John Skeleton – Now Live from Hong Kong!

The scent of autumn is in the air, and the end of October is drawing near…you know what that means! It’s time to jam-pack your homes with jack-o’-lanterns and break out your besoms for the spookiest night of the year, All Hallow’s Eve! But before that, some of you may just be wondering where I have been for these past few months…

Photo by National Geographic

For those who haven’t heard, let’s just say that the pursuit of my studies of Japan, Asia, and the Gothic have led me from my castle deep in the mountains of Japan to a much more metropolitan environment – the legendary Pearl of the Orient, Hong Kong! From among his colorful cataclysm of cosmopolitanism and East-meets-West sensibilities, I will attempt to give my insight into Goth from an Asian perspective through this blog. Shifting from a focus on horror films, from now on I will extend to the Gothic in film, literature, games, music, events, and anything else that I find interesting. Changes to my site may be slow in coming, so for now I will attempt to give you some highlights of what I’ve been up to.

My history with the Japanese body modification scene goes way back, but it was only this April that, thanks to my dear friend and Tokyo subcultures author/blogger/journalist La Carmina, I was able to experience something complete different: becoming a bagel head!

Maybe you missed the memo, but the bagel head trend has gone viral after being featured on National Geographic’s hit show Taboo (the bagel head episode originally aired on Sept. 24, 2012). The process involves injecting the body with a sterile saline solution to create a large protrusion that, while completely disappearing after 24 hours, looks mysteriously like something that might go well with cream cheese.

John Skeleton as a Bagel Head!

The bagel head trend went viral after being covered in La Carmina’s blog countless media outlets, including The Huffington Post and BuzzFeed to name a few. A few reports got the story wrong though, claiming the unique body mod phenomena as a hot new fashion trend sweeping Japan and having permanent or negative effects. La Carmina and I were interviewed by The Japan Times and set the record straight there and in her popular blog.

The bagel head filming took place in April while I was still in Japan, but since then I’ve been keeping busy here in Hong Kong as well. Although it’s not Goth-related in anyway, for those interested Japanese anime and popular culture, you may be interested to know that the earless cat robot Doraemon is quite popular here in HK! I reported on an exhibit celebrating 100 years before the fictional birth of manga duo Fujiko Fujio’s futuristic creation. You can read my full report and see more photos here in La Carmina’s post.

John Skeleton & Doraemon

La Carmina, who also works as a TV presenter and production arranger, also recently visited Hong Kong, and many adventures were had. And these stories shall also be told…in a later post! For now, you can find a sneak peak here while I get a severed-head-start on the horrifying Halloween events yet to come…until next time, happy hauntings!

Walpurgisnacht 2011

Now to the Brocken the witches hie,
The stubble is yellow, the corn is green;
Thither the gathering legions fly,
And sitting aloft is Sir Urian seen:
O’er stick and o’er stone they go whirling along,
Witches and he-goats, a motley throng.

- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, “Faust”

Tonight is a most magical night, the night of Walpurgis.  Also associated with the pagan holiday of Beltane, Walpurgis Night falls on the eve of May Day, exactly between the Vernal Equinox and Summer Solstice.  While it owes its name to Saint Walpurga (ca. 710-777/9), the holiday has come to represent fertility and continued life, heralding the coming of spring and the end of the frigid winter months.  According to legend it is also a time when witches hold their revelries in a great sabbat, a scene that has been depicted in great works of art and literature for centuries.  

Tonight is a time of change, and a time to celebrate the joy of living.  I have a very special ritual in mind for the arrival of spring and a new chapter in my life.  I invite my gentle readers to also take this time to reflect and invigorate their lives with the ecstatic pleasures of carnal existence.

Let him that hath understanding understand.

666

These are dark times

As most of you already know, the horrific earthquake that devastated northeastern Japan on Friday has left in its wake an estimated death toll in excess of 10,000 in Miyagi Prefecture alone.  The aftershocks continue in what is now said to have been a temblor measuring 9 on the Japanese seismic scale, making it the largest in recorded history.  The nuclear reactor in Fukushima is unstable, and nearly 150,000 people have been evacuated from the surrounding areas to escape possible nuclear fallout. 

Japan’s situation truly is like something out of a movie.  Store shelves are bare, trains have been halted, and electricity and water are a luxury some are unable to enjoy even in the Tokyo metropolitan area, to say nothing of the areas closer to the epicenter.  I am, at least, happy to say that all of my dear friends in Japan have escaped the damage unscathed, and while Castle Skeleton was shaken up a bit, my area has remained largely unaffected.  Even so, it was an overwhelming experience to watch the images on the television broadcasted live on Friday afternoon, literally watching people die before my eyes on the screen.

My heart goes out to all of those who have lost loved ones in this tragic disaster, and my friends and I will do what we can to aid in the ongoing relief efforts.

Swag from the “HELLDRIVER” Premiere + NOH8 in Tokyo!

I hope that everyone enjoyed my review of Helldriver!  I would be very glad if, despite my small gripes about the editing, the overall tone was positive and conveyed even a small portion of the gut-wrenching delight that was imparted to me by the film.  Yoshihiro Nishimura is a maverick filmmaker and FX artist who is worthy of all of the attention that he gets (and he deserves even more).  Please support his work by checking out the films when they come to a theater near you!

Before I get into any more reviews, I thought I would show off some of the goodies that I picked up at the Helldriver premiere in Shibuya.  Unfortunately, to my knowledge there are no official goods from the film available at the moment, but I managed to make off with some fun swag nonetheless!

  1. Tokyo Gore Police “Gore Edition” DVD.  I picked this up when it was first released, but now it’s been signed by the director himself!  Thank you, Mr. Nishimura!
  2. Hand towels featuring Pabaan, the image production group that includes Nishimura Eizo Co., Ltd. 
  3. Tokyo Gore Police mini-notebook!  The front says “Tokyo Police Corporation,” while the back features the TGP logo.  The silhouetted figure on the front cover is probably meant to be a loose parody of the actual Tokyo Police mascot character, Pipo-kun.
  4. Ultimo mondo cannibale (1977), better known in English as Last Cannibal World, directed by Ruggero Deodato.  The precursor to the director’s more notorious Cannibal Holocaust (1979), this film is apparently one of Nishimura’s favorites, and thus was available at the booth as one of his recommended titles.  While I saw Cannibal Holocaust ages ago, I recently viewed this one for the first time, and so I may post a review of it at a later date.
  5. A pair of signed bromide photos featuring Maki Mizui and pole dancer Cay Izumi (collectively known as Izumizui), both of whom graced the screen as undead in Helldriver and are frequent collaborators with Nishimura and company.
  6. Limited edition Helldriver chewing gum!  This was a special little gift handed out personally by Mr. Nishimura and his staff.  From what I could tell there were three different zombie designs.  Mine features Maki Mizui’s “spider zombie” happily flipping the bird, while the back is printed with the blood-dripping logo of Nishimura Eizo Co., Ltd.
  7.  The logo in the form of a cell phone strap, complete with a zombie horn/antenna.
  8. The ticket stub, backed by Mr. Nishimura as featured on the cover of Metropolis magazine.

On a more random note,  my friend and Gothic Lolita blogger LA CARMINA  is helping to bring the NOH8 Campaign to Tokyo later this month.  This certainly may seem to have little or nothing to do with horror, but as a U.S. citizen living in Japan I find this campaign to be an important movement with a positive message, and I would like to express my support.  We children of the night are often some of the most open-minded and individualistic people one could have the pleasure of meeting, but we sometimes come under fire for our interests and lifestyles due to prejudice and ignorance.  As such, I think that NOH8 may resonate deeply with such members of the “Addams clan.”

LA CARMINA X NOH8

The NOH8 campaign began as a protest against Prop 8, and now has a larger message of fighting inequality.  Photographer Adam Bouska has taken over 10,000 photos of people wearing white, with duct tape over their mouths, including celebrities: Adam Lambert, Tori Spelling, Ashlee Simpson, Gene Simmons, Kim Kardashian and Paris Hilton.

The NOH8 campaign will be in Tokyo in late March, with an open photo shoot on March 27 (1-5 PM at New Lex Roppongi.)  Click here for full information in English.  Click here for full information in Japanese.  If you support the message of this campaign and would like to come out and have your photo taken to support the movement, please drop by the New Lex Roppongi on March 27 and spread the word!