entertainment

Hard Gay eyes second career as professional model

41 Comments
By Rachel Tackett

Japanese comedian and former pro-wrestler Masaki Sumitani, better known by the name Hard Gay, has been struggling to find a new outlet for fame and success. Ever since being outed as a straight man, Hard Gay’s comedic mockery of gay flamboyancy has fallen from popularity in Japan. And, after a severe foot injury in July of 2009, his wrestling career has also been forced to a close.

According to an interview conducted by the online news site Owarai Natalie, while Sumitani is still interested in continuing work as a comedian, he has decided to revamp his public image. We’re not sure how easy it will be to replace the image of Hard Gay’s tight, leather booty shorts, aviator sunglasses, and frantic hip thrusting that’s been burned into our mind’s eye. However, the comedian hopes that by starting a second career as a professional model he can achieve even greater success as himself and not his character.

Last year Sumitani, still using the name Hard Gay, teamed up with his old partner in wrestling, Makoto Izubuchi, aka Real Gay, to compete in "The Manzai," a televised contest for Japanese comedy duos. They called themselves Razor Ramon and played heavily off of Hard Gay’s most loud and obnoxious qualities. This year, the two hope to take their partnership even further, starting with the live show, “We Don’t Need HG and RG! We Wanna’ Be Ourselves!” on Friday at Tokyo’s Yoshimoto Infinity Hall.

Owarai Natalie met with Masaki Sumitani to ask why their comedy routine was taking such a drastic turn after only a year of mainstream recognition. What they got was less about the new comedy approach and more a detailed account of the funnyman’s serious determination to now pursue modeling.

Whether it’s due to the public’s preconceived notions about Hard Gay’s brand of comedy or the limitations of that persona itself, Sumitani sees his association with the HG character as a disadvantage for him and his partner. He hopes that working as a serious model to gain more public exposure as simply himself will help to break that automatic association between him and the character.

The idea of professional modeling more-or-less began after taking promotional photographs to advertise Razor Ramon’s comedy skits. Sumitani was surprised by how well they turned out and became interested in doing more professional photography sessions. It took a lot of flattery from many different sources to even vaguely convince Sumitani that he has the looks to make it as a model, but after taking some test shots with a former classmate who’s now a cameraman for the cover of fashion magazines, he can see his own potential. Sumitani may have gone into the photo shoot half jokingly, but he impressed himself with the turnout.

After seeing the great conviction that Sumitani has for modeling, many might wonder whether his comedy skits will take a back seat to this new fashion passion. The comedian expressed some concern that his own partner, Izubuchi, might be questioning his commitment to their funny act. However, Sumitani assures everyone that he is determined to succeed at both.

In a word with Sumitani’s manager, Owarai Natalie confirmed for the rest of us that “It’s no joke. He wants to be a serious model.” The management seems to support him in his decision. But then, they admit that they’d be happy to make use of anyone with such a chiseled physique.

Source: Owarai Natalie

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41 Comments
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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hhxzqvbAnTQ

0 ( +0 / -0 )

You just know this jackass will be spit out of the entertainment industry after a desperate porn venture

-6 ( +9 / -16 )

I hope he gets his screen name changed first. No matter how serious the role is, the name is always a major factor for first impressions.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

horsefella..this guy has a wife who is making decent money, something like 100 Million Yen a year so i doubt if he will enter the AV business

5 ( +8 / -3 )

so i doubt if he will enter the AV business

He's also a dedicated husband too. He does most of the cooking and household chores as well.

5 ( +9 / -4 )

HG is the man! And Razer Ramone do some good manzai!

0 ( +3 / -3 )

HG rocked, but after a while it gets boring, all the same. I hate that a lot of people give him stick for no reason, he's a good guy unlike most of the other talentos. And yes his wife is pretty damn HOT!

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Is he in favor of same sex marriage?

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

Mikihouse, devils assistant- wow! Two fans intimately familiar with the strength of his marriage!

Sorry, he'll be spit out from the porn industry eventually. It's the whole "no talent" conundrum...

-12 ( +2 / -14 )

hoserfella, I do agree he is not on top of the "has talent" list. But, I do think he's got a good head on his shoulders.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

hoserfella

I don't know what you have against him but his HG act was original and pretty damn funny when it was new. He's also no dummy. He's a graduate of Doshisha University (Business School) in Kyoto and is very skilled at dessin/drawing.

http://www.mudainodocument.com/archives/54474686.html

7 ( +8 / -1 )

Hard Gay was NEVER funny, and was in fact, quite insulting. This was never better displayed as when a foreign celebrity promoting a movie was 'exposed' to Hard Gay and walked off stage, with the Japanese wondering, "what? you mean it's not funny". I still remember watching a variety show in which he was thrusting his crotch at CHILDREN in a park, for god's sake. How is that funny??

-12 ( +3 / -15 )

Hard Gay was NEVER funny, and was in fact, quite insulting.

Oh Smith. It's just a gag...

10 ( +12 / -2 )

He is soooo funny. I hope he quits modeling and goes back to his good old gay days, he was a big star! Insulting??? If you're gay!

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

I still remember watching a variety show in which he was thrusting his crotch at CHILDREN in a park, for god's sake. How is that funny??

I'm with smithinjapan on this one.

Call me a prude, but can you imagine any American/Australian/European comedian getting away with what HG did on prime-time television here in Japan? As adult humour, I have no problem with it, but I believe his comedy act was offensive and inappropriate for young viewers. The last thing we need is classes full of kindergarten kids grabbing their crotches and "air masturbating". There is nothing funny about that.

-5 ( +2 / -7 )

USNinJapan2 - well , if you're that much of a fan for a guy who dresses in bondage, more power to you. Whatever floatsssss your boat

-6 ( +5 / -11 )

pizzatime: "I hope he quits modeling and goes back to his good old gay days, he was a big star! Insulting??? If you're gay!"

I seriously hope you're being sarcastic. Sure, he was insulting to the gay community in that not only is he NOT gay, but acted like a moron on the premise of being gay. More insulting than that, though, is what I said earlier: in pretty much any nation but Japan the guy would have quite quickly been arrested for sexual harassment charges, and perhaps possibly sexual assault. Would you want your kids within an inch of his crotch while he gyrates and thrusts, talking about masturbation?

-10 ( +1 / -11 )

USNinJapan2: "Oh Smith. You don't have to be offended just because you happen to dress alike. It's just a gag..."

Must have got up from the wrong side of the bed this morning, eh? to be carrying such baggage. You might dress like him, or like that kind of outfit. I certainly do not.

"Now I'm no psychologist, but I don't think I'm the one exhibiting signs of homophobia here. And we all know what they say about homophobes and repressed desires... : )"

I think you are, actually. It's kind of like a person who likes when the J-celebs bring a black guy on stage and make him out to be a Neanderthal and how funny it is, making a character out of him. How is not liking HG 'homophobic' when the guy is not only not gay but married? Interesting logic. The guy is a HACK, and while of COURSE HG was a gag, it's about as funny as if you wore a dixie-land hat, painted your face black, and danced around on stage like a fool. The 'Getz!' thing was also a stupid gag, as was Kojima in his bikini shorts, Sugi-chan, and pretty much every three-month wonder here called a tarento. Doesn't mean it's funny in the least, and I'm quite sure HG will again go down in flames, if he even manages to be the fad of the moment again.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Leave the gay stereotype behind, and quickly. The world is moving on.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

smithinjapan

Humor is one of the hardest aspects of a culture for foreigners to understand or appreciate. It's okay that foreigners like you or hoserfella just don't 'get it'. HG is/was a caricature, like all of those leather clad gays at the Blue Oyster Bar in those silly Police Academy movies (remember them?). No one took the character seriously, most telling the gay community, and no one was offended by it because it was accepted as a gag and nothing more. HG handing out tissues or pumping gas for unsuspecting people who were at first surprised but all ended up laughing, was really funny and enjoyable to watch in a mindless sort of way. Of course he wasn't gay. It's an act. A comedian making a fool of himself and making people laugh. There are SO many other things in Japanese entertainment, particularly television, that you should legitimately find offensive. Enough Japanese people like what these owarai geinin do and find them funny and that's all that matters at the end of the day since they are the intended demographic. Not you. If you don't like what you see, don't watch it.

5 ( +8 / -3 )

USNinJapan2: "Oh Smith. You don't have to be offended just because you happen to dress alike."

Mods: Again, I'm really not sure what the moderation policy is here. His comment is not impolite, but my response is?

Moderator: Yes.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

USNinJapan2: "Humor is one of the hardest aspects of a culture for foreigners to understand or appreciate"

I'm sorry, but who in their right mind would consider thrusting your penis towards a child's face 'funny', then suggest you don't understand the culture if you point out how wrong the action is?

-8 ( +2 / -10 )

USNinjapan2 - yup, the old "you're a foreigner so you don't get it" cliche. Everyone with any exposure to comedians on japanese TV know its junior high school humor for the lowest common denominator. Some of them are funny, but I'd say no more than 5%. The rest? Like HG, simply embarrassing.

-9 ( +2 / -11 )

smithinjapan

You're not Japanese. It's not for you to decide what is and isn't appropriate on Japanese television for Japanese audiences or what's considered acceptable toilet humor here. You also probably find the "kancho" gag disgusting and offensive but almost every kid, particularly boys, go through that harmless stage. It's definitely low-brow but still plays a part in Japanese culture. By the very fact that his act was VERY popular and was everywhere on variety shows should give you a clue that your values in this case don't match the values of your host nation. As far as young kids go, they don't see him as a sexual figure because they don't understand what hard gay is. They just see him as a strangely dressed guy acting funny. It's a matter of perspective and the bottom line is your perspective is the outside one. Deal with it.

6 ( +9 / -3 )

papasmurfinjapan-

humoris one of those things that doesn't translate culturally very easily at all, so no I can't imagine a US person doing that, but that doesn't make hg "bad" or "wrong".

I don't think you or smith really understand him imo, nothing wrong with not liking him, if he ain't your style, but what he was doing was not what you think he was doing. I never once had the feeling that he was looking down on anyone, making fun of them, or being sexually abusive.

Sure he pushed the line, I remember the time he met Devi (the indonesian expresidents wife tarento), she was not pleased.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

I remember the time he met Devi (the indonesian expresidents wife tarento), she was not pleased.

That's awesome. He's now my hero. I can't stand that old self-important bag of wind.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Got to agree with USNinJapan2, Devi was a gold digging hostess who met the king/ president of Indonesia in the club she was working. She marries into his harem of wives, and then passes herself off as blueblood royalty. HG may be one step higher than her on the pyramid.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

hoserfella

yup, the old "you're a foreigner so you don't get it" cliche.

Uh, right. It wouldn't become a cliche if it wasn't true to begin with. Eh?

Everyone with any exposure to comedians on japanese TV know its junior high school humor for the lowest common denominator. Some of them are funny, but I'd say no more than 5%. The rest? Like HG, simply embarrassing.

So what. Does your 'everyone' include the Japanese television viewing audience? Of course not. Why would you think for one minute that the comedians, producers, and the Japanese owarai entertainment industry in general give a rats ass about what expats/foreigners find funny. It's Japanese humor for Japanese people. You're not meant to get it because oftentimes humor simply doesn't translate, both literally and culturally. Do you think Western humor is universal? Ever tried introducing Monty Python, SNL, Kids In The Hall, even Seinfeld, etc. to Japanese people? They don't 'get it' or think it's funny either.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Hard Gay should do more of those gag reels. I loved it and I would watch every one of them.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

He could always try Soft Gay.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

@Lowly, USN and others...

but that doesn't make hg "bad" or "wrong".

To reiterate my point, there is nothing "bad" or "wrong" with Hard Gay if he is shown on late-night TV. As adult humour, I don't have a problem with it.

But I do believe his comedy act is inappropriate for younger viewers. Honestly, would you want your kindergarten aged kids exposed to this? Shoving your crotch into a child's face is really treading a thin line "comedy" and child molestation.

You can ramble on about "cultural differences" but I honestly fail to see how a guy putting his crotch into a kid's face and gyrating in a sexual manner could be considered "comedy" in any culture.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N7zwdA3kboo

1 ( +1 / -0 )

USNavyinJapan2 - so it doesn't translate for foreigners, yet you, a foreigner, get him. Then I ask my GF out of the blue what she thinks of him and she says "気持ち悪い". I'd say your reasoning has got more holes than Swiss cheese

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

"mockery of gay flamboyancy" is the way the Japanese media deal with the issue of homosexuality. As a result, the mainstream view of gay people is that they're all weirdos. That is not a helpful way to build understanding, inclusiveness, or harmony. Or does that show my cultural bigotry toward the land of wa?

And regardless of your culture, Hard Gay just wasn't funny. I don't remember any positive reactions at all from my Japanese acquaintances, but maybe I should have spent more time with junior high school boys.

I'll stick with horsefella and smith and say shame on this guy and the producers who brought him to fame. I'm glad it didn't last.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

hoserfella

so it doesn't translate for foreigners, yet you, a foreigner, get him.

I'm not a foreigner.

Then I ask my GF out of the blue what she thinks... So you've confirmed your opinion by asking one person, your girlfriend? And you call into question my reasoning? Really? I'm sure there are plenty of people out there who simply didn't care of his act and didn't find it funny. But the FACT is, he was extremely popular to a whole lot of people who watch TV and his act was around a lot longer than many other geinin. As far as owarai acts go he was extremely popular and successful. Like your girlfriend, I'm sure you could find many people who would say that his act is "気持ち悪い" but you need to also understand that that doesn't mean that they find it offensive or insulting like some of you expats do. There's a world of difference there.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Mockery may not be the ideal way to address gayness, but still better than persecution or worse as happens in many other countries. Personally I think he is a buffoon (or at least his act plays on him being one) and also think that his schtick can be occasionally offensive to those it is pulled on. Nevertheless he was wildly popular and not considered to be offensive by most of the terebi audience, so his approach and all must touch a chord culturally. As for Devi, agree she is a pompous windbag - certainly doesn't earn the right to look down her nose at anyone because she pulled an Indonesian sex tourist.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

USNavyinJapan2 - so it doesn't translate for foreigners, yet you, a foreigner, get him. Then I ask my GF out of the blue what she thinks of him and she says "気持ち悪い". I'd say your reasoning has got more holes than Swiss cheese

I agree. Hard Gay is one of the many one trick pony "talent" who is in one minute and out the next. I remember, in an interview, his wife saying to him to save his money because his shine in the spotlight will be gone faster than it started.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

papasmurf-

well, knowing Japanese culture and the Japanese attitude toward the body and sex, I don't think what hg's thing was was all that inappropriate.

But here you really have to make a cultural leap that is hard to for some westerners: From a jpns perspective, I don't think hg's schtick is actually all that sexual, actually. In the West we have had such a long and intense period of denial of the body and sexuality, that it is hard to imagine s/t different, a different attitude. While westerners would rather not talk about sex openly or especially have to explain sex to children, who are seen as innocent and pure, in Japan (depending on the situation), sex is not so taboo a topic, is seen as much more of a natural bodily function that everyone has to do, has a long tradition of half the town getting naked and taking baths together (non-sexually), (and even today most ppl do this on a family level at home and on vacation), etc, etc.

So hg's routine is more of a wacky guy doing a strange dance with a slightly embarrassing part of the body, but not a taboo part, and that combined with timing is what makes it funny. Simply b/c it is unexpected and embarrassing for the guy doing it (hg himself). If there is anything sexual to it, it is, "this goofball is getting excited by something that wouldn't excite me," or "hes expressing interest in a way that would never get anyone to like him" and so that silliness of him is a part of the joke. I personally never felt anyone he was doing his dance in front of was "under attack" in any way. And it was to me obvious that it was a schtick, and not him. No j parents I knew thought what he did was horrible. Stupid, maybe, but not horrible.

plasticmonkey-

in the same vein, I didn't really see anything about him that was gay except his name, which itself was a kind of joke. I never had the feeling that he was out to say, this is what gays are, this is what gays do, haw haw. I just didn't feel that way, and I didn't have gay friends who did either. I could see taking offence at his name , maybe, but know many who didn't.

To me he I felt him to be on the level of Daffy Duck, who while being a duck who is quite daffy and also talks funny into the bargain, does not seem to be setting out to say "All ducks are daffy, and that's what's funny about me." He was just one duck with quirks.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

USNinJapan: "You're not Japanese. It's not for you to decide what is and isn't appropriate on Japanese television for Japanese audiences or what's considered acceptable toilet humor here."

As a human being it IS up to me to point out what is morally incorrect, and once again, I ask, is an adult male thrusting his penis at children 'funny'?

"You also probably find the "kancho" gag disgusting and offensive but almost every kid, particularly boys, go through that harmless stage."

Funny, I thought Hard Gay was an adult and not a child. I don't find kids doing the kancho thing offensive at all -- it is simply kids being kids. Now, if YOU were going around doing it to kids I would find it offensive.

"Do you think Western humor is universal? Ever tried introducing Monty Python, SNL, Kids In The Hall, even Seinfeld, etc. to Japanese people? They don't 'get it' or think it's funny either."

I completely agree with you that humor is not universal -- most 'warai' in Japan would garner nothing more than jaw drops and dumb looks overseas, and manzai isn't enjoying any success in the US despite Pakkun doing his best. The difference is the shows you mention don't promote adults basically assaulting children and air masturbating.

But hey, let's make a tarento who dresses up like a weird salary-man or something and gropes women on trains! So long as it's a gag, it would be funny, no?

-6 ( +0 / -6 )

HG's act wasn't that terribly bad. It just jumped the shark when his material got a bit repetitive and when his comedy partner ”RG" try to steal some of the lime light and copied the HG act.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Let's put it like this: if I posted papasmurfinjapan's link to HG thrusting his penis in a child's face on my Facebook page (I'm not going to lie, it would be to show what a freak he is, although I would try to be objective in my comment and just ask, "What do you think of this?"), I GUARANTEE it would get nothing but comments about how wrong it is. What I also guarantee is that the posters on this site who defend him would be angry about me posting it and do one of two things: 1) say, "get out of Japan if you don't like it" because they were ashamed of the responses, or 2) just call it an "attack on culture" and then pretend the whole thing never happened.

Mirai: I'm glad I stopped watching TV here, more or less. I didn't even know there was an RG.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Wow, still a live thread.

I wouldn't say either 1 or 2, Smith, just that you are absolutely right, and are basically saying the same thing I said in my post. If ppl who don't understand A LOT of context see something like that, they will judge it on their own cultural paradigm and reject it. Neither being able to predict such an outcome, nor the outcome itself, means that said judgement is correct. Just that you know the ppl you would be showing it to.

The way you phrased the prob itself shows bias toward your own paradigm. "Shoving his penis in children"'s faces" is just wrong. Even, "Shoving his crotch in kids' faces" is not how I saw that show. "Adult does a silly dance in front of children, lowering himself to the level of a child, kids who can't do a lot of things by themselves yet are always happy to see a silly adult, and predictably go wild with laughter" is how I would describe it. And never mind cultural context, would any of your fb frenz even understand the Japanese? When he's pointing at his crotch and doing the dance slower, what he's saying by the way is "This is actually not slow motion, but a million times a second!!! My dancing abilities are so amazingly fast it seems like slow motion!!!!" This is a kind of joke little kids will get, and think is pretty funny. I got no feeling of sexual predacy from hg from that tape. He could be a predator, but so could the priest next door, or the swim coach. But that dance alone, does not make me think that. That is because I am reading a cultural context into it of different attitudes toward the body. J ppl I know, most would not say anything worse than "boring" or "stupid" about hg. I do not believe that this is because they want to encourage abuse of children.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

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