One of Japan’s
most famous classical pianists just came back from a cruise ship tour
that departed from the Bahamas. Of course this tour was filled with
the very rich and wealthy and Pianistar
Hiroshi was there to entertain with his unique style of musicianship.
I’ve written about Pianistar before. I don’t believe that he is married. Nor do I believe that he ever will marry. Let’s just say that he is not the “marrying type.”
There are lots of famous musicians who fall into this category of people. I figure that they have become such creative types due to being able to see and live the world from both sides. More power to them, I say.
The other day, Pianistar had his usual Tokyo summer concert and, as always, it was completely sold out. There were lots of famous Japanese actors and actresses there. As well as many famous artists and music critics… And then, there was me.
The show was wonderful. Pianistar played all his songs that made the audience laugh and cry.
There was one part of the show though, that took me a bit by surprise; Pianistar got up from the grand piano and told the audience about his Caribbean tour and playing on the cruise ship. The cruise ship part was quite funny. I guess even the incredibly rich and famous are apt to get silly and funny when drunk. Some of the ladies wanted him to play along as they sang Karaoke.
Pianistar doesn’t speak English. He didn’t know what to do, so he just played along. Got to keep the customers happy, right? And the show must go on.
Then when Pianistar started talking about returning to Japan; first stopping in Florida, then Dallas. His talk turned distinctly bizarre. Even though the Japanese audience all laughed, I cringed.
In Florida, he was stripped searched. He commented:
“First I had to remove my belt; then my pants. Thank God I had on clean underwear.” The audience was rolling on the floor. Me? I sank into my seat.
Then he went on to Dallas.
“What a relief.” He commented, “Until I was taken into another room and interrogated for 3 hours — thereby missing my flight back to Japan.” The audience still chuckled, for they thought for sure he was joking. I knew he wasn’t.
His final advice to the packed house was:
“Always have clean underwear when you go through an airport in America — or go naked and save yourself the trouble.”
Everyone in the concert hall burst out laughing. I felt like I was only 2 inches tall.
I suppose a very effeminate classical concert pianist that likes to walk around in women’s kimono and gaudy outrageous clothes would be a “red-flag” for our very alert anti-terrorist squads protecting the safety of the American plane traveler. I can hear the interrogation now:
“A woman traveling with me!? Well I never!”
“You were only on that cruise ship for a few days. Why do you have 18 sets of kimono and 20 scarves with sparkles and feathers? Are these some kind of disguise? And whose soft-cuddly bear is this? And what about this make-up; is there a woman traveling with you?”
Pianistar Hiroshi wouldn’t understand a single word that was said and would probably give some limp-wristed reply and say, “I am a classical pianist.” (If he could even say that in English.)
Finally the interrogation would get to the meat of the matter. The “cop” would turn the spotlight directly onto Pianistar’s face, glaring into his eyes. Sweat would daintily pour down Hiroshi’s brow. Pianistar would probably be in near-panic as this is the kind of thing you only see in movies; tears running down his cheek; his make-up ruined; the cop would say:
“Now I am asking you for the last time… You ain’t a terrorist, are you?”
Pianistar’s very suspicious piano and toy Teddy.
“No! No!” Pianistar would plead.
“Alright then. We’re gonna let you go with a warning this time then…” Pianistar would be freaking out. Happy as hell to be out of there, he’d gather up his smock and “Elton John glasses” and scurry on out of the room. He’d probably need a drink to calm his nerves so he’d stop at the bar and order a Shirley Temple. No! Make that a double Roy Rogers!
As Pianistar bolts from the room, the cop would then grimace towards the door, where Sister Mary Ellen Asuncion sits merrily darning a sweater as she waits.
“Next!” He growls.
Two days ago I had the chance to interview Jean-Paul “Bluey” Maunick of the Jazz Funk group, “Incognito.” Bluey was in Japan to promote his new record, “Adventures in Black Sunshine.” Bluey had just come back from a promotional tour of America and he had nothing but heaps of praise for “The Land of the Free.”
“What do you mean?” I coyly responded.
“I went around to many radio stations and was interviewed and several of them would not allow me to say the title of my album on the air.”
“You mean, they wouldn’t allow you to say, “Adventures in Black Sunshine”? I asked.
“No!” He replied, “They said I couldn’t say the word “black” over the air! Have those people all gone mad?”
I didn’t answer. I just rolled my eyes.
“What other fun things happened Bluey?” I asked.
“Well, at two radio stations in California they asked me what I had been doing in the United States since I got there. And I mentioned that I went to see the movie, “Fahrenheit 9-11,” and they just shut me off! Right there. They just shut off my microphone and ended the interview and asked me to leave! Bloody insane Americans!”
After the interview, Bluey and I talked for quite a while. He told me his little horror stories about being in an airport in America. He mentioned that he had been hassled several times.
I wonder why? You know, world famous artists just might have some reason to travel a lot — to bring more clothes than the rest of us would need. They would have lots of stamps in their passports from various countries, wouldn’t you think? Nah!
Bluey had to leave the radio station so we said “good-bye.” He asked me if I was going to America anytime soon.
“No thanks.” I answered. “Besides, I don’t have any clean underwear.”
Mike (in Tokyo) 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.