Take a Walk on the Wild Side
I hadn't been to Roppongi in ages -- by choice.
I don't care for the place. There are too many unsavory characters and, to be perfectly honest, they mostly have a gaijin face. Westerners fuck the place up for me, whether they be intemperate Marines or annoying Nigerians.
Of course, you're likely to see a lot of Westerners in Roppongi since this is where most of the embassies are situated. It is also a center of adult-oriented nightlife which seems to bring out the worst elements of the foreign community.
But I had to get over there again eventually because I wanted to visit the Dogma office and, as fate would have it, they are located in Roppongi.
I really don't know that much about Dogma, but I've been familiar with the work of director Tohjiro for many years. He has an interesting artistic sensibility. Don't be surprised if you see a naked girl sloshing around in a huge vat of dead fish (or some other slimey substance) in one of his films.
Recently, it came to my attention that he had been doing bondage material with Naka Akira and this really piqued my interest. So I felt I needed to hop on the subway and re-acquaint myself with Roppongi after such a long absence.
The first thing I noticed once I had ascended to street level was a sign warning that it was unlawful to approach others on the street for the purpose of recruiting them as "customers". You were also not allowed to follow after them and badger them with your offers.
It kind of seems like the first law would take care of the second, but anyway.
The sign also made it clear that it was a criminal offense to vandalize the sign itself. Only in Roppongi.
Ever since a careless smoker accidentally put his cigarette in the eye of a child somewhere in Tokyo a few years ago, larger cities have taken a strict, some might say draconian, approach to public smoking. At the famous Roppongi Crossing, there were large ashtrays on the corners and one corner even had a couple of uniformed monitors making sure us addicts stayed within the boundaries of the designated smoking area.
I would venture to say that, in most places in Japan, you will see a very light police presence. For the most part, the coppers stay in their little kobans. If you have any experience with a police state -- North Korea, Iran and Los Angeles come to mind -- the difference can be startling, but mostly just refreshing.
I was startled to see so many cops in Roppongi.
Roppongi is also home to Tokyo Midtown, Mori Tower and the Izumi Garden Tower, fancy skyscrapers -- cities within a city -- that legitimize the otherwise naughty reputation of Roppongi. Now they have art museums, hoity-toity shops and obscenely expensive apartments. In the future, I see these monstrosities turning into the headquarters of the Tyrell Corporation.
I made my way down the busy thoroughfare, following the elevated expressway, and found that, despite the best efforts of Mr. Mori and others, there still was some of the old Tokyo left in Tokyo. The building, home to the Dogma office, was delightfully dilapidated, a sublime shithole in the shadow of the creeping dystopia of Roppongi Hills.
This is the way it should be. This is where a company like Dogma should have its home. Not in sanitary environs like some other porn companies. In fact, as I ascended the grimy staircase, even I had to fight off a certain sense of foreboding.
The window on the door was completely blacked out but the logo was plain to see. I knocked, at first too softly. So I knocked a few more times, increasing the impact. Still no one answered. I will admit, I was a tiny bit relieved.
But I had come a long way to finally come face to face with Mr. Tohjiro and I wasn't going to just turn around and walk away. So I hung around outside, smoking cigarettes to stave off the boredom. I walked around back for the hell of it. Then back to the front just to see if I could catch someone either entering or leaving.
Finally, I decided to sit down.
A young Japanese man had earlier left the building but I didn't know at the time which office he had come out of. When he came back, he asked me why the hell I was sitting there in front of the door. To make a long story short, he worked for Dogma and in a few seconds another employee came down, this one with an excellent grasp of the English language.
I explained the purpose of my visit. Actually, I had several purposes, but one was to set up an interview with the man himself for this blog.
We chatted for awhile and I picked up some interesting tidbits and then, to my surprise, who should come down but Mr. Tohjiro himself. I had truly hit the jackpot.
He was dressed as if he were ready to step in front of the camera of one of his own videos: thick, black sunglasses, stocking cap and a long, dark trenchcoat. We shook hands and then he shoved his hands in the pockets of his coat.
I went into my usual spiel, which amounts to about the only Japanese I know, and feel a bit foolish about it now. I had assumed that Mr. T had come down to meet the weird guy who had been sitting in the doorway but, as it turns out, I think he just wanted to leave for the night.
Before he left he did ask me: "Are you a hentai person?" and "Do you like SM?"
The interview is on the table. If it ever happens, you'll be the first to know.
Mostly out of discretion, I am not reporting every little tidbit here but one thing that did come out of this visit was the fact that a certain Travis Klose had directed a documentary on photographer Araki Nobuyoshi back in 2004.
This was the first I had heard of it so I did a little research. It turns out that it was called Arakimentari. If you're interested, there's quite a bit of info online. I have included the trailer below.
The video is available here.