Occasionally you discover something so pleasing, so satisfying, so right that the world is suddenly a better place. The sun shines brighter, the birds sing louder – or if you, like Kinukitty, are sitting in a recliner that’s been temporarily parked in the middle of the dining room for so long you are forced to admit that’s actually where it lives now, and it’s past 1 a.m., and your eyes feel like someone’s scraped them down with extra-fine sandpaper, perhaps it would be more appropriate to say the piles of crap all over the place seem less squalid and the roving dust bunnies seem less aggressive. Playful, even.
I do have a point, and that point is that I’m in love. Again. And I owe it all to the Hooded Utilitarian’s very own Suat, who gave me the best tip ever: Crossdress Paradise. Suat! I don’t have words.
I sat in the recliner and watched three specials all in one go, and when I was done, my face hurt from beaming at the computer. I smiled so much it aggravated my TMJ. It was worth it, though, and I went to sleep with a sense of peace and goodwill and whatever that I have seldom known.
Crossdress Paradise is described as a Japanese game show, but I don’t see much game. All the show you could want, though. I’ll set it up for you they way they do, because frankly, nothing about this show could be improved on, not even if I understood what they were saying. Really. The language of Crossdress Paradise is universal. The show opens with two good-looking young guys chatting amiably. They are immediately likable despite the language barrier, and also unbelievably, hilariously funny, if the laugh track is any indication. When the hosts call out “open curtain” – in English, for reasons that are obscure to me – the glitzy silver curtain goes up, and the camera cuts first to the amazed faces of the hosts, and then to the studio audience full of gleeful, amazingly homogeneous high school girls, a sea of clapping, squealing, foot-stomping young ladies wearing almost exactly the same school cardigan, pleated uniform skirt, and big, baggy socks. These girls are not just happy with the transformation (which the home audience hasn’t seen yet) – they are so happy they are losing their collective mind. Finally, the camera cuts to the main event, a cute high school boy, sitting on throne (well, a flower-festooned, wing-backed wicker chair of the sort that featured in a lot of ‘80s prom photos) and dressed in drag. Not frat party drag, either. These guys are done up to pass.
Their hair is styled, their makeup is luminous, their smiles coy and sparkly. After letting us stare in amazement for a few moments, the boys then perform the ceremonial wink at the camera, which is accompanied by an adorable little sound effect. Then, we get another look at the crowd, still going wild. The first special I watched introduced six boys, unveiled one at a time, with lots of close ups to show off their dewy foundation and pearly lip gloss. There are also lots of close ups of them clutching nervously at their knees, trying not to flash all of Japan in their short skirts. One of the most endearing tells all the boys shared was the constant blinking against the unfamiliar onslaught of heavy mascara and liquid eyeliner. I recognized it instantly as a problem I too suffer from, on the rare occasions when I try to dress up and fit into society. I sympathize, pretty crossdressers!
There are several more specials in this series, and they basically make the same joke over and over and over – take the boys out, fool people into thinking they’re actually girls (sometimes by establishing a romantic attraction), and then, the punch line: Ha, ha! He’s a boy! What? Ha ha ha ha ha ha! They obviously think it never gets old, and I have to say I agree. Over the next two episodes, the boys learn to model, and they do a runway show. People are fooled and then everyone shrieks in amazement and hilarity.
A couple of things struck me about this. First off, it’s all very, very cheerful, and everybody is as good-natured and happy as can be. It’s like stumbling into an alternate universe where social injustice, original sin, and global warming never happened. People abuse Oxycontin to feel like this. Also, the boys really want to do a good job. The show isn’t about cross dressing in the sexual sense (although one of them really, really got into it, and I think a new world might have opened up for him). It’s all about humor, and of course Japanese teenagers are under pressure to do well. Even if what they’re doing well is cross dressing. When the TV star flirts with one of the boys, or the model pokes a couple of fake breasts because she can’t quite believe her eyes, the boys are obviously proud. That’s part of the reason it’s all so much fun. There’s no humiliation.
And that is perhaps the most important thing about the show. It’s about boys wearing dresses and makeup and passing as girls, and none of the humor comes from belittling them, or the girls watching them, or the myriad of bystanders who can’t tell what they’re looking at. (Well, as far as I can tell. They could be saying anything, I guess. But it all looks so damned amiable!) The American viewer thinks, over and over, that this couldn’t possibly happen here. There’s no way any version of a show like this could happen in the U.S. Only in Japan, the home of yaoi and fertility festivals where people carry around enormous carved penises. Also the home of cheese ice cream and caramelized potato KitKats. (They can’t all be gems.)
I urge you to carve out four or five hours and watch Crossdress Paradise until you absolutely have to get out of your recliner RIGHT NOW because you have to pee and get yourself a good old American KitKat (chocolate, as God intended), and then probably go to bed. You can thank me (and Suat) later.