Oyaji Uke

Tiger and Bunny_birthday animal

Detail from the Japanese BL fan comic Birthday Animal by Akou Susugu (Scanlated into English by Vices and Devices) In this story Tiger has a dildo-like tail (a birthday present from Bunny) which gives him sexual energy but also seems to have a life of its own.

I produced a zine for the Parasite Exhibition Ten Million Rooms of Yearning: Sex in Hong Kong which takes place in five venues in Hong Kong and will be open until August 10, 2014. My zine comments on a collection of Boy’s Love fan zines and slash fiction about tow anime characters,  Tiger & Bunny, and focuses on a reappraisal of the middle-aged male character as “bottom” (In Japanese Oyaji Uke)

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The Chinese Dream

 

Together with Tatiana Bazzichelli and Francesco Palmieri I am organizing several panels for the forthcoming Transmediale Festival in Berlin from 29 january till 2 february in Haus Der Kulturen Der Welt whose theme this year is “afterglow.” One of the panels deals with artistic-sexual rebellion and censorship in the Chinese netsphere. The speakers for this panel are Dr. Sufeng Song who is an outspoken academic and activist at Sun Yat Sen university, Guanzhou, and Didi-Kirsten Tatlow who is a correspondent for the New York Times in Beijing with a focus on art, democracy, feminism and technology. Besides these two speakers I have interviewed two well known dissident artists/intellectuals who are currently banned from international travel–the pioneering sex activist and investigative documentarian Ai Xiaoming (sometimes called “Ai of the South”)and the world famous artist and social media commentator Ai Wei Wei (“Ai of the North”).

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Both Ai Xiaoming and Ai Wei Wei have had their passports removed and are undergoing constant surveillance by the state while all information about their work is censored.While the contents of their statements can only be revealed at the festival, here are some snapshots of the famous cat of Ai Wei Wei, who made an appearance during the interview. The cat walked in fifteen minutes before the interview took place and jumped on the “celebrity chair.” When Ai Wei Wei himself walked in a bit later and was ready to sit down, she refused to move at all, so Ai Wei Wei then gently dragged the chair with the cat on it away and took another chair. Then we talked  about about the state of Chinese art, political provocation, the importance of the imagination and social debate within the neo-liberal authoritarian state. Ai Wei Wei’s statements were overall quite pessimistic and it was difficult for me to ask more personal questions or to lift the mood.

We sensed and acknowledged a total rift between China and the West in how he is treated as a public celebrity figure–while we can find an overload of information about him outside China, his compatriots who share his cultural background cannot not find any information at all. It is as if he is officially deleted from the networks and could well be replaced by his cat. But of course Ai Wei Wei continues to make art internationally and does have a local support system. If you want to read an account of how Ai Wei Wei feels affected and deals artistically with his post-prison condition read Didi-Kirsten Tatlow’s recent interview in the New York Times.  Here you can read how he engages in  small protest on a daily basis, how he feels that art and intellectual life in China is sick and needs healing, and where he would like to go if he could travel again.

 

When our ancestors invented writing, ghosts wept in the night

 

I am now researching stories in which scholars go on a journey of enlightenment, but get interrupted and pestered by a ghost who wants to have sex. Judith Zeitlin has written superbly about this phenomenon  in The Phantom Heroine: Ghosts and Gender in 17th Century Chinese Literature (University of Hawaii Press 2007). In her analysis, ghost romance exemplifies the tendency of Chinese literati to displace fear back onto a “specter”– an abstract figure whose loneliness and charm evokes complex feelings of lust, pity and tenderness. The ghost-figure also represents an  “upside down”realm to intellectualism as it evokes powerful feelings of eroticism and melancholia involved in processes of thought and writing.  This is why Zeitlin refers to a poem that captures the underside of intellectual types of work and efforts:

When our ancestors invented writing, ghosts wept in the night

When later people learned to read, their worries all arose

I am not scared of ghosts, and I’ m also worry-free

But at night as I amend the ancient text, my autumn lamp glows green.

(Gong Zizhen, Miscellaneous poem, 1838)

In many of the most glorious stories of ghostly seduction, the realm of Qing (high-strung, passionate and sentimental love) is idealized as a temporary or liminal state of being that then disappears and life goes back to normal.

 

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Sex scene between two ghost-sisters in Erotic Ghost Story III (1992). The two sister first masturbate when peeping at the third sister having sex with a scholar, then they get together and make love.

While looking at Hong Kong movie classics, I came across a wide range of category III (x-rated) movies with sex scenes between scholars and ghosts. First of all I would like to mention Erotic Ghost Story III (1992), the third installment of a popular movie series directed by Ivan Lai. This movie is set in the Tang Dynasty and features Chu Chung who is about to get married but goes astray when falling into the “other realm” where three ghost-sisters are competing to have contact with him.

The first sex scene is a remarkable and drawn out love scene between Chung Chu and one of the sisters, Yun Meng. As the sex goes by, we find out that the  the two other sisters are actually peeping at the couple through a key hole.  In a remarkable change of perspective, the movies then pursues the sexual fantasies of the two sisters. First the camera zooms in on their beautiful bodies as they are masturbating and fantasizing in separate beds, then it shows how they get together and start making love to each other.  One sister pleasures the other orally and then pours water on her body to clean her.

It is almost as if there is a moment of solidarity between the main narrative—the superb sex between scholar Chung Chu and his ghost–and the side-narrative of sexual chemistry between two other sisters. The side-narrative is not pursued any further in this movie, but it does represents one of the best moments of “accidental lesbianism” in Hong Kong cinema.

The man who never screamed during orgasm.

I had been invited by Professor Sufen Song of Sun Yat-Sen University in Guanzhou to give a talk about “Feminine Pornography as Art of Failure” and to hold a workshop with women who are into gay erotic animations and fictions.  The talk garnered unusually rich feedback from students. The workshop was well attended and came alive during the second half, where they were asked to imagine  a short story about  gay couple in Berlin, an older Belgian professor Moenen (named after the devil in the Flemish medieval story Marieke Van Nijmeghen) who falls in love with the much younger Fritz from Berlin.

The Guanzhou imagination ran wild as students improvised their versions of this relationship.  One student recited her story in loud and confident english sentences and was not shy to use the f*** word. And several days later that very story got stuck in my mind, so I summarize it here for you:

Professor Moenen is very old-fashioned and strict, the kind of person who takes care of his own household. Between the two world wars he visits Berlin. a wet and dark city, and ends up in a bar called Neo, filled with strictly gay men. They are the kind who drink their coffees while talking about Plato. When Moenen runs into the gorgeous Fritz, he falls for him quickly and does all the things Fritz tells him to do.

Fritz  fucks professor Moenen very hard. But Moenen does not scream or shout it loud. Fritz wants him to say “Fuck me harder!” but he does not shout. Fritz soon is tired of the old dog who just follows him around. In the end he dumps old Moenen who also  ends up being forgotten by history.

It is only when Fritz himself become Professor many years later, that he misses the old men.

Perhaps these young Chinese women like to pester high-brow masculinity and deprive it of a voice. As they explained afterwards, they like to eroticize vulnerability and pain alongside the details of sexual conquest. Let this be a lesson for us middle-aged academics. If at all possible, let’s follow our wildest desires and do it with younger lovers, but let our matured minds also really enjoy the sex, “to scream and shout it out loud!”

Yay or Nay?

I have received lot of reactions on the Internet and in the media to my forthcoming book  People’s Pornography: Sex and Surveillance on the Chinese Internet. It will officially be released on 26 november and soon thereafter be available on amazon.com. 

Meanwhile I have signed a contract with the Hong Kong  publisher  UP publications for a Chinese translation of the book. The editor Chak interviewed me about the history of banned books for their monthly magazine Life and Reading Culture.  I talked about the 1960s ban of Jean Genet’s books in the USA and said “I just hope that my book will not be banned in China.” I asked him if he thought it would be safe in China. He said he was not sure and pointed to the stuffed animal on my desk, the Chinese anti-censorship animal  grass mud horse (ca0 ni ma) . The problem would be the horse. Now I need to think about a horse-less version of People’s Pornography. 

For many years I have been asked to censor my publications and take out all kinds of sexually explicit images or vulgar language. I have always tried to compromise but somehow cannot separate from the horse –all the surreal motions of of power and lust that it represents–how it allowed me to project my own fables and finish my book. 

So do you think that the book can exist without reference to the grass-mud horse?

Wandering Dolls: Cosplay Journey Across East Asia

So my new book just came out and was published by the Hong Kong publisher Roundtable Synergy Books. The book is in both English and Chinese (left page vs. right page) and was translated entirely by Yang Jing. It is a book of travels to four different cities in “East Asia” (the big land mass covering Japan, China, HK, Korea, Taiwan, Singapore…. and what not), where I search for animation fans who dress up as “characters”, and adult fans of Japanese or Korean dolls.

It became a first-person travelogue essay with many photos, interspersed with interviews with Cosplayers and queer or queer-ish personalities. I say queer-ish because people develop deep attractions for animation and games culture through funky alter egos, yet they often have very “normal” aspirations in their actual lives. Especially so since it is not easy to be alt, kinky, or extravagant in the East Asian region.

It was a real pleasure to work together with Gary Wong, Miu Chan and Peter Kong of Roundtable Synergy books, who are at the young and visionary vanguard of Hong Kong critical writing and independent political thought. Peter Kong also did a marvelous design job and came up with the idea of the costumed girl with (my) wandering doll. It is always a strange and special feeling when the book is out. I like its experimental nature and aesthetic pretensions. It shows who I am trying to be–as indicated by Prof. Eric Ma and Prof. Travis Kong–“palpable,” “infectuous,””on the edge of academia’ and yes  “queer.”  The queer-ish mosquito that zaps by and stings into unsuspecting flesh.


How A Sex Scene is Implied in A Chinese Poem

 

(Thanks to Carrie Yang for this finding cute sex poetry, for translating it into English, and for annotating it below. Happy christmas everyone and don’t forget to be bad. )

月出煙盡琴簫冷

The moon rose, the smoke dissipated, the flute became cold

階前侯人唯杯影

I waited before the steps for the one with a glass and its shadows

且執木樨眠

Slept with the Osmanthus fragrance in hand

千紅棲碧淵

Thousands of redness rested on green abyss

欲提羅襪去

I was going to leave with my silk socks

聞語還凝佇

But I hesitated upon his voice so I stopped

夢里喚真真

It reminded me how we called out in dreams

掩門辭舊塵

I shut the door and bid farewell to the old dust…

Explanations:

The Poem is written in Pu Sa Man (菩薩蠻)

首句,月出而清,清則不亂,煙盡而寒,無情始

The first sentence, when the moon rise, the whole world cleared up, there was no longer noices and chaos; when the smoke dissipate, it becomes cold…It signified ruthlessness and cruelty.

The flute is widely used to refer to the dick. And the action of “playing(blowing) the flute” is the synonym of “blow job.”

A glass before the steps…You can imagine wither it’s drug or wine.

Redness refers to blood of the woman. The green abyss is from Tao Te Ching…It refers to the virginal.

For the Beginners, Intermediate and Advanced.

(many thanks to Carrie for compiling and translating all these beautiful and poetic expressions)

胸部/乳房BREAST

波 ball (vulgar)

双峰(twin mountain)

咪咪 (mi mi)

奶子 (milk)

豪乳 (grand milk)

巨乳 (huge milk)

玉兔 (jade rabbit)

雪峰 (snowy mountain)

酥胸 (soft breast)

肉丘 (flesh hill)

肉峰 (flesh mountain)

NIPPLE 乳头

红豆 (red bean)

红头 (red head) Read more