MERMAID BAR IN ROPPONGI. JAPANESE GIRL IN BIKINI, SWIMMING IN FISH TANK. HOSTESS CLUBS, TOKYO JAPAN.
I’m often asked: what’s it like, being on travel TV shows? What goes on behind the scenes? I’m going to attempt to answer these questions by bringing you more photos from the NRK Norway documentary shoot, which took place last October-November in Tokyo. (Photos by Naomi Rubin, my First Mate fixer.)
Every show requires weeks of planning. Naomi and I bring our ideas to the producers, and when they’re approved, we make precise arrangements with the locations and people involved.
In this case, the producers had heard of a bar where a real-life Ariel swims in a giant tank. We found Mermaid Fusion, a hostess bar in Roppongi, and got permission to bring in our cameras at an exact date and time. (Schedules are tight and days are long, while working in the field.)
We didn’t have time to scout out the location beforehand. Thankfully, the lighting was adequate — and what a scene! Clad in a gilded bikini and mask, a Japanese swimmer gulps air from the top of the tank…
Then she submerges herself into the abyss, gracefully flipping her limbs through the water. Beautiful.
The Prince of Norway, host Ari Behn, wanted to be a “mer-man.” After much cajoling, we convinced the Mermaid Bar owner to let him enter the tank. The murky water and narrow but deep space is harder to swim in than you’d think.
Ari has a magnificent tattoo of a winding snake. The tattoo artist used a meticulous dotted effect, which I’ve never seen before.
We also cast the girl who Per is romancing (she’s a hostess at the bar). The lines aren’t scripted, but the scenes and storylines are prepared in advance.
Soon, I’ll upload clips from the Norway TV show, so you can see the action yourself!
PS: I did a guest post for The Diplomat, an Asia-Pacific current affairs magazine. It’s about how artists can work together and get their creative juices flowing, to help Japan’s recovery. The article is after the jump and here.
Got any questions about what goes on in a travel television program? Or TV shoots in general? Leave a comment, and I’ll do my best to fill you in.
Song of the Day: Every New Dead Ghost (An underrated Goth rock / post punk band.)
Pop Art Fundraisers for Japan
Following is a guest entry by La Carmina, TV host, ‘cool hunter’ and journalist focusing on Japanese fashion and travel.
The heart of my work takes place in Tokyo, where I host travel TV shows and write about Harajuku fashion and subcultures. In an alternate universe, I’d be in Inokashira park right now, hosting a Belgian documentary about sakura season.
Instead, the earthquake shook up my ‘spooky-pop’ universe. Friends fled Japan. Plans were put on indefinite hold. The destruction in Sendai haunts me; images and numbers I can’t begin to process.
I asked myself: as an artist, can I make a difference in this time of crisis? Working together, I believe there’s much that creative individuals can do to help.
Model and actor Sebastiano Serafini, a familiar face on my La Carmina Blog, survived the Tokyo quake and flew to Los Angeles. Here, we harnessed a tight network of artists, musicians, promoters and designers that inhabit the J-pop world. Everyone pooled resources to raise funds and awareness for the victims.
We co-sponsored several art benefits in Los Angeles. At one, Q Pop Shop donated event space and pledged sales to charity. Tune in Tokyo DJs and bands volunteered to perform, while artists such as Junko Mizuno gave works for auction, as did illustrators for the Power Puff Girls, Samurai Jack and Pixar.
The events raised money through donations and sales, but also provided a space for creative types to come together in this difficult time. The simple act of attending added to the sense of camaraderie. Even Tweeting about the events let participants feel they were taking positive action to help.
In addition to our art fundraisers, Sebastiano and I had impromptu collaborations with a variety of artists. I interviewed the band Black Veil Brides about their experiences in the earthquake, and we took photos with the Japanese flag to encourage donations. The Mr. Black party promoter let us set up a donation booth at his club night. Hair salon Toni & Guy dyed our hair red, as a visual statement of support.
We’re now working on longer-term design projects to benefit Japan, beginning with a charity t-shirt. Sebastiano co-founded the Hope project with fashion brand Like Atmosphere. We’re both the inspiration for a graphic tee designed by Alice and the Cat, with proceeds going to the victims of the tsunami and earthquake. To keep the momentum going, we also have a non-profit jewellery collaboration in the works.
The earthquake can be seen as a setback for artists whose career and lives are tied to Japan. But from another perspective, it’s an opportunity to team up and get the creative juices flowing to help Japan’s recovery.