Photography by Bo Roberts (most of it)
Today is my last day in Tokyo, and also my 24th birthday. We’re shooting the campaign for a new clothing brand called Arnold Palmer (think Marc Jacobs, but with a splash of lemonade) The timing couldn’t have been better!
As with any photo shoot, there is plenty of downtime to write this final Asian Edition entry:
The Vicious Guide to Japan
Symbol: a dead whale under a rising sun (they are lobbying to change it to that awesome robot-toilet)
Population: 127 million, approx density of 2million-jillion per square kilometer
Languages: Japanese, hand signs
Food: sushi (anything from fish to horse to chicken is fair game... and delicious), katsu, soybean everything
Religions: Dragonball Z, Pokémon, Hello Kitty and One Piece. There is also a small contingent that ritually prays to the Shinkansen high-speed train system (of which I am a devout member).
Infrastructure: best roads and public transit in the world, although there are only four public trash cans in the entire city of Tokyo... and they’re all ‘recyclables-only’
National Pastimes: waiting in line, crossing the street, smoking (everywhere), taking too many photos, video game bars, video game arcades, video-game theme-parks, video game conventions, video game themed cosplay, molesting women in the subway, bukkake, sumo wrestling and baseball... all while being completely adorable!
Natural resources: anime, giant lizard-monsters, way too many alphabets
Exports: funny looking cars, disposable fashion, over-valued collectibles for nerds, tsunami-relief concerts, three-eyed fishes
Well known fact: Japan has the world’s lowest homicide rate, but the highest suicide rate.
Little known fact: nobody here is actually a ninja. Except KFM and me.
It’d been over a month in Japan and I hadn’t gotten out of Tokyo for more than a couple half-day shoots. All the guys were constantly talking about going on weekend trips... but then Friday would come and kick our asses. Jumanji would keep us out well into Saturday morning, we would wake up just before sunset with practically no money and have zero chance of going anywhere new. I vowed this weekend would be different. THIS weekend I would make new friends, see a new place and maybe even learn a valuable life lesson!
A photographer named 福島晴之 from a client called S.O.S Sportswear (we were shooting an ad for a new jacket zipper) invited me surfing with him and some friends in Kashima beach, two hours outside of Tokyo. They were leaving Saturday morning at 6:30AM from the shoot location. Normally I’m suspect of clients inviting me on vacation (especially photographers, as those of you who read this blog would know), but the Japanese people are all so nice that for once getting molested wasn’t even a question.
The agency was not thrilled with my request to take off surfing for the Oban holiday weekend. “I do not recommend models to go surfing” the email reply said, “there is a chance you might get hurt, or worse, getting sun tan. You are responsible for damages if it happens.” In their eyes, staying in town to drink lethal amounts of alcohol and smoke potpourri was a smarter choice than getting fresh air and exercise, since the clients want their models porcelin-white. If the job requires a tan, they can do it with a spray-gun!
On Friday night the agency had a little party on the roof to watch the festival fireworks in our next-door neighborhood, Harijuku. Afterword we had post-party/Jumanji-pregame drinks at Eric and Aussie’s place in the apartment below mine. The Aussy was already drunk because he’d changed into his Batman towel/shirt to go out in. When the time came to hit the clubs, Harden called me a ‘Little Beetch’ repeatedly for not coming to entertaining the half-dozen girls that now follow him around.
I don’t remember getting up at 5:30AM to meet 福島晴之 and his friend... but I woke up in the front seat of a Nisan parked on a beautiful black sand beach at about 10AM (totally un-molested, mind you!) The waves were head-high, glassy and steep. We met up with three more car-fulls of their friends and by 10:30 had a pretty legitimate crew.
福島晴之 had an Al Merrick surfboard for me and his friend Endo gave me a choice of either a short-sleeve style wetsuit or a dry suit. It was hot out so I opted for the wetsuit, even though it was small. The choice turned tragic when the suit got shrinkage in the water and attempted to neuter me every time I stood up.
During the second session I tried to surf in just a pair of board-shorts and a long-sleeve rash guard. The air was warm but the water was freezing, due to some bazaar mini-current that brought arctic water down through the nearby town of Fukushima (yep, THAT Fukushima... I never did find a three-eyed shark, though.) Only ten minutes after the paddle-out I was shaking so hard that the nearby surfers broke their usual Japanese composure to laugh at me until I went back to the car and put on the dry suit.
It had been almost a year since I’ve gone surfing (and it’s one of the very few things I’m not ridiculously good it). By the third paddle-out, the four hours of trying to surf had turned my arms to jello. But I refused to be The Beetch among such an androgynous looking group of men who I later found out were middle-aged! The other guys were tired too, but I’m pretty sure they were all hanging in there because they wanted to look cool in front of me.
We all stayed at a Ryokan (traditional Japanese inn) where they served a 6-course meal that included sashimi, some sort of super-bitter pickle-thing, fish balls and an entire boiled squid. The evening was spent drinking beer, smoking cigarettes like Europeans, showing Endo’s 8-year-old son inappropriate American cartoons and, of course, learning each others language... although they still claim that ‘Love’ and ‘Rub’ sound exactly the same. The highlight of the night was explaining what the word ‘Chink-eyes’ meant, because ‘Chinko’ is a popular Japanese slang word for ‘Schlong’
Japanese style is all about order and following rules. I went out to the car for my backpack and came back to find all of the sandals in the doorway had been perfectly lined up next to each other. It’s these little things that made this place so special, and almost make up for the fact that everything is 10 times more expensive than in Thailand.
Everyone was hanging out in my room when my roommate 福島晴之 came in from his shower and suggested I check out the spa downstairs because it had a hot tub. I knew the traditional Japanese places were naked-mandatory and anti-tattoo, but 福島晴之 said it was so late that nobody would be there to care.
It was really dark down there and probably closed. The entry to the men’s and women’s bathing areas were only marked with Kanji characters; one doorway had a a red fabric and the other blue. My gut reaction was blue but there were girl-voices coming from inside. I decided on red, but left the lights off. It was ten minutes into my soak when the light in the changing room came on. The timing couldn’t have been worse; I bolted to get my towel and slammed into a 3-foot-tall Japanese cleaning lady. I tried to apologize in Japanese but she was screaming so loud that all I could do was grab my things and sprint upstairs. There were about twelve people in my bedroom drinking beers when I scrambled in, covering myself with a towel in front and my clothes in the back. They smiled and told me I probably shouldn’t come back to this Ryokan again.
Breakfast the next day was served at 7am and included white rice, miso soup, a small fried fish, bitter/salty seaweed salad and beans that were held together by some snot-like substance. The lady from the bathroom was serving the food. She wouldn’t look me in the eye.
Everybody was so sore that the day’s surf session only lasted 2-3 hours. The Oban holiday was in full swing and there were thousands of little surfers out in the water. Luckily they are the nicest I’d ever met. Despite cutting off several people and almost knocking out a few more, all I got was smiles. I wore the dry suit again and -like in all these Asian adventures- I ended up with a pretty sunburned neck by the end of the day.
We went to lunch after and made it back to Tokyo by about 4:30. Leif-the-roommate and his new girlfriend had just woken up and were watching Youtube videos in bed. He told me that the Aussy had bought a new costume piece...
...and Harden got banned from Jumanji on Friday night. On Saturday night he was arrested for fighting with some police officers.
I was bummed to miss out on those kind of events here in town, but it was definitely more rewarding to make such great local friends and see such a beautiful new place.
Even a valuable life lesson was learned: don’t pee in a dry suit.
It’s finally time to come out with the big secret: my name is not Max Vicious. I am not a 23-year-old model/actor/flamer, I don’t fly once a week traveling the world in search of adventure and I don’t model for disposable fashion. For the last few years I’ve been ghost-writing for a boy named Max Emerson (with his permission) using the thinly-veiled persona Max Vicious.
As of today this blog has reached 65,000 hits (50,000 if you don’t count the roughly 5,000 from me doing updates and the 10,000 from Max staring at himself, hitting the refresh button repeatedly.) Last week, Max contacted me, complaining that the latest stories haven’t focused enough on him. It’s surprising that he even noticed this, given the fact that he’s literally only semi-literate. It’s always something with him, though. Every day he’s like, “I look puffy in this picture”, “White people aren’t allowed to say that” or “You make me sound like a whore” ...and I’ve done had enough.
My name is Lawanda Jackson and I’m a 47-year-old executive assistant at a paralegal firm located in the outskirts of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I’ve been ghost-writing as Max Vicious since 2009.
I’ve never been to Europe, Australia or Asia. I’ve never even been outside of the midwest... although I have tried sushi once. Facebook friends excluded, I’ve never met a homosexual person. I’ve never done anything that would warrant the attention this blog has received... although I have done some modeling in my younger years.
Now, don’t go judging me because I find it fun to misrepresent myself online. Facebook is an encyclopedia of defense mechanisms where every single person exaggerates, lies and photoshops their lives to utter perfection. For example, how many do-overs did it take you to get that self portrait you uploaded this month? I think if anything my style is LESS wrong because I don’t delude myself into thinking that the avatar I’m playing as is actually me. Okay? Okay!
I learned of Max years ago while chatting on Facebook as one of my shirtless male personas. After a month of friendship with who I thought was him, the profile was deleted because the real Max reported the fake profile. It took a week of research (he uses a different first name online due to impersonators), but eventually I found and friended the elusive twink.
Starting two years ago, I used pictures from his profile to create this blog. It was months before he caught wind of it. Instead of being upset and reporting me, he thanked me for getting him so much attention and encouraged me to keep writing. Even I was a little weirded out by his response. His ever-growing need for attention has gotten on my nerves more and more through the years and last week was the final straw.
Apparently he’s got too much free time in Tokyo and has been obsessing over the online persona I’ve created for him. He’s been on my ass for the last two months because the stories have been more about the friends he’s met than him. Can I help it if they’re more interesting?! It was in a Skype conversation last week where he truly crossed the line. He called me horrible names and said things that can never be taken back. We were both sobbing hysterically by the end of the video call.
It’s in light of this that I’ve decided to write this farewell entry and then turn the blog over to him. The intent is to confirm and dispel a few of the myths surrounding the unappreciative object of my affections:
Aliases: ‘Kick’ (family), ‘Max le douche’ (people who know him well), ‘Boy’ (Asians)
Age: 23 (though looks older, acts younger)
Parents: Darlene Emerson (a waitress in an Orlando Hooters) and Andy Dick (estranged)
Hobbies: travel, catering, talking to his reflection, messing with foreigners, teaching/debating subjects he has no actual knowledge of, transvestitism, magic, ambidextrous masturbation, pretending to be an actor/director and harassing/stalking somebody he calls “The Beej”
Rumored celebrity affairs: Joseph Gordon Levitt, Neil Patrick Harris (and that beautiful man he’s married to), an anchorman on Channel 7 in Miami, Lance Bass and numerous Saudi princes
Confirmed celebrity affairs: Tom Cruise, Jason Kennedy, Chaz Bono, Anderson Cooper, Denzel Washington, Slash, Chase Crawford and the entire 2009 Hollister campaign cast.
Little known fact: used to wet the bed regularly until middle school. Sometimes wet the bed in college... from across the room.
Criminal record: is technically a registered sex offender for indecent exposure charge last May (was arrested for peeing on a New York City street). Also, he’s suspected in the plot to bomb a Chic-Fil-A while Sarah Palin was inside.
So this is it; a final farewell to my loyal readers. I’m officially turning this site over to the man-child it’s based on. Hopefully he knows how to use spell-check.You'll certainly enjoy the site’s rightful author telling you about how wonderful he is...
Thank you for humoring me while I lived vicariously through such a semi-interesting person.
And to Max: I wish you the best, you fruity little nut-cake. I hope your life becomes as not-pathetic as I made it seem in this blog.
My apologies for the delay in this update (and the exhausting length). It’s a tough task to live through these adventures AND write them down. It’s a wonder I can even remember them!
The weekend (and my babysitting duties) started on Wednesday again last week for my roommates Gib and Leif. They started around midnight at Harden’s new apartment by drinking tallboys of “Strong Zero” (a dangerous, 8% alcohol beverage that tastes exactly like Fresca) and smoking a Marijuana-alternative called ‘Spice’. Spice is essentially a natural’ oregano-like plant combined with synthetic cannaboids that is sold as an incense-product in head shops. It’s similar to the now-popular ‘Bath Salts’, except Spice doesn’t usually inspire zombie-like side effects like the desire to eat flesh. Spice’s side effects are moderate by comparison and include rapid heart rate, agitation, confusion, vomiting, myocardial ischemia, raised blood pressure, heart attack...
...and in this particular case; Kleptomania. I woke up on Thursday morning to find an army of traffic cones occupying our living room floor. In the model van my roommates explained that the glow of the cones was impossible to resist and that they don’t even remember bringing them home.
Harden smacked Leif “You guys can be so immature. I feel like I’m hanging out with children.” He immediately changed the topic by showing us pictures of a Polish girl he’d picked up at Jumanji that night.
I ordered them to get rid of the cones as everyone except Eric-the-Brit and I got out of the van after the last casting. “That’s right, little ones,” Eric said “the old men have to go to their casting now. Try not to get too wasted tonight and pull any more immature stunts.” He slid the door shut.
“Eric, you’re 36. I’m 23. Can you please not include me in the old man group yet”
He patted my back, “You’re more than five years older than those little shits. We are in a very different league when it comes to maturity... by the way the stylist from my GQ Magazine shoot last night invited me to a party. Liam Gallagher [the lead singer from the band Oasis] is doing this big event for his store opening in Ginza if you want to come after this casting.”
We picked up a couple Strong Zero’s after our driver dropped us off in Ginza (castings usually end around 9pm). It was almost an hour (and 6 Strong Zero tallboys) later when his GQ friend showed up and got us into the party. Eric was already as drunk as last weekend (I had to drag him home from Roppongi) when Liam Gallagher finally showed up. Eric barreled over to him and explained how they shot GQ together, how much he’s loved growing up with Liam’s music, how he’s not gay but he’d totally suck his cock, etc... When it came time to go, Eric pulled me over and asked Liam for a picture but was turned down. Eric put his arm around the man little dressed like the fifth Beatle and said a few things in ‘English-English’. I was able to make out the words “Prat”, “Right cunt” and “Have a go” Liam finally acquiesced.
After the photo his bouncers pried Eric from the rock star who immediately fled the party. We got in a taxi at about midnight. “ROPPONGI! JUMANJI! PUNANI!” Eric yelled at the driver. I convinced our annoyed driver to take us home instead.
We went to Eric's apartment, directly below mine. His Aussy roommate was sitting in bed wearing a Batman towel that doubled as a hoodie-shirt.
It was during this picture when a traffic cone fell from the sky onto their balcony. The Aussy was about to kick Leif’s ass at this point, but I told him I’d take care of it and told him to go out and have another drink with Eric.
Friday morning began with a police officer knocking at the door. A little woman standing with him informed me that she was my next door neighbor and showed a picture of some traffic cones on her balcony. I acted surprised, asked her to wait a moment, went into the living room and smacked the sleeping Leif on the couch. “Morning. You have a visitor.” He dealt with the situation like any normal 17-year-old would; by lying. He was rattled for the rest of the day and didn’t say anything in the van all afternoon.
Eric was silent as well. On the way to pick up the other guys, his Aussy roommate told us about their adventure to the park nearby where they encountered a couple of local girls in manga costumes playing with fireworks. Things went smoothly for a few minutes until Eric started singing to one of them. Then he got physically aggressive and started saying “Give us a kiss, darling” over and over again. He took Eric home after he called the girl a ‘right cunt’ for not speaking English.
Harden crawled into the van looking like strung out shit. He hadn’t slept all night, but he did have some new pictures of the Russian twins (one of which was the ugly girl Leif had over last week) who were waiting for him in his bed.
Both of my roommates were fast asleep within five minutes of getting home. They woke up around Midnight and we all went out to Jumanji. They were moderate that night, since they had a job starting at 4am Saturday morning. It was Eric’s Aussy-roommate’s turn to make an ass out of himself. Around 5 AM he shuttled between hitting on a pair of Slavic girls outside and sitting on the curb counting imaginary change. He didn’t get out of his Batman towel the for the entirety of the next day, even when we went for lunch at the fancy café down the street. He fell asleep at the table and vowed to stop drinking and eat better.
I got back after lunch and found my roommates finally at home, getting ready for bed. They made their usual vow to never drink and again. There was a famous fireworks festival across town that evening, but only one guy from the agency (the ginger, ugh) was feeling well enough to go. There were no drinks and we were home by midnight, but we managed to make some new friends.
Can you spot the Ladyboys?
At one point a man in a kimono held out his fan and challenged me to a fight. I warned him in Japanese that I was a ninja, but he didn’t listen. He ended up in on his ass in a bush and I almost ended up arrested. Things turned out fine though and we hugged it out.
I apologized for waking my roommates when I got home, but they said it was okay because it was time for them to go out. Leif and Gib told me about their job that morning as they got ready. They were outside in Shibuya at 4AM looking for the place when a pretty girl came up to them. Assuming she was a model, Leif asked if she was there for the “Job”
The girl nodded excitedly and repeated “Job! Yes! Job! Job!” and took them up five flights of stairs to a dingy room lit with red lights and handed them a menu featuring various types of “Jobs”. Somehow they managed to get out of their and to work without getting jumped by any pimps.
My roommates tried to coerce me to Jumanji but I refused to go back to that breeder nightmare. Despite being worn out, my internal clock was heading towards nocturnal and it was 4am before I found sleep. Around 7am my roommates brought the party home. For three hours they serenaded a couple of model girls with country music in the living room (separated by a rice-paper-thin sliding wall). By 10 it was apparent they weren’t going to get laid so I kicked everyone out. I woke up at 1pm and the place looked like a frat house.
I went to Akihabara (‘the electronic city’) that afternoon. Everyone except Harden was too hung over to join me, but Harden had disappeared to Disney for the weekend with the local sugar daddy Wabi. I was currently regretting my earlier decision to not associate with those types anymore. The electronic city looked like the 1980’s picture of the future, already in decay. The most state-of-the-art robots to be found in any stores were of the Rock ‘em Sock ‘em variety (“at least they’re wireless”). Most of the area was tourist shops, maid cafes, computer stores, Hentai (anime porn) dungeons, Sega arcades and pachinko towers (thinks slots, but with little mettle balls and noise like you’re standing under Niagara Falls)
Akihabara was still a nerd paradise, despite the outdated electronics. Maids and manga girls roamed the street and almost outnumbered the dorky dudes cruising the innumerable Hentai stores. My Japanese friend Chigusa joined me in the evening and we hung out in a few of the millions of multi-story Sega arcades shooting Zombies and fighting Dragon Ball characters.
On Monday morning the gang in the van looked weathered. Everyone except Harden and I were still hung over. It was the best Harden had ever looked, despite the cheesy Mickey Mouse shirt. He distracted the crew from their misery by showcasing a new photo album who’s subject was the 16-year-old girl he had taken home from Disney Land.
“My god...” Eric dramatically removed his aviators, “She looks like my daughter!”
“I know! It’s great, right?! Dees kids love Disney.” Harden beamed. We all laughed, but then there was an awkward silence.
Leif asked if anyone would be going out that night. The Aussy threw an empty bag of almonds at his head.
-the poor people are all white
-this is $50: (not kidding)
-you see the Statue of Liberty AND the Eiffel tower from the same viewpoint
-weights at the gym only go up to 30 pounds
-90% of the locals have dyed their hair into any spectrum of unnatural colors
-corn costs $5/ear
-they have temples dedicated to Pokemon
-participating in karaoke is not optional
-you dress like this and nobody even bats an eye
-you can get a sushi at 7-11
-you can get sushi in vending machines... and also red bull, beer, cigarettes, bowls of noodles, crepes, shoes, porn and even used lady’s undies!
-you can never find shoes in your size... or height
-male models aren’t allowed in any of the nicer clubs (for good reason)
-cantaloupe costs $90
-you say “kinichiwa” to local women (adolescent girls excluded) and they run away as if you’re Godzilla
-the only way you can tell if you’re in a poor neighborhood is that the toilet doesn’t wipe your butt for you
-they fine you for talking on the subway
-saying “Yakuza” is kind of like saying “Voldemort”
-tattoos are banned in spas or hot springs (great job, Voldemort), yet 70’s style bushes are completely acceptable
-model rates are so high that you can’t go for a walk without being recruited by a local to do an ‘under the table’ shoot
-blackface is still funny
-it’s completely normal to eat sushi off of other humans
-chicken is fair game as sushi
-watermelons cost $200, but at least they’re square
-the models wear designer clothing that’s NOT knock-off
-used jeans cost $1300
-you search for over a week and still can’t find any homeless people (drunk locals passed out on the street don't count)
-you have a hard time telling if it’s an earthquake or you just have gas
-one of these girls is your waitress
-beer at the 7-11 costs as much as water
-the sun comes up at 4am
-seeing the sunrise is a regular thing
-any morning (afternoon) after going out feels like this:
-seeing the sunrise is a regular thing
-any morning (afternoon) after going out feels like this: