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!”
A few days ago I managed to meet with Miss Ma. She is a tailor who makes costumes for the costume players who live around Communication University of Beijing. We were hoarded into a dark alley by one of her young mates and customers, named Woody. The smell upon entering the cabinet was fantastic and I could only imagine what Miss Ma had been up to. There was a huge tree growing through her tiny shop where she also housed her morobike and various machineries for sewing together immensely complex outfits. We started a conversation and I noticed that she likes to talk. She told me that she was happy with her line of work but just wanted more business–as the cosplay fad has dimmed a little. We were all glued to her lips during our short visit, at the end of which Miss Ma pulled out her magical scroll. Hundreds of drawings and photos of people’s favorite animation characters which she had tied together with a string. People had brought her all these drawings and sketches, knowing that Miss Ma would turn them into a great outfit. We talked about our common friend Atom who likes to do male characters. She showed Atom’s golden brown kimono waiting to picked up. The visit to Miss Ma was short and sweet. I will surely remember it as an unusual afternoon–when time slows down and we feel teary stepping out of the grind.
The new issue of Intersections on Yaoi, Boys Love, or gay animations for girls, is out, and it is called ‘Japanese Transnational Fandoms and Female Consumers,’ guest-edited by Mark McLelland. I am very grateful to Mark McLelland and Carolyn Brewer for including my documentary On The Japanese Doll Complex. It fulfills a long-awaited desire to publish quirky and artistic types of products in academic journals.
Ting Liu’s article ‘Conflicting Discourses on Boys’ Love and Subcultural Tactics in Mainland China and Hong Kong,’ talks about censorship and shows that fans of Yaoi animations in Shanghai protested against one of the Internet crackdowns on pornography and their favorite websites.They turned an officially sanctified ’scribble wall’ into a ‘rotten wall.’
As Liu writes: “After the state launched the anti-pornography campaign in April, danmei participants turned a much bigger tuyaqiang (涂鸦墙 the scribble wall) at the East-Asian Comic and Animation Tongren Convention (东亚动漫同人大会) in Shanghai into a huge fuqiang (腐墙 rotten wall) in May 2007. Participants left messages such as ‘The party says we should build a road of tongren with Chinese characters, whereby BL is the predominant, with GL as a supplement,’ ‘The single spark of BL can start a prairie fire!,’ and ‘One who does not have danmei characteristics is not a person! One who does not have SM characters is not a good person!’
Yes rotten wall, I hope your sparks will fly right across the border… cause I have been bad.