Interview with Bubu de la Madeleine >Artist - Kyoto >
Tara Herbst

Which specific spaces of your everyday life are important for you now? In the sense that you feel that you can become active.

Bubu: Very good question. You should shoot my room.

Tara: And that is the space that is important for you?

Bubu: Yes. Important. But I need more space, because everything is in only one room. The refrigerator, the bed, all my clothes, the ordinary clothes and the drag clothes, all shoes and all wigs and all documentation and video cassette tapes... but it is enough I think because the day before yesterday I could make my costume for the video shooting there. So I actually have enough space.

Tara:What about community spaces ?bubu

Bubu: It was my dream but now I almost run out of keeping that kind of dream, it is too sad, to dream to have this kind of space in Japan. There are very few spaces, I know one space in Osaka, but I know how the coordinator for this space, how he keeps his mind and his time and his life to this…..so that its too hard…its kind of a café and community centre.

Tara:And Dump Type for example? Is this a space where you can go? 

Bubu: Recently I don’t go so much. We have one space called 'art scape', one house, where many projects come together and it is some kind of incubation, incubator, so very many projects come together and grow up and go out, in Kyoto near here. We changed some idea, we should have more clear mission or aim, to do, so I think we have two periods, one is to make a network, for information and the second is to become more professional to face society…

Tara:And for example for the aids conference work, so you have a space where you can work or meet people?

Bubu: No, no I don’t have that kind of space but I need that. It's not only my private project, it’s a public project I organize, so we need a community space for creating the network.

Tara:What about fame and money?

Bubu: I want to be famous and I need money.

Tara:But is it not sometimes a problem?

Bubu: Problem? YES! (laughs)

Tara:Okay. (laughs) So now we talk about communities; after this clear answer. Do you feel being part of a community?

Bubu: I?

Tara:Yes, at the moment?

Bubu: Yes. Because many friends support me still now, "friends" means who can share a same kind of culture with me. And they help and support me; I think it’s a community.

Tara:What is the ground of the community?

Bubu: The community…it is something about creation. The community needs the situation for creation, good creation. And what is good? Good means free from power games, free from heterosexism, that kind of creation we need, people who need this kind of creation, that is our community, I think.

Tara: And do you feel in some ways not belonging to this community?

Bubu: I think I am a very egoistic person so that I think I am a community actually myself, I am the centre of the community.(laughs)

Tara:So you are always part of it, because you are the center.(laughs)

Bubu: I think. It's a joke, but I think we don’t have the same idea about the word community.

Tara:Mine is very western style.

Bubu: I think so.

Tara:„ We have to choose between the voluptuous in the scandal and the glory of renouncement. “ What would you say you live at the moment?

Bubu: From 1996 to 2003 I choose this is my identity: as a sex worker, as a woman, a Japanese woman, a middle class educated woman. I liked to show that kind of identity to the people, I liked that, I choose that way. But now I don’t like that anymore.

Tara:What changed?

Bubu: I don't know, sometimes I need and I want and I must come out about my simple identity, I am a woman, I am a sex worker, I am an artiste. Sometimes I need that. Sometimes it is not effective to the people, sometimes it's very effective. But I think the audience or people become more and more weak I think.

Tara:In what sense weak?

Bubu: No toughness.

Tara:They are not tough?

Bubu: So 2 years ago if I said I am a Japanese woman, a sex worker, they were against me. They agreed with me or they were against me. They asked me something or they did something to me. But now if I say I am a Japanese woman, a sex worker, they keep quiet and they go away without saying anything. Bye bye.

Tara:How come?

Bubu: I say 'I am sorry, please stay here. Hello'.

Tara:And what is your new strategy then, I mean concerning your identity.

Bubu: I try to start saying I am a Japanese artist. In Japanese language. Artist is an English word; the Japanese word has the same meaning but a different image. But it's a small thing. It’s a question like what you wear and you can change. Sometimes people are afraid of me when I say I am a sex worker, they don’t come close to me.

Tara:Many of my friends who find most drag shows stereotyped and boring are enthusiastic fans of your shows. I think it's interesting considering you being a woman.

Bubu: The first time I became a drag-queen was in a club in Osaka. I was 30 years old. I dressed up with an orange wig I made myself of feathers and I did a very traditional show, it had no sexual meaning, and all people at the club- men and women gay and straight- got really excited and loved me. That moment I discovered that costumes make the people get excited beyond sexuality. It's not about the desire for women but the desire for something special. Some girls asked: Are you a boy? They think normal women don’t do drag shows. I said: 'No, I am a woman.' The girls were encouraged and understood women can be like that if they want. And that day I learned a lot- I feel I am free, because I jump cross over some borderlines of gender codes. And after I felt it is my mission, I am performing once a month since in a drag-party called 'Diamond Hour' in Kyoto. They say I am genius I think I am accidentally genius. Before that I did some training, first  I divorced from my husband, second I tried to have lots of sex with many kinds of men without business, I was not a sexworker yet, I spend one year to train myself for going beyond a wall in my mind. I wanted to break that wall but I did not know what that wall was.

Tara:And what about your work now; has it more to do with desires or duty?

Bubu: I think the energy of my desire is like up and down- a few years very up and down a few years..

Tara:You mean concerning your activities?

Bubu: No concerning my desires. All desires. The flow of energy. I want to say something to you, make something, want to have a lot of sex, want to eat a lot, the flow of energy and sometimes I want to do nothing, just sleeping, basically every 2 years, it's always changing.
And for my work, for my creation or activities it also has the up and down.
No, I change the answer. It's difficult to explain. I discover one thing when I divorced I think there is one animal inside me, its something like a lion.

Tara:Male lion?

Bubu: No, female lion. So I learned how to talk to her, when I divorced. Sometimes she changes a lot. So sometimes I can do nothing to her, but sometimes I can control her. But we are friends. So I should learn how to make a communication or collaboration to make a life with her. I learn the things- the way of communication with her is an important discovery.
Making a relationship with somebody takes time. So I talk with her a lot. Sometimes our relation does not work for my work or community work but I learnt that I don’t have to be angry or sorry about that, I can wait. Maybe tomorrow the relationship with her may change. Then I can do something better.

Tara:And just now, at the moment, in your life how is your relationship at the moment?

Bubu: She is a little bit tired, too much waiting. She is waiting for me. To do something more. So that I feel really sorry for her. So I have to change my life for her.

Tara:And you want to do this now?

Bubu: Yes.

Tara:But you don't know in what direction…

Bubu: Maybe. So I start with my new job, part time job, I am thinking more about my professionalism, about money, I mean my economical life.

Tara:What kind of part time job?

Bubu: As a cashier in a supermarket not for food, how I say? For carpenters, for engineers, and for house wives, we sell everything, frying pans, glasses, notebooks. I like this job very much, its very interesting, and very physical work, a lot of clients. (laughs) Every kind of person can be my client.  
Tara:And do you remember a moment in your life where you had to make a choice between desire and duty? Or do you think it is possible to decide?

Bubu: I can not choose the way against desire.


Bubu: Never. Or if I should do I change my desire, it's true.

Tara:And you can change it consciously?

Bubu: Very physically. For example I shall have sex with somebody whom I hate. I never do like that, I can not have sex with somebody I hate so I try to change my desire I try to love him or her.
It is not only for prostitution. Another case when I was a child I did not like my body, I was too fat, still I am very fatty I think in Japanese society I am a fat woman, I like my body now, but I did not when I was young. So I controlled my food, a diet. When I was a teenager I liked sweets very much but I stopped my desire for sweets, now I don’t like sweets so much, sometimes I do but I can not eat a lot.  My desire changed like that. It's very important the desire has a shape not a single shape many kinds of elements so that I have the desire to change the desire for sweets. But I was not conscious about that.

Tara:So it is actually only desire that can change desire.

Bubu: People don’t have a conscious control, I think.

Tara:Can you imagine a way to fight for change without moralizing? Do you think it's possible?

Bubu: Yes. The way to change is complicated. The way I know is I should be a specialist of my own morality. So I try to make that clear; the way how to change my morality. This is one system of desire. I mean people change only because of their desire, so I should or we should focus on the system or mechanism of desire. So now I do research about my desire's mechanism, if it is possible. Just by watching myself, I mean before communication, if I know or understand my mechanism of desire I can use this to change my system. The good trainer of sports can tell the players of sports, if you don’t know you can not tell them.

Tara:Do you think that every struggle over power has to be organized around issues of identities? Like heterosexuality, lesbianism, gayness, bisexuality, transsexuality…..

Bubu: I don’t think that this is the only reason, but a big reason.

Tara:For example, would you say 'I fight as a woman'?

Bubu: Yes. Because I think I am a specialist of being a woman.

Tara:Concerning Gender, could you imagine non-essentialist transgenderism as a basis for a politics?

Bubu: I have very few reality of that, because if you cross the road from this garden to the next garden, you recognize the area, this is garden 'A' and this is garden 'B';  trans- gender, 'trans' means gender 'A' and gender 'B', maybe I am in gender 'A', but still now I am not sure what 'A' is, gender 'A'- so I can not 'trans'. I think this is the road, but for you its different the road is somewhere else for you, maybe. So I can not share the mapping of Gender with other people because I myself am not sure. Which the space of myself is. The name of gender 'A'. (laughs)

Tara:And could you imagine a feminism, which would not use the criteria of man or woman?

Bubu: You mean another word.

Tara:No, I mean another strategy.

Bubu: As a strategy I use the strategy when I lecture on aids for example, the person who has semen or the person who has eggs, this is a difference. 'Woman' is too big… I can not say that correctly.

Tara:And for your work as a sexworker-activist? Is it important?

Bubu: In my sex politics it is very important to talk a lot about gender. In every way. Because people have different kinds of experiences and images for 'man' and 'woman'. So I can not use only one way, it depends on the situation. And not only for the words man and woman. We have a lot of different kind of words to explain gender.

Tara:How would you define the political? Where do you see for yourself possibilities to invest into the political?

Bubu: I am lost now. I lost the way now for that question. I don’t know now. I am really confused about what I should do concerning politics. It's like the snake that bites its own feet. So my situation now is very confused. I think it is related to the issue about the professionalism. It's tough. But it's exciting also, and emotional.