me. We cried and laughed together during the competition. It truly was an unforgettable time.

What would be your tips for anyone wanting to become an ‘influencer’?

I didn’t actually plan for all this to happen and I am not actually quite sure how it did. I would say just be yourself and spread positivity. Have a laugh in your stories and with that you hopefully make other people laugh. Don’t have it take over your life though.

Performing…Was it always a dream?

I actually wanted to study biochemistry or medicine. I just auditioned for the Musical Theatre Urdang Academy for fun and suddenly got in with a 100% scholarship. I couldn’t say no to that. I always loved dancing but never had professional training beforehand. Unfortunately in Germany you get drilled into your head that academic studies are important. Dancing is only a hobby. So I never thought I could make this happen. I am very glad I chose this path and can’t thank my family (especially my mum) enough for all their  support. I wouldn’t have been able to do it without them.

What would you like to do in 5 years? Any career goals?

To be honest I understand that a career is important, but what I am craving more is having a family. I want to have a husband, two children and two dogs or cats, depending what my husband likes and where we live.

What is your idea of a perfect date?

I am very romantic. I love a fun activity, having banter and a laugh.

What do you do for your downtime? How does Niko relax?

It can be pretty busy and stressful living in London and sometimes I feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day. I really believe in ensuring I get some ‘me time’. I love getting hooked to a series that takes me to a different world and makes me forget every worry. I also love a good spa day with friends. You’ve got to treat yourself now haven’t you!

What is the worst job you have ever had?

I was delivering pizza during school time and worked as a waiter during my college time. Being a people’s person, I thought I could get around any job…until I was a bartender. I don’t generally drink alcohol. I don’t like the taste and the effect it has on me. I only drink it when I am with friends and I get peer–pressured into it. So I don’t know much about alcohol. Having impatient customers drunkenly fumbling over their words can be challenging. English not being my first language, combined with the slurring, made the whole process pretty difficult, it definitely was my worst nightmare. I was faced with a bar full of thirsty customers and I was stood there in the middle of it all crying for my mum.

What’s the best holiday you have ever had?

Every year I try to discover different places, Ibiza, Barcelona, Gran Canaria, New York, Bahamas , Iceland. I love to do a party holiday, but also a cultural trip discovering new places in the world to go  sightseeing.

Who would play you in a movie about your life?

It would have to be my best friend Nolan. People call us twinnies and always mix us up. He knows me the best in the world, probably knows me better than I do.

Who is your best friend and how did you meet?

I’ve many really close friends. And I truly love them all, but my two soulmates would be Karl and Nolan. Karl and I met while working together on ‘Bodyguard the Musical’ and Nolan and I met on ‘Aladdin the Musical’. We always have a great laugh and I can always rely on both of them putting a smile on my face when needed.

What do you and your friends typically do when you hang out?

We mainly try to always meet for little activities or a nice brunch together. Living and working in London, it’s sometimes not easy to catch up. So when we do, we make the most of it.

What annoys you the most in the world right now?

I think the way we treat animals. Watching documentaries about the mass production of meat and animal products just breaks my heart. I think people don’t know what meat is. They just see the pink packages in the super market and think, that would be great for tonight’s dish without realising that was a living animal. Cows getting tortured and raped to produce milk, chickens and pigs living stacked in horrible living conditions, male pigs getting castrated without any anaesthesia. It’s just not right! And for many meat eaters being vegetarian or vegan seems to be an annoying trend and something to make fun off. I don’t expect everyone to change, but I would hope for people to understand why others become vegetarian and vegan and if you don’t think it’s for you, at least support the ones who try to make a change.

What are three words that your friends would use to describe you?

So I literally just asked my friends who said loyal, caring and loyal. I must be super loyal as they gave that twice!

What does living your best gay life mean to you?

Living your best gay life means to me living happy. Feeling free to be who you want to be. Feeling comfortable in your own skin.

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