often say that Japan is years behind the United States in just about
everything. I don't agree; Japan, in many aspects of society, is
years ahead of America. From living here, I have seen glimpses of
America's future. And it's not pretty.
America's future is here; Japan has a very docile populace. The
public seem to rarely question the news. People do and think as
they are told. People do not question the government or corporate
line; because the nail that sticks out, gets pounded down. Could
America be far behind?
Japanese mass media is completely and totally run by a handful of
corporations. A good example of this is Japanese Top 40 music. The
top music charts here are all run by a few companies who decide
for you what "artist" is going to be famous next. It's
great for all involved; Don't think, be like everyone else! Everyone
else is buying this new record. You should too! (You'd hate to lose
friends by listening to something different.) The American Pop Music
Industry aspires to become all that Japanese pop music already is:
Corporate state swill shoved down the throats of the masses.
used to do a lot of "Stadium Announcing" in Japan. Being
a stadium announcer is a pretty "gravy" job. Especially
here in Japan, where the average person doesn't have a clue as to
what you are saying; the Japanese public like the "atmosphere"
of an American sports event. So, perhaps I should say that, instead
of a stadium announcer, I was very good at doing imitations of announcers.
in Japan is often kind of like working in a real life Fantasy-land;
It's very safe, nothing seems real, and the whole world is as cute
done stadium announcing for all sorts of companies; fashion, cars,
baseball games, boxing, you name it, I've done it. I used to do
this kind of announcing every year for Amway too. For all of Amway's
first big conventions in Japan, I was the announcer. And, from doing
"Amway Conventions," I have met some of the most interesting
people and been to some of the most bizarre promotional events I
have ever heard of in my life.
of people in Japan try to get rich selling Amway. I think I am one
of four people I know who have ever made any money off of Amway
I have ever heard of. No one makes money off selling Amway. Except
Amway. And you know how Amway makes money don't you? They get people
to be salesmen for no pay! That's right; people will spend their
time and money selling Amway in the slim hopes that they can get
you really thought about it, you'd realize that if you put in as
much of an effort in your regular job as you did working for free
for Amway, you could probably get yourself promoted real fast. So
no-one really makes any money off Amway. Except Amway, me, and my
say I made money off of Amway, I mean; I have been paid a lot of
money to make Amway look good. The only people I know who have made
money off of Amway are; the president of Amway Japan; Former US
President George Herbert Walker Bush; pop star Diana Ross; and me. A pretty
strange group of four people to be sure.
Records “Pulse!” magazine of April 1995:
Bush League: Diana Ross and the former president surreally hawk
cleaning products Meeting of the Minds: Diana Ross and George H.W. Bush
were both on hand at the 50,000 seat Tokyo Dome late last year for
a convention held Dec. 9–10 by Amway. The packed-to-the-gills
affair was “hosted” by Mike Rogers, call-in correspondent for L.A.'s
Mark and Brian show and former singer for the 70's punk band The
Rotters (of “Sit On My Face Stevie Nicks” fame). In her half hour
set, Ross, (who incidentally had tighter security than the former
president), performed several old hits, including “Theme From Mahogany,”
“Upside Down,” “Touch Me In The Morning” and “I Wanna Thank You,”
plus a medley of Supremes classics and several newer tunes. Quite
strange however, was the commentary by Bush, who reiterated that
“The Cold War is over” but neglected to mention anything about an
Amway product. – Keith Cahoon (President Tower Records, Asia)
the time I was announcing Amway conventions, a foreigner was the
president of Amway Japan. He was a very nice man. He was one of
the typical foreigners who had been in Japan for over ten years
yet knew nothing of the country (thus he would have been perfect
as a CNN reporter on Japan!) He and his wife had somehow found themselves
in Japan. Foreigners like these folks basically knew nothing of
Japan because they couldn't speak the language. And if you can't
speak the language, you'll never understand the culture. Don't get
me wrong, they were nice folks, but they weren't in love with Japan.
They were in love with what they "thought" Japan was.
Or the Japan that their English-speaking rich bourgeois Japanese
friends wanted them to see. I'm sure they went to see Kabuki, Sumo,
and the usual fare for the rich, old, and jaded. But, I don't think
that is the real Japan. I don't think they ever saw the real Japan.
And, if they are still here, which I doubt, they probably still
haven't. Japan is their "real life Disneyland."
folks were the president and vice-president of Tupper-ware just
a few years before I had met them at the Amway conventions. This
I found a bit absurd. If you've ever sold Amway, you'd know that
you are supposed to buy Amway products and "sell them down
line" to your group. As your group gets bigger and bigger,
you sell more and more product, thereby you make more and more money.
Well that's how it is supposed to work in theory. In reality, I
have never met anyone who has made money from Amway that way.
this couple were the "big cheese" of this fabulous money
making scheme. Fine. But wait a minute! If they were selling Amway
now, and they were selling Tupperware just a few years ago, how
did they become the president and vice president of Amway Japan?
You would think they would have had to work their way "Up the
ladder" so to speak. They would have had to have been some
of the first people in Japan to get involved with the Amway scheme,
right? Wrong. I asked the husband personally about this and he told
were selling Tupper-ware, but when we were shown Amway, we thought
this was better."
you didn't actually sell any Amway products before?" I asked.
We were u2018head-hunted' to run Amway." He proudly announced.
Here I was at this silly Amway convention doing the announcement
for a company that was "scamming" people.
well, it was okay. I was making a lot of money for a couple of hours
work a day announcing their stupid event at the Tokyo Dome, I rationalized.
guests lined up for this Amway event were the usual Amway fare;
some guys who claim to be a "triple-double-Diamond-chocolate
chip cookie," as well as the foreign president speaking, with,
unbelievably, (are you ready for this?) special guests; the former
President of the United States George Herbert Walker Bush and former Supremes
lead vocalist Diana Ross.
Tokyo Dome event took place over the span of two days. From all
over Japan, new Amway recruits came flooding to Tokyo to witness
the glory and greatness of Amway (The American Way?) You'd think
that since all these people were Amway "sales people,"
that anyone involved could get in for free, but no way. I think
people paid about $80.00 per ticket to go to this event. It was
a sales motivational event and the "sales people" had
to pay to get in! Like I said, Amway was making a lot of money off
a lot of stupid people. Not only were they getting people to voluntarily
sell and distribute their soap; they were making money off promotional
backstage I looked out at the entire Tokyo Dome. Fifty thousand
people were going to be there. Fifty thousand! And of all those
people, there was only a handful of us making any money on this
event and I was one of the few.
the Dome started to fill up, since I had an "All Areas Security
Pass," I decided to check out the various places at the Tokyo
Dome that most people will never get a chance to see in their entire
lives; I sat in the dugout that the Tokyo Giants used. I looked
out from the dugout and could hear the cheers of tens of thousands
of people as the Giants won the pennant again for the umpteenth
time; I walked around the Giants dressing room. I could imagine
the cheers of joy of the players after the Giants won and were pouring
champagne on top of each other. I could feel the history. I could,
"hear" the celebrations.
walked down the hall. As the deafening shouts of the crowds in my
imagination died down. I walked the silent empty hallways and found
a dressing room. On the dressing room was a large shiny silver star.
And underneath the star it said, “Dressing Room — Miss Diana Ross.
Absolutely no entry!”
was at least four hours before the event was to start. We had already
done our sound checks and the Amway people were going through their
motions on stage. I knocked on the door of Diana Ross' room. There
was no answer. I knocked again, louder. Still no answer. I reached
down and turned the door handle. I couldn't believe it! It was unlocked!
I peeked in.
don't know what I expected to see really. I mean, I had never been
in a Superstar's dressing room before. It was a western style room,
about 40 feet by 40 feet. The floor was carpeted and the walls at
opposite sides of the room were all mirrors. There was a sofa that
sat about four people and two nice comfy chairs. Of course below
the mirrored walls there was a counter for applying makeup along
with the big round "make-up" lights, just like you see
in the movies.
sat down at every chair. I lay down on the sofa. So I could say
that Diana Ross and I have sat in the same room, in the very same
have brought a camera. Tomorrow I definitely will." I thought.
I figured I could get my picture taken with Diana Ross for sure.
Maybe President Bush won't be so easy. But I sure was gonna try.
wandered out of Diana Ross' dressing room, and back to the event.
We were getting ready to start. The Dome was pretty much filled
up with people by then. When my "cue" came, I stood to
my feet and boomed out,
and gentlemen, Welcome to this years Amway Japan Convention!"
the music started up and then they had some lame "Las Vegas
– style" dancers come out on stage and start the "exciting"
was a weird audience. The entire Dome was filled with what looked
like "church people." Everyone there was wearing a business
suit. I continued to introduce different people. They all came up
on the stage and did their speeches and gave out awards. Whatever.
Then came the highlight I was really looking forward to; Former
US President George H.W. Bush. Once again I made the speakers boom with
excitement, “And now ladies and gentlemen, won't you give a warm
Amway welcome to the former President of the United States. The
one, the only, George Herbert Walker Bush!” The crowd applauded wildly.
was this "black-walled corridor" built from the back room
up to the stage. No one could see what was behind this corridor.
Even with my "all areas pass" I couldn't get there. I
figured that's where Bush was going to come walking out of. But
no! They threw everyone a "curve," and Bush, along with
about 50 secret service agents came walking out from one of the
side doors, in a phalanx formation, to the stage. I wondered why
they didn't use the special corridor they had built? But I thought,
they are using different plans in case somebody might want to assassinate
Bush." But then again, "Who would even want to assassinate
this guy? He's actually no-body anymore. And what a waste of U.S.
taxpayers money! Not only does the US taxpayer have to pay the bill
for his football-team–sized bodyguards, but he's getting paid
mega-bucks (probably $1 million dollars at least – Reagan got
$2 million for a different event in Japan) to speak at this event.
What a rip-off of US taxpayers money!"
Bush gets up on stage. He gets a standing ovation from the audience.
Next to Bush is a Japanese translator. I was wondering what Bush
was going to talk about at an Amway convention? Surely he wasn't
selling Amway now. Or was he?
three or four minutes into Bush's speech I realized what was going
on; even the former president didn't know what kind of event this
was. All he knew was this was the Tokyo Dome and there were 50,000
people there to see him speak. He stamped his fist on the podium
and said to a roaring applause, "The
cold war is over!" He then went on for the next 40 minutes
talking about the demise of the old Soviet Union and how, "We
have won!" The audience probably couldn't understand what the
hell Bush was talking about really. When Bush meant; "The Soviet
Union has fallen. The capitalist system has succeeded. We have won!"
The audience probably understood,
communist system doesn't work. Free enterprise like Amway is the
best. Amway has won!" This nonsense went on for a while. Around
me in the announcers booth there stood a few secret service agents.
I smiled and nodded at one. He smiled and nodded back.
finished his speech and got a two or three minute standing ovation
from the suits in the crowd. Red, white and blue balloons fell from
the ceiling and Bush waved good-bye. Then, in military precision,
his army of secret service bodyguards walked him briskly to a different
exit than the one he walked in. And they were gone. The former President
of the United States had finished his speech in front of a packed
stadium of people. And I'm sure to this day, that he had no idea
he was speaking in front of an Amway convention!
came the big event of the evening; Miss Diana Ross! (Pretty pathetic,
eh? Bush has to "open" for Diana Ross!) I strained to
see which entrance she would hit the stage from. But I couldn't
see her. I announced her to the audience. Then she just "popped
out" onto the stage! The "black corridor" was not
built for the former president! It was built for Diana Ross for
Diana sang all her many hit songs. The crowd loved it. Then after
a few songs she said, “I'd like to thank you all for coming to my
30th anniversary tour of Japan! Thank you all!”
my God!" I thought, "Even Diana Ross doesn't know this
is an Amway convention. She thinks it's just part of her "World
tour!" So I guess, back in the States, Bush and Diana Ross
could brag to all their friends that they had, "Just
come back from Tokyo, where they "performed" in front
of a packed Tokyo Dome." It was too surreal.
finished her set and disappeared again behind the black corridor.
I knew then that it would be very difficult to get my picture taken
with her. But tomorrow I was going to do my damnedest to get my
picture taken with President Bush.
next day I showed up at the Dome with my then girlfriend. Before
the show I took her around to all my "regular spots";
the Giants dugout, backstage, and, of course to Diana Ross' dressing
room. I figured I couldn't get my picture taken with Diana so I
had my girlfriend take a picture of me looking out of Diana's door.
I looked like I was "surprised" to have my photo taken.
Kind of like a u2018paparazzi' photo. Who knows what kind of hi-jinks
was going on between Mike Rogers and Diana Ross? Could this photo
mean that I was having an affair with Diana? Well, I don't want
to start any scandalous rumors, but I will say that I was lying
down on Diana's sofa! You let your imagination take it from there.
second day of the event was pretty much like the first; boring.
Bush and Diana Ross both not having the slightest clue that they
were at an Amway convention.
I introduced President Bush, he and his secret service army entered
from a different door than the first day! During Bush's speech,
the same secret service guy was standing behind me that was there
the day before. We talked for a while. I asked him what it was like
being a secret service goon and he told me it was, "Alright,"
then he added, "But what I'd really like to do is move to Japan
and teach English!" I am not making this up! That's what he
said! So help me God! I was very surprised.
maybe I could help you out. I know a lot of people here." Then
we exchanged business cards. I asked him, “Do you think President
Bush will let me take my picture with him?”
“I don't know. Why don't you ask him?” Mr. Spy told me.
exit are they going out of today?" I inquired. He pointed to
my left (stage right) and said,
there!" It was perfect! Right after Bush's speech was over,
he was going to walk right behind my announcer’s booth. I got my
made the exact same speech he had made the day before. After it
was over, the President and his men walked off the stage, behind
the curtain, they all turned sharply towards where I was standing.
I tried to get close to the President. These secret service goons
were walking right into me, body-slamming me! They were all walking
really fast. It was like I was being tackled by the bodyguards.
I couldn't get closer than thirty yards. I shouted, “Mister Bush!
Mister Bush! Can I take my picture with you?” The secret service
agents were staring at me like they wanted to kill me. Then President
Bush said in his country drawl, “Ya, got a camera?” I answered,
sure do!" As I pulled out this stupid "disposable"
camera. I walked quickly to where Bush was. But no one was stopping.
They kept walking! I said to anyone around, “Can you take our picture?
Can you take our picture?” But they were all ignoring me.
Then this short, blonde, very mean looking, spy lady said, “We are
not allowed to touch cameras.”
I thought. Then the translator girl volunteered to take the picture.
President Bush and I stopped for a moment. The girl grabbed the
camera. I said, “Count to three!” She pointed the camera at us and
As soon as she said u2018three' I wrapped my arm around Bush's shoulders
like we were u2018drinking buddies'. He got really stiff and seemed
taken. Mission accomplished. I shook Bush's hand and said, "I
voted for you! I voted for you!" Which was a lie. I didn't.
Bush got his butt beat by Bill Clinton. But I didn't care, I got
my picture with my "buddy" Bush.
it was easy to get my picture taken with a former president, but
there was no way anyone could get their picture taken with Diana
Ross. No one could get within 100 yards of her!
was one more bizarre thing about this Amway event that I have to
tell you about though. Of course the Amway management wanted a big
Las Vegas style event to get all their brain-dead sales people excited
about selling soap. So they had to hire professional dancers. There
was this large group of professional dancers in Tokyo. Just about
all of them were foreigners. And the best dancers of all of them
were three or four black guys. These guys were great!
changes so fast it's amazing. Back then, black people had a hard
time getting jobs in Japan. It might still be that way, I don't
know. But since Amway Japan wanted a "clean image," they
would not let the black guys dance on stage! Hey! Don't get mad
at me! This wasn't my dumb idea. So the black guys were the guys
who had to wear these silly costumes that made them look like idiotic
bottles of Amway soap! The best dancers for a company event, a company
that started in America and was growing well in Japan, would not
allow blacks on the stage!
Think about it: They don't want blacks dancing on the stage because
they want a "clean image." And they think because someone
has dark skin that they are not "clean." But then they
hire Diana Ross, a black singer, to sing at their event! Amway Japan:
what a bunch of racist jerks.
things that happen here in Japan are hard to believe sometimes.
But every word I have written here for you is true. I even have
a picture of me and George to prove it. But, then again, if you
folks in America don't wish to, or can't believe this story, I would
understand. Because of what I've seen of what's been going on in
the American mass media recently and the absurdist claims being
made (even though they are all "technically correct"),
even a photo proves nothing anymore.
I said, Japan is a real-life fantasyland. And the way the United
States seems to be going now, I really wonder if it's far behind.
Rogers [send him mail]
was born and raised in the USA and moved to Japan in 1984. He has
worked as an independent writer, producer, and personality in the
mass media for nearly 30 years.