Sex, Myth, and Truth in 1960s Tokyo Queer Underground

For the 44th session of our series, Dusty Whistles brings us an exciting experimental film: a mash-up of documentary interviews, cinéma vérité sensibilities, avant garde embellishments, and a contemporary retelling of an ancient mythological tale, all set in the underground drag scene and counterculture of 1960’s Tokyo.

A feverish collision of avant-garde aesthetics and grindhouse shocks, this film takes us on an electrifying journey into the heart of late-’60s Tokyo counterculture. The experimental film director’s debut feature is a dizzying melange of visual flourishes straight from the worlds of contemporary graphic-design, painting, comic-books, and animation with unflinching depictions of bodies at play and in pleasure. The film weaves together scenes of timelessness and tragedy with those of immediate and euphoric belonging. But, above all, the film is groundbreaking for its unapologetic portrayal of Japanese queer culture.

Dusty explains her selection as follows:

I love how this film not only stands for a record of its own time, but with its interview footage of trans people in Tokyo during the late 60s, it is a record of the persistence of a multitude of trans expression. The drag performance in the film as well, shifting between traditional and contemporary expressions, speaks so much to my own practice as an artist.

Dusty Whistles

Dusty Whistlesis a post human drag performer and multidisciplinary artist coming from New York. Her drag persona is a living network of relation expressed through a point of multiple intersections of lifeforms and experiences. She has been a resident of Berlin for the last 11 years, participating in the cities political counter culture and artistic communities. She is the “mother”/founder of Faux Real, Berlin’s first and only drag performance night featuring exclusively the art of women and trans drag performers, and her work has been shown in various Drag Performance evenings in Berlin’s nightlife. She has also shown her work in Berlin’s artistic institutions, such as the nGbK, Schwules Museum, Gemäldegalerie, Volksbühne Roter Salon, Ballhaus Naunynstrasse, and the Kunstfabrik am Flutgraben.