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)

Read more

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.

 

ghost5

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!”

The Effects of Youth on Pornography

From People’s Pornography: Sex and Surveillance on the Chinese Internet (Intellect Books)

While much of my meanderings through Chinese pop and porn culture usually originate from conversations with friends and colleagues, occasionally I receive a message from an anonymous party whose motivations are unknown. I once received a zip file attachment with DIY photos of a young couple “caught in the act”, photos snapped outside the window of a university dormitory. To receive such a gift, from an unknown and untested source,it made me a bit paranoid, but I also realized that I had to take it at face value, as it was saying” We do have sex in China. Please include us in your collection.”

Read more

The Cabinet of Miss Ma

 

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.  

Love My Others

Eureka, Summer of Love, by Hybridre

Excerpt about love from my previous interview with Beijing costume player Francesa. Francesa’s photographs can be found at hybridre.deviantart.com/gallery

F=Francesca, or Hybridre, Cosplayer and Photographer

K=Katrien, Interviewer

C=Carol, Translator/Interviewer

C: Can I ask a question? Assuming that you and your lover are both cosplayers, when you cosplay two characters in love with each other, would you feel that you two are actually in love?

F: Actually I can’t completely split the real love from the love in fiction. Sometimes you feel that the character you are going to cosplay is so similar to yourself. And your partner is also cosplaying a character that is very similar to him. When you two are cosplaying, maybe you will feel that you are performing real life. It’s convincing.

K: If you and your partner can both accept the characters, it will be very powerful. For instance, when my current partner first met me, I was actually dressed up like the character Libidot (not  a cosplay character)  I was so worried that he would not like me as my real self, but it turned out to be ok. He just really liked me dressed up like that. If you two can accept each other’s characters and love each other, it can be very powerful.

F: I often wonder whether you like the person or you just like the character. It’s hard to say. The experience of playing roles is also influence by our relationship.

K: Maybe you start with cosplaying together, and then it moves into other things, and then everything. That’s life.

C: If your favorite character is cosplayed by someone that you don’t like, could you become very annoyed?

F: Of course. I can’t understand why you would cosplay that character if you are not so good. But we should at least respect them if they love the character too.


::Venus about Katrien about Venus::

Venus is a student at Hong Kong University and was introduced to me by our common friend Shyla. First Venus started helping me with my research and generally showed enthusiasm for my projects and personality. Now we have evolved and can chat with each other in the dark morning hours or late at night, and sometimes even in the French language. We use each other as willing subjects and objects of our research. Venus wrote a paper about me for one of her classes.  Now I am writing about Venus in my new book about pornography and Internet culture.

venus1_small7

(photo by Atomzi)

And several weeks ago, Venus invited people to write all over her school uniform in a performance art piece which took place during the opening of the exhibition ExtraordinaryDresscode:::The Rest of Us. She was wearing a traditional Chinese school uniform (Cheongsam style) and acted like a bored schoolgirl waiting to be distracted. She walked around in the gallery and convinced people to write messages on her uniform. We had thought out this concept together and went shopping for the uniform. It was challenging for us to deal with the personnel inside the school uniform store, as they could sense that I was not a real mom and they were afraid we would use the uniform to “party.” We were surrounded by hundreds of real moms who would swiftly give their instructions about their specific schools, sizes, and cuts (each school has a different uniform), then the moms would collect their kids’ uniforms and then get the hell out of there.  I wanted to get a uniform for Venus as well and finally we convinced the personnel to sell us the blue cheongsam-style school uniform that Venus used to wear in high school.

The last time we met again was during my interview of Venus for my new book, where we chatted again for several hours until the digital tape recorder ran out of memory. We went out to eat pizza and Venus suddenly tackled the the topic of age gap–concrete stories about her love for the much younger and the much older. And some level-headed analysis about these these concrete instances of a somewhat lopsided desire. And then we agreed there was something amazing about it all as she ran off to catch her yoga class.

venus-2

(photo by katrien)

Happy Year of The Ox

ox-year1

A traditional Chinese paper cutting and a gift received from Sean H.Hsiao, who writes “The cutting in left side composed of flower peonies and vases, which means “Wealth” plus “Peace and safety” in Chinese language. And that’s the popular greeting words we love to say during New Years. The right side as you can see is oxen. Ox is a very important symbol in agricultural society. Traditional farmers and their family members usually don’t eat beef to show the respect to the animal that works hard for their plowland. (Even now there are many people in Taiwan and Mainland don’t eat beef.) Ox also has the magical power to expel evil spirits and diseases. I remember when I was a kid, I took the pills my mother gave to me, and it has a funny name “Yellow Bull”. Ha~ the elder generation believes that medicine with ox name can detoxicate the poison and bad sickness. And I wish you can be happy and healthy since the year of ox.”