Some time ago, a blogger named Dagon and I stumbled onto each other, cyberspatially speaking. He'd written a thoughtful post about the Japanese comedy sensation, Razor Ramon HG, better known as Hard Gay. The schtick goes something like this.
"Dressing in a tight black leather outfit reminiscent of the stylings of the Village People, he goes around performing acts of charity (yonaoshi, or “social improvement”) for unsuspecting bystanders while performing trademark pelvic thrusts and vocalisations, often accompanied by Livin' La Vida Loca by Ricky Martin."
That comes from the Wikipedia article on Masaaki Sumitami (note the spelling, you Wiki-writers), Ramon's real-life alter-ego.
The ego is definitely an alternative one. Sumitami is straight and married to actress-stroke-swimsuit model Anna Suzuki, who starred in some popular web-cast films we produced for a client while I was working in Tokyo. Sumitami, himself, was born not far from where Master Right grew up in Kobe. The world is a village, no?
Watching the videos, Dagon was amazed that Sumitami could get away with such sexual suggestiveness in the street with strangers, including kids in the playground. The following clip is classic Hard Gay: performing courtesies, playing with kids, embarassing adults, and the running gag about him being able to read with his dick.
In fact, kids are his biggest fans: Hard Gay is loud, rude, naughty and physical. Everything you are taught NOT to become as you make your way through Japan's stifling school system. He once filmed a segment at the headquarters of TOMY--best known for putting a plastic Thomas the Tank Engine into your infant son's hands. In response, their designers created a Hard Gay version of the famous Kiki Ippatsu children's toy (see below).
Humourless gay activists (Japan has them, too) condemned Sumitami for all kinds of perverse reasons.
- He makes fun of gay people--yet they seem not to complain about the many effeminate drag queens who milk yuks from TV audiences across Japan.
- He's not gay so he shouldn't profit from pretending to be something he's not--neither should any actor of any kind, I guess.
- The Kiki Ippatsu toy advocates violence against gays. Huh?
- Master Right hates him. My beloved is such a snob!
He goes around helping people; kindness and co-operation are the bedrock on which Japanese society is built, so there's no faulting him on that score. But he's loud, draws attention to himself, and reveals something personal, such as his tastes in the bedroom.
Everyone feels uncomfortable, because they're taught that drawing attention to yourself is selfish. An unresolvable, embarassing dilemma for the people he accosts. They can't fault him on his manners, so they have to react back. You'll see them being polite, but incredibly uncomfortable.
Here's some (by the sound of it, American) comics trying to give the Hard Gay treatment to Londoners--mainly expat Japanese Londoners, it seems. They just don't get it.