I’m sure there have been no end of articles and blog posts about ゼンタイ zentai: skin tight, faceless body suits. Originally they’re from Japan, of course, like many other cross-cultural mutations. The term is an abbreviation of 全身タイツ zenshin taitsu, “full body tights”. It’s also a safe bet that most of these articles fall into the categories of a) LOL weirdos b) LOL perverts or c) both of the aforementioned. Frankly, I would advise against uncontrolled internet searching on the subject unless you’re broad-minded because some of the people who are into it are absolute FREAKS and you might well see some obscure corners of the porn world that you’d really rather not. Also beware of YouTube’s “up next” autoplay…
Being an absolute freak is fine by me, actually (just wash your hands and probably have a shower too, before you do anything else) but perhaps especially for those who are creeped out by the whole thing, it’s worth watching the completely non-pervy and un-LOLZ-seeking Singaporean short film embedded here– Zentai Walk Documentation. Its participants, zentai-wearers all, have some very intelligent and insightful things to say about the suit’s erasure of racial and national signifiers, their reasons for enjoying zentai, the political and social implications of masks, and the paradoxical, simultaneous attention-seeking narcissism and humility or lack of ego that are required to step out in public wearing a peculiar costume. I have some experience of these issues as a performer, although fortunately for the public’s poor, blameless eyes I’ve never yet done any zentai.
The video relates to a zentai festival taking place in Singapore this April and May. This year’s public zentai walk takes place on the 23rd May. Check out the site for some more relatively wholesome information about zentai.
I was left with one burning question after watching the film, however. We see several of the people buying food, drink, or other items. So apart from the lady in the black suit and pink wig, who very sensibly has a backpack, where are all the others keeping their wallets and money?
On reflection it’s probably best not to think about it too much, unless you’re into that kind of thing.
Alejandro Jodorowsky and the glory of not getting what you want
Frank Pavich’s Jodorowsky’s Dune is a confusing phrase, but the documentary itself does absolutely everything right in terms of a compelling story, an incredibly charismatic protagonist, and a genuinely inspiring and uplifting message. Alejandro Jodorowsky is the bonkers auteur who made surrealist cult films like El Topo and The Holy Mountain with a mentality more akin to a prophet or a cult leader than a film technician, so it’s no surprise that he was drawn to Frank Herbert’s zeitgeisty eco-messianic novel. If Jodorowsky is any kind of prophet then he’s the Anti-Hack. For him it’s all about the passion, the politics and the image. Making perfectly constructed emotion-manipulating and money-making machines is not interesting to him at all. For a while in the 70s there were so many serendipities raining down onto him that it seemed the universe wanted Jodorowsky to make Dune, and it would brook no contradiction. It’s also depressingly inevitable that a dementedly overambitious project by an idiosyncratic and unapologetic genius like Jodorowsky would fail to thrive in Hollywood’s sterile earth.
This film about the abortion of another film reveals what a magnificent thing Dune could have been. Seventies sci-fi painter Chris Foss designed space ships and buildings. French comic artist Moebius designed the characters and costumes. The villainous, genocidal Harkonnens were styled by H.R. Giger, later famous after he was poached by Ridley Scott for production design on Alien. The grossly obese and megalomaniacal Baron Harkonnen would have been played by– who else?– the grossly obese and megalomaniacal Orson Welles. It’s both hilarious, typical and tragic that Jodorowsky failed to tempt Welles with money, but immediately secured a “yes” when he promised food. Salvador Dalí was to be the Emperor of the Galaxy (for about two or three minutes, because he wanted to be paid $100,000 a minute). Mick Jagger was on board, playing an androgynously beautiful version of the role that eventually went to Sting in David Lynch’s version. Imagine that as a casting session: who’s the best actor, Jagger or Sting? It’s like, do you want to eat the rotten wormy apple or the rotten maggoty orange? Continue Reading
Werner Herzog has a new documentary about the Palaeolithic cave paintings at Chauvet. When anybody asks me who my favourite artists are or which artists I most identify with, I occasionally answer that my favourite artists are the ones who painted Chauvet, Altamira, and the other European cave sites that we know of. Sometimes I’m even serious about it, so I look forward to seeing Caves of Forgotten Dreams. Jean Clotte’s Return to Chauvet Cave is a thorough, big and beautiful book about the place, if you’re at all interested. I’m not wild about Herzog as a narrative film director, but I love him as a documentarian and I recently watched his film about human presence and intervention in Antarctica, Encounters at the End of the World. Both of these things inspired me to write a little something about this magnificently miserable old bastard.