So my first two photoshoots in Tokyo involved street fashion, both daytime and evening. For the third shoot, though, I decided to exploit the wild and wicked side of me by entering into Japan's erotica realm. Interestingly, Japan keeps pornography under wraps as seen in all the "pixilated bits" in magazines and films, and even I, the uber-exhibitionist I am, was not prepared to risk taking my kit off in public as I otherwise would in Europe and UK. That said, with love hotels casually scattered even in the most upscale residential areas, and places like the lively Kabuki-cho curiously managing to avoid oozing the sort of sleaze seen in Europe's red light districts, I must say the country is an interesting paradox.
For that reason, I couldn't wait to do some erotic shoots in Japan. And what setting could be more perfect than those love hotels! So what is a "love hotel", you ask. Almost comparable to motels in the U.S., it is where couples can cheaply rent a room for either a few hours (or overnight) when one's own home is not possible. Enough said! Having shot in a luxurious 5-star Hilton in Brussels as well as a 70s-style decor Travelodge in Gloucester, I figured love hotels would the Japanese alternative to a "sleazy motel" set. Seedy yet luxurious, and the gaudier the better. One such photographer who made this possible was James Drew (known as Kakko-eroi), an American living in Tokyo.
We somewhat connected throug h Flickr a few years ago when I came across his work. Edgy yet sensual, his photos somewhat portray a mysterious underground vibe through clever use of lens and angles and light-handed post-production manipulation like cropping and colour. As such, he successfully manages to capture traditional Japanese eroticism whilst introducing the modern Westernised ideals of "hot and sexy". So is it glamour? Is it fetish? Or erotica? I think it's hard to pigeon hole his work into one category. Whatever it was, I just couldn't wait to work with the guy!
After having put off my trip to Japan for years and hence procrastinating my shoot with James, I finally made the decision to go. Few emails exchanged, and it was as soon as I arrived in Tokyo that I contacted him. Out of courtesy, he was kind enough to invite me for lunch to introduce himself, put me at ease and discuss ideas. He was just as pleasant and friendly as he has been in his e-mails with a professional yet casual approach. So we set the shoot for that Friday, 23 September 2o11.
James picked me up at the hotel I was staying for a few days. After selecting the outfits to take along to the set, we took a taxi to a rather famous and fancy love hotel in the upmarket Azabu Juban area. Knowing his style, I grabbed some thigh high boots, heels, fishnet and PVC clothes and lingerie and slapped on some heavy eye-make up to look as bitchy as possible. And boy was I ready for some bitchy action!
Like a lot of love hotels, the place had rooms each of it's own theme and character. We were pleased to discover that the BDSM "dungeon" was available. Apart from a big bed, the room had a bondage bench and the grey concerete wall was adorned with ropes, chains, collars and whips hanging from it. We were expecting James' friend to join us later to assist with the lighting so meanwhile we decided to do a warm-up shoot with me wearing a PVC one piece micro-dress with fishnet stockings. At one point, I grabbed a ballgag from the wall but in the interest of hygiene, pretended to be biting into it rather than wear one.
As soon as his assistant arrived, I changed into another outfit. A fishnet top with attached suspender fasteners and matching fishnet knickers I had purchased earlier on at a sexshop in Shibuya. I have to say I have been amazed at the number of outrageous lingerie and abundant variety of hosiery available in Japan, though many are imported from the U.S. Either Japan has changed, or I have. We went around the hallway looking for ideal areas to shoot such as the staircase and finally landed in a narrow elevator! The glowing buttons on the wall amid the dark lighting made such an ideal background.
We went back to the room and proceeded to the next set. Now, in every hotel shoot, the toilet should never be missed! What made this one unique to the others I had done in the past was that it was a Japanese-style toilet (benjo), the one where you squat down over the hole on the floor. By then I was clad in a pair of black PVC shorts and a studded open PVC bra. And not to forget the hot-looking thigh high boots to elongate my pins! It was to be a rather voyeuristic shoot from James' viewpoint. Mockingly teasing him while I have my shorts pulled down halfway. Or giving him the "what the f*** you looking at" eyes. And I have to agree with him that the pics from this series came out the best, although I found the other sets also stunning.
And finally, we experimented with James' laser pens. Room lights would be out and a reddish filtered light for effect. James got his assistant to carefully trace the pen around me while I was being captured with a slow shutter speed. This meant staying very still for 15-30 seconds or so. Having been a life model before, I know what staying "very still" is like so it was no difficult task for me! After a few attempts, we finally nailed a few awesome ones. The chain curtains in the background added to the effect as did the sink basin behind me, giving that seedy motel vibe with the green laser light acting as a neon sign around my half-naked body. This would certainly make a great advertisement!
We decided to call it a day and walked to a nearby Teppanyaki restaurant for some dinner. With a lot of ideas brewing, we have been planning more shoots during my stay. But alas, our busy schedules clashing and his catching a flu towards the end of my short prevented this from happening. Such a shame but then again, I will have my next trip to Tokyo in the course of early 2012 to look forward to! By then, ideas will develop further, we'll be more at ease working again together and I'd be better prepared with outfits and being organised with schedules. I have yet to do a naughty Roppongi evening shoot. What I'll be up to will be a surprise so stay tuned!
Thank you so much, James for your collaboration as well as your hospitality. The pictures you have sent me are awesome, and I can't wait to receive more. You're a pleasure to work with and I look forward to the next time!
For more pictures from this saucy shoot, hit me up on my Flickr page.
And more of James' work can be seen on his Flickr page too!