Author Archive for mariko passion

15
Jun
19

Freedom and Accomplishment

Freedom and Accomplishment are two words that come to my mind when I think about how I feel, just moved to Hawaii from Japan, just turned 43 years old.  I came to live in Honolulu for the first time at age 17. I graduated high school early and decided that I would enroll in a semester of college classes at UH for fun.  It was over 25 years ago, the first time leaving home away from home. For me, though, I was more than a latchkey kid, I was a kid who practically raised myself because my single mother didn’t have the resources to be there for me emotionally and support two other children.  So, leaving home for the first time was not as big of a deal for me as it was for others my age. I was already pretty independent for my age. This was just an accelerated change of setting. The next time I would come back here was at the age of 22 when I was transitioning from being a topless dancer from the first strip club I’d been fired from to an all nude club in Honolulu where I’d dance naked for the first time.  I think I probably lived and worked in town for a month or two before returning back to California. When I was 30, I went to the Big Island on a spring break from full time teaching. I went there to go to a forest rave, found a lover to coop up with, and got my whole right arm tattooed with brilliant and flowery Japanese and Hawaiian designs to mark “the blossoming” of my 30s. I remember at that time land on the big island was really cheap and I was thinking about buying a plot of land to build a cabin on and retire.  I remember making a promise to Hawaii one of these times while looking out at the beautiful deep and blue Pacific Ocean. “I will come back to Hawaii to live after I’ve lived my life more.” I remember the vision I had for my big island goddess future– to own some land with my own house and ride a horse to the store topless. I imagine always having a place to return home to in Hawaii. And I have always felt at home in Hawaii.

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Ever since I’ve been here, I’ve felt relieved and celebratory and so very grateful that I made the leap to move here when I did.  I suppose a part of me didn’t think I was ready to leave Japan because I wasn’t fluent yet and there was far more suffering that needed to be had before I could really appreciate the liberation that is felt in the air and general attitude of the people here.  Appearances don’t matter as much. It’s sunny every single day. Weed is easy to get, cheap and delivered to your door. I can continue improving Japanese here, in fact Japanese jobs are going to be more forgiving than Japan I’m sure.  There is no shortage of Japanese clients, customers and comfort items available right in my neighborhood, and Japanese food and what I’ve been cooking for 3 years is comforting to me still.  As I look upon the ocean as a 43 year old with so much more experience and wisdom and pain than I had at 17 or 22 and I am extremely proud of the life that I’ve lived.  Mainly because I could look at the vast blue sea and know that I’d crossed it several times to brave new waters again and again and come out a better persona as a result. It was extremely difficult to move to Japan from Los Angeles and I was terrified. But once I make moves, the Universe always always steps in to give me a soft landing. I guess I feel like I have to deserve to be here. It is never without ups and downs and tests along the way, challenges have already shown itself in the month that I have been here.  I have great hopes for the future and the view from my balcony is the best view that I’ve had in almost a decade. Why waste my time feeling old. I feel the same. I do my best. That’s all.

 

02
May
19

接客業の極みThe Apex of Being in Service

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I learned this phrase recently when I took up a red umbrella and marched with Japan’s sex worker rights organization SWASH I was a sex worker and global activist for sex worker rights for almost ten years and I founded a sex worker rights organization in Los Angeles and ran it for a couple years before burning out. I continued to do sex work and escorting for about 4 years after stepping down from the org and in 2013, I was mentored by another Tantric/Sacred Sex Life Coach named Destin Gerek . He actually was one of the first people to introduce me to the concept of “divine service” as he saw that I was in a bad place and I was ready to transition to something better so he pro bono mentored me into my current form as a Tantra goddess. He would sign his emails to me “In Service” instead of anything else, and I actually remember guffawing at his closing salutation thinking that he was full of shit. Little did I know that the service that he did for me would alter my entire existence in so many ways more than just one. The path of Tantra was not just a job change, it was a career methodology shift, it was an energetic and spiritual shift. Tantra would become my way of living and being as it continues to be so in my 6th year of divine service as a Tantrika.
I am not ashamed or shy about associating with sex work or sex worker rights, for over ten years I served the movement and gave a ton of my time and income to activist activities. However, since Tantra became my current path, I focus on using words, ideology and energy towards and within that which acknowleges healing, high vibrations and the god/goddess (divine) energy within. Change the words you use to describe your universe, and voila, your universe also changes. We only have so many hours in the day and energy is not only valuable it is EVERYTHING. I choose to not fight for rights on a daily basis, but serve instead by teaching gratitude, acceptance and understanding. I choose to teach practical tools for healing and relating with others over anything else. We can make small shifts and it can change EVERYTHING.

The main reasons why I don’t really identify as a sex worker anymore: 

1. Tantra and Tantric life coaching, the work that I do is less about physical sex than it is about sexual energy and intimacy. If you are looking to have intercourse or happy endings, I am not the person that is going to interest you.
2. Sex Work is Work is one of the main mantras of the sex worker rights movement which I shouted while marching with the team the other day, but in my current profession it is not my mantra. Tantra is, as I said before so much more than work or job. I have a professional business as a Tantric life coach, so there is money exchanged for services but I would not say that the services are as much sexual as they are holistic.

Is Tantra illegal?

Priestess Tracy Elise was recently released out of an Arizona prison for serving hard time for fighting for her right to run a Tantra temple. She fought her case hard and long and lost. When I am in America, I fully understand that Tantra is seen as prostitution, and so I still stay close to what goes on in sex worker rights in the U.S because I do work there whenever I go. Most people don’t really know what Tantra is and definitely associate it with things that are closer to sex work, including critics from within Tantra circles and outside of it. In Japan, everything except penis and vagina insertion is considered legal in Japan, as long as your visa allows it. Especially in Japan, my focus is intimacy that is outside of what is currently offered in the mizu shobai (sex industry) around me. I call in clients who are not as attracted to that vibe and are looking for something more intimate, affectionate, intellectual and most of all genuine. And most importantly, I call in clients who are seeking me and the love and service that I have to give because they seek the same love and service for themselves, my work is peaceful, it heals me simultaneously as I heal others. It is the apex of living in service.

21
Apr
19

Hello Hawaii, Hello Next Life

I had the aching to take 3 steps forward today and bought my roundtrip ticket from Tokyo to Honolulu on May 8th returning back to Japan by November, just in time to prepare for the solo exhibition that I will be doing if everything goes perfectly in my favor. I applied to do a visual and performance show in Tokyo, to a paid residency using all my new photomedia art. I am so excited to be working hard on my artwork once again. It’s actually been five long years of not doing visual art and its hurt me to be away. I’m not singing much or making music right now, but I am making visual art. I’m working on an oiran costume that’s taken me quite some weeks to put together clothing and wig wise. As a result of styling my outfit, I went and bought my very first formal kimono. The oiran performance character can also double as my normal self who wants to wear a kimono. It’s very exciting to have bought my first kimono. The next day I went to a kimoo walk with all these other Hafu Japanese ladies in Asakusa. It was a touristy thing to do, but when all of us were in a 15 person squad of beauty it was hard for people to resist. 58383965_10216367410291090_6979389381475827712_n (1)

I met another fashionista hafu and hung out and shopped all the bargain kimono shops in the area and then drank macha lattes and spoke a mixture of Japanese and English together! It was really fun. I love the hafu community in Japan. Life would be so hard without them. Most of it is online presence with the clubs that I am in, but one of my best friends in town is also hafu. We met in Janauary only recently but have been truly hanging out often and genuinely as friends, which is a feeling that in almost 3 years in Tokyo, I haven’t felt from more than 2 or 3 people. Having deep conversations and thinking critically about things, i’m so glad for her too. She is a true reflection of me. Entrepreneur business woman. Single, no kids. I’m going to Hawaii in search of my life partner because it seems that finding him or her in Japan is way too hard. I truly truly think it can be so much easier elsewhere. Go to the place of least resistance my inner voice pleadas and I release and follow her. The familiar healing beaches of Hawaii. Honolulul at first, to do some interviews and see what my options are. If I can live far away from the city, i’d be happy, but Honolulu was where I lived when I was also in a crucial transformation point in my life. Graducated high school early and moved to Hawaii to go to college classes early with no credit while I waited for UC Berkeley to start. It was so amazing. I’m ready. Right in time for my 43rd bday. As I was prepping to turn 40, full of fear and tears and inadequate feelings I landed in Tokyo. And now, May 8th, i prepare to leave in as big a way as I came, mot finally and not forever but ever so ready to venture to a new open heart location, where the goddess laughs and sings and swims in the ocean blue. (with very little clothes on, in any body shape she chooses).20507041_10211862072340457_1046887049651684086_o

21
Mar
19

Ungroomable part 1

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never me

R.Kelly’s trial has got me all kinds of thinking about my past as a ‘hoe’ and how much bullshit  (both in and out of the work, it’s usually never isolated to work) I experienced during the six years of my sex worker life in LA.  The LIghtbulb Pimp wasn’t violent, but he was running a harem of girls who lived with him sometimes and seemed to serve him freely (they weren’t trafficked, they just lost). Bottom bitch (top girl) and a handful of others partying together, getting paid to do drugs..that’s what we all did.  And in the meantime we eat and sleep and do more drugs together. He was an older wealthy inventor. He had sold a patent with GE and that’s how he came about his riches. Perhaps he was even still employed by them, he seemed to have a job still. My memories are vague, but I’m recalling a lot of men who tried to groom me for weakness and our particular dysfunctional psyches just didn’t click that day thank goodness!  Predators, or Vultures as I called them during this period of my life. Pimps are a type of vulture, but people need to know that Vultures can hang in plain sight so you accept them and dance to their music at BBQs, they’re wearing a different kind of big colorful hat and feather, one that you can’t see with your eyes. For example, R.Kelly’s a pimp fo real. You don’t need to make money in street prostitution or drugs, that is just a vehicle to wield power.  Pimps just need to make girls serve you and give you everything. Lose your sense of self. Lower your standards. A little lower., lower…okay, now open your mouth.

Lightbulb pimp (LP) had a big house in Hollywood Hills and a Black BMW that was customized just for him.  I was doing my usual thing, extended trade for fun escorting which was not billed by the hour, it was usually a flat fee and some drugs and hanging in a cool hotel pool or mansion’s hot tub or some other benefit.  I did this kind of show a lot. It became my specialty. I remember the set up being dictated by his main girl to me. We each had our “alone time” with Mr. and when I had mine, I wasn’t in awe of his brain, his looks certainly not his sex.  Wealth and drugs and a small stipend for the hours spent? No Thanks. Ok, Maybe, if i’m not really working one day? He and his main girl had picked me out from my ads, and they thought that I was special, etc. Was it just meth in a lightbulb or was there something else I was missing I simply couldn’t understand how he had so many women surrounding him and in awe of his “light, stipended at $500 for an overnight party session.”  I was a bit disgusted, I think.   I never had more dates with LP, wasn’t called back to be one of the girls, I know the offer was presented. Darn. His was another offer I was just able to refuse. Being in a harem is just not my steel-o. I resist it when I see it, I turn around and run. This is also why I don’t like polyamory, fear of being in a harem.

Then there was the bass player for Rick James, I met him and recorded at his studio, had paid him I believe or something else related to music.  He did not start out as a client. But he was trying to call me up and talk about setting up dates with celebrities for me. I didn’t like the idea.  I think this proposition ended our music relationship. I’m just recalling his memory now for the first time in a decade.

I seem to resist being “one of the many” in relationships because I am someone who “needs to feel special.”  The primal purpose of the lion harem and the king, is that they are serving the kingdom by mating with whom they have chosen as the most superior in the jungle, procreating that with more females only makes sense!  That’s of course, why Daddy needs to hit it raw.  And give you drugs.  Because he knows you are going through it in your life right now and he’s just there to feed off of your weakness.  

 

15
Mar
19

Adulting in Japanese

A week of adulting in Japanese is extremely exhausting but lots of great moments mixed in with some arduous tasks like filing taxes and talking to a lawyer.  This is much better than last week which was mostly filled with sadness and disappointment. I was not accepted to the artist residency program in Yokohama which I really wanted.  This was going to keep me in Japan longer than I originally planned, either it was going to be 3 months or 1 year and I had gotten to the interview process but then I was DENIED!! It was actually very heartbreaking because I had put a lot of my spiritual energy into imagining a future where I would finally get to be in Japan making art in an artist community.  I haven’t ever had an artist residency and I haven’t created new art in a very long time so I thought that since I just worked on new pieces in Japan that I would be a good candidate, on top of the fact that Koganecho’s whole mission is to create art on refurbished brothels, so all of the artist studios that they were inviting artists to be residents in were all former brothels.  My Japanese artwork focuses on the Edo period courtesan (prostitutes) called Oiran and I feel like whether Japan supports me or not, when I leave Japan and show this work, I automatically become the educator and spokesperson of the parts of Japanese culture that I’ve done my research and artwork on. Initially, I made the rejection bigger than it actually was and it hurt a lot, I felt like Japan was kicking my ass to the floor again and I was clutching my img_20190309_224741_233wounded heart for a few hours. BUT, i soon got a hold of my brighter side and used it to light the way to the plan B future that I had before I even spotted the opportunity to apply for this residency which was to move to Hawaii and try to get a Japanese speaking job living there.  My Japanese is not at translator level, but I can definitely work at a hotel or some other place greeting Japanese people and shooting the shit with them while I serve the food. One of my students asked me, in front of my class,”Do you like Japanese culture?” and I already know how the Japanese person’s mind thinks so I know better than to really say anything too negative or truthful because their ears can’t really hear the truth, even if they ask for it. The society is not socialized to think critically and that is no fault of theirs, it is the intention of the society that they grew up in. Everyone must conform so that they can easily controlled. Japanese society is not conducive for me to live at the kind of life that I want to live.  Drugs (including marijuana) are stigmatized, prohibited and highly prosecuted, labor and housing laws are unjust, women are made invisible and/or inferior, individuality is frowned upon and the mindset of the people is far too primitive for me to ever get used to permanently. So, of course, you can’t say that to a Japanese person’s face. Yesterday, I did my taxes in Japan for the first time and it was actually pretty efficient and surprisingly foreigner friendly. One of my gripes about Japan is that, when it comes to foreigners who aren’t tourists, they are clueless about how to assist. Most doctors don’t speak English, emergency forms and announcements, sometimes are written in English, and if you can’t speak English, you are totally out of luck.  Even though, I hate identifying as a foreigner, I am one. As much as I want people here to recognize that I am Japanese, they usually don’t.  As much as I want to give people the benefit of the doubt, stupid questions or otherly treatment persists on a daily basis sometimes hourly basis.  On a good day, I’m integrated and seen as equal, or like yesterday filing my taxes, if i am not equal in certain respects, it is not a wrench in the gears for everyone involved and life can still run smoothly and efficiently.  It was my first time doing taxes in Japan and I was in and out of this roomful of 100s of people in about 2.5 hours.  There was a table of bilingual helpers who explained what numbers to put in which spaces and how to proceed to the next step.  there was another guy at another table who typed the form for me so I didn’t have to struggle with the kanji that I didn’t know using my smart phone kanji camera.  “Do I like Japanese culture?” Difficult question, I said.  “I love it.”   I told them.  LOL (half truth from a half Japanese).  But seriously do I like American culture? I’ve never been one to say that I loved it either.  One of my friends told me that all cultures are just cults (cult-ure) and I didn’t agree at the time, but I sure do now.  I think the truly empowered person is able to understand fully the cultures that they are part of and not be fooled by any of it.  I have grown to understand how American I really am since I’ve lived in Japan.  These American things that I cannot deny and these things which make me not want to conform to the ways of being in Japan for long, forever.  But, you can never explain this to a person who wasn’t raised with critical thinking.  So you cannot explain this to a Japanese person.

 

08
Feb
19

Bad Tattoos and Urban Geishas

download (2)When my mother found out that my sister and I got tattoos, she disowned us and kicked us out of her house and changed the locks.  We were both adults at that time (22 and 27) so, I suppose it was a good time for us to fly the coop anyway. This wasn’t the first time that she disowned me because of a tattoo.  I got my first Japanese tattoo at the age of 19, one of our family name. “You are not Japanese.” she said. “No one does such a stupid thing in Japan.” she said, and for the most part, she was right, if she was referring to Japan for the last 150 years anyway.  Japanese society was told to be fearful of tattooed people, making it associated with criminals and ostracized people. Japanese traditional tattooing is something coveted by both Japanese tattoo artists and foreign people/tattoos artists who seek to learn more about this art first hand or arm or leg.  Recently Ariana Grande got a Japanese word or her own version of a Japanese word tattooed on her hand. “七輪指” translates to Japanese BBQ finger. One can hardly say that phrase without laughing I’m sure. To be honest, I didn’t know what a shichirin grill was until last summer, when Japanese people started using them more often and I’d ask them how they spent their weekends. But who gets a tattoo of a foreign language without doing research or asking a native person what the meaning of the word before inking it permanently on their body?  That is just your own fault if you happen to be that haphazard, like buying a used a car without test driving it or worse.  I don’t think what Ariana did is appropriation. All people can use kanji in whatever stupid ways they choose unless it hurts others. I think actually her tattoo is a public lesson for others. It’s not appropriation so much as it is exoticism. Her song lyrics from the BBQ grill song are “Like my hair? Just bought it” and there are documentaries Abt how hair extensions are acquired through unsavory means from women of developing countries for shit prices. So she deserves the pain and mockery from her tattoo. You can’t just “want it, like it, BUY it.”  I can’t help but think of how this blog and the title of my one woman show was called “Memoirs of an Urban Geisha” and how I owned that brand for a good decade or so. I was nothing close to a geisha.  Oiran and geisha were actually trafficked into sex work and I wasn’t.  I had no real experience of past or present day life in Japan and I was just using my ancestry as authority of culture when really, I was just being as ignorant about the issue as Ariana Grande was. Having lived now over two years in Japan, I’m able to contextualize everything more.  Before Ariana there was Katy Perry on stage in her hip modern fashionable rendition of Japanese kimono and Chinese cheong sam. But the average person wouldn’t know that she is conflating Chinese and Japanese dresses and that her song and that she is bowing in the Thai Buddhist/Hindu style with her hands together.  I just tried to give Katy Perry a pass because “I’ve grown past this limited paradigm” but, er, the performance is still terrible because it attempts to pass as Japanese.   I learned a word recently in the wake of all of this translated to cultural plagarism.  文化の盗用 (bunka no touyou), but the reason why Japanese will hardly use it is because they don’t really understand living as a minority because in Japan, they are the dominant class and they are the ones being racist and xenophobic and ignorant if there are these similar kinds of problems in Japan, so its no surprise when they are asked what think about Katy Perry, Gwen Stefani or Ariana and they say its all “kawaii” and no problem.

 

Conflating Asian cultures under the guise of being Japanese or any one culture is problematic in a racist hegemonic media representation.  It has detrimental implications for the people who are parts of these cultures. Is Ariana’s tattoos the same thing? I dont think so. I think people are mostly laughing at her ignorance because it didn’t take too much for even non Japanese folks to deconstruct the fact that it was an unfortunate mistake whereas Katy’s dance and show seems like good ol Miss Saigon entertainment for the masses that is digestable in all of its innacurate face value.  She also is playing off the “submissive Asian female stereotype”  that I grew up battling in the 80s.  I now call it subordinate Asian female stereotype because I think submissives are willing, and Japanese aren’t submissive, they’re complacent to the power hierarchy.    Sure, I was ignorant about tattoo stigma in Japan when I got my kanji tattoos, but I didn’t grow up and I didnt’ expect to be having to face that stigma first hand at the time, mostly my ink art was meant to be viewed by people outside of Japan.  My mom and others were wrong about never being able to be accepted because of the fact I had tattoos.  (She’s readopted me and my sister) I can bathe in onsen and sento that don’t have the tattoo ban and they aren’t hard to find now with the internet.   I think it is interesting to note that Japanese people in Japan do regard most of these representations by American pop stars as cool and not offensive, but it has to be something really really touchy like say, the comfort women to get Japanese people to really get upset publically and tell you how they feel about something.  

I don’t judge other’s ignorance too harshly because, I too have been so ignorant of “my own” culture. And what I consider “my own” Japanese people do not consider me their own, so perhaps its forgiven, and I’m given the GP (gaijin pass) but I don’t see it this way (I prefer Nikkeijin and I think Nikkei need to know as much as they have time to know)… we can all do better.

24
Jan
19

sayonara sale

There is a TV show in Japan called “はじめておつかい” where toddlers are sent on errands like “buy cake” or “buy a fish for dinner” or “get your nails and hair done” at the Beauty Parlor in their neighborhoods ALONE (or seemingly alone, of course,there is a crew of 10 or so staff watching for the welfare at all times off camera).

 It’s actually really adorable and hilarious, and one of my favorite Japanese shows. It usually has a classic scene of them dropping a fish in the street and bursting into frustrated tears of anguish and desire to give the fuck up. I OFTEN feel like that 3 or 4 year old on this impossible mission when I have to do these seemingly impossible, logistical, legal adulting tasks in Japanese that is way too hard for me.  Trying to negotiate the ending of a lease in Japanese on their terms armed with my intermediate knowledge of the written and spoken word is difficult to say the least. Leaving the property manager fully flustered in the same exact way I was when I first moved in the place, except when I moved in two years ago, my Japanese was much worse. Today, for the first time in my adult life of paying bills, my electricity turned off because I didn’t pay the bill.  And this is the weekend that I am packing and moving, its the dead middle of Tokyo winter, 35 degrees outside and the heater won’t work because it runs on electricity. Nor is there hot water, refrigeration or a stove. Nice work Mariko. Last month, you were spending money like you would should and could always have that much in your account (manifest it! Believe it! LIve it!), traveling and seeing family, friends, and making amazing art and rejuvenating your long lost soul purpose as an artist, for once not letting money be the fucking barrier that it usually is.  How dare you. The highlight of the night, if not the week was eating cannabis and deciding to destress in one of the best thing Japanese cities and towns have going: the bathhouse. Especially the one a few train stops down from me is really a luxurious treat that I forget to indulge in because it is a few stops and a not so short bike ride from my house. The tubs at this bathhouse have one that is outdoors with frosted high fencing right near the train tracks so it feels like the train flies right passed you bathing but it’s a good 25 meters away from you. I stepped on the scale and I’m exactly the same weight as I’ve been for the entire too chubby for Japan year even though my clinic doctor whom I am obligated to chat with every month because I need chronic asthma medication.  “You’re gaining weight, i see you all the time, so i can tell.” he said. “Do you exercise?” ugh. This guy. The same doctor who told me that I might get AIDS from getting my tattoos in the next breath recommended me for English lessons to his wife, and she actually booked a lesson that same night, so i can’t be too mad. I know he means well, he’s in his sixties or seventies and i’m sure means well, so i don’t fault him for it. I’ve developed an ability for not taking what Japanese people say about me too seriously. I’m on the verge of another big change here. Moving out of the solo apartment adventure that I got being the Tantra coach to a very strange and difficult client who miraculously gave me more money than any client had given me in many years. It was one of many many miracles that occured for me as I began my journey in Japan.  It was a great set up to a very difficult cultural acclamation. It wasn’t just that I was a not fully fluent foreign born Japanese immigrant, but Backpage fully closed with the owner going to prison and clientele fell like the sky according to Henny Penny so I had to work full time in a regular job for the first time also in many many years.  Luckily, like last month, there were a few more well paid seekers over the years.




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