Our crazy Japan travel TV show filming! Duell um die Welt, host Steven Gatjen in Tokyo, Joko und Klaas, Department H.

Das Duell um die Welt tokyo steven gatjen

Uhh you may have recently seen La Carmina on German TV, with a giant peen… Ach du lieber!

Finally, we can reveal details of the crazy Japanese travel TV show we shot in September. As you may know, Naomi Rubin and I run a Pirates production company. We do local producing or “fixing” for travel television shows, in Tokyo and worldwide.

The Pirates have teamed up before with Joko und Klaas, the prime-time challenge show airing on Pro Sieben Germany. This time, “Das Duell um die Welt” (Duel around the World) featured celebrity guests… so we took presenter Steven Gätjen on a wild ride through Tokyo’s fetish underground!

Steven Gätjen, joko und klaas prosieben

It was fabulous to be on-camera again for Joko and Klaas’ program. As you’ll see, I delivered Steven Gätjen’s challenge, forced him to dress up in a pink studded suit, and introduced him to his bizarre band-members.

Keep reading to see the behind-the-scenes story of how we turned Steven into Ralf Acapulco, the schlager-industrial superstar singer… culminating in a hilarious performance at Department H, the alternative / S&M / latex / anything-goes party that remain the wildest in Tokyo.

❤ Wanna watch? I can’t post the full episode, but here are clips above and on Vimeo. ❤

tokio japan Das Duell um die Welt

Naomi and I love working with the Joko gegen Klaas team, as they’re always keen to do something crazy for the TV show. The production process is a long one: we throw around ideas for the challenge, and then build a story and locations around it.

As fixers, the Pirates make the local arrangements in Japanese including securing permits and locations, casting extras, arranging costume and makeup, hiring a van driver, securing hotels, and any other logistics for a successful shoot.

(You may recall that we gave Klaas a bagelhead, and sewed Joko’s lips together for this show! We also worked with Palina Rojinski on a ProSieben travel shoot in Hong Kong, and Olli Schulz in a Box in Tokyo.)

hagemashi rental family japan

Steven’s adventure began in a Zen-like fashion. He sat down to a matcha tea ceremony, in a traditional tatami room that we rented.

The four people in kimono are extras that we hired… from the Japanese “rent a family” company! (Yes, you can hire someone to pretend to be your relative or significant other.) We previously rented the same lady to play a fake mother in Olli’s TV show.

illustration watercolor japanese tea ceremony

Naomi Rubin is an amazing Japanese-English translator who makes the shoot possible by communicating the director’s words to the cast. She is also a talented illustrator, and created the elegant watercolor above based on the tea house scene.

In this scene, Steven received a mysterious card with an address. This led him to the next location…

la carmina travel tv hosting german television

… A karaoke room, where wacky individuals were waiting for his arrival! 

Steven Gätjen is lovely in person, with a gracious and positive attitude. We worked off a script, but had a good time ad-libbing during our scenes.

(My earrings are Alex Streeter, and dress House of Holland.)

japanese monster costume becos picopico

Say hello to PicoPico. He makes astonishing full body costumes of monsters and strange creatures. We hired him to be on the show, wearing his original green Becos costume.

karaoke kan dolphin weird rooms

While we waited for our scene, Pico Pico and I did karaoke… why not, we were in Karaoke Kan Shibuya after all!

What’s the deal with the blacklight space dolphins on the walls of the karaoke booth? Again… why not! (When you choose a song and it begins, the room lights up with a disco ball and neon lights.)

power rangers japanese karaoke

Pico Pico selected a Power Rangers tune to belt out. Love the spaceship background of the karaoke video.

karaoke singing weird tokyo japan

Yours truly stuck to disco. We did a YMCA duet, of course with the appropriate hand motions!

(If the monster costume looks familiar, it’s because he was also in the French travel TV show I did years back, with Antoine de Caunes for Canal Plus.)

giant penis costume halloween peen

And then, a giant penis arrived… Welcome, Mr Peen! He was so big that he could hardly fit through the doors, no joke.

This phallic character, known as Gachachin, often pops up at Department H and once appeared at Kanamara Matsuri, the Penis Festival in Japan. The old costume got a bit… rotten… so the creator whipped up a fresh and bigger one in just three days.

craziest japan halloween costumes

As you can see, it takes two men to deal with the massive Mr Peen! When Sasano is inside, he can shuffle around and go turgid or flaccid. Check out the vein-y detailing on the foam body, and the arm appendage.

karaoke kan lost in tranlation singing booth room

PicoPico also got inside his suit (he can see out of the mesh mouth area).

Naomi arranged for us to shoot in at Karaoke Kan Shibuya, in the exact same glass booth featured in the Lost in Translation movie by Sofia Coppola.

lost in translation rent karaoke booth

Here’s a screenshot from the scene we shot together. I introduced myself as Steven Gaetjen’s challenge-meister for Tokyo.

I’m sitting in the same place as Scarlett Johansson in the film, but unlike her pink wig, my hair color is real. (My cape is by Pheren Couture)

japan penis festival costumes gachachin

I presented Steven with his Tokyo challenge. He had to sing live on stage, at a wild party with hundreds of people watching… with Picopico and Mr Peen as his band members!

Steven Gätjen hosting tv host presenter

Steven Gaetjen had to perform a song that mixed schlager (cheesy, upbeat German music) with industrial (Rammstein-esque headbanging). He had to dress the part, hence this pink-studded costume that I declared was “so fash.”

To add insult to injury, I made Steven take part in a nonsensical interview with a Japanese news crew. Our friends Miki, Ken and Yugo did a fantastic job acting as the host and camera crew for this segment.

wacky japan costumes tv travel

We hired makeup and hair artist Tomomi Tokuda to give Steven this edgy look. She nailed it, and was a pleasure to work with.

akihabara tokyo bizarre anime

Travel TV shows always need a ton of B-roll footage, so we headed to Akihabara to do a montage of Steven and the monster. PicoPico couldn’t be there for that scene… so someone else literally stepped into his big shoes!

Joko gegen Klaas tokio duell

Akiba, the otaku and anime “electric town,” made the perfect setting for these funny scenes. Above, the monster insists on taking a selfie with Steven, who is not amused.

tokyo tv fixing filming producers

Strolling through Tokyo, dressed ridiculous and shooting a TV show… just a typical day in the life of La Carmina and the Pirates.

department h party kinema club

Finally, Steven arrived at the most insane party in Tokyo, if not the universe: Department H. (Keep scrolling for photos, and you’ll see why.)

Organizer and mistress of ceremonies, Gogh, generously let us film here many times.

tokyo japan television production

The Dept H party starts at midnight, and takes place the first Saturday of each month. However, the crew got here early to set up and rehearse the performance.

We put up a poster featuring Steven’s flamboyant alter ego, Ralf Acapulco, who would be performing “Sushi of Love” live on stage.

penis festival Kanamara matsuri

“Itai, itai… painful!” Looks like Mr Peen is made to be a drummer. He even has a hole for his drum stick!

Steven Gätjen singing schlager industrial

Time to rehearse, with the instruments that we rented. I can’t stop laughing every time I see Mr Peen banging on the cymbals.

piercing cheeks together body mods

As you can see in the video clips, I took Steven to meet his keyboard players. These three are the Gokiburi crew… and they shocked him by sticking a long skewer through their cheeks, like a human shish kebab.

tokyo extreme body modifications piercings

No Photoshop here. These regular-looking folk gleefully stuck a long metal needle through their jowls, connecting themselves together. Gotta love the creativity of Japanese body modifications.

japan tv movie fixing producing company

Naomi shows them how to choreograph their headbanging and hand gestures during the live performance. (In this rehearsal photo, they aren’t yet human-centipeded together.)

japanese penis festival floats statues

Looks like somebody is happy to see me. P size wa?!

drag queen show tokyo japan

Department H takes place at Uguisidani’s Kinema Club. The regular club night has been raging since the 1990s, and is still going strong. The event includes a drag queen show…

dept h uguisidani party

… and weird, racy performances such as this monster wrestling match.

hajime kinoki shibari rope tying bondage ロープアーティスト

Hajime Kinoko, shibari artist, tied up a victim on stage with rope. The person’s hair was then dipped in ink, and used to paint calligraphy on a scroll.

piercing people together cheeks

And then, “Ralf Acapulco” took the stage! The contrast between the bright schlager and scream-and-groan Industrial rock made for a hilarious performance.

(Watch some clips from the TV show below, as well as extras on my Instagram video.)

Danke everyone for watching me on Joko und Klaas: Duell um die Welt, Tokyo episode! Take a moment to see what we got up to in the video. I hope our surreal monster dance makes you laugh.

anime kigurumi dollers

I’ll leave you with mind-bending photos from Department H nightclub. The partygoers wear the most bizarre outfits you’ll see on the galaxy. At Dept H, you can be whoever you want to be — whether it’s a one-eyed dolly, or a green haired lady of the night.

full body anime costumes head mask

You’ll see a lot of anime kigurumi, or dollers, at Department H. Typically handmade, these are full-body suits that include giant masks with big eyes. The effect is a bit cute, a bit creepy… a real-life anime or manga character come to life in three dimensions.

(Click below to see more photos.)

More here!


Department H Tokyo, Japanese fetish alternative club! Bagelhead & body modifications art exhibit.

japanese kigurumi, dollers, anime costumes

Tokyo has many crazy club nights, but which takes the cake? Department H, a monthly party that celebrates the wildest aspects of underground culture.

You’ll see monster costumes, sexy tentacle performances, anime-head masks, drag queens, extreme piercings, lesbian wrestling… read on for incredible photos!

japanese horror film, tokyo gore police woman

At the entrance, a woman covered in fake blood writhes in this glass coffin — like a scene out of Tokyo Gore Police. Next to her is a realistic, decaying corpse with a very long appendage…

japan alien costume, tentacles monster

Inside, we met an alien. While I struggled and ran away screaming, Yukiro decided to mount and conquer him.

carnival rococo fashion, tokyo alternative lgbt club

I wore a carnival type of outfit. No fake eyelashes today; everything’s drawn on with black eyeliner pen.

Striped pastel goth skirt: Peace Now, from Closet Child Ikebukuro
White ruffle top: Spider, Hong Kong
(I kept the same hair that Kukukachoo styled for my magazine shoots.)

keroppy maeda, anime full masks, kigurumi dollars

Department H takes place in the unassuming Kinema Club (Address: 6F 1-1-14 Negishi, Taito-ku) near Uguisidani station. On the lower level, there are booths that offer extreme body modifications and sell alternative goodies.

Keroppy Maeda, who you may recall from our Taboo bagelhead adventure, is there every month. He invited us to his art exhibit (at the bottom of this post).

asian drag queens, ladyboys

While the DJs spun disco, Kanashimi no Belladonna (an old anime inspired by Art Nouveau aesthetics) projected on the backdrop. Then, the stage cleared, and the drag queens strutted their stuff.

japan drag queen fashion

Each showed off their handcrafted outfits, which expressed different personalities.

tokyo drag performances, drag shows

Such as a full body latex suit with green eyelashes.

strawberry princess costume, ichigo dress

This strawberry princess worked it to the max: as she walked the runway, her outfit exuded the scent of strawberries!

fetish gay party tokyo, japan crazy nightlife

Hanky-panky and nudity are not a problem here. This is a safe space; nobody ever makes you feel uncomfortable.

japanese female wrestlers, girls wrestling

Next: girl-on-girl wrestling! In the words of Naomi (who took all these images): “The match usually has two or three judges who are dressed in various monster/sci-fi costumes, and two participants who start out dressed up. However, as the match progresses, the wrestlers are encouraged to remove each other’s clothing as part of the match. It’s raunchy and ridiculous! The “fighting” is more for show than serious but they are very good at faking it.”

priest costume japan, jake adelstein, tokyo vice

Look who joined the party… Jake Adelstein of yazuza memoir Tokyo Vice fame, dressed as a naughty priest. This photo says it all.

japan hentai costumes, bodysuits

Many people cover their faces entirely. Anyone can be in these suits.

hula hoop burlesque dancer, tokyo burlesque performer

Japanese burlesque performer Naomi wowed us with her light-up hula hoop act.

gay japanese boys, lgbt tokyo men

Now that’s a power couple.

gay clubs japan, department h tokyo

Thanks to organizer Gogh (center) for this incredible event, which has been going on since the 1990s!

asian fetish fashion, department h

Department H occurs the first Saturday of each month. Please consult my Tokyo nightlfe guide for details on this and other parties.

japan bagelhead, keroppy maeda

Many of Dept H’s regulars took part in an art show, curated by Keroppy Maeda, at Vanilla Gallery in Ginza. This little space often holds underground exhibits, such as one dedicated to burlesque. This one was titled “死と未来 – la mort et le futur” (Death and the Future).

drill hole in skull, electric drill head hole

On display were works by eight artists, including Keroppy. He’s currently fascinated by trepanning, or drilling a hole in the skull (a Medieval medical procedure).

trepanning, trepannation, trephination

Keroppy performed trepannation on an animal skull, and took the photograph on the wall. Behind him plays a stop-motion film of a forehead saline inflation (which he is explaining to his friend!)

katana art, japanese underground art exhibit

Also in the exhibit: photographs of katana, corpses, and post-earthquake destruction. All the pieces reflect the theme, “The reality of death shows truth and the possibility of the future predicts a new vision for humans and our world.”

vanilla gallery, ginza art, body modifications

I enjoyed speaking to the artists about their process. The works ranged from stream of consciousness collages, to mistress photographs, to cultured human skin.

tokyo body mods, extreme body modifications, bagel head keroppy

Keroppy Maeda is continuing to push forward with extreme body modifications and art in Japan. I can’t wait to see the projects he takes on next. (See his site for more.)

tokyo gay nightlife, clubs, events

For more about Department H, see my reports from 2009 and 2011.

Would you attend a nightclub like this? What do you think of Tokyo body mods and underground art scene?

PS: Today, I did something involving bagels in Montreal… did you see it on my Twitter?