(Translator's note: This post is a continuation of a previous entry.)
KAI-YOU: Speaking the truth, your book packed a lot of punches.
Kaoru Oshima: Punches were thrown starting with the book's cover. There was a lot of trouble with getting it through. The cover's me naked from the waist up at the beach. However, at a meeting near the deadline to get the book cleared for publishing, there was a fuss about how my nipples were shown. The problem was about how larger book shops and their client base may have issue with seeing me like that because they may mistake me for a woman.
I was admittedly really pissed and got into an argument with the editor. He rebuked saying it was a compliance issue and it can't be helped. They were planning on running the book with a different cover. It made no sense because they were just the nipples of a grown man! There was no compliance issue.
KY: How did you end up getting the cover image to stay?
KO: I asked him if he thought the book would make more of an impact if we had the nipples on the cover compared to going on a different route. I felt it was very important to keep the cover as-is since I want the world to know that Kaoru Oshima is a man. It's solid proof of who I really am.
Having the cover with my nipples shown would be a good thing to get readers into the mindset of the vagueness of modern-day gender biasing. The image that made the cover was the only one I could think of being a good fit. It's irreplaceable. Going with another cover would have made for a less popular book.
KY: In your book there are shots of you cross-dressing in both genders. Were these outfits you picked out?
KO: I've always loved being in front of the camera. This include taking them as well so self-shots of my own styling is something that came natural to me. Of course for the book I had both an assistant and a cameraman on hand.
KY: Any pointers for those self shots?
KO: I tried to lose some weight. I know that I have a masculine frame, but there were some ways I can pose to my benefit. Women have it a bit easier. So long as they're pretty already they have not much to worry about when it comes to muscle tone and dropping fat. What's more, it was best for me to have a little bit of fat when I was doing AV which I had to work off after I retired.
KY: It's hard to put every single person in a category, right?
KO: I'm pretty sure most famous people—be it an idol or actor—has a certain goal that they project upon themselves. They are always desiring to achieve it no matter what it is. It can be a double-edged sword though as one's personal goal could be very different than what one is already known for. Making any drastic changes can possibly lead to enraged fans.
I'm sure there are many people who only categorize me in one certain way. For example, I hear from female fans who say they love how I can still exude handsome traits in spite of looking just like a woman. This is good to some extent, but I think every person has their own idealized image of their idols which sometimes may be far from reality.
KY: Do you consider your own changes through the years to be abnormal?
KO: In the previous interview I talked about how one's sexuality should not be labeled and that it should solely be a unique and personal choice. Everyone has unique aspects that may be lacking in other people.
KY: That is true, but also isn't it a bit obvious?
KO: Well, for example some people have really bizarre sexual fetishes that differ greatly from the norm. Then there are people who truly are heterosexual who start having second thoughts when seeing an extraordinarily beautiful newhalf actress. The same can hold for homosexual men who suddenly may see a woman who gives them second thoughts about their sexual identity. These are just some examples as to why overall categorization can never be sufficient.
There's so many ways for people to love and to be loved. I just hope everyone can themselves even if they identify as straight, gay, lesbian or combinations of them.
KY: So it's best to go at life without any classification?
KO: A blank slate is best. You are who are you are and that's what people should identify you as. There's parts of me that are very public, but then there are other things I keep to myself. For a public figure, the balance is usually more in the latter with private matters being minimal. It's easier for a private person to go full throttle with a blank slate that can defy categorization.
KY: Not too long ago same-sex marriage was made legal in USA. Many people on social networking services added a rainbow flag to their avatars. What do you think about this issue?
KO: I didn't do the rainbow flag. In Shibuya in Tokyo, the issue of same-sex marriages has gained a lot of recent attention though. I personally am totally in favor of allowing those in the LGBT community to marry each other.
My first foray into cross-dressing were mangas that depicted men as cross-dressing woman having sex with regular men. It felt a bit perverse at first, but then I realized that this is how some people choose to act and they should have the right to it.
Newhalfs can be seen as the output of someone who may have suffered from gender identity disorder from a young age. Some of it may have been hereditary and some from outside cultural exposure. Some may feel strange about being a man and having sex with a man hence their decision to change genders. I'm sure there are some newhalfs who look at cross-dressers with the same distaste some heterosexual people view on those who are LGBT.
Picture from VANQUISH Kaoru Oshima Campaign
Interview by Koduck Kawaguchi
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