Play all of the videos at once for a reasonably accurate simulation of losing your mind and/or the DTs.
During Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to Russia this May, enjoy this honest and unbiased video in which ORDINARY CHINESE PEOPLE have DEFINITELY NOT BEEN COACHED OR COERCED into giving their opinions of Russia and particularly of its “handsome leader, like President Xi”: Vladimir Putin. Show solidarity to COMPLETELY UNPROBLEMATIC COMRADES WHO ARE IN FULL COMPLIANCE WITH INTERNATIONAL LAWS AND TREATIES by eating bread, consuming dairy products, admiring Putin’s “big muscles” (not shown in these pictures), and repeatedly, SINCERELY expressing your desire to marry him. But REMEMBER to appreciate Putin’s big muscles only in a HETEROSEXUAL MANNER because he strictly forbids any reception upon his person of HOMOSEXUAL EYE BEAMS. Pity all countries which do not have handsome, shirtless, DEFINITELY HETEROSEXUAL leaders with big muscles. Presumably photos of Xi Jinping in his budgie smugglers are to follow shortly. You will ENJOY THEM and praise the MANLINESS of President Xi and announce SPONTANEOUSLY and VOLUNTARILY that you would like to marry him.
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.
Some bonkers choreography with Heather Parisi, from the 80s Italian variety show Fantastico. Firstly, Frankie Goes to Hollywood never seemed so… confusing? It looks a bit like a toned down, bowdlerised high school production of Cruising. Still molto gay, though. If Heather’s dance partner is thinking about relaxing, doing it or coming, I very much doubt it involves her. Put some trousers on Heather, love. You’ll catch your death of cold.
Even better, here’s Heather again doing some way-ahead-of-their-time Gangnam Style ridiculous dressage pony moves and gurning to Tullio De Piscopo’s nail in Italo Disco’s coffin, Stop Bajon (Primavera). The smoke in these bubbles must be what the choreographer was inhaling when they came up with this number.
Watch out for a random, drunken, camp fellow enjoying his big acting break at 11:48, a bit of very irresponsible chiropraxy at 12.49, some very unsexy from 13.35, and– saints preserve us!– pierrots throughout.
Apparently there’s some kind of public holiday going on. But sod that, how about some proper “me time”? Why don’t you start the new year by having a solo wedding with yourself in Kyoto?
You are single and you don’t know if you would be able to get married and have a wedding ceremony in the near future, but you would like to have some pictures of yourself in a wedding gown or in a gorgeous bridal kimono now, when you are young and beautiful..
..or you even believe that you don’t really have to get engaged to be able to wear a bridal outfit..
..or you are already married, but didn’t have a proper ceremony with a beautiful dress and you find this fact to be quite regretful..
..or you did wear a dress, but it was so long time ago that you would like to experience it again, or you were too busy with the wedding preparations to enjoy yourself fully during your special day and you are looking for a second chance..
Offer yourself an opportunity to experience the feeling of being a princess in a beautiful and charming city of Kyoto!
I was lukewarm towards the whole thing until the part about being a princess in a beautiful and charming city of Kyoto. I’ve probably already missed the boat on being young and beautiful, but I’m definitely a fucking princess. For prices starting at ¥300,000 (about €2.000, £1,650 or $2,500) you can get a wedding dress or kimono, professional photos, flowers and whatnot. The previous sentence ending in “whatnot” perhaps gives you a clue that I’m not particularly au fait with weddings, but even I know it’s exciting that you can additionally hire a “Japanese man for image partner during the photo shoot… from ¥54,000 (clothing included).” I like them specifying that it’s a Japanese man. No way of knowing if he just happens to be the fellow who’s willing and available, or if they know their market and even the Russians or the English speakers want to pretend-marry a Japanese man.
In any case, just paying the Japanese man and sending him home is a great idea. His clothes are included. What more could you want? Much better than all the tedious stuff that comes after a real wedding, like having to live with him for years and years, and all that domestic shit. Ooh, your husband looks so handsome in the wedding photos. WHAT, WHO? NO, I DON’T EVEN KNOW THAT GUY. It might be worth the money and the effort just to mess with the heads of those smug couple-type people who never stop boring the shit out of you by talking about whatever banal thing their horrible kids have done recently. Pro tip: nobody cares, especially not other parents because they all just want to blather about their own children.
Incidentally, I’ve been to Kyoto and it really is beautiful and charming, at least in places. Not so much around the train station, but that’s true of most cities. Would it be out of order for me to set up a Kickstarter page so I can go back to Kyoto in 2015 and fulfil my dream of being a princess in a gorgeous bridal kimono?
I know I’m making fun of this thing, and it is (delightfully) daft. It’s probably not as daft as the aforementioned smugly coupled people might think, though. By 2015 33% of Japanese households will consist of a single person. The same more or less holds true throughout the developed world and has done for some time, although one wouldn’t think so based upon the relentless nuclear family or couple-orientation of everything around us: hotels and holidays, consumer products, insurance and financial products, film and television, advertising, government policy, societal attitudes and the thoughtless comments and ill-founded assumptions people make, the unaffordability and unavailability of homes for one person, the deprioritisation of homeless or vulnerably housed single people, ad infinitum. In 2012, 29% of the UK’s households consisted of a single person. According to the charity Age UK, about one million elderly people in Britain regularly go for at least a month without talking to another human being in any significant way, if at all. A recent BBC study showed that 7% of its respondents similarly expected to spend the winter holiday period completely alone, rising to 10% for over 65s. 28% of all the adults said they were lonely.
Of course not everyone who lives alone is lonely or doesn’t have a partner, because obviously you can be with somebody and not marry them or live with them. To suggest so is just another part of the whole outdated framework of assumptions that makes some people feel so desperately lonely at those times when there’s overwhelming pressure to be (or pretend to be) part of society’s groupthink. We could call it the Eleanor Rigby Fallacy, that an introverted or single person is ergo a lonely person. Thanks for another blot on the collective psyche, McCartney.
Likewise, you can also not be with anybody, not get married, not get partnered or raise a family in any way and still be perfectly happy; if that’s what a person wants then it’s nobody else’s business and nobody needs to make comments, conjectures or insinuations about it. Especially during the darkest part of the winter and the new year/Christmas holidays, it would still be nice if people who aren’t alone had a bit more consideration – or indeed any consideration whatsoever– for those who are. If a person either by choice or circumstance is single but wants to do things that couples or families do, then why shouldn’t they? In short: fuck it, marry yourself if you want and good luck to you. Offer yourself an opportunity.
We all know by now don’t we my little blackguards my pretty roadside fartflowers of the friggingfields my dearest filthy fuckbirds yes we know yes yes yes oh yes that the top pages on the site are invariably James Joyce’s paeans to using the tradesman’s entrance and the translation of Hokusai’s tentacle hentai. Tens of thousands of you, constantly, from all over the world, day and night. You must have massive right arms by now (if you’re right handed).
But there is so much more to explore, and some of it doesn’t even involve sexual fetishes. I know it’s hard to believe, but it’s true.
The top picture is just the best. So surreal. Is it a balaclava, a ski mask, a facekini? Whatever you call it, it’s a weird and slightly terrifying item of apparel that is actually worn in China, on the beach at Qingdao especially. It’s the latest offshoot of the Nosferatu mania that many women in China have for keeping out of the sun. Even in London, where we count ourselves lucky to even see the sun for more than a week out of every year, you can spot Chinese tourists by their massive hats and the objects that they hold up above their heads the very instant they sense any danger of unduly numerous photons ravaging their skin.
As this New York Times article says, sun blocks and skin lightening products are big business in China because the resurgent middle classes, the children and grandchildren of cadre fat cats, and the nouveau riche plutocrats have fiercely re-established and amplified the traditional association of brownness meaning a life in the fields or otherwise labouring outdoors (i.e. being a peasant, of whom there are still hundreds of millions in China) and paleness with a bourgeois or upper class lifestyle.
Even people in dreary Britain need to think about not baking themselves and wearing sunscreen where necessary because skin cancer is no joke, but in China their attitude towards sunlight is pathological. I’ve experienced it first hand, having lived and worked in China on several occasions*. I think the most telling part of the article is a woman who snubs the masks as “way over the top”… while sitting under an umbrella, wearing a sun hat, sunglasses, a surgical mask, gloves, a long sleeved shirt, and with another shirt draped over her bare legs. Nobody does cognitive dissonance or making a fun activity into a chore like the Chinese.
* In 2006 I spent a considerable amount of time living and working in Qingdao. It’s a former German colony about halfway down the coast between Beijing in the north and Shanghai in the south. If I was these ladies, I’d worry less about getting a bit brown and worry far more about the horrible, ugly, polluted and rubbish-strewn beaches, the toxic sludge that passes for open water in a country where sewage and industrial byproducts are regularly dumped with impunity, and the city’s ever-present smog. Also, hardly anybody in China knows how to swim properly and wearing a balaclava isn’t going to help (the NYT article mentions this fact, too). If you like, you can watch the film I made about the school I was working at, and the city of Qingdao which is a pretty weird place. My experiences in China are also described in my book, Career Suicide.
I wouldn’t say that Funky Forest: The First Contact (ナイスの森 Naisu no mori) is a good or neccessarily a very funny film for the most part. But it is a film in which the scene above occurs, which is a kind of recommendation if you’re a fan of this blog and its usual subject matter. After a passing high school student is persuaded to use her navel to power up a Cronenbergian television that gives birth to a miniature sushi chef through its puckered sphincter-screen, the scene ends like this:
To which the only possible response from her– and us, probably– is:
(More animated GIFs follow: give them a few moments to load.)
Thanks (?) to Verso Books I became aware of this splendid photograph by Annie Leibovitz, of Susan Sontag dressed as a bear. She just is, OK?
The bear costume, the hard stare, the keyboard. It immediately reminded me of something.
Now we know why Wendy was so freaked out. How the hell did Susan Sontag get in here? Forever more I will involuntarily associate her with evil ghost bear BJs at The Overlook Hotel. Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining is one of my favourite films, for one thing because of scenes like this where Kubrick– in contrast to the story’s original author, Stephen King, whose prose allows no dead horse to remain unflogged and leaves nothing that goes without saying unsaid– evokes vast realms of back story and untold narrative riches with just a few shots and one ineradicable image.
Even if that image is now irrevocably and randomly mixed up with Susan Sontag. Aren’t you glad I shared it with you?
Maracas de Popcorn is a Japanese product for making popcorn with maracas. Who hasn’t, at some point in their life, wanted to make popcorn with a special pair of maracas? I daresay the company conducted extensive research and discovered to their horror that a commercial void existed, a howling abysmal hellscape in which maracas are just a Latin American hand instrument and nobody can ever make popcorn inside them. Coming soon: Xylophone de Toast, Bassoon de Pancakes, and Bongos de Beefburger. I think at this point the Japanese are being deliberately random and weird to save face because the rest of the world would be so terribly disappointed if they just made popcorn without measuring it in a golden crown then microwaving it in a globular vinyl king’s head, attended by two little girls with moustaches. It always blows my mind how many people must have signed off on a thing like this as it went from concept to manufacture and sale.
Knowing what real kids are like, this product is certainly inviting– at best– popcorn being flung all over the house because they didn’t close the maracas properly. At worst, flaming maize and molten plastic fires because they had the microwave on for 20 minutes instead of 2. But who cares? Let’s cooking and dancing and burning house fun now!
Incidentally, “When moustached Japanese children make popcorn with maracas” was the original title of Prince’s 1984 hit single, but he couldn’t ever get it to scan or rhyme. Henceforth is became When Doves Cry instead.
While we’re on the subject of things that shouldn’t go together but do, because Japan… BABYMETAL. I don’t even ironically like BABYMETAL or regard listening to them as a guilty pleasure. It’s all pleasure, no guilt. Helium-voiced Japanese J-Pop teenaged idoru + actual metal backing band (although sometimes it’s just some guys in skeleton costumes miming) + bedroom headbanging session + a very sensible, safety conscious and Japanese precaution of a neck brace = ヘドバンギャー！！[ Headbangeeeeerrrrr!!!!! ]
They also occasionally have little outbursts of ska, rap and dubstep. I’d like to think it’s with the intention of pissing off purists who are into those genres, too.