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EASTERN PERSPECTIVES ON DEVIANT CINEMA & CULTURE

Interactive Dialog between M. Dante` / BDC &  Andrew Hampsas

Inspired by the film Tokyo Decadence (TD) akaTopazu


Tokyo Decadence (トパーズ ,Topāzu) is a 1992 Japanese film written and directed by Ryu Murakami, with music by Ryuichi Sakamoto. The film stars Miho Nikaido and is known by two other titles, Topazu and Sex Dreams of Topaz. The story of Ai, a shy college student who maintains her lifestyle by working as an “S & M bondage girl-for-hire” Tokyo Decadence has been banned in Australia  and South Korea. The need for belief in true love interferes with the indifference necessary to survive in the bizarre, callous industry and she finds herself spiraling out of control and out of the privacy zone of her secret life. The film was considered grim by American critics, bordering on soft-core pornography in a sad and bizarre way.  The observations the film offers about changes in Japanese societal identity at the end of the Millennium are brutally challenging to convention.  The film also defies the manner in which “kink’ is often portrayed in Western cinema in that it lacked remorse, lacked the need for justification and redemption, and also that it portrayed many highly unusual sexual interactions that would be considered well beyond taboo – unspeakable even – especially in the calm, placid, polite way in which the sadomasochistic relations are played out and responded to by Ai.

Mr. Murakami began his literary career in the late 1970s when he and Kenjii Nakagami took on traditional Japanese literary venues and critics with a rebellious, defiant, exploratory new form of literature.  Mr. Murakami’s writing evolved out of studies in photography and painting and also drug experimentation. His early writing dealt “colloquially about his feelings and senses and experiences”.  A 1977 New York Times article by Andrew H. Malcolm stated that, “Mr. Murakami has been cited by critics for his imagination, his images and his sometimes raw bluntness, which some find immature”.  Exactly the criteria needed to take on convention and set new standards in literary circles, and also in Japanese pop-culture and media. Mr. Murakami’s first novel, Almost Transparent Blue (Kagirinaku tomeini chicai buru), was published in 1976 and won awards for his precise criticism of Japanese society. He has been considered a controversial celebrity ever since.

In Nicolas Rucka’s 1992 essay, Color Me Topaz: Decadence in Post Bubble Tokyo, the factors which inspired the story of Topazu / Tokyo Decadence are explained from a cultural and financial perspective:

The Japanese asset price bubble was a time of skyrocketing land and stock prices. Running from 1986 to 1990 it was a time of great economic wealth in Japan where the Japanese workforce labored together, unified by the goal of global financial dominance, which served as a vindication of the Japanese way of life.  So what happened to those who weren’t part of this work force and were relegated to the sidelines?

            

Stephen Holden’s 1993 New York Times Film Review noted the film’s “creepy urban sophistication”, obviously finding the film disturbing:

It is sadly appropriate that the message of Ryu Murakami’s film Tokyo Decadence should be voiced by a dominatrix .  High on cocaine in her luxurious Tokyo apartment, Saki (Sayoko Amano), an experienced prostitute, explains to Ai (Miho Nikaido), a relative novice to the profession, the reason so many Japanese business men are masochists. They may have wealth, she asserts, but it is            “wealth without pride.”

Rucka’s essay explains the reality of the economic climate when Murakami wrote Topazu:

When Tokyo Decadence was made, the Japanese society was in social and economic  chaos; it was a time when Japan first discovered that it was ill-equipped to deal with  the social reality of a country without a unique identity that wasn’t tied to groupthink  and financial speculation.  Ryu Murkami says that there’s no returning to the past, there’s only forward movement and that change needs to come from within.

Rucka clarifies: THIS ISN’T AN EROTIC MOVIE BUT A SCATHING CRITIQUE OF JAPANESE SOCIETY AT THE END OF THE “BUBBLE” PERIOD THAT IS CLOAKED AS A FETISH FLICK.

M.Dante` decided to speak with New York  performance artist Andrew Hampsas

on the subject of Tokyo Decadence (TD) & Eastern perspectives on SIN CIN CULTURE!


PART ONE

BDC: Andrew, how do you know so much about Japanese creative culture?

A.HAMPSAS:   I’ve been fascinated by Japanese culture since I was a child watching Kaiju Eiga (monster movies) on TV.  That fascination deepened and broadened as I got older and delved into the literary and filmic outputs of Yukio Mishima, Kobe Abe, Akira Kurosawa, Yasujiro Ozu, Kenji Mizoguchi, and many others.  In the early 90s I found a kinship between my performance pieces and the “body horror” films of Shinya Tsukamoto (Tokyo Fist, Tetsuo), with their emphasis on piercing, beautiful violence, and cyborgian body modification.  Although I’ve long been fascinated by Japan I’ve rarely understood it, and still make no claim to, despite having a Japanese friend who is now my performance partner, studying the language, and making 6 visits there in the past 8 years. The first time I landed in Japan I didn’t feel like I was in another country so much as I felt like I was on another planet.  Anyway, I think “understanding” is far less important than the willingness to embrace something on a visceral level, literally as a “gut feeling.” Anything I say on this subject is therefore based on my own experiences and interpretations, and is not meant to be definitive or all-inclusive.  

BDC: I’ve never been out of the States. Though I’m familiar with Western notions of sado-masochism, I have to admit Ryu Murakamis Tokyo Decadence (Topazu) made me realize how little I know about Eastern perspectives on the subjects of sex in cinema, sinful / deviant cinema, sado-masochism, fetish, drug use in foreign popular culture.  I figured engaging in some interactive with you would be a great place to start.  So, what is it like in Japan?  In your view?

HAMPSAS: Japan is a nation of contradictions in that it's one of the most conservative, straitlaced places on earth, while also being one of the biggest producers -and having the most consumers- of the most out-there deviance on the planet.  And the reason for the latter is most likely the existence of the former; the further away and different a person's private life must be from his public face, the bigger the inevitable explosion will be... The aforementioned Tokyo Fist deals with this.

The biggest difference between Japan and America in this matter is that the Japanese are not burdened with a Judeo-Christian, puritanical past.  American-style concepts of guilt, sin, body shame, and eternal damnation do no exist over there. The perverse is accepted, or at least tolerated, although it might not be a fit subject to bring up in mixed company and it wouldn't be a business most people would want family members to be involved in.  The aforementioned contradictions extend to how the perverse is reacted to, as well.

Some of Japan's best-known writers - Ryu Murakami among them - deal with subject matter so dark that in America they'd be relegated to the fringes;  in Japan they are household names.  The current governor of Tokyo prefecture (and also mayor of Tokyo, as per the law over there) is a far-right, xenophobic, nationalist nut job named Shintaro Ishihara.  Before he we went into politics Ishihara was a famous mainstream novelist -he still writes- whose themes are violence, brutality, promiscuous sex, etc.  Many of his works have been made into films, and Ishihara was also an actor.  As a politician he makes Rudy Giuliani look mild, yet as a writer he's similar to the recently deceased J.G. Ballard, or William Vollman.  This dichotomy is emblematic of Japan.

BDC: I’m trying to imagine J.G. Ballard’s work belonging to that of a public figure in the States. That is like picturing William S. Burroughs as mayor of some-town USA with a pocketful of heroin and a shot gun. (LOL).  It is a bizarre concept to me.

HAMPSAS:  A friend once asked me if there were any American politicians similar to Ishihara, novelists who had turned to government.  I couldn't think of any.  I told my friend that what made Ishihara's transition even more bizarre to me was that no American politician would even be able to get elected dog-catcher if he wrote anything remotely similar to Ishihara; that politician's rivals would attack him mercilessly as a pervert and use excerpts from his writings to discredit him.  And the public would agree.  Can you imagine anyone who wrote a novel featuring cannibalism trying to become governor of New York?  

BDC: No.  Not at all.

HAMPSAS: What's even weirder is that Ishihara's politics seem diametrically opposed to the perversions in his books.  

BDC: Yea, the only Japanese writers with whom I’m really familiar are Mishima and Abe. Tune me in a bit.

HAMPSAS: The Nobel Prize winner Yasunari Kawabata, and Yukio Mishima, are two other examples of Japan's schizoid relationship to the perverse.  For instance, Kawabata's The Lake is about a middle-aged man stalking a much younger woman.  Mishima was married and had children, yet he was obviously gay, most of his books were gay-themed and/or perverse, and he carried on openly with the transvestite performer Akihiro Miwa. (She played the title role in the film Black Lizard, which was based on a novel by Edogawa Rampo, who inspired Barbet Schroeder’s Inju.  How’s that for a lineage?)  Yet, Mishima was also a rightist who advocated for a return to Imperial times, formed his own private army -made up of handsome young men- and committed seppuku during a failed coup attempt, this after writing numerous novels and stories in which suicide is practically a sexual act.  To this day Aki Miwa is a famous personality in Japan, hosts a popular astrology TV show, and the fact that she's a transvestite who was once Mishima's consort doesn't hurt her popularity one iota.  She even voiced one of the characters in Hayao Miyazaki’s anime, Princess Mononoke.

BDC: Wild!

HAMPSAS: The Japanese have an Eastern mindset that will accept things as they are without questioning why.  Which I realize seems to contradict what I just said earlier, but that's how it is.  Americans have this tendency, or need, to dissect films and look for characters’ motivations, to have things explained, to wonder if A symbolized B, etc.  The Japanese have more of an "it is what it is" attitude, and don't need to turn films or books into parlor-game cryptograms.  


BDC: Ah, ancient paradox philosophical contemplation.  So - When did you first go over To Japan? What was it like your first journey out?

HAMPSAS:  First time I visited Tokyo, in early 2001, my then girlfriend and I went to an art theatre called Euro Space that was showing a "pink" film from 1974 called Wife to Be Sacrificed.

BDC: Bizarre!

HAMPSAS: It featured the well-known actress Naomi Tami as a woman in a sadomasochistic relationship with her husband.  I was the one who purchased the tickets at the box office, because I wanted to practice speaking Japanese, but after handing me the tickets the young woman behind the counter said to my friend, "Miss, are you sure you know what you're about to see?"  My girlfriend assured her that she did.  I found that odd, because given how my girlfriend and I looked (black leather and visible piercings, etc.) we certainly didn't come across as prudes.  And the entire rest of the audience -who sat quietly through the film without uttering a peep, or even barely moving- looked like business people out on their lunch hour.  What was odd that none of them received a warning at the box-office.

Also, Japanese movie theaters -all of them, not just ones showing pink or porn films - reserve an entire section, usually the left side, for unescorted women.  Despite (or because of?) the conservative, business-like veneer, groping and other forms of molestation are big problems in Japan, especially on the subways, which have designated "women-only" cars.

Similarly, my  girlfriend and I visited a fetish store -similar to New York's DeMask or Purple Passion- called C'est Bien.  Again, we were far and away the most outre-looking people in there.  All the other customers were suited salary-man types, briefcase in one hand while they leafed through the bondage books.  There was no sense of furtiveness or embarrassment about them either, they seemed rather calm. Eerily calm and non-reactive, I would say, given the material they were looking at.

BDC:  I have this great imaginary image of an audience of austere-expression suit wearing men sitting with placid faced women in conservative clothing watching Tokyo Decadence without response, tho wildly clapping at the end of the film with broad smiles and nods of the head, then going out to dinner and talking about nothing in particular – going home and having banging hard sex!

PART TWO

HAMPSAS:   I saw TD during its original US release, at Cinema Village in Manhattan, sometime in the early 90s; the film premiered in Japan in '92, but I’m not sure exactly when it was released here.

BDC:  It premiered at Cinema Village in July or August of 1993.  I’ve got a copy of the review from the NY Times. It is a scathing review, actually.  Film critic Stephen Holden wrote: "If Tokyo Decadence weren’t such a grim film, it might be confused with soft-core pornography!"

HAMPSAS:  The audience at the screening was largely quiet and serious and did not make any derisive comments or engage in smug laughter.  I - and most other viewers, I think- found the film to be touching.  The only laughter came when Ai was trying to scale the fence of her ex-lover's house using a ladder and fell over backwards, which had something of a - perhaps unintended - slapstick element to it.

BDC: That was a really amusing scene!  Again though, the critics did not take well to it.  Stephen Holden’s premier review comments on the bizarre sojourn Ai takes in search of false love while high on some bizarre drug:

Two thirds of the way through the film, it unaccountably switches gears and follows Ai as she tries to track down a married client with whom she fancies herself in  love. Since the man hasn’t appeared in the film, her quest has no dramatic weight. Fortified by a drug that gives her hallucinations, Ai rushes around his neighborhood like  a madwoman and eventually tries to enter his house  by climbing a ladder to a second  story window.  By this point, Tokyo Decadence has lost its bearings and becomes as blank and unfocused as its hapless leading character.

BDC continues:  I guess he never knew how bizarre "ladies in the industry" could behave in real life.  (laughs heartily out loud)  So, the audience liked that part?  Maybe it was necessary relief from the intensity of the sessions Ai experienced in the first part of the film.  No wonder she wanted to believe in love.  Those scenes were really hardcore!

HAMPSAS:   Yes, the S/M action depicted in TD was much more hardcore and "strange" than what you'd see in an American film, and takes itself more seriously.  Some moments – such as the opening scene of a bound Ai being forcibly injected, or writhing against that window to the point of exhaustion, or the way that elderly exec was humiliated by the two women- are so intense that they elicit palpable unease, the kind where viewers push back against their seats and become awkwardly aware, via identification, of their own physicality. Some of those scenes were hard to watch, but I mean that as a compliment.  Anytime strong material is dealt with honestly and head on it can be uncomfortable.  Some of my favorite films, by the likes of Tarkovsky, Bergman, or Kurosawa, are so powerful that they're exhausting to watch, and I can't see them more than once.

BDC:  Yes, Andrew, I knew YOU like powerful moments that are exhausting to view.  I believe your art lends to that genre, yes?

HAMPSAS:  Yes!  I've had people flee from my shows or even faint, which I take as high praise.  Seriously, though, I went to see Tokyo Decadence as a cinephile -I see about 150 films each year- although I admit the poster image of Miho Nikaido writhing against that window glass might have provided some extra incentive.  I didn't really know what to expect; my performance art career was just starting at that time, and although I was already doing dark pieces involving suspension, sensory deprivation, endurance, and piercing and bleeding, I was performing in theater and gallery spaces and had no personal connection with the world of commercial deviance.  At my first viewing of TD I didn't quite understand many of the codes, roles, and etiquette of Ai's profession, and sometimes wasn't sure what was going on.  It seemed she worked for an "escort" service, yet there was no intercourse involved, and she dressed like a dom, yet it was her male customers who dominated her (except for later when she meets that wealthy heroin addict dom who forces the exec to drink her pee). I subsequently saw TD twice more in later years, after I'd been performing at fetish events and personally knew many people in the business, and then the narrative become a lot clearer to me. (I find it amusing in an ironic way that Miho Nikaido went from pink movie actress in Japan to being Mrs. Hal Hartley and something of an indie-film notable here in the U.S.)

BDC:  I’m almost embarrassed to admit, I did not see the film until recently – I was on the road myself during the time it premiered in theaters.  Hey Andrew, since you’ve spent so much time traveling around Japan with your friend, do you understand what was going on with the economy?  In Rucka’s essay on the DVD he says like a scream:

THIS ISN’T AN EROTIC MOVE BUT A SCATHING CRITIQUE OF JAPANESE SOCIETY AT THE END OF THE “BUBBLE” PERIOD THAT IS CLOAKED AS A FETISH FLICK.”

I think we are sort of experiencing that here in the States right now.  Like, the 1980s into the 1990’s were sort of Fin de Siecle here in the U.S.

HAMPSAS:  Yea, I see what you are saying.  Fetish exploded in the United States in the 1980s and early 1990’s – especially with Madonna’s Sex book bringing the NY underground into the mainstream, and then every start-up reality show, like,  HBO’s Real Sex began covering the “truth behind the leather” – whatever – yea, finance is attached to this sort of thing. It really is.  As Wall Street goes, so goes the dungeon business.

 Japan's "Bubble" Economy lasted approximately from 1986 to 1990 -The Nikkei stock market crashed right near the end of '89- and although TD came out in '92, it still depicts that era.  This might be due to residual effects of the Bubble which lasted for a short time after the crash, but I suspect that when Murakami conceived and then wrote TD "The Bubble" was still in full force, but had popped by the time filming began.  The movie was made right on the cusp of a seismic economic shift, and by the time it premiered it depicted an era that had just passed.  (Kind of like what happened here in the U.S. recently with the awful Confessions of a Shopaholic.)

"The Bubble" was a wild time in Japan.  Stock and real estate prices were staggeringly, ridiculously high, and wages were high as well.  Many young people were able to do quite well with just part-time work, and had scads of disposable income to splurge on ritzy hotel stays, designer goods, luxe dinners, and expensive gifts, such as jewelry, for even casual friends.  Late at night in entertainment districts, such as Ginza, people would compete for scarce taxis by seeing who could wave the thickest wad of cash at the drivers (Seriously!).  When the Bubble did crash it crashed big time, and many people were stuck with assets now worth only a fraction of their original, highly inflated purchase prices. To extrapolate, the number of people who'd be able to afford the company of women like Ai would have dropped precipitously after 1990.

BDC:  How many people WANT people like Ai, I wonder?  Hmm. Okay, changing the subject a bit, Andrew, since you were traveling over to Japan, did TD have any effect on street fashion the way the many American films influence fashion here?

HAMPSAS: TD did not, to my knowledge, have any noticeable effect on street fashion, nor did it increase awareness of deviance or make it any more or less acceptable.   Street fashion in Japan is mainly dictated by a handful of female pop stars (Ayumi Hamasaki, Namie Amuro, Hikaru Utada, Kumi Koda, etc.) whose looks are then copied by legions of young women.  The result is that you get huge numbers of women all doing the same look, and if you're familiar with the J-Pop scene it's readily apparent whose style they're copying.  These pop stars frequently change their looks, which then results in street fashion shifting as well.  When singers appear on Japanese TV, as soon as they emerge onto the stage the camera will slowly tilt up and down their entire bodies so viewers can study their complete outfits, from shoes to hairstyle.

These same phenomena of course happen in the U.S., to a degree, but in Japan's monoethnic society the effect is more pronounced, and uniform.  I was once in an Osaka department store during a sale day, and it looked like the place had been invaded by an army of Ayumi Hamasaki clones: hundreds of young women with dyed blonde hair, crop tops bearing semi-coherent English-language messages (such as "Full On"), miniskirts, elaborately decorated nails, and spangly gold high-heeled sandals.

At times during their careers some of those aforementioned J-Pop stars have flirted with S&M imagery -leather, latex, PVC, riding crops, etc.- but only in a superficial, transient way that came long after TD (post 2000) and had nothing to do with it.  In 2007 Namie Amuro released a song called "Hide and Seek," in which she wore Dom gear (military cap, riding crop, corset, thigh-high stilettos) for the accompanying video and for most of her live appearances during the next several months as well.  However, that look was a bit too extreme to translate into street wear.  I was in Japan at that time, and one afternoon I visited a friend.  One of her sons, a young teenager, arrived home from school and turned on the TV to watch a music show.  Ms. Amuro was on, in her fetish outfit, strutting around and flogging her male backup dancers.

BDC:  Anything else you want to share with me about deviant culture in Japan before we cut out here?

HAMPSAS:  Here are some other aspects of Japan which relate to TD peripherally rather than directly:  During two of my visits to Osaka I stayed at a large Western-style hotel.  One of the pay channels on the hotel's cable system showed fetish videos 24-7, and that channel had a separate glossy magazine guide, issued monthly, which was prominently displayed in a rack next to my TV.  There was a provocatively posed model on the cover, and inside, along with the program listings, were features on the models, including their "vital statistics."  It was like the yearbook of a pro sports team, but with fetish models instead of athletes.  Each night when I returned to the hotel, after the maid had been in to clean up, I would find that guide freshly dusted and neatly replaced in its rack -I usually left it in my bed after flipping through it- with the cover facing out.  I could get a free preview of that fetish channel for 40 seconds at a time, after which the picture would go out and I'd have to pay if I wanted to continue.  Free previews were only available once every hour, but I was able to use that to get a sampling of what was on:  all manner of bondage; strange latex outfits with outward-projecting spikes; "follow videos" showing little more than some mouth-breathing letch pursuing an attractive young woman down the street, from a distance;  young women in schoolgirl outfits kicking inflatable balls around with their stockinged feet; a woman eating an ice cream cone in a manner suggesting fellatio, and so on.   That kind of cable service is the norm in certain Japanese hotels.

Do you know what a "labu-ho" is?

BDC:  No. Though it sounds like a fun word!

HAMPSAS: It is! -  It means "love hotel," which is a type of Japanese hotel specifically designed for assignations.  Young people in Japan don't have the degree of privacy that their American counterparts do -they tend to leave home later, and dwellings are much smaller- so a hotel room becomes a necessity for sexual encounters.  However, unlike a typical American "hot sheet motel," which is usually sleazy, dirty, and dangerous, labu-hos are a bizarre genre unto themselves.  Rather than attempting to be discreet and blend in, they all but shout out their purpose with garish architectural designs suggesting flying saucers, pirate ships, igloos, etc., and lurid neon color schemes.  These places hide in plain sight; everyone knows what they are there for, and many people use them, but no one will talk about them (except to a partner). I was once on the elevated Hanshin expressway in Kobe, in a car driven by my friend's mother, when we passed a labu-ho district.  I had not been there before, but it was obvious from the buildings' designs and color schemes what they were.  

BDC:   Just out of curiosity, did you ever sneak away for a weekend at one of those Labu-Ho?

HAMPSAS:  No, no I never stayed in one of these legendary places but one day I must, just for the experience!

BDC:  I totally would!  I guess that is also why I liked TD. I found Tokyo Decadence a really enjoyable, nicely slow paced, dark escapism from the mundane of day-to-day working class life.  Right now I have it playing in the background as I transcribe this interview -   the totally weirdo guy who pretends to be Kermit the Frog is laughing like a mad-man about to be asphyxiated with panty hose into a near-death experience.  Yea, we don’t really go there in American films…

HAMPSAS: There are two other fairly recent Japanese films that deal honestly and maturely with fetishism and are worth checking out.  Akihiko Shiota’s Gekko No Sasayaki (Moonlight Whispers), made in 1999, is a bittersweet coming of age/love story that just happens to be a fetish tale as well.  A masochistic teenage boy named Takuya, falls in love with a girl named Satsuki.  He wants to be dominated by her, and he also fetishizes her schoolgirl uniform and other articles of clothing.  At first Satsuki is repelled and disgusted by Takuya’s unconventional urges –at one point she shrieks “Hentai!”(pervert) at him- but eventually her inner dominant is awakened and the two develop a mutually pleasurable relationship.
   
Sasayaki also examines the whole nature vs. nurture argument about fetishes, something that has long fascinated me: Are we born with them, or are they learned behavior?  Takuya believes he’s born “wrong,” as a curse.  Based on my own experiences, I'd say that fetishes -or their absence- are hardwired into people, just as sexual preference is.  I can't ever remember not having my fetishes; they date back at least as far as the advent of memory.  One thing that puzzles me though, is how come certain fetishes seem hardwired into me, yet those fetishes cause me to lust after objects which only came into existence relatively recently; before my birth, yes, but only a few decades before.  That one I haven't figured out.
   
Jun Ichikawa’s Tony Takitani, from 2004, is based on a novel by Haruki (not Ryu) Murakami, and coincidentally was scored by Ryuichi Sakamato.  The title character is a repressed, middle-aged illustrator who marries a much younger and more attractive woman.  She's a fashionista who's main pastime is shopping for designer clothing and shoes.  That obsession is part of what attracts Tony to her in the first place; he loves the way she "inhabits" her clothes, but when he asks her to give up this passion it leads to her death.  Tony is left with rooms full of his dead wife's outfits.  He takes out a classified add seeking a secretary, but specifies that applicants must have certain physical dimensions and sizes, which happen to be the same as his dead wife.  The woman he hires looks like the dead wife's twin (and is played by the same actress, Rie Miyazawa), and gradually Tony gets her to come to work every day wearing an outfit and shoes that belonged to his ex-wife.  Eventually their relationship deepens. Most people either detested this film, or were baffled or bored by it.  I had some contentious discussions about this movie, and no one I spoke to "got it."  As per usual with the subject of fetishism, it was always a case of "If you have to ask, you just won't understand."  Most viewers perceived Tony as a pervert or sicko; I didn't see it that way at all; this was a man who truly loved his wife, and like a clothing or other fetish, that love existed on a plane so deep and intense it was beyond words.  Then again, I suspect I can empathize with and understand Tony like few people can (A case of "It takes one to know one"), and can do so without embarrassment or shame.  Unlike Takuya in Sasayaki, I do not believe that fetishism is a curse.  Quite the opposite...   Wong Kar Wai’s The Hand episode from the omnibus film Eros(2004) also featured a clothing fetish.  Chang Chen played a tailor who lusted unrequitedly for an icily unattainable prostitute (Gong Li.)  He sublimates his desire into, and has a physical relationship with  the beautiful outfits he crafts for her.

BDC: Hm, on that note, we will leave the rest of the story up to the readers imagine.  Just remember the three keys to happiness:

  • Place a phone book under your television.



  • Do not go to art openings in the east because of the mist



  • Find a stone of pink & place it in a ring for good luck –preferably a stone of Topaz that will ward off ill-will.



If you follow all three of these divine rules, you will be viewed with favor by God; if not, you may find yourself on a most strange and unusual sexual sojourn with completely random bizarre acts and actions  happening to you and all around you!

Until we know whether the prophecy is true, let us love nakedly like two mermaids (from a fun musical score within the film)! Thank you, Andrew, for sharing your experiences!

Tokyo Decadence aka “TD”, written and directed by Ryu Murakami, was released  in 1992.  The DVD is available through Cinema Epoch.  Japanese with English subtitles.