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Title: Dragon and Crow – Deluxe 2 Volume Set
Author: Alex A. Akira
Publisher: Self Published
Cover Artist: Alex A. Akira
Genre: Contemporary, Gay Fiction, M/M Romance
Twenty-three-year-old, Native American, Michael Black’s well-ordered life is disrupted one evening when he is ambushed at the dojo he frequents by a mysterious Japanese youth who goes by the name of Kiyoshi.
Soon circumstances have the gorgeous teen staying with Michael at his apartment. The gifted nineteen-year-old is an intriguing mix of angst, innocence and crafty intelligence, but Michael is honor bound by a promise to his sensei to keep his distance. Michael tries to keep his desire in check, but what can he do if the exquisite teen keeps kissing him?
Volume two finds Michael in deep water when, in trying to help Kiyoshi, he is persuaded by his sensei to participate in a joint government undercover operation to bring down a Yakuza lord.
Before long Michael is immersed in beautiful men, martial arts and espionage all to gain the trust and love of Kiyoshi. Secrets, lies, sex and action combine in this racy, romantic, adventure of two men, Michael Black and his sensei, Ichiro Kimura, navigating a dangerous path for true love.
YAOI, M/M ROMANCE AND THE HISTORY OF THE BISHOUNEN
While researching my yaoi romance novel, Dojo Boys: Dragon & Crow, I was as astounded at the depth of history relating to romanticized sex between males, which led to Japan’s current yaoi empire. I was also struck by how the development of yaoi and male-male romance in the East and West appeared to reflect the liberation of women in both cultures. What is now a rapidly growing group of females who read, write and relish in romantic tales of homoerotic sex between men, may in fact have started as women’s quiet rebellion against each society’s antiquated ideals of females. The Japanese history of the bishōunen and of romanticized sex between men who are not necessarily homosexual is vast and during the five- week blog hop of Dojo Boys: Dragon and Crow, I’ll be sharing some of what I learned through a series of posts. I hope you’ll join me on this fascinating journey.
PART FOUR: THE KABUKI ACTOR AND HIS PATRON
In my last post I wrote of the shogun, Ashikaga Yoshimitsu, and his relationship with the bishounen, Zeami the founder of Japan’s Noh Theater. During the final years of the Ashikaga family rule, the Ōnin War began. This ten-year war left a power vacuum that launched a century of anarchy in Japan. Tremendous provincial wars broke out, and from the 1450’s to the 1600’s the bishounen survived by entertaining soldiers in much the same way they had the monk and the samurai—with music, dance and sexual diversions. When the wars ended, most bishounen moved into the cities and continued to ply their art of entertainment. The beautiful boys were still patronized by samurai and priests, but now men of the merchant class took up the practice of shudō (boys love). The bishounen entertained in teahouses, brothels and theaters and by 1617, wakashū kabuki was well established in Kyoto and Edo.
Kabuki theatre was founded in 1603 by a female temple dancer named Okuni. She travelled with an all-female troupe made up of prostitutes and outcasts who she herself trained. The troupe performed a jazzed-up of version of a Buddhist dance in the countryside surrounding Kyoto. Okuni and her troupe became known for their Okuni kabuki: sexy short plays involving men visiting teahouses for trysts with prostitutes. This early form later evolved to Yujo kabuki (courtesans kabuki), which were basically variety shows designed to show off the girls at the major brothels. By 1629 the government banned women from the stage claiming women displayed in such a manner destroyed public morals. Women could still ply their trade in the teahouses and brothels, but not on stage.
With the demise of yujo kabuki, wakashū kabuki, already a popular venue became even more so. I will take this moment to reiterate that wakashū are adolescent bishounen between the ages of seven and twenty-two. Early wakashū kabuki performances centered on skits and song-and-dance routines that depicted suggestive situations. Between acts the wakashū would mingle with the audience and provide such “personal services” as the patrons might desire. Boys too young or too unskilled to act were dubbed iroko (color children) and although they were required to be in the employment of a registered theatre, many of them never set foot on stage. In addition to the actors who were available after-hours for a suitable fee, a large contingent of “apprentices” could also be engaged from teahouses in the theatre district.
The wakashū performer’s artless innocent and youth were quite advantageous and desirable qualities for engaging a patron. Payment from a patron enriched the troupe and secured the wakashū’s spot in the company. As the performer grew older, they learned to use their beauty, acting skills, charm and fashion to maintain their wakashū allure and attract more patrons. Successful bishounen were trendsetters in fashion for both men and women of the merchant and court classes. Their costuming, hairstyles and choreography quickly became vogue. They performed both male and female roles in their skits and dances but never lost sight of the bishounen ideal. Rather, bishounen who exemplified the female mystique yet kept their wakashū appeal were revered.
As wakashū kabuki increased in popularity, violent confrontations over bishounen entertainers sprang out among the different classes of men who desired them. The wakashū acts of boys playing girls (onnagata) created such amorous and seductive imitations that audiences were driven mad with desire and the resulting show of appreciation overpowered social class differences. The priests and samurai class, who had a long tradition with the practice of shudō and a genuine connection to the wakashū, were being challenged by the merchant class who had no respect for the traditional boy-pledge agreement between a wakashū and his chosen patron.
Violence erupted as the line between shudō and danshō (male prostitution) intermixed and the ruling government sought to appease the social feuds by attempting to curb the allure of the wakashū. From 1640 through 1667, the wakashū kabuki performer was subject to an extraordinary amount of ever-changing bans as the government attempted to smother the charms of these entertainment bishounen. One of the most profound of these edicts separated those bishounen who played female roles (onnagata) from those that played male roles (yarō), no longer could a bishounen play both.
A second shocking decree stated that every entertainment wakashū must have their maegami (front hair lock) shaved. While this may not seem such a big deal now, the front hair locks of the wakashū were their identifying mark of youth. To shave it literally stripped the bishounen of their status as professional boy courtesans. It destroyed a deeply entrenched sign for the longstanding tradition of love between adult men and boys. Before the ban, these locks were only severed at a boy’s coming-of-age ceremony and signified that he was no longer eligible for shudō engagement. Many, samurai and wakashū alike, complained that the act was like that of cutting off a cat’s ears and the wakashū mourned the loss of a very real part of their beauty.
But they soon rallied and invented a new style that shortly became an erotic symbol for the lost maegami: the use of silken scarves to cover the shaved area. Initially they used simple dark cloths and later the purple bōshi to cover their lack of locks. But gradually the fashion morphed to creative and stylish head wear with fluttering scarves and wispy fringes as flamboyant and tantalizing as their missing forelocks. In this triumphant way bishounen overcame each challenge and ban issued and the wakashū kabuki performers continued to delight patrons, shaved heads or not. The history of the wakashū kabuki theater is vast and I have only touched upon the amazing perseverance of the bishounen and Japan’s 400-year-old art of Kabuki theatre.
Please join me in my next post, SHUDŌ OR HOMOSEXUALITY? as I reveal how Japan’s shudō practice spread to the masses with the introduction of the 17th century publishing industry, and investigate the Western civilization’s influence on this long embraced tradition.
Michael groped for the light switch, a smile of triumph playing at his lips. Damn, I did it! I beat him! Flicking the switch, he turned, eager to view his skilled opponent and to bask in the accolades that he was sure to receive from Sensei Kimura.
His triumph descended to dismay in a flash. Who the hell is this?
A slight figure lay crumpled at the center of the practice room. Cautiously approaching the limp form, Michael’s heart sank even further. Lying unconscious on the gleaming bamboo floor was a Japanese boy. He looked to be about five-foot-seven, was very pale, and quite young.
“A kid? I beat up a kid?” Quickening his pace, Michael knelt beside the slim figure. Jesus, he’s like fourteen, fifteen? Beautiful. He looks like Ichiro. Better, actually, Michael admitted, surprised at his internal betrayal of his long-held crush on his sensei. He continued to stare down at the slight, fragile boy, eyeing the long blue-black hair that trailed sensuously around the figure’s unfamiliar gray karategi.
Who the hell is he? Why would they have me beat up a kid for my test? Puzzled, he glanced around the room, noting that he and the boy were alone. Ignoring his impending alarm, he gazed back to the unconscious figure.
The youth’s face was truly beautiful. Michael’s inner artist drank in the smooth, pearly skin, the long, sooty lashes, and the pale apricot color blushed across the boy’s delicate cheekbones. God… An aching hunger preceded the lurch of Michael’s cock, which nudged his lower abdomen telegraphing its interest. Get it together. He’s like … twelve! Suddenly realizing that the boy showed no sign of regaining consciousness, Michael snapped from his trance and shook his opponent’s shoulder.
“Hey!” He leaned over the placid body, hand stretching toward the longish neck for a pulse. The telltale thump throbbed beneath his fingers, but his proximity to the boy’s face had him pausing to stare at the youth’s sculpted lips. Christ, get away from him before you do something you’ll regret. Frowning, he started to shift upright when a relentless grip clutched his hair.
Caught off guard, Michael fumbled helplessly as his head was tugged abruptly toward the face beneath him. The beautiful mouth claimed his lips, stealing his breath and muffling his gasp as a hot tongue invaded his mouth. The agile member eagerly caressed its counterpart, igniting Michael’s senses. The tantalizing scent of ripe apricots surrounded him, dizzying him with sensual promises, and urging him to surrender.
About the Author
Alex A. Akira is the author of the yaoi romance series Dojo Boys, racy tales of young, male martial artists navigating some unorthodox and adventurous paths to find love. The prequel of the e-book series, The First Misunderstanding and the first two-volume box set of Dragon and Crow are available at Amazon:
DOJO BOYS: THE FIRST MISUNDERSTANDING
Find Alex A. Akira here:
FACEBOOK: DRAGON & CROW PAGE
WEBSITE: DRAGON & CROW WEB PAGE
TWITTER: ALEX A. AKIRA TWITTER
G+: ALEX A. AKIRA G+
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