Tuesday, September 20, 2005

How I spent my weekend...

The weekend was pretty much uneventful, though we did get to see a show put on by the Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Northern California highlighting 5 Japanese American entertainers who were well known in the 50s and 60s: Mako, Pat Suzuki, James Shigeta, Pat Morita, and George Takei.

It consisted primarily of songs, tributes by various actors (the highlight was watching Tamlyn Tomita touch herself repeatedly while paying tribute to Pat Morita and Gedde Watanabe's tribute to Pat Suzuki).

The most curious tribute was the one to George Takei where, while there was no mention of his long history of supporting the LGBT community or him being openly queer, they did get a girl to sing "Somewhere Over The Rainbow," which immediately brought snickers to all my queer friends there (and the husband). Gedde Watanabe (otherwise known as the infamous Long Duc Dong in Sixteen Candles) was apparently also seen at Badlands hamming it up the night before.

What did surprise me is that for all the racist bullshit that these actors had to go through while they were making it big in Hollywood and Broadway, there were a number of sensitively portrayed movies and other things that were done by these performers--stuff that seemed almost improbable today even if America claims to be more culturally aware.

Some cases in point:
o James Shigeta played a Nisei (or is it Kibei?) in Crimson Kimono who falls in love and actually gets the (white) girl in the end.

o Flower Drum Song, the 1960 movie (which is playing for free thanks to Kearny Street West), was apparently the highest budgeted movie to date, and was the first (and probably only) full-length feature movie with an all-Asian American cast.

o Pacific Overtures, a Sondheim (*gag*) musical about American imperialism in Japan, was cast originally with an all Asian American male cast.

I also had no idea Pat Morita and James Shigeta were so hot back in the day...

Which brings me to a way-off tangent.

I remember seeing a book about photographs of same-sex couples pre-Stonewall and was absolutely stunned to find a picture from the 1940s of an Asian-Asian (presumably American) male couple in the book. I'm curious to know who these guys were, and what their story is. The name of the book escapes me, but I'll post it once I find out about it.

4 comments:

:: jozjozjoz :: said...

I don't think you can call George Takei "openly" gay. Just my two cents.

Efren said...

Well, he did come out, not like that's saying much, but it's better than nothing.

musikchyck said...

ok, do you know the older pat morita gets, the more he looks like my grandmother?

you really think he was hot?

Efren said...

This was in the 60s, MC! :P

He looked hot back then, not now :P, though you might think that Tamlyn Tomita was hot, touching her tits and other body parts every chance she got.