I am so excited to introduce you to my next “Aging Youthfully” Beauty! Like Surfer Susie, I discovered Keiko Guest on TikTok! A vivacious dancing, tumbling costume loving entertainer, my interview with Keiko was really fascinating and I learned so much in the hour and a half that we chatted. Hope you all enjoy this wise, talented, ultra-insightful, super lady!
Holly: Keiko, let’s start with a few basics. How old are you, where do you live and where were you born?
Keiko: I was born in Japan in 1950. I’m a January-born Aquarius. My dad was in the military and at about six years old, we moved to California. I spoke no English at all when I entered the first grade. I had an amazing teacher who made it a class project to teach me English, which was so sweet of her. My mother is Japanese, and my dad was 60% black and 40% white. After California we moved to Germany, then Kentucky where I stayed for 15 years. When my ex got a recording contract in Atlanta, I followed him there. My ex was a singer in the 60s. He opened for really big acts and recently has toured with the Temptations. I’ve been in Georgia since I was 28 and I’m now 72.
Holly: What is your professional background?
Keiko: I’ve Always danced. My mom always danced. She loved to dance. My mother loved fashion. She was a clothes horse. She was stylin. I grew up with that so it’s really natural for me. I also danced because she loved to dance. She taught me all the latest dances of her time like the Jitterbug. At about 10 years old I started winning Twist contests and after that, I started teaching her dances. In her later years, she got dementia and hardly knew who I was but she could follow me in dancing. The muscle memory is amazing.
Holly: It sounds like the way you live your life today was “inspired” in many ways by your mother’s dementia.
Keiko: For sure. I was a dancing star of Atlanta in February and I put on a show at one of the retirement communities. I had almost everything donated because of my longevity in the community of Atlanta. They pulled together to help me put on this show. At the very end, we pulled my mother, who never performed publicly in her life, up out of her wheelchair and she got up there and danced with us. It was really an amazing moment.
Holly: How did you get your start in the dance world and are you still working?
Keiko: I started out in a civic ballet, which had professional dancers and I was 21 at the time. I saw Swan Lake when I was 20 years old and I was like OMG I gotta do this. I have to do ballet, ballet, ballet. I had not done ballet prior. I started taking classes once a week immediately for a year. Then a friend asked me if I wanted to audition for the Louisville Ballet with her. I had no idea what to do. It’s really like the Fame story. I made it and my friend didn’t. I just knew that I was going to be eliminated. Only taking lessons for a year at that point and somehow, I made it. I only had to pay for lessons that one year of my life prior to joining the Louisville Ballet. I always appeared younger so I could pass for someone who had the potential to be corrected. I did two seasons with Louisville Ballet and my ex had an issue with me dancing. He brought into my world a whole new level of excitement, so I got to meet a lot of people who were entertainers and basketball players. Entertaining and a bigger life. When we split, my world went from big to small and I got back into dancing once again. I joined a small dance company in the Atlanta area and was with them for 16 years. I danced all kinds of styles and even did comedy skits. I’m just used to being an entertainer. I don’t care what it is. I just like to perform.
Holly: I love that you weren’t a trained dancer as a child and were able to live your passion starting at a little bit older age (for the dance world)
Keiko: I pursue everything I love and over the years have been able to make a living that way. Age never enters my mind. I was also a dance photographer for 50 years. I’m so used to telling people what to do, I can do it in my sleep. Still doing photography now. Nutcracker shoot coming up. I was once the company photographer for The Atlanta Opera and The Atlanta Ballet.
My dad had cameras in the 50s in Japan when no one else did and I was very interested in them. When I was 25ish, my ex gave me a single lens, Reflex Minolta 50mm and the very first thing I did was photograph a child that was some friends of ours. I had started doing darkroom processing with a friend and she taught me how to process the film. In 1975, the parents paid me $300, which was a lot of money back then and I was able to purchase my first dark room enlarger. When I moved into my house in 1994, I bought an automation machine and put it into my utility room, and I processed my own black and whites for 9 years.
Holly: What inspired you to start a TikTok account?
Keiko: I started TikTok as an outlet during COVID lockdowns. I did photos at a child modeling agency and I had shown a particular dad a video of some of my tumbling performance and the dad reached out to me afterward. The dad said to me, “You’re the reason my son is doing so well at dance and if you want, I’ll have my son put you on TikTok.” So we did that first video and I’ve got those two boys behind me with millions of followers and that video, well, it just exploded. After joining the TikTok creator fund my views tanked. I had a few million views in the beginning, so I kept it going but then I felt punished by the algorithm. I stayed pretty depressed for almost a year after that. I had to have a real talk with myself. You cannot let TikTok do this to you. It was weird. I finally had a friend help get me out of the creator fund and came to terms with the decreased views ……I took it personally for so long. The views did improve after leaving the creator fund.
Click the link below to see Keiko in action on TikTok!
A few screen shots from Keiko’s viral TikTok videos
Holly: Are you married? Do you have children?
Keiko: I’m not currently married. I had an ectopic pregnancy when I was 24 and I survived. When I was 44 my internal alarm was going off and I got pregnant for six weeks and had another ectopic pregnancy. The procedure that I had to undergo both times saved my life. I have some pretty strong feelings about the current state of Roe vs Wade because of this experience. Since I don’t have a spouse or children I have to take of, I don’t have the stress of having to worry about other people. I have two cats. A lot of times I see comments like you don’t have a husband or kids and that’s why you’re so happy but it is a tradeoff and I realize that. I don’t have what they have. If I would have had options, I would have chosen the husband and children. I’ve come to terms with the fact that I am my own partner.
Holly: What does a day in your life look like and do you have any secrets to maintaining your youth?
Keiko: I have a daily regimen regardless of what I’m doing that’s physical. My belief is that if I remain flexible, I will be able to do whatever. Before I start anything strenuous, I take an amazingly hot bath. I lay there and by the time I am out of that tub, I am so limp and that is when it’s the safest to start stretching.
I believe if I prepare myself with this hot bath and stretch, then I am at my optimum safety level. My chances of my muscles pinching is then much less, so when I go to do anything else, I can stay flexible enough. Because of this technique, I’ve already gotten warm whereas everyone else is just getting warm. Whether it’s ballet or tumbling or whatever, it makes your muscles so soft after and I stay covered up so the heat does not escape. That’s why I can do what I can do. When I discovered this, I was in my 40s. I had been sick with the flu and literally laid up the whole time. The director of my little dance company that I was with calls me up and said they needed my body just for the costumes and counts. I managed to put myself in a tub of water and I prayed. Please God let me get through this. So I was there and went out and did the dance just as though I had been doing it all along. The water warmed up my body and I figured out the water regimen was the secret. You must add it. To utilize the benefits of soaking, you have to stretch immediately afterward.
I do feel creaky sometimes but I felt like that in my 30s sometimes after bouts of dancing. Trying to crawl out of bed and feeling like I was hit by a Mack truck. I’ve been dealing with that for decades. But I can literally bounce off concrete and hardwood floors and get right back up. I’m conditioned to take punishment.
While I have a daily regimen, I don’t really have a daily routine. I have a pattern of work. My focus is always working on something. Right now I’m working with “the twins” and I feel like there is so much more to unfold with them. (The twins are 17-year-old dancers and Keiko can be seen dancing with them on her TikTok feed)
Just some of the activities Keiko does at 72!
Holly: I’m amazed at how youthful you not only act but also how you physically look.
Keiko: I feel like I look younger now than in my 40s. I had a facelift in my 50s and it hardly made a difference. I spent $10k on it and I was so freaked out. You know, normally everyone tries to hide it if they have work done but I was like “look what I had done” and everyone was like “um yeah I can kinda tell.” Ha! But it actually held through the years so I’m glad I had it done now.
Holly: We’ve talked a lot about movement but what does your diet look like?
Keiko: Because I live by myself, I eat as simply as possible. I’m Pescatarian and I try and eat something raw every day like fruit. I am a sugar freak though and that’s something I’ve had to deal with my whole life. The first thing I remember ingesting was Pepsi Cola. My mom put store-bought nipples on the Pepsi cans! They couldn’t understand where in the world this little Tazmanian devil came from. Who knows back then maybe it had cocaine in it. They were amazed at how I could just run up walls.
I became a coco cola addict in my 20s. I do a coke every now and then but I usually just do fizzy water and sneak a little juice into it.
I have an inner dialogue that’s very crucial to who I am. I say I want to be healthy so much and I make decisions based on that divine order and what I have prayed to accomplish. In hindsight, you can see all of this. Everybody can.
Holly: You’re truly a wealth of knowledge, Keiko. If you could summarize your outlook on life and how it’s contributed to “Aging Youthfully,” what would you want readers to know?
Keiko: What you believe is done unto you. I believe I deserve a wonderful life. I have a wonderful life. I just believe in projecting forth what I want and living in the present and acting and behaving as if I already have what I want. It’s not new thinking. This is timeless thinking. I just apply it. I know nothing that is original. Everything I apply is something that I read or heard so if it’s wrong you can’t blame me. Apparently, it works because by golly I’m healthy and happy. I’ll say it over and over to the Universe. Thank you, thank you, I’m so blessed. Anytime I feel a little sick I tell myself I’m so healthy to manifest and trigger health. I use my bad times as triggers. I cling to my mantras like the rock of Gibraltar. My mantras have saved me through my worst, most horrific times.
I almost feel ageless, and I don’t feel like my time is up any time soon. I really don’t feel that at all. I’m going to continue doing what I’ve been doing. I’ve learned how to be safe and push myself more.
Holly: What advice would you give to people in their 30s and 40s?
Keiko: People at this age need to know they are not stuck and there are things to look forward to. A lot of why I am the way I am is because I’ve talked myself into being this way. I learned how to utilize traumas and use them as opportunities to force myself into thinking the thoughts I’d rather have. I read this book at 20 years old called The Power of Your Subconscious Mind. Author Joseph Murphy. It’s free on YouTube. If you want to know what my secret is, I’ve applied everything this man taught me. We’re all so different and have different talents and they need to be nurtured. We’re all here to share our talents and passions and we’re very much sole owners of that particular thing that nobody else has. We are part of the formula, the ingredient of the big picture. If we can be happy, that alone, puts out the energy. If you can be happy, you’re adding to the conscious level of the universe for everyone. I think it’s life’s duty.
Read as much as you can. It takes consistency and work, just like anything else, to develop a mindset. Once you understand, it is phenomenal how it works. It’s my God. The life energy of God. I resonate with God on a molecular level. That’s the best way to describe how I function. So much of religion is engrained but if you utilized what you believe, it will enhance you.
Live in the now. This is how you achieve agelessness.
Holly: Do you have other hobbies outside of dancing and fitness?
Keiko: I did Qigong for a year and a half. It’s amazing because it made me understand energy and how to extract it and maneuver it within you, store it, emit it, project it. You can move it around. It’s amazing. I did Qigong for spiritual purposes but it’s used for medical purposes and martial artists use it because it gives them so much strength. You can route it into the ground. It’s like tree roots. It works like that. It’s also used for religious and spiritual purposes. ‘
Holly: Who inspires you?
Keiko: There’s a woman out there in the world doing flying trapeze, last I heard she was 85. I was obsessed with it. She had been an ice skater and in later years played polo. Right now I’m really inspired by those twins in my pinned TikTok video. Those twins really inspire me.
To follow Keiko’s journey, prepare to be inspired.
@keikoguestofficial on TikTok and Instagram