Gaycation: Japan

1 03 2016

Well this is an interesting beast: a hipsterish, yet very North-American-earnest, look at gay life in Tokyo. Its the first in a new series by Vice on gay life around the world hosted by Hollywood lesbian starlet Ellen Page and her gay BFF – with future episodes promised for Jamaica and Brazil. Keep an eye out!





Shinjuku Nichome

4 01 2016

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A good chunk of my twenties was spent on the streets and bars of Tokyo’s gay quarter, the notorious Shinjuku Nichome. Here, on six to ten city blocks, tiled buildings are piled high with tiny local gar bars, sex shops, gay manga, bear ramen stores and a rentboy-staffed octopus ball stand, poky dance clubs, basement “underwear lounges” and sexy underwear shops, two temples, a twenty four hour sauna, a party central all-night convenience store, cruising dudes and the men who love them.

It is a super-gay oasis in an otherwise super-straight city, a warren of seedy little streets and dark doorways, connections found and lost, lives and loves coming together, lust hanging in the air.
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Above Cauro Hige and below, Inu Yoshi.

I had been sad to hear of the rumoured decline of the area, faced with the same challenges as gay bars everywhere, their role as meeting places under threat from the convenience and reassuring anonymity of phone apps.

Advocates, the most-loved bar by foreigners, had closed although I found it replaced by another gay bar, Aiiro, whose business model seemed to be a carbon copy.

Dragon and Arty Farty were still there, as was Word-Up, the foreigner-unfriendly “Japanese only” bar, as well as a host of smaller nights. I had been looking forward most to the FancyHIM Party, a wild Tokyo fashion folly unlike anything I have since elsewhere in the world where chic revellers turn up in the over-the-top homemade outfits. US singer AB Soto was appearing and I had seen him out on the town the night before.

But in the end, the evening took a different turn and I ended up instead with friends piled up inside one of the district’s little bars, up a dingy flight of stairs on a second storey landing.  Zero One is one of the new generation of bars in the district targeted at Chinese guys and their fans; I saw at least two others, Taiwan Bar and Panda, as well.

At Zero One, its name derived from Chinese gay slang, we sat at the counter knocking back vodka with green tea while Taiwanese pop videos played. It was a fun, unexpected night.

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There were other discoveries too. A new (to me) Latin themed “anticapitalist” bar was strung up with people power flyers and Zapatista posters. A women-only bar advertised monthly female-to-male transexual nights. A longstanding Thai restaurant (of which the area has several) had moved premises. The portly owner of a bar called Cholesterol  had become famous in Taiwan as a “blowjob expert” and he was being mobbed by tourists asking for pictures. Chic new cafe-bar “Phonic Hoop” had opened up across the street and the ‘cruisy’ Starbucks on the corner of Yasukuni-dori now seemed suspiciously straight.

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My favourite finding of all though was just outside Nichome proper, down the little lantern-strung shotengai (shopping street) across Yasukuni dori, leading down a gentle slope. Here, passing by on a bike from ‘the neighbourhood’ I found a bizarre little restaurant, announced with a statue of a cat eating spaghetti on an upside-down acrobat. It was late at night and the restaurant was closed, but my curiosity was piqued.

Peering in, I could make out the retro interior, littered with angel statues, more images of cats, marionettes, Joan Miro prints and circus memorabilia. I decided to come back in the daytime to explore. It was called Cafe Arles.

Cafe Arles, it turned out, had something of a cat theme. A live specimen greeted me at the door the next day and prowled lion-like under the tables where lone customers read newspapers at lunchtime or furtive couples whispered. One woman’s fur coat was slung nonchalantly across a stone cherub. Stale smoke hung in the air and Ella Fitzgerald was playing. I ordered the house special, the Neapolitan spaghetti, from the Japanese-only menu and was delighted to be served first a place of starters: one-third of a banana, still in its skin, a single maple syrup cookie and some nuts, as well as lemon tea in a bone china cup.

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The restaurant had been there, it transpired, since 1972. And yet in all my Nichome nights, I had never found it. A district full of surprises.





End of an era

8 04 2015

Today I heard the news, belatedly, that a Tokyo bar had closed. It was Advocates, an institution on the city’s gay scene and the backdrop to virtually every Friday and Saturday night of a good stretch of my time in Japan and by extension, my twenties. It had closed in December.

I was surprised to find myself quietly heartbroken. Advocates for me conjured up memories of happy, carefree times, and was the backdrop for several love affairs, unrequited crushes and great, life-affirming friendships. I had somehow thought that it would always be there, even if I was somewhere else, going on unchangeably like the sun or the stars. Strange, the expectations we have. Nothing is forever, but for some reason the news of Advocates’ demise touched me more keenly than many other changes. Why? Perhaps because it underlined just how far I have come, both literally and figuratively, since my Advocates days (and nights), how different my life is now compared to then. And that in a very real sense now, there is no going back.

The bar itself was tiny, little more than a counter with a few seats and zebra-striped wallpaper, and the crowd spilled out onto the street corner, creating an instant block-party atmosphere in the heart of Tokyo’s gay neighbourhood, Nichome. It is the kind of place you could go by yourself, assured that you would know someone – or if you didn’t, you would make a new friend. At some point in the evening, everyone out in Nichome would pass through. In a society where street life is nearly nonexistent, many bars seem cliquey and intimidating and foreigners are often held at arms length, Advocates was incredibly fluid. There were always freshly-arrived tourists, drunken Japanese girls eager to try out their English, lovey-dovey couples, cruising couples, fashionistas and denizens of the Tokyo in-crowd, wide-eyed English teachers in from the far-flung provinces and eager for a good time, cute suburban Saitama boys, worldly Japanese returnees and occasionally a go-go boy (Tsuyoshi!) porn star or drag queen stopping by on their way to some other, more obscure corner of Nichome. The bar-men doubled as mini scene-celebs, advertising underwear in gay magazines. And everyone talked to everyone else. You could just turn around and meet someone new every time you were there.  Plus – it was cheap. The 1000 yen all-you-could-drink beer blast was an institution, even though it didn’t serve real beer, but rather happushu, described by wikipedia as a “beer-like low malt beverage.” But at three hours unlimited refills (as long as you held on to your texta-marked plastic cup) for eight US dollars, no-one was complaining.

In all my travels around the world, I never found another place like it.

Advocates was where I got snapped by a Japanese street style magazine, where my brother met his wife (!) and where I took my mother when she visited Tokyo. I spent agonising nights there being ignored by my first great love after our break-up, and then flirted with Kohei, chased after dreamy playboy Masa and got chased by Taku. I made great friends there, some of whom I’m still close to to this day, others who have faded into the mist of time and a whole cast of supporting characters who drifted in and out of the picture – a tall Australian leather craftsmen, loud South Africans, a Cuban dance instructor, a foppish magazine editor, a West African pharmacist, cute straight boys, interchangeable girls from Sapporo and Fukuoka and Gifu, a drugged-up Osakan with killer cheekbones…Advocates was the nexus of all of this.

And now – it is no more. RIP Advocates!





Tokyo nights

19 08 2013

With jetlag from the States still in full force, I wasn’t in much of a mood to sample Tokyo’s new nightlife. But perhaps this was just as well, as from a nightlife perspective, the trip was poorly timed. The club scene in Tokyo revolves much more around monthly parties than weekly events so it is always a good idea to check what is on before finetuning the date of arrival. I had missed my two favourites, the Shangri-la party at Ageha and FancyHim, as well as a gay night held at the kitschly baroque Christdon Cafe, an approximation of a Renaissance chapel complete with cherubs, trompe l’oeil and faux-flaming torches. Great idea for a venue.

I had also just missed a three-week revival of Maniac Love, the much-mourned 1990s afterhours haunt of Tokyo’s young, glamourous and chemically-enhanced, and the permanent closure of the legendary Eleven (formally Space Lab Yellow):

The superbly-named Shibuya dancehall dance-off event Cat Fuck looked to be on hiatus too.

That is not to say that there was nothing happening in Tokyo though – just none of the old places that I knew about. There were new parties at venues like Tabloid as well as the Prism party, although their venue of choice, Rehab bar, had apparently shut up shop suddenly after the owner’s mysterious disappearance. There was also an irregular art-party held in an old abandoned hospital and one where everyone dressed like zombies. And I was excited to see that the super-fun Nichome gay wrestling was back.

But all the parties in Tokyo were under siege from a draconian new anti-dancing law, which meant that venues without a special “after hours dancing license” had to close by 1am or strictly enforce a “no dancing” policy, ejecting those who failed to comply. Even Arty Farty, the venerable old mainstay of gay-dancefloor-hook-ups soundtracked by perky dance-pop (and favoured haunt of the dancers from Tokyo Disneyland on their days off) now closed at this ridiculously early hour. In Nichome at least, this had meant a move towards more sit-down bars. There were new places like Boiler Room, an underwear-only lounge and the more upscale (and fully clothed) Owl, next to each other in the basement of a dingy building in a Nichome sidestreet.

But my number one favourite all-time Tokyo bar was still there, and I made it a point to drop by on Saturday night. Advocates is in institution: a super-social corner bar-cum-gay-street party that spills out onto the footpaths and gutters on weekend nights. Its the kind of place where you turn around and start talking to the person behind you, or turn up alone and end up engrossed in conversations with four new friends over the course of the night. My mother has been there, my brother met his wife there, and I spent pretty much every Saturday for five years there. It was pretty great to know that this at least was still going strong.





AKTA – fighting AIDS with cute

19 08 2013

Amid the porno stores, underwear shops and bars of Nichome, tucked into the third floor of a nondescript building, is the AKTA Centre. This government-funded AIDS prevention project aims to provide a safe space for the discussion of gay issues. It hosts occassional art exhibitions and discussion groups, but even if there is nothing going on its worth popping by to pick up club flyers (which I love doing in Tokyo) and cute AIDS education manga.

I got one heartwarming brochure aimed at deaf people, with a cute bearish couple explaining safe sex in sign language on every page (which is a bit pointless when you think about it as deaf people can read conventional text anyway…but so cute!!)





New king of Nichome

19 08 2013

Since the bewildering passing of Masaki Koh earlier this year (who dies from appendicitis? Its so … preventable),  Kenta, a model-go go boy from the Shangri-la party seems to have taken over as Nichome’s number one sex object du jour. It is not hard to see why. He is currently plastered naked on Nichome’s main street outside an underwear store he endorses, if you’d like to take a closer look 😉





Tokyo attractions:

24 07 2008

The Dragon Museum

This is pretty much the best place ever. A bogus dragon skeleton, and faked diary entries from the journal of the expedition that “found” it, in the small sideroom of a store selling rockabilly clothing, with stained glass Gothic windows. I love the total thematic disconnect. 

Its on Cat Street, Shibuya near the Meijidori intersection (look for the building with the sign saying “Too Fast to Live, Too Young To Die” and the giant golden egg on the roof).

Elvis statue in Harajuku

Don Quixote;

loud, claustrophobic version of wallmart thats open all night, with aisles that are really close together selling weird shit. The one in Roppongi has a tank full of Amazonian fish at the entrance, a defunct rollercoaster on the roof and a whole floor for legal ecstacy and speed substitutes, sex aids and party costumes.

 

Owl shop

This shop in Higashi-Nakano only sells owls. And its only open 6pm-6am. Eighties pop idol Kyoko Koizumi bought her owl here!

 

Kabukicho random street

Nothing says “Tokyo” to me like a karaoke parlor in a mock medieval castle, next to a Shinto shrine, infront of a park of homeless people, opposite a private boxing ring and an “image club” where you pay to molest women pretending to be commuters in a simulated train carriage. Also; a restaurant where you pay with tickets purchased from a red metal sphere. 

To get there, walk down from Shinjuku East Exit towards Kabukicho’s Koma Theatre and turn right at McDonalds.

Kawasaki tyre-monster playground

Yumenoshima

Or “Dream Island”. A huge, straggly public park built on an island made of trash, pumped into Tokyo bay as a landfill project. Also contains a eucalyptus forest (which feeds Tokyo zoos’ captive koalas), a huuuuge and impressive tropical greenhouse powered by burning rubbish, and an “Atomic tuna” memorial to fish (and fishermen) contaminated by US nuclear testing in the Pacific in the 1950s.

Todoroki

A lovely little Kyoto-like temple by a stream, in a forest, in a ravine, in the heart of Tokyo.

Summer

So the conventional wisdom is that Summer in Tokyo sucks. Sure, its so hot that your shirt sticks like chewing gum. But there is also: fireworks, flies, hot boys with tattoos at the beach, eggplant horses (see article below), young people on the streets in yukatas, fans (fun!), matsuris, taiko drumming,  Onelove and BBoy park festivals (reggae and hiphop respectively) in Yoyogi Park, Maniac Beach, gay pride, and the incomparable spectacle of the Asakusa Samba Carnival.

Fancyhim/Linda parties

Gay electro/rock/fashion parties where bright young things dress to impress.

 

Fish From Outer Space

It may not be as glossy as the rest of the Roppongi Hills complex ( where Chinese tourists check into the Grand Hyatt requesting a “Louis Vuitton view”), but I thought it was cool:

The Japanese garden (outside the Asahi TV studios) has a pond populated by “medaka”, small Japanese fish that often live in flooded rice paddies. But these are no ordinary specimens. They are descended from medaka taken into space as an experiment in fishbreeding aboard the Mir Space Station. A bilingual sign warns people not to dump unwanted goldfish, lest they eat the more precious space-fish.

 

Fake things

Love hotels, theme restaurants : turrets, minarets, imitation marble statuary. Arabian palaces/ninja dens/prison eateries. Gallic bistros where the waiters are flown in from Paris and the menu is entirely in French. Italian restaurants with swimming pools in the basement. Chinese restaurants where the urinals are shaped like mouths that sing opera at you while you piss. The common thread is a love for really following through with a theme,(to the point of OTTness) , and absolutely no sense of shame. Inauthentic, kitsch guilty pleasure? Whatever do you mean?





Nichome Pro Wrestling – gay wrestling rules!

10 07 2008

I already posted up pics from this week’s gay wrestling night on facebook, but here are a few more. I hadn’t been sure what to expect – a full-on death match? a thinly veiled sex show? But as it turned out it was more an avant garde comedy event.

Anyway, it was an  awesome night, full of laughs and surprises. The first  was the size of the crowd – on a midweek evening, the place ( Shinjuku’s “Exit” bar) was packed out with a heaving mass of cool girls, curious gay guys (myself, Taizo, Ryu and Kenji included), and most unexpectedly, large numbers of openminded straight dudes who were just really into wrestling. It was a hard-to-pin-down crowd;-people were dressed down, not trying to be cool, but they kinda were . There was a really fun, interested crowd – nnoone trying to look cool, or playing detached.

 Everyone just wanted to get into it, and see something really bizarre.

We all sat on the floor, and the wrestlers came out to a tiny padded area, wading through the hooting, laughing crowds. Excited girls screamed after their favorites, as lipsticked, tattooed, speedoed and oiled dudes pranced around before theatrically pretending to beat the shit out of each other in true WWF camp style, with of course, plenty of added sexual innuendo. They played stupid slapsticky games, like on Japanese TV, but they were funny: playing tug of war with a rope tied around their ballsfor instance, , or shaking each other upside down. A DJ played Kylie and Latin music, the mirroball spun, the men heaved and writhed right in amongst their adoring crowds, a drag queen danced and twirled – excellently – to stomping tribal music, before returning as a very skinny and almost naked man, still dancing with amazing grace and vigor. Then too soon, it was all over. It was the best night I had had in a while – and reminded me of all the best things I love about Tokyo – its weirdness, its infinite sea of possibilities, its hipness and at the same time, unpretentiousness – and of course, muscly Asian men wrestling 😉





Weekend/ Tanabata report.

7 07 2008

Saturday night was hot in every sense of the word – the weather was humid and balmy, and weekend crowds were spilling out of the bars and into the streets of Shinjuku Nichome, where I was on my way to the Fancyhim party. It had that great Summer-is-here-lets-party! vibe. Everyone was out til late, hanging on the footpath, drinking beers and laughing with friends. Who wants to be home in front of the TV in this weather? There was a festival-like atmosphere until well into the early hours. Advocates Cafe, of course, was mobbed, and just up the street a new bar by the same management – and run along similar lines – had opened up, decorated with lavish and beautiful bouquets of flowers sent as opening gifts from other gay bars (a charming Japanese custom, that gay bars send each other flowers). And it was pumping great deep-house music out into the street. 

Then at one point, a pair of drag-geishas walked down the street behind a man (Shinto priest?) ceremonially banging two bits of wood together – a kind of mini good luck procession. It just appeared out of no-where, delightful and surreal, whipping up a crowd of buzzed and/or horny gay partygoers who crowded around taking pictures on their cellphones until the police drove by to disperse the crowd.

Meanwhile, inside the FancyHim party there were boys and girls painted with mascara and gold face-paint, brandishing inflatable electric guitars, in red bob wigs and MC Hammer pants and dramatic Yoji Yamamoto designed masculine black skirts with shiny bolero jackets (that was a man), or a cute LV logo-embossed adult version of a baby’s wormsuit with a miniature bowler hat. The DJ played dirty electro and Michael Jackson, and the crowd spent much of the night – again- clustered around outside in the alleyway, drinking and smoking and drifting up and down the happening little street.

It was a great night.

As a direct result, the following Sunday passed in an undistinguised blur, little remembered by me except that it was stinkingly hot, so I stayed inside in the airconditoning.

Today, Monday, was Tanabata. This, one of Japan’s great traditional festivals, is held every July 7 to mark the only night of the year that the stars Vega and Altaire meet in the sky. According to an old Chinese love story, a shepherd and a noble lady fell in love, and were punished by being sent into the skies, divided by a “River of Stars” – the Milky Way – destined to meet only once a year, on condition that the skies were clear.

Its a lovely, romantic story of (literally) star-crossed love. Although slightly less so, I admit, now I have learned that they are actually being punished not for their cross-caste love affair, but because the besotted noblewoman had started to slack off from her job  as a weaver to daydream about her man. She was actually being punished for her laziness – a brutal and not at all romantic indicator of the hegemony of the Japanese work ethic.

Still, I felt a slight stir in my heart to see the sky clouded over and rain droplets falling on this day – the two lovers will have to wait another year. 

At my school today – a yogo-gakkou or “special needs” school – they put on a play of the Tanabata Story ( which I was glad to see. In another of my high schools, half the students said they didn’t know the story. Their teacher was horrified and even I was shocked – such a beautiful and important part of Japanese culture to lose, and one that is so highly visible with the festivities each year. Surely, if anything was safe..)

Afterwards, as is traditional, the children all wrote their wishes on strips of paper and hung them decoratively on a huge bamboo tree. It was especially touching to see one very sick  girl – 17 years old but with the body of a twelve year old, her skin almost translucent, and pulled tightly in some places while sagging in others. From her wheelchair she reached over to hang her wish – “I hope to be healthy every day”. Made even more poignant when I realised it was hanging next to “iPod がほしい” – ” I want an iPod”.





Finally, what you’ve all been waiting for….

15 06 2008

 

While I was out in Nichome over the weekend, I found something that was quite hilarious and unexpected. Its an English/ Japanese phrasebook for “explaining Nichome (the gay neighborhood) to your friends”. In that stilted, fake language beloved of textbooks everywhere “Masashi” and “Daisuke” (ha!) take their friend “Mark” to Nichome. Each page contains a brief, bilingual dialogue explaining some aspect of the Japanese gay bar scene. I passed it around at Advocates and people were cracking up. Still, makes a good souvenir…

 

 

 





Everything old is new again

3 06 2008

The other day I was taking a walk through Shinjuku, and I must have been in a strange mood because suddenly I was noticing lots of small thing I see every time I go there, but hadn’t thought about in years.

Like the psychadelic eye watching, Sauron-like, over the West Exit to the station, leading to the financial district:

(fluids inside moves to give it a creepy, throbbing look)

Then I made my way over to Nichome, Shinjuku’s gayberhood. How many long Saturday nights had I spent here? For years, my scoial life revolved around this little section of town. But now it was a quiet, weekday afternoon and I wondered the little streets noticing, as if for the first time,  how quaint some of the bars were. Most of them I had never been into. “Why?” I wondered. Like this one: the world’s greenest lesbian bar…

So cute and charming.    Or Hug…

Or Madonna:

 

Or Streetlife:

Or the funky and openminded 70s-tropical-themed “Wa”:

  

 But the biggest surprise was the lively collection of daytime businesses around the fringes of Nichome, where the small hypercentre of Japan’s gay universe bleeds into average-looking innercity tracts of supermarkets and shrines and chainstores, where schoolchildren giggle past in swarms and old grannies ride their bikes, just a few blocks from the testosterone-soaked and seedy main strip.  I found this toolshop . Do they have any clue what else this could mean, in this neighborhood、I wondered?:

There was also the quiet, shady Temple of the King of Hell with its cracked Buddha statue, and little graveyard, slumbering away in the afternoon sun. Butterflies floated by lazily and a bird sang. Everything was calm, and still. Yet just on the other side of a fence was the gay bar strip.

And then a sprinkling of other cool little shops – some gay, some not – that made me think: of all the time I had spent here, why had I missed so much?  The sequined costumed shop? The “ethnic cafe” with its cool, tiled interior chirping with caged parakeets and lush with potplants? The Brazilian coffee shop, and the tiny theatres and art exhibition spaces, and the grimy old ramen bars and oldfashioned cafes? Why had I never been into any of them? Had I just been doing the same old circuit, going to the same old places? Is that what everyone was doing? Had we been blinded to what else was on offer purely by laziness and routine? When all around us was a neighborhood of considerable charm.

As if to illustrate the point, I left through a tiny, nondescript street leading up to the sunny lawns of Shinjukugyoen. Yet in the space of  a single block it boasted Tokyo’s only anarchist bookshop, a lounge-bar specializing in old Atari game machines, (where you could play Space Invaders and Tetris as you drank), a Japanese-language school for Koreans, an “English-style” florist and this transsexual hostess bar. But I didn’t go into any of them.

 





Spring is here

7 04 2008

On Sunday I finally got the full cherry blossom experience – the weather had cleared to perfection and the flowers were still up, though now streaming down in blizzards at the slightest touch of a breeze (like being in some kind of glamorous shampoo commercial!).  And we finally got a big group of friends together to enjoy it  – Rie, Hiro, Maiko, Kojitsu and later Ryu and Taizo got together, with assorted French and British and Japanese people, on the manicured lawns of Shinjuku Gyoen for a big picnic.  The  lawns  of Tokyo’s answer to Central Park  were overflowing with festive crowds  – couples near the lake, families near the Setagaya side, and close to the exit to Shinjuku Nichome ;  a huge gay crowd that was camped amidst rainbow flags and balloons, with  familiar faces from the clubs and the Nichome streets milling around in all directions. It was like the biggest outdoor gay beer garden ever – in a gentle shower of pink confetti.

Afterwards, like many others, we hit the bars for a drink – it was a fun night!

The next day, headed to work in the morning I saw a spectacular sight- by the train tracks, hundreds of thousands of moulted cherry blossom petals were carpeting a slope of golden winter-bleached grass- like a little hillock painted seamlessly in a palette of pale gold, whites and pinks. It was so beautiful I wanted to get off to take a picture, but you know – work…. so I stayed on, and smiled through the window.





Happy Birthday Ryu!

18 02 2008

 On Sunday, Shibuya was cold and crowded, and the arthouse movie we were going to see for Ryu’s birthday unexpectedly sold out!Goddamn! So instead, we ended up sipping tea in the cool new “teahouse” in the Loft department store – a funky place with a high ceiling and plate glass windows, exposed vents and twisting pipes, serving all kinds of teas. Then it was off to dinner at La Deux Magots – the Tokyo branch of the famous Paris restaurant. It is located in the Bunkamura (“Culture Hall”) – a department store/theatre/cinema complex that must have been the height of chic when it was built in the 1970s, and still has a quiet, faded charm to it today. Wealthy blue-rinsed ladies were shuffling to the theatres, and bamboo rustled in the quiet concrete coutyard, with its artbook store. The restaurant was cool and retro too – plush seats, duck l’orange (which was really good!) and 50 year old waiters in tuxedos. And you entered over a kind of bridge, looking down into the kitchen.Photobucket  Afterwards we went to check out a new cafe (http://www.shibuyapoint.jp) I had seen from the street the other day, when I was with Bettina and Pieter. Looking up to a second floor window, a painted ceiling and a row of colorful hanging lanterns caught my eye. We went back – with Ryu, Kenji, Taizo, Hiro and some of Ryu’s other friends – and it was a cool place, colorfully painted with funky music, graffitied walls as well as those Moroccan lanterns, right in the heart of the headshops and laughing crowds and blasting reggae music of the love hotel/nightclub district. A cute, kitsch little oasis. Nice!  Photobucket Photobucket It was a fun night, I enjoyed just hanging out with everyone – taking purikura, catching up with Ryu (and Hiro), seeing some new place I had never been to before, the restaurant as well as the cafe. And at the end of the night,  Ryu gave us all “goody bags” of Sassoon haircare products to thank us for coming…hahahaha…too cute! PhotobucketHappy birthday Ryu! 🙂 xx 





9 05 2007

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Fancy him

5 05 2007

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Sweat and beer. Sequins and facepaint. Mascara everywhere. A crowd with a fierce attitude for fashion, but friendly to talk to. Chilling at the bar and chatting in the gutter. Lenny Kravitz, rock n roll, electro-pop and futuristic funk. A towering DJ stripping out of his ballgown and banging along on his tamborine. Too hot on the dancefloor and too cool for school. Eye-popping, audacious and just plain fun. Drag queens, fashion victims, dancers for the superstars. This was Fancyhim on Thursday night in Shinjuku Nichome – the best party Ive been to in ages!!!

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5 05 2007

What do you get when a white Australian, a Japanese-German, a Serbian, a South African, a Brazilian, a Kenyan, a Colombian-Australian, a Japanese-Dominican and three Britons (black, Japanese and Indian) walk into a bar?

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Shaz, and admirer

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With Jonte!

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Bitch You Betta!

5 05 2007

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The highlight of the night was a dance performance by Jonte – a former dancer for Madonna, Janet Jackson and Beyonce – now reinventing himself as a flamboyant electro artist. His show was amazing. Think R&B bump and grind goes stimultaneoulsy futuristic and primal, with hard club beats, fierce ghetto attitude, day-glo body paint and the towering influence of Grace Jones all over it !!! Loved it!

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5 05 2007





Golden Week

26 04 2007

Japan’s favorite week of the year is here, almost. One more day until the glorious dawn of Golden Week. As usual, I am not going to travel (immense crowds and high prices kill the buzz) so instead I am wondering how best to enjoy the time in Tokyo . And specifically, which of the raft of parties this week I will be attending.

And the contenders are…
Splash at Ageha. Its been aaages since I was at one of the gay parties at Ageha and Im just about ready to lose myself in the heaving shirtless crowds, and pounding house music, and watch the sun come up poolside… Hmmm….
This Sunday,April 29


Fancyhim This is my favorite Tokyo party so I’ll definitely go. And they have just announced a live performance by an intriguing artist. Jonte was one of those buff, gay, black dudes who dance behind female singers (including Janet jackson, Beyonce and Madonna), and is now a recording artist of his own, with floorshaking electro-funk “bitch you better” and Matmos-cannabalising “Make Up” . And a flamboyant high fashion look that I love…Bring it on!!! Anyone who claims Grace Jones as his number one inspiration is on my kinda page already. I had never heard of this guy, but now after checking his songs Im really looking forward to it. Go to http://www.myspace.com/jonteonlinee.
Wednesday May 3


Body and Soul The legendary home of New York deep house (now closed) still runs its annual Tokyo parties, and last year’s featured some of the best music I have ever heard in a club. Soulful, sensual house music with real instruments, full of African percussion and flute breaks, and soaring vocals. Makes me shiver to think about it. But then, the 7000 yen price tag is pretty hefty and this year for the first time they are doing it outdoors in Odaiba, in front of Fuji Telebi (where Nagisa is) as a Sunday day party. I dont know…I just cant picture it that way. It doesnt seem to fit the vibe of the music. Or am I just standing in the way of progress?
Sunday may 20





May 3rd

16 04 2007

Comin up: Tokyo’s finest soiree for glamtrash astroboys and the men who love them.

Fancy him!!!!!!!!!   Dress funky like these party people (photo, unfortunately, not mine)

 and see you there!

More: http://www.fancyhim.com





4 02 2007

Party People

Fancyhim

Photo by Daisuke Photo by Daisuke

Fancyhim is a hot, bi-monthly party for the trash-fashion set, held at “Exit Bar” in Shinjuku. It attracts the colorfully clad, sparkling citizens of Tokyo`s gay fashion and media mafias – the kind of people who would usually shun the seedy-gay-town of Shinjuku Nichome for Aoyama, or Naka Meguro. Its something different, stylish,  flashy and fun. I loved it. I went with Daisuke and his sister Lena, Hiro and Ryu, and together we danced the night away to funky electro music, Daft Punk, MC Hammer and Neneh Cherry, chatted with  beautiful strangers,  and played spot-the-day-glo-eighties-garment. It was a great, friendly party, with so much color …like dancing in a cartoon! Thanks to everyone who let me take their photos. Its because you all looked fierrrrce..! Omedetou, and respect! Til the next one.

And there were plenty of colorful characters: Blonde ambiton, rocking Studio Ghibli witches hair Cute boys

  

  Party people