What Westerners Don’t Know About Yoko Ono

Yoko was born in 1933 in Japan. She was an only child born into an extremely wealthy Aristocratic family. Yoko was born into the class of women who may have married the emperor of Japan. In fact, she was enrolled in such an elitist school, that she was a classmate of Prince Akihito, the future emperor of Japan.

Her father was the first Japanese to open a Japanese bank in the USA during the Economic Miracle of Japan. Yoko’s parents chastised her often for befriending people that they felt were beneath her.

Yoko’s family were one of the richest families in Japan. And as an only child, it stands to reason that Yoko was the heir to the family wealth. So to think that Yoko “broke up the Beatles” or “wanted to marry John Lennon for money” is just simply laughable.

John Lennon was just a musician (considered a low class job in Japan) and did not even graduate from college and dropped out. I would imagine that any Japanese family, including Yoko Ono’s family, would be completely against their only child marrying a musician or someone like Lennon.

The marriage to Lennon happened after Yoko Ono and one of Japan’s most famous Classical Pianist’s, Toshi Ichiyanagi, marriage had failed by 1962.

What is the book, “Grapefruit?”

“Grapefruit is one of the monuments of conceptual art of the early 1960s. She has a lyrical, poetic dimension that sets her apart from the other conceptual artists. Her approach to art was only made acceptable when [people] like Kosuth and Weiner came in and did virtually the same thing as Yoko, but made them respectable and collectible.” — David Bourdon

Grapefruit is an artist’s book written by Yoko Ono, originally published in 1964. Two years before Yoko met John Lennon.

Yoko Ono has often been associated with the art group known as “the Fluxus group.” The Fluxus group was a loose association of Dada-inspired avant-garde artists which was founded in the early 1960s by Lithuanian-American artist George Maciunas. Maciunas admired and enthusiastically promoted Yoko’s work, and gave Yoko Ono her first solo exhibition at his AG Gallery in New York in 1961.

Fluxus was an international, interdisciplinary community of artists, composers, designers and poets during the 1960s and 1970s who engaged in experimental art performances which emphasized the artistic process over the finished product. Fluxus is known for experimental contributions to different artistic media and disciplines and for generating new art forms. Fluxus also was called, “Anti-art” and many artists destroyed their art by fire as part of the exhibition of said art.

What is the movie “Grapefruit”?

Grapefruit the book, has become famous as an early example of conceptual art, containing a series of “event scores” that replace the physical work of art – the traditional stock-in-trade of artists – with instructions that an individual may, or may not, wish to enact. Including the destruction of the art.

“Grapefruit” the movie is an attempt to encapsulate the entirety of the book in a sixteen minute film. It is a very difficult subject to whittle down. The movie by words and images, seeks to capture the essence on Yoko Ono’s life in 1964 and present it in a way that allows the veiwer to decide if this is “art or not,” and “is this good or not.”

Like the book, the film isn’t for everybody. Those who enjoy comic book movies or space war movies will most probably not like the film. People who are against war, against commercialism, and pro-freedom for everyone to live their lives as they choose, will most probably love this film.

The film strives to present Yoko Ono as she is and allows to viewer to draw their own conclusions.

There are no Beatles and nothing about the Beatles in this film. This is a expose about an artist who had principles and beliefs.

What the viewer takes away after watching this film is 100% completely up to them.

As with most Fluxus art, this film will be destroyed after screening.

Quotes about Grapefruit the movie:

‘Mike Rogers’ film, Grapefruit, captures the spirit and elegance of Yoko’s early poetry and performance art in a surreal, dream-like piece that harks back to the expressionist cinema of the 1920s. Very stylish and wonderfully evocative film.

– Darryl W. Bullock (Author of David Bowie Made Me Gay, and The Velvet Mafia. 2022 Winner of the Penderyn Music Book Award. Nominated for 2023 Shout-Out Awards & 2023 Penderyn Music Book Awards.)

Wow. Ive been into Yoko Ono since a teenager – loved her conceptual art and even her wacky music – and Mike Rogersfilm really drew me in. It was like seeing Yokos book Grapefruit come to life. I had to go dig out my old tattered copy of the book! This film is something only another artist like Mike could have created. Artist to artist! What an inspiration. – Carole Hisasue (Japanese Legendary Radio DJ)

“Not since Bunuel’s Un Chien Andalou’ has a surrealist film taken center stage. Grapefruit is a mind-bending assault on the senses.” – Stephen David Brooks (Multi-Award winning Hollywood Writer, Director. Writer of Stephen King’s film, “The Mangler.”)

“Grapefruit has a very unique view of the world. Avant-garde like Yoko Ono.”  – Naoko Yamano (Shonen Knife)

Grapefruit” is brilliant. Yoko’s words are beautiful and wise. Haters would do well to watch this and learn what a great mind she has. Music and cinematography is spectacular. Well done, take a bow, sir!” – Mr. Fab (Program Director, WFMU radio New Jersey)

“Mike Rogers has made a visually stunning and thought-provoking film. I watched the film with a friend and it sparked some great conversations afterward. Grapefruit is a film that captured my imagination and made me think. Two of the best qualities of a good film.” – Jeremiah Higgins (FM Radio Host in Los Angeles, Calif.)

“Grapefruit is wonderfully trippy and wise.” – Fran Leibowitz

“Beautiful and jarring.” – Keith Cahoon (President Tower Records Asia)