Monday, September 14, 2009

Japan's Pop Culture Princess Does Kyoto

The Scum Brigade invades Kansai! TSB Lieutenant First Class, Fortune, is reporting for duty with her first scummy post from her foxhole in Kyoto.

Those in the know have probably seen the name Maho Shimao attached to her pastel-colored drawings of cute little boys and girls, or cute little cats and dogs, or cute little cupcakes, OR a not-so-cute high school girl with long nose hair, Goriko. Born to photographer parents, Shimao made her debut as a cartoonist with the comic High School Girl, Goriko when she was in high school. Since then, she has become a Japanese subculture royalty of sorts over the years, working as an illustrator, writer, TV-personality and DJ for a slew of local radio programs.

When word came in that her royal highness was here in Kansai this weekend for an in-store appearance at her cell phone wallpaper exhibit at Trancepop Gallery in Kyoto, I knew I had to meet her. Needless to say, her adorable pop art pieces were fun to look at, but the talk session was also a blast, giving each attendee a chance to interact with her.

She began by handing us pieces of paper to write our day-to-day problems on. While dispensing life changing advice she took requests for illustrations with one condition--that we only photograph them with our cell phones! Her answers were so charmingly crude that it reminded me that art doesn't have to be snooty and self important. Here are a few gems:

Q: I am one of only a few boys in my college class, but I can't get any attention from girls. What should I do?
A: You know, many girls want to be friends with gay guys. I mean, guys that can appreciate girls' culture. So, you should get a girly magazine, like Elle or something, and put it on your desk out of nowhere. Eh..No. Don't do that, boys with girly magazines are kind of gross and obvious. Let's see, you should keep an eye on the girl you're interested in and check what brand she's wearing. And wear men's version of the brand, like, say, Comme des Garcons Homme, or Zucca Homme or something. And, put the shopping bag on your desk and be like, "Oh yeah, I kind of wear this. Do you like it too? What a coincidence..."

Q: My crotch has been itchy for a while. What should I do?
A: Speaking of crotches, my friend's father has had a problem with his...balls. I hear his balls have been getting bigger and bigger over the past five years, but he doesn't want to see a doctor so he just lets them hang as they are. While he says they don't hurt, I hear he has to wear a pair of baggy pants like tacky high school boys in Shibuya. Hahaha...Oh yeah, I don't know what to say about the itch though.

Sadly, the exhibit is already over and her next show is TBA. In the mean time listen to her radio talk every Saturday night at TBS's Weekend Shuffle. Tune in next weekend to hear the voice of her majesty!

Click here for more pics from the show!
Maho Shimao

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