[Translation] Interview with Tian Tian (Badi, 2012)

Below is my translation of an interview with Tian Tian, a Chinese gogo boy who was previously highly active in Japan’s gay club scene. He was particularly famous for his relationship with the late gay porn star Masaki Koh (you can see a video interview with Koh and Tian Tian here). The interview, published in the June 2012 issue of the Japanese gay magazine Badi (NSFW), forms part of a larger special feature which seeks to introduce China’s gay sub-culture to a Japanese audience. I investigated this special feature as part of my critical examination into how “Chineseness” is situated within the discursive hierarchy of “racialized desire” which structures Japan’s gay sub-culture. However, the interview is presented here without my critical commentary.

Tian Tian at a cafe (Badi, 2012)

One Chinese guy’s Dreams Have Spread Their Wings and Flew. 
“I Want to Express How I Overcame Cross-cultural Barriers.”

Gogo boy and Event Organizer, Tian Tian.

There is one Chinese guy who has gained the attention of Japan’s gay club scene. Tian Tian holds the key to the gay club cultures of both Japan and China. “I want to act as a go-between for Japan and China,”[1] explains this young man who has single-handedly brought about an appreciation of Japanese gogo boys on the world stage. And now, right before our eyes, he has become a major hit across both nations.

Tian Tian:

My desire to break into Japan’s gogo boy scene can be traced back to when I first attended Japanese gay party nights [gei naito] such as “Red” and “Shangri-La@Ageha,” events which still continue to draw countless numbers of attendees today. Looking at the performers on the stage, I realised that I too wanted to join that gorgeous, glittering world. I couldn’t tear my eyes away from the sexy bodies of the gogo boys RIOTO and ICHI, nor could I ignore the beautiful dancing of the drag queens HOSSY and Babieno Bicchi. At that time, I felt that one day soon I would have to organise such a high calibre event in China as well.

Since I am the kind of person who will see my dreams through to the bitter end, I first began to train as a gogo boy in Japan [to prepare to one day host events in China]. After that, in 2009, I was lucky enough to be featured in the gravure pages of the 9th Issue of Badi and began to receive recognition for my skills as a gogo dancer. I started to develop a real sense of obligation [to Japan’s gay club culture], realising that gogo dancing is more than just something one does for personal enjoyment. Rather, I came to feel a real sense of unity with all the party-goers and it was at that moment when I realised just how amazing the gay parties could be.

I received so much help from a lot of people, particularly my gogo dancer senpai. Around the time I was receiving such recognition, China was entering a new golden “Bubble Period” due to a rapid increase in its economic development. I thought to myself that this would surely be my one and only chance; the time had finally come for me to realise the dream of putting on Japanese-style gay parties in China. This was truly a dream which I had been chasing for the longest time. However the success of this venture really came from the solid foundation and support provided to me by Yoshida-san, the organizer of the “Shangri-La@Ageha” parties. In the past, Yoshida-san had been scoping out gay businesses in China (I wonder just how many people are aware of his pioneering work in China?). Although there were certainly times when I thought of myself as a fraud and a failure, I was always adamant in following my dream to showcase what I had learnt in Japan to everyone in China, the country of my birth.

So I began to perform as a gogo boy in China. The first time I decided to organise a gay party in China, I also brought along the drag queens HOSSY and Babieno Bicchi [from Japan]. Although I was worried about how these two would be received in China, where there had been no drag culture in the clubs at all,[2] my worries all turned out to be unfounded when I was told that their reception was absolutely through the roof. I think that it will be possible for Japanese gogo boys and drag queens to be totally accepted in China and they will soon become a par for the course in China’s gay clubs.

“From now on China’s gay culture… is gradually growing. That’s why I think Japan must now become the leader of gay culture”

It’s been said that Japan’s gay club culture has too long a history and that the club culture has already reached its peak. On the other hand, other Asian countries and especially China have, over the past ten to twenty years, reached levels of economic development similar to Japan’s Bubble Period [the mid to late 1980s]. From now on, China’s gay culture and its gay parties will be gradually growing. I really want people in China to come to know more about the matured and developed gay entertainment industry of Japan. That’s why, even though Japan’s gay club culture may have already peaked, I believe that Japan’s gay culture must now turn in a new direction. Gay people in China are just playing around, they won’t do anything. So Japan doesn’t just have an excellent chance to influence China’s gay culture, but also has the chance to play a crucial role in transmitting gay culture across Asia to South Korea, Thailand and Taiwan. That’s why I think Japan must now become the leader of gay culture. This is because from our Chinese perspective, Japan is obviously the top class of Asia in terms of its gay culture and entertainment industry.

My current vision is to truly become a bridge between Japan and China. I would like to put on a huge event for everyone in Asia to come together and have fun. Because I cannot realise this dream by myself, there is a need for everyone to work hard together. I think we can realise this dream through our combined effort and teamwork. And let’s not forget that such events require planning and the participation of more than just gogo boys and drag queens. It will also be important to work with DJs.

Honestly, I think that the music sense to be found in Chinese and other Asian gay clubs is a little bit behind the times. I think this is partly because they spent too much energy chasing after and merely following Japan’s pioneering lead in gay club music. Even when you produce a lot of music at events in China which make everyone super excited,  start to drink heaps of alcohol and really begin to party together, somehow their reaction is a bit weak [when compared to Japan]. When a popular sub-culture goes mainstream [like in Chinese gay bars], just playing the same old music is not enough to create impact. However, if you can find a way to remix the two cultures of Japan and China through new music, this will lead to the gay parties in China becoming more successful. For these reasons, I wish to become a go-between for Japan and China’s gay club cultures and bring happiness to all the gay men across Asia.

About the author, Tian Tian:

Working as a gogo boy, he focuses on performing together with Koh Masaki across the whole of Japan and in Asia. Having organised the “Dugas Party” in Beijing, he works as a promoter and organiser for gay circuit parties. He plays the role of a go-between for the gay club cultures of Japan and China.

From Badi, 2012, Issue 6, pp. 46-47.

[1] An important metaphor: kakehashi to naru (to bridge across cultures). Throughout article, Tian Tian presents himself as an actual bridge.

[2] I’m not sure how true this claim is, and will need to carefully verify.

UPDATE 28/9/2017

It has come to my attention that Tian Tian passed away in a tragic traffic accident whilst he was in Seoul in February of 2017. Limited details concerning his passing may be found here (in Japanese). He will be sorely missed by us all.


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