Masaki Sumitani - Comedy - Hard Gay

Hard Gay

A character (introduced in 2002) developed and portrayed by Sumitani is Hard Gay (ハードゲイ, Hādo Gei?). The term "Hādo Gei" is a Japanese reference to American gay subculture in similar fashion to, say, "punk". In Japan, gender subculture with distinct dress style are in fact transgender or drag, which in Japan is referred to as "Gei ゲイ". In turn, the term "hard gay" became the reference to more masculine oriented "drag" seen to be prevalent in America. The fact that Hard Gay does not portray any Japanese gay subculture also explains why the sketch was allowed to be aired on Japanese TV, which has its own code of political correctness.

The official name is "Razor Ramon HG". Dressing in a tight black PVC gay fetish outfit, he goes around performing acts of charity (yonaoshi, “social improvement”) for unsuspecting bystanders while performing trademark pelvic thrusts and vocalizations, often accompanied by "Livin' la Vida Loca" by Ricky Martin.

According to some accounts the name "Hard Gay" was the suggestion of Sumitani’s senior comedian in the Yoshimoto Kogyo group, Kendo Kobayashi, in reference to his hard dancing. The name has also been described as a pun on 芸, gei, which means "skill" or "art." However, to develop his character, Sumitani visited gay bars in Doyama-cho, Osaka’s biggest gay area, and his costume, which consists of hot pants, a small vest, and cap, all in black PVC, along with aviator sunglasses, was purchased at a shop called VFTQ in Minami-Horie, Osaka, which specializes in gay fashion. Hard Gay makes regular use of a number of catchphrases in his act; he usually makes his entrance in front of the camera shouting "Dōmō Haadogei desu" ("Hello, this is Hard Gay"), with arms thrust out and a spin afterwards. His self-introduction is then followed by his dance moves. He often shouts "Hoooooo" (フゥ~!) or "Foohhhh!" (フォー!), a running joke in his performances. He often stops people saying unfavorable things to him by shouting "Sei sei sei sei sei" with his palm in front of the person’s face. Whether this means anything is debatable, although Sumitani has commented that "sei sei" is something that comes out from his mouth when he is not happy, and that he does not mean "say" as in to speak something, although one might compare this action to the "talk to the hand" gesture. A possible interpretation might be that the origin lies in the word urusai (lit. "noisy," meaning "Be quiet!"), which is often pronounced urusē うるせー in Kansai dialect, shortened to sei. Another theory is the word sei written by kanji 静, meaning "quiet." Also, sei 性, means "sex" or "gender" in Japanese.

Sumitani’s supposed homosexuality was exposed as a gimmick when he was caught in the midst of a date, with Japanese actress and swimsuit model Anna Suzuki whom he has since married. He has been criticised for his stereotypical depiction of gay men and for building a career on using bizarre and extreme antics to "parody" a social minority. A spokesperson for the Hokkaido Sexual Minority Association Sapporo Meeting, a support group for gay, lesbian and transgender people, has said: "Hard Gay’s acceptance by the Japanese public shows me that there is a strong tendency here to see homosexuality as something to be laughed at. That is sad."

He then announced that he would start to reappear on television as Masaki Sumitani instead of Razor Ramon HG. His first reappearance as Masaki Sumitani was April 18, 2008 in a theatrical production of the jidaigeki take, HAKANA

In regards to his transition back to television comedy, Sumitani has revealed that during his present hiatus between his career ending wrestling injury and his impending TV return that he has fallen on hard times and has been making the equivalent of $70 USD a month. He is planning to reinvent himself because he does not want to go down in Japanese television history as a "one hit wonder". Whether this entails a new neta (comic hook) for his HG character or a brand new character altogether for Sumitani remains to be seen.

Sumitani once reprised his role as Hard Gay for a teaser for the video game, Devil's Third. Unlike his early appearances, he wears a suit but retains his signature cap and glasses.

Read more about this topic:  Masaki Sumitani, Comedy

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