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Vivienne Sato

by Judit Kawaguchi

Vivienne Sato is a unique cultural concierge in Tokyo, full of the lowdown on both high art and mass culture. Vivi knows what and who’s happening in the city 24/365, and if she’s present, the party is on till the wee-wee hours. Always dressed to the nines — and often to the nine hundreds — with her signature towering wigs and platform shoes, Vivi rules over the city’s night scene as a benevolent drag queen. Her social life might be an endless partyathon, but her private one is all about art: She is a painter, illustrator, movie critic and architect. And this homebody alter-ego is no party animal: The artist Vivi loves working in the quiet with just the hushed steps of her 17 tarantulas providing the background music: Italy’s Tarantella, of course!

I’m average in Tokyo. I really don’t stick out that much. It’s just my wig that stands out, not me. I mean, Japanese love uniforms, and not only kids but adults also do cosplay, so I am just another normal urban creature. In Tokyo, anything is OK.

Without makeup, I’m just a guy. Even with it, I’m still a man, but one who wears more eye shadow than most women.

All people are strange. Gays or drag queens are not special: Humans are all unique.

Every day is a drama. It’s fun because I don’t have a preordained scenario, I just make one up as I go along.

Each city has its high points, but Tokyo is all exclamation points! It keeps getting better, even if it’s already the best.

Having talent for something doesn’t mean you want to do it. I used to run bars around town, and I was great at it, but I’m so glad not to be involved in that business anymore. Back then I was talking to one person at a time, but now I throw parties that mean something to many more. Party on!

If someone gets mad at you, relax: It’s a good thing. You’re lucky: They care about you. Sure, being yelled at is painful, but being ignored is even worse. I feel thankful if someone loves me enough to correct my wrongs.

I know it’s anti-PC, but I’ll say it anyway: Foreigners in Japan are selfish. They push their sense of values on Japanese all the time. We Japanese are also to be blamed for this, as we let foreigners get away with anything. But, I don’t! I treat foreigners like I treat Japanese: I yell at them if they upset me.

PC is BS. Political correctness is just wrong! I am against PC ideas because they are just another set of rules that seem right for now but will be thought wrong tomorrow.

Everyone is equally important. I don’t make a distinction between people based on fame or wealth or connections. As a drag queen, I have the freedom to say whatever I want to whomever I want.

If you have too much personality, it might clash with other characters. I was invited to a private party at Disneyland. I went without makeup and dressed up there. Once we finished our show, the host asked me to stay for dinner. But the staff told me to take off my makeup as rules forbid drag queens in the park. Gosh, I might be charged with unlawful eating and entering and exiting, I thought. Imagine Mickey’s face then!

We all have our own value and roles. I’m promoting “The Missing Peace,” an art project about the Dalai Lama. Till he goes back to Tibet, maybe I’ll have to keep doing drag. It could drag on forever!

All those people who think that makeup is a way to hide the face are wrong. For me, as I add each color, I feel like I’m taking off another layer of skin, until finally the real me, intense and bright, appears.

Words are living and texts never die. Writers are magicians.

I’m not so gay. I love everyone! Actually, I don’t need love. I’m too busy.

Sex is not interesting. I don’t trust sex because it’s too different from my reality, which I know, though, may seem more like a fantasy to others.

Falling in love is too much trouble. Platonic love is good, but it can be directed towards just about anything, a human being or a cup, too.

Sex is a form of communication, but so is playing catch. And how often do I play ball? Never! So why would I need to have sex? Just thinking of preparing the glove, the ball, the players, I’m already tired. I tried making love with both genders, but neither interested me.

Don’t be a drama queen when you can be the king of comedy. When I used to drive, policemen knew me in Shibuya, Minato and Shinjuku wards. They were always sweet and advised me to drive safely. But once I was stopped outside my turf, in a different ward. I was in my usual getup, driving my dad’s car. My father is a clean freak, so he has lots of towels and a pair of scissors in the glovebox to chop them into smaller pieces to wipe the car. Once the cops saw the scissors, they treated it like a major weapon and me like a minor criminal. I was taken to the police station and asked many questions, such as why I carried scissors. I had time, so I enjoyed the silliness. Any experience can be a chance to have fun — even getting arrested.

Gender is not clear-cut. I have tarantulas but have no idea which is male or female. Humans are like that, too.

K.Y. people K.O. me. (K.Y. — kuuki yomenai means “someone who can’t read the air,” — someone who doesn’t have the right social skills.) Yes, it’s amazing how many folks just don’t get it. Many are foreigners. They might have been living in Japan for a long time and speak fluent Japanese, but they are still clueless as to what we really mean when we say, “I’m pretty busy,” or “Hmm, this is a bit difficult.” For Japanese both mean: “No, I’m not interested.” But foreigners think that although we are busy, we still want to meet. No!

Japanese LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender/transsexual, queer and questioning) people don’t need a liberation movement. We are free to swing wherever we want. In Japan, such people have always been accepted.

Artists and drag queens are the same. We all want attention and money, yet never have enough of either. And that’s OK!

Judit Kawaguchi loves to listen. She is a volunteer counselor and a TV reporter on NHK’s “Out & About.” Learn more at: juditfan.blog58.fc2.com/