Tokyo, where no one would be surprised no matter how extraordinary your fashion is. Cosplay culture is now very popular, “skirt boys” “make-up boys” become trends among young people and the LGBT boom is rising widely in recent years. On the other hands, it is the fact that it is still difficult to come out as LGBT to family or colleague and people’s understanding of diversity of sexuality is shallow.
An entertainment group “Josoko Revue” that symbolizes this transition period has appeared. Their first show “Shinigami (Death God) The Musical” was held in Shinjuku in January this year, they had 14 performances for 9 days and mobilized a total of 2,500 people, produced a lot of funs and repeaters, and made a great success.
“Josoko” is a slang in Japanese, it means transvestite. This theater company was formed by 30 josokos, they were gathered by Ms. Kuriko who runs a famous transvestites’ salon “Onnanoko Club” and a burlesque dancer, Ms. Margaret Igorroom who is the only actress in the theater company, and the most of whom are inexperienced at acting and dancing. How did the musical win the hearts of many audiences and make such a great success? I interviewed Mr. Ichiro Nitta, the president and producer of Narado Entertainment who produced them.
Mr. Nitta is a professional musician, composer and music producer, the band “Spectrum” that he formed in 1979 had a great influence on the music industry with its high musicality and very unique fashion. He also have been producing numerous famous musicians and idols and offering songs.In this performance, all songs are composed and produced totally by him. “I think that most of Japanese really has strong discrimination, just they never say it expressly.” he says. “”Josoko Revue” might be regarded as aimed at LGBT but it is not. Our challenge is how it can be understood and expanded to the general public.”
One of the strong points of their performance is the universality of messages. The first performance “Shinigami The Musical” consisted of the original song, dances and the script based on a “Death God” which is a famous classical story of Rakugo which is Japanese traditional comic storytelling and become a boom among young people these days. Even those who came to see their performances with curiosity were drawn to the depth of the scripts citing traditional performing arts and the massages from the lines and lyrics. Especially their powerful and beautiful songs and dances was going beyond audience’s expectations. It can be said that their strong presence has touch the audience’s heart only with his direction that bring out the personalities of the members.
“What I consider as a producer is how I can take advantage of the category of LGBT, which means how I can ride on the strength of it and at the same time make audiences forget about it. It is necessary to think carefully not to spoil their charms by emphasize the features of “Josoko” too much. That’s why I’m saying to the members, “Think that ”Josoko Revue” is just your band name. ”
In addition, the live stage performance is very important for them to show themselves. He is very conscious of the risk of being exposed to the media from his experience. “A band boom that had broken out once, TV programs made a lot of bands and it lowered the professional band’s quality as a result. Therefore the music industry cut it’s own throat. There is a danger that such booms could worse their situation. Even though we try to make people to understand about LGBT, it would be totally counterproductive to them when they are shown through mass media because it tends to label and stereotype them. They demand more strong impact and set them up as a kind of “freaks”. That’s why it is essential that each audience can make real contact with them.”
After the first performance, they changed their name to “Zenryoku! Revue” and are preparing for the next show which will be held at a larger venue from 21 to 23 June. It is also musical with more powerful songs and dances, the story based on classical Rakugo. Their new entertainment is now evolving remarkably.