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Japan  
 
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Media also reported on the "mania" for female cross-dressing. It was suggested that some women who could not find husbands after the war were passing as men in order to gain better employment and higher levels of pay, even going to the extent of setting up households with other women.

The early 1950s saw the development of a new style of "gay bars." In these, transgendered male hostesses known as "gay boys" served drinks and provided conversation for customers, often making themselves available for after-hours assignations. During the 1960s, gay bars became popular hangouts for a diverse clientele, many of them heterosexual, who enjoyed the female-impersonation and floor shows staged by the gay boys.

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At this time numerous gay boys made the transition from the subculture to the mainstream entertainment world. The most famous of these "gay boys" to emerge as mainstream entertainers include singer and actor Akihiro Miwa, the actor "Peter," and singer Carrousel Maki, who, in 1972, became Japan's most high-profile entertainer to undergo a complete sex-change.


"Gay boy" remained the most prominent term for describing transgendered men working in the entertainment industry until the early 1980s. At this time two new Japanese-English neologisms appeared: "newhalf" and "Mr. Lady," which designated entertainers who had gone beyond the wearing of women's clothes, make-up, and hairstyles and had developed breasts through the use of hormones or implants. Like gay boys, and the onnagata before them, newhalf work in the entertainment world as dancers, singers, and sex-workers, often based in cabarets and "show pubs" where the clientele is predominantly heterosexual.

Numerous bars also exist now in Japan's major cities where homosexual men go to meet each other. However, unlike western gay bars, which are often very large and feature multiple rooms and dance floors, Japan's "homo bars" are small, hole-in-the-wall joints that seldom seat more than twenty customers. These bars are prolific, with the Shinjuku Ni-chome area of Tokyo, alone, housing nearly two hundred.

Just as there were bars employing transgendered male staff, similar establishments existed where transgendered women, frequently referred to as dansosha or "male-dressers," worked as bartenders and hosts. In the early 1960s, cross-dressed female staff were known as danso no reijin or "male-dressing beauties," a term that had been used to describe the male-role players in the Takarazuka revue.

The mid 1960s saw a boom in interest in female cross-dressers, and a number of bars featuring cross-dressed hosts sprang up in entertainment districts in Tokyo and Kyoto. In the new style bars, the hosts were expected to be able to sing and to dance with the customers as well as mix drinks and provide stimulating conversation.

These bars had gender roles similar to the butch/femme distinction prevalent in working-class lesbian subcultures of the United States in the 1950s and 1960s. Although they were visited by some lesbians, including male-role actors from the Takarazuka and other women from the entertainment world, their clientele was mixed. It was not until the early 1980s that modern-style lesbian bars developed. Even today they are far fewer in number than those catering to gay men and are seldom found outside Tokyo.

Queer Publications

Japan's first magazine, Adonis, was published between 1952 and 1962 but was available only via subscription and did not reach a wide audience. The first commercial gay magazine was Barazoku (Rose Tribe), which appeared in 1971 and is still published today. Several other gay magazines have come and gone, but Barazoku remains the most general, with a monthly circulation of between thirty and forty thousand.

Unlike western gay magazines such as the Advocate, Japan's gay press has tended to be entertainment-oriented and to focus on erotic stories and pornography, giving little space to lifestyle or rights issues. Publications like Adon in the 1980s and Fabulous in the 1990s, which attempted to distance themselves from pornography and include more high-brow discussions to do with gay lifestyle issues, have failed to reach a wide audience and have gone out of business.

However, there has been a strong tradition of minikomi ("mini" as opposed to "mass" communications) circulated by gay groups that have highlighted social issues. With the advent of the Internet in the late 1980s, these publications have proliferated and their distribution has greatly increased.

Numerous publications also exist that cater to Japan's transgender community. While there were several privately circulated newsletters for male cross-dressers as early as the 1950s, the first commercial magazine, Queen, was not published until 1981. It continues publishing today, with a circulation of around seven thousand.

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