Christmas has been over for a month but I like to share this fun video from Japan!
Little Taiko Boy combines Western holiday traditions, Shinto mythology and Japanese gay culture to advocate a very different way of wrapping gifts for a loved one.
Little Taiko Boy’s soundtrack is a safer-sex parody of the American Christmas carol “The Little Drummer Boy” interspersed with the slow rumble of a traditional Japanese taiko drum that sounds like a massive throbbing heart beat. Against this backdrop, several men meet in Tokyo’s bathhouses, love hotels and cruising spots for intimate encounters, watched over by a glamorous drag version of Amaterasu Omikami, the Shinto goddess of the Sun played by Japanese activist and artist MADAME BONJOUR JOHNJ. Like a queer Santa Claus, the goddess leaves each couple a condom in a bejeweled wrapper as a gift and blessing for the night.
While Little Taiko Boy’s setting is local to Tokyo, the contrasting elements woven together within the video emphasize how universal its issues are: the music brings together the modern and the traditional, the East and the West; the images depict the carnal and the spiritual, and ancient deities take up new roles in the modern world. And despite the urgency of its safer-sex message, the video not only embraces sensuality wholeheartedly, but does so with humor; after all, there is nothing “little” about either the Taiko drummer or the drum he beats.
Filmmaker Bryan Jackson made several trips to Japan in the course of developing Little Taiko Boy, working closely with AKIRA THE HUSTLER and Madame Bonjour JohnJ at Rainbow Ring’s COMMUNITY CENTER AKTA. The LGBT center and gallery takes an innovative, localized approach to community work that includes condom “Delivery Boys” who have done outreach and condom distribution in Tokyo’s Shinjuku Ni-Chome district since 2003. The ‘Goddess Edition’ condom cases that Amaterasu Omikami gifts in Little Taiko Boy are inspired by the artist designed series produced by Community Center AKTA. Jackson made the video with a grant from ART MATTERS, a foundation created to assist artists who make work intending to break ground aesthetically and socially.
Bryan Jackson | Director
Quyen Tran | Director of Photography
Dickie Greenleaf | Music
Cesar Cipriano | Little Taiko Boy
Eric Dean | Cruising Man
Viet Hoang | Bathing Man
Madame Bonjour JohnJ | Amaterasu Omikami
Jeff Manabat | Business Man
Kiyoshi Shido | Hustler
Derek Lui | Drunk Businessman
Eric Hsu | Lonely Man
Richard Minor | Tengu Dancer #1
Pade Weng | Tengu Dancer #2
Kiyoshi Shishido | Tengu Dancer #3
Asuka Murata | Assistant to Director
Sam Riegel | First AC
Hiromasa Tamai | Gaffer
JoAnn Hockersmith | AD
Michael Hofeldt | Art Director
Roxanna Shih | Choreographer
Brian Baugh | VFX
Hiroko Honda | Make-Up & Hair
Akiko Matsumoto | Make-Up & Hair
Valeria Kohakura | First AC
Edward Alva | Grip Matt Cheah | Grip
Joseph Chen | Grip
Katie Faulknor | Grip
Andrew Nguyen | Grip
Ed Silla | Grip
Harrison Lees | Art Department
Akira the Hustler
Community Center Akta
Midoriya Studio Noritaka Minami
Sanwa Cine Equipment Rental
Video Studio UC Irvine
This video was funded in part by a grant from Art Matters.