geitare - gay celeb

Since I have been away from Japan for many years, the Internet is important for me to keep in touch with what's going on in Japan. I sometimes go back to visit my family in Japan but I need to watch television daily to keep up with constantly changing Japanese pop culture. Well, I love pop culture anyway, so I never feel I 'need to' watch them, though. :) I'm more addicted to it . . .

There are some big changes in Japanese pop/TV culture that I noticed over the past several years. One is Korean culture has become so popular among the Japanese -- especially among middle-aged Japanese women. They are crazy about Korean actors and soap opera that they star. I don't see much difference between Japanese and Korean actors, though . . . Have I been washed out in the U.S.?! I remember when living in Japan I noticed more subtleties of Asian faces . . .

Those Japanese housewives say Korean guys are so macho and sexy compared with Japanese guys. I know there're Korean specific genes and high-cheek bone is characteristic to Korean gene stock. But I don't think there are that big difference between Japanese and Korean faces given that there were Korean immigrants to Japan since ancient times. If you think you can tell differences among different Asian nationalities by faces, please take a test here at All Look Same. You may be surprised.

Korean celebrities

Second is that there are so many gaitare (gaijin celebrities) on Japanese television. Gaijin means foreigners in Japanese. Even when I was growing up in Japan in the 80's and 90's, there were white celebrities, African comedians, Chinese singers, and the like. What I remember are Kent Delicut and Kent Gilbert, former Mormon missionaries who came to Japan and became celebrities. My ex boyfriend (American) told me that he has seen Kent Gilbert in nichome (the biggest gay district in Tokyo), though Kent was married a woman then . . . Oh well, he's Mormon.

Kent Delicut

Kent Gilbert

These gaitare spoke pretty good Japanese but none of them were native Japanese speakers so they had strong accent. BUT in the past few years there're so many gaitare who commands excellent Japanese. Some like Pakkun (Patrick Harlan), a Harvard graduate who has become a famous comedian in Japan, speaks perfect Japanese though he learned it in school. I almost couldn't believe he was not raised in Japan. His Japanese is that perfect (and cute but married a Japanese woman! boo hoo).

There are more gaitare who speak perfect Japanese. Joy is a half-Japanese, half-English so it's natural that his Japanese is perfect. Becky is a female counterpart of Joy.

Bobby Ologun, a Nigerian comedian, speaks pretty good Japanese too. He's not a native speaker but he even makes smart Japanese jokes. Maybe his wife is smart and teaching him those jokes . . . but he's smart for sure.

My favorite program 5jini muchuu has many gaitare who are very fluent (some are native) Japanese speakers. My favorites are Jonathan Sieger and Paul Mare.

Jonathan is a second son between an American missionary father and a Hollywood actress Virginia Ann Lee (spell?). Jonathan was born in Taiwan and grew up in Gumma near Tokyo. What makes me laugh about him is that Jonathan makes fun of himself by mentioning that he can't speak English. Is it possible that a white guy who has American parents cannot speak English? I think Jonathan is trying to create a niche market for him among gaitare on Japanese TV. There are so many international celebrities who mastered Japanese language, so Jonathan is attempting to differentiate himself from other gaitare, maybe. It's well known that the Japanese feel so inferior to English speakers because so many Japanese cannot speak or understand English after studying more than 6 years at school. Hearing an American guy saying, "My resolution for this year is to be able to speak English" in perfect Japanese would definitely comfort Japanese audiences. How smart, Jonathan.

Paul was born in France but grew up in Tokyo, so his Japanese is perfect as well. Though he sounds like a Japanese, his critical comments and attitude is so French. I like that, though. Paul reads some news and weather forecast on Monday when Matsuko Delux is a panelist. Paul says that Matsuko asked him more than once to show his private area to take a picture of with her cellphone camera. Is is a joke or is she serious?

Matsuko Delux

Last but not least, a noticeable difference on Japanese TV is that there're more and more gay and transvestite celebrities. Matsuko is an example, but there are many more. Probably the oldest one is Akihiro Miwa. Then gay twin brothers Osugi and Piiko have become famous in the 70's. They are still popular.

Akihiro miwa

Osugi & Piiko

More recently Ai Haruna, a trans-sexual, has become famous. She's funny. She also won the "Miss International Queen 2009" which is a transsexual beauty pagent in Thailand. 

Haruna Ai

Kabachan is also an openly gay celebrity.

Ikko, a make-up artist, appears on television a lot too. 

These effeminate and/or transsexual/transvestite celebrities (like Rupaul) are all over on Japanese TV. I think women like to watch them and Japanese men don't mind watching them either. Such accepting atmosphere to transvestite/transsexual may come from traditional kabuki culture where only men are allowed to play female characters. 

I have watched Ikko on a show in which several gay specialists from fields of  fashion, make-up, hair styling, and cooking transform common women. Sounds familiar? I thought so too. The program mimics Queer Eye for the Straight Guy obviously.

But where are other gay guys who are not transsexual or transvestites? Amon Miyamoto comes up in my mind but he's not that butch. 

Amon Miyamoto

There's a rumor that a former fashion model Toru Kazama is gay. But I can't think of any other straight-acting gay Japanese celebrities. In the U.S. a former baseball player Billy Bean came out. Neil Patrick Harris and Lance Bass are good ones too.

Toru Kazama

Billy Bean

There are so many geitare (gay celebrities, not gAi tare that I mentioned earlier), but there're so few butch ones. I think Japanese audiences are used to watching stereotypical gays, i.e., effeminate, transsexual, transvestite ones, but not straight-acting gays. I hope over the next few years butch gay Japanese celebrities come out!

P.S. On a well-known message board called 2 channel, an anonymous person posts the following Japanese celebrities as gay or bi. Some of them have been married (and most of them are straight-looking). I'm not sure about credential of this list. This might be a 'wish list' by Japanese gays.

Daisuke Asakura
Akira Asada
Hiroshi Abe
Ryou Iketani
Takao Oosawa
Yuuji Oda
Toru Kazama
Gou katou
Haruhiko Katou
Taishuu Kase
Takeshi Kaneshiro
Kensaku Kisida
Kai Shishido
Kazuhiko Nishimura
Hideaki Takizawa
Minoru Tanaka
Ken Takakura
Tsuyoshi Doumoto
Toru Nakamura
Yukio Nagasawa
X-GUN Nishio
Kentarou Haneda
Kikuzou Hayashiya
Kiyoshi Hikawa
Tsubasa Fukuoka
Masaharu Fukuyama
Pool bit boys
Tetsuya Bessho
Noriyuki Makihara
Kin'ichi Mikawa
Ryousuke Miki
Amon Miyamoto

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メインブログ:アメリカ・ゲイ・ライフ American Gay Life (since 2004)
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 Born and raised in Japan, I decided to immigrate to the U.S. to pursue a more liberated gay life. I am mostly writing about gay-related news and gossip about male celebrities, LGBT issues in general, and sometimes personal bromance. Most of my posts are in Japanese, but I sometimes introduce Japanese television programs and gay-related cultural stuff in English. Feel free to leave comments in my blog. ;)