ISSAY’s World

Fool’s mate #140
June 1993

Interview text by Yumi ishikawa
Photography by Yohsuke Komatsu



Welcome To The World of Lizard Pleasures

ISSAY’s sense of pleasure and inner universe seen in a variety of things like earrings, brooches, masks, Gitanes, Jim Morrison, and more.




◆Lizard accessories (piercings, cufflinks, necklace, brooch, ring, lighter, socks, etc.)

ISSAY(I): When I wrote the song Psycho Lizard, I realised that I like lizards. With no relation to Jim Morrison¹ at all, lizards are sexy and they’ve got the power to even survive in the desert. And that’s why to me, they’re a symbol of vitality and a sex symbol too. So, there are strange lizards depending on the type that they are, right? So, you know, in the desert, there are lizards that walk with their right front leg and left hind leg up. They’ve got that sort of comical side to them too. And, they’re easily hated (smiles), these creatures. There was a time when agnès b² released a lizard series, right? So, it was thanks to agnès that I could amass my collection easily.


◆Protection stones

I: So, this, well, one day, my friend gave me an agate, you see, and while I held on to it, during that period, these things were trendy, weren’t they? I had no idea, but somehow, a number of people were giving me stones, so I ended up collecting a variety of them and I believe you can’t treat them badly, so I always put them in my left inner pocket (near the heart). But the agate I received, I was told that it was for liver health, and it’s in my pocket every day, though (smiles). It would be great if [the stone] would shoulder this for me like Dorian Gray³, but I think I’d hate it if [the stone] shows how it changes over time (smiles). I don’t know what [this one] is called, but it appears that gold-coloured stones are tied to monetary fortunes, if I end up breaking it (smiles) I’ll never be rich.

I heard that amethysts are supposed to promote mental stability, but I suppose I must have looked very unstable to the one who gave it to me (smiles). The tiger’s eye? This one’s to ward off bad things. The turquoise, well, I hate airplanes, right, and there were a number of times during our tours when I’ve had no choice but to fly and when I made a huge fuss over it, like, “No way, no way,” they said, “This is a protective charm, so [take it],” [and gave this to me].

But I really, really hate flying. I hate the fact that there’s nothing under my feet. I just can’t deal with things where you can expect yourself to fall, you know? I can’t deal with elevators in tall buildings too. And somehow I’d get anemic on Flying Pirates⁴ (smiles). I love crystals, but I hate that if I put them in this leather pouch and bring them out, they’d hit against each other and get scratched, you know? That’s why I don’t carry them around.



I: Leather goods are sexy, aren’t they? The belt I’m wearing now is a Jim Morrison design that I’ve been looking for since a while ago and a friend found it for me, you see. So, I asked how much it was, and found out that it was a price that was far beyond what I could afford. Then, just as I was thinking, “How dare you shitty, greedy, extortionist!”, 20 something people came together to buy it for my birthday last year. That’s why I decided that I’m definitely going to take good care of this one, and I’ve already declared that I’d get leather pants specially made to wear with this, so there’s no detaching this. This is already as good as my patron saint. Furthermore, this is something that tens of people bought for me, so it weighs on my hips (smiles). Maybe I should write everyone’s names on the back of the belt (smiles).



I: Now, there’s a person who’s in the pantomime field who’s making [masks] like these, and they’re someone who has even held a solo exhibition. I don’t know what they were thinking but a long time ago, that person gave [them] to me for some reason. Well, I did like masks and I did use them on stage during Der Zibet’s early days too. Masks are, well, used to easily convey another personality. The one I’m holding in my hand (in the picture) is the third generation. The one that’s taken with [the] Jim Morrison (poster) is the second generation. The very first I intended to display it at home, but the moment I got it, I knew I had no reason to not use it on stage. Recently, SEISHIRO of Strawberry Fields⁵ said he wanted to use a mask and he asked if I could lend one to him, so I let him take the first generation mask.



I: I thought of bringing pierrot-themed items along too, but [I didn’t] because there were just too many. Pierrots, you know, they’ve got that sadness, and that mischief⁶? I love it. Usually, they’d be the ones making funny faces at the audience, right? They’d act like buffoons and joke around, and once the audience laughs, it becomes the audience who are the fools; I really love that sense about them. Plus, there’s something romantic⁷ about it too. I’ve always liked pierrots since I was a child, you see.



I: I started pantomiming even earlier than Der Zibet. I think it was around the same time as when I started [my first] rock band. We just happened to bump into each other at a certain place, you know, me and Sensei (Mochizuki Akira / 望月章). When he asked me then whether I’d perform in a mime show, I said I’ve never done anything like miming, and he said I’ll only have you do what you can, so just sat [on stage] and remained there.

In terms of special training… there are basic exercises for fundamental motor movement. Miming is movement while thinking of each joint in the body as separate parts, right? So, we’d move our head, neck, chest, stomach, hips in all directions, dropping down and twisting; we’d do all of that. Also, standing straight was something that I couldn’t do that at first for half a year. I think standing straight is the most difficult thing to do. It’s probably the most basic thing to stand up straight on stage and let your voice travel straight ahead, but after living long enough, you’d develop certain walking habits and vocal quirks, right? We have to revert all that to being “brand new” once.

And, erasing your presence. To appear out of thin air. I still can’t do that. Because when I decide to make my presence disappear, the intention to disappear will be there. You have to strongly believe in what you want to show people, otherwise it won’t work out. If [what I want to show is ] wall, you’d know that it’s a wall if I hit (moves his palm up and down in front of himself) like this, right? But as to what kind of wall it is… Whether it’s concrete or glass, if I don’t know which it is, I won’t be able to show that to the audience.

Many of my current Sensei’s pantomimes have a storyline, but rather than following the story as a whole, it’s more important in his works that the audience can feel what they see in each moment. I think even among Japan’s pantomimers, he’s considered to be one-of-a-kind. Some people say that what he does is closer to butoh⁸ or ballet. Maybe he’s closer to Maurice Béjart⁹ or something. In the past, I’ve once invited Mochizuki Sensei to perform at one of my live shows with Morioka Ken¹⁰ on keyboards. I asked him to perform a scene called Berlin from a part of one of Sensei’s works.

I think Sensei’s left a very big influence on me. Because I think he’s probably the one person who influenced me the most. That’s why if I performed in one of his works, I’d write poems or something too. Whenever I perform in his productions, each time I’d feel, “Ahh, I’m alive.” I wonder how many times I’ve lived now.


◆Jim Morrison fabric poster

I: So this, when I went to Nagoya while on tour, I was going for drinks with the event organiser and he said that he knew a fun place so he took me there, and it turned out that the establishment used to be something like a rock cafe. While drinking and commenting, “What a nice place,” I looked around and noticed Jim Morrison stuck to the ceiling. After I went crazy over it, I was told that this place was going to be permanently shuttered next week. So, [when we were leaving,] I went out and the event organiser said, “Wait a moment,” and [when he came back,] he got [the poster] for me. That’s why I said I’ll definitely cherish this, and I hung it up diagonally in front, in the area I’d see when I open the door to my home.

The Doors, well, when I was a high school student, they had their revival hit in Apocalypse Now¹¹. I bought it after I heard it on the radio. So, I’m the sort of person who doesn’t get special feelings for artists and all that. I’d like the music, the voice, the lyrics. I’d simply like it without feeling attached [to the person or band], you know? But some years before that, The Doors released a video for Live at the Hollywood Bowl, right? And watching it, that was the first time that I found myself thinking, “This is amazing.” And since then…

I like the Door’s early days, up until their third album, though. But I love all the songs on their first album. The music they produced up until then felt like the very midst of adolescence, that’s how it felt to me. Maybe it never really had anything to do with adolescence or anything, but that’s just what I understood from the lyrics that he wrote, you see. I suppose The End, too, relates to bitterness in that sense or something. And even though [their music] is all low and rumbly, it’s so crystal clear, isn’t it? I liked that sense of clarity. And even though he’s so often considered synonymous to rock music itself, I’ve never once thought of him as a rocker. Because he really sings as if he’s reciting a poem. And his brilliance with how he would never be hitting out at people no matter how much he shouted! Maybe you could say I’m a worshipper¹², but I like him too as a vocalist myself. He’s one of my top three favourite musicians. 1st and 2nd are Marc Bolan¹³ and Morrison. Following them are David Bowie¹⁴ and Iggy Pop¹⁵ and Lou Reed¹⁶ fighting for 3rd.



I: I forced myself to smoke it when I was in high school because I thought the packaging was cool. And once I got used to it, all other cigarettes smelt bad to me so I couldn’t smoke anything else, you see. These are the cigarettes that the French working class smoke, aren;t they? But that’s why I call them the highlight of France, though (smiles). But, you know, Gitanes Light is unacceptable. I will never recognise those as Gitanes (smiles).



I: I don’t know much about it but I like Chagall¹⁷. [His works] are very close to the dream world I see. And there are also periods when I alternate between liking Klimt¹⁸ and Egon Schiele¹⁹, too.



I: From Japan, what I liked was Tanikawa Shuntaro-san’s²⁰ early works. And once a whole, I read stuff like Ranpo²¹, and Prévert²². I came to love poems rather early on. You know, I wanted to become a poet when I was in high school. In terms of novels, I liked Mishima Yukio²³ and Akae Baku²⁴. Akae’s ability to gather information when he writes about one thing is simply astounding, isn’t it? Because of that, his works have a fragrance to them, don’t they? I hated Dazai²⁵ (smiles). I hate those kinds of works which give affirmation to the mentally weak (smiles).







¹ Jim Morrison was an American singer, songwriter and poet, who served as the lead vocalist of the rock band The Doors. With regards to the “lizard” being related to Jim Morrison, he gave himself numerous titles, King Bee, Crawling King Snake, Little Red Rooster, etc. But none other was more elevated and revered by Morrison than ‘the Lizard King’ of which he dedicated an entire performance piece titled Celebration of the Lizard King which included spoken (poetry) and sung lyrics, story-telling and musical sections (Goldstein, 1968) in which Morrison proclaimed himself as ‘the Lizard King’.

² A French brand by the French designer of the same name. agnès b. started designing menswear in 1981 after observing men appropriate clothes designed for women. She opened her first international store on Prince Street in New York’s SoHo district in 1983.

³ In reference to The Picture of Dorian Gray, a Gothic and philosophical novel by Oscar Wilde, first published complete in the July 1890 issue of Lippincott’s Monthly Magazine. The Picture of Dorian Gray is the only novel written by Wilde where the main character, Dorian Gray is the subject of a full-length portrait in oil by Basil Hallward, an artist impressed and infatuated by Dorian’s beauty. When he comes to realise that his beauty will fade, Dorian expresses the desire to sell his soul, to ensure that the picture, rather than he, will age and fade. The wish is granted, and Dorian pursues a libertine life of varied amoral experiences while staying young and beautiful; all the while, his portrait ages and records every sin.

⁴ The pirate ship ride at theme parks.

⁵ A Japanese rock band which was formed in 1989 and was active until 1993. Members were DIZZY (ex. D’ERLANGER) on vocals, LEZYNA (ex. JUSTY-NASTY) on guitar, SEISHIRO on bass, and SHU-KEN on drums. SEISHIRO would later go on to play for ROUAGE, while SHU-KEN would join FiX, tezya’s band.
(tezya’s first band was with Sugizo and Shinya of Luna Sea.)

⁶ I thought it’s interesting that the word 悪さ (warusa, literally, “badness”) which he used here has the secondary interpretation of “inferiority”.

⁷ I am inclined to believe that he is referring to romanticism here; the literary, artistic, and philosophical movement originating in the 18th century which was characterized by its emphasis on emotion and individualism as well as glorification of all the past and nature, preferring the medieval rather than the classical.

⁸ Butoh is a form of Japanese dance theatre that encompasses a diverse range of activities, techniques and motivations for dance, performance, or movement. Following World War II, butoh arose in 1959 through collaborations between its two key founders Hijikata Tatsumi and Ohno Kazuo. Today, butoh encompasses a range of styles, from the grotesque to the austere, and from the erotic to the comic. It is frequently regarded as surreal and androgynous, and focuses on primal expressions of the human condition rather than physical beauty.

⁹ Maurice Béjart was a French-born dancer, choreographer, and opera director known for combining classic ballet and modern dance with jazz, acrobatics, and musique concrète.

¹⁰ Ken Morioka was a Japanese musician, keyboardist, composer, and music producer. In addition to being a member of influential synthpop group Soft Ballet, he worked with numerous other musicians such as Kaya, Buck-Tick, and ZIZ. He was also in the bands minus(-) and Ka.f.ka.

¹¹ Apocalypse Now is a 1979 American epic war film directed, produced and co-written by Francis Ford Coppola. It’s Japanese title is 地獄の黙示録 (Jigoku no Mokushiroku). The film follows a river journey from South Vietnam into Cambodia undertaken by Captain Benjamin L. Willard (Sheen), who is on a secret mission to assassinate Colonel Kurtz (Brando), a renegade Army Special Forces officer accused of murder and who is presumed insane.
The movie opens with The End, a song by The Doors.

¹² The phrase he used here was 巫女さん状態 (miko-san joutai), literally, “shrine maiden state”. I couldn’t find reference to this phrase so the “worshipper” translation is basically an inference for what the phrase possibly means.

¹³ Marc Bolan was an English singer, songwriter, musician, record producer, and poet. He was the lead singer of the band T. Rex and was one of the pioneers of the glam rock movement of the 1970s.

¹⁴ David Bowie was an English singer-songwriter and actor. Known for dramatic musical transformations, including his character Ziggy Stardust, he was a leading figure in the music industry and is regarded as one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century.

¹⁵ Iggy Pop is an American singer, songwriter, musician, and record producer. Designated the “Godfather of Punk”, he was the vocalist and lyricist of influential proto-punk band the Stooges, who were formed in 1967 and have disbanded and reunited multiple times since.

¹⁶ Lou Reed was an American musician, singer, songwriter and poet. He was the guitarist, singer and principal songwriter for the rock band the Velvet Underground and had a solo career that spanned five decades.

¹⁷ Marc Chagall was a Russian-French artist of Belarusian Jewish origin. An early modernist, he was associated with several major artistic styles and created works in a wide range of artistic formats, including painting, drawings, book illustrations, stained glass, stage sets, ceramic tapestries and fine art prints.

¹⁸ Gustav Klimt was an Austrian symbolist painter and one of the most prominent members of the Vienna Secession movement. Klimt is noted for his paintings, murals, sketches, and other objet d’art. Klimt’s primary subject was the female body, and his works are marked by a frank eroticism.

¹⁹ Egon Schiele was an Austrian painter. A protégé of Gustav Klimt, Schiele was a major figurative painter of the early 20th century. His work is noted for its intensity and its raw sexuality, and the many self-portraits the artist produced, including nude self-portraits.

²⁰ Tanikawa Shuntaro is a Japanese poet and translator. He is one of the most widely read and highly regarded of living Japanese poets, both in Japan and abroad, and a frequent subject of speculations regarding the Nobel Prize in Literature.

²¹ Tarō Hirai, better known by the pseudonym Edogawa Ranpo, also romanized as Edogawa Rampo, was a Japanese author and critic who played a major role in the development of Japanese mystery fiction. Many of his novels involve the detective hero Kogoro Akechi, who in later books was the leader of a group of boy detectives known as the Boy Detectives Club (少年探偵団 / Shounen Tantei Dan).

²² Jacques Prévert was a French poet who composed ballads of social hope and sentimental love; he also ranked among the foremost of screenwriters, especially during the 1930s and ’40s. His poems became and remain popular in the French-speaking world, particularly in schools. He was also a screenwriter and his best-regarded films, including Les Enfants du Paradis, formed part of the poetic realist movement.

²³ Mishima Yukio was a Japanese author, poet, playwright, actor, model, film director, nationalist, and founder of the Tatenokai. Mishima is considered one of the most important Japanese authors of the 20th century. Mishima’s political activities were controversial, and he remains a controversial figure in modern Japan. Ideologically, Mishima was a right-winger who protected the traditional culture and spirit of Japan.

²⁴ Baku Akae was a Japanese novelist. He was born in Shimonoseki, Yamaguchi. His novel Oidipusu no yaiba (オイディプスの刃 / Oedipus’ Sword) won the 1st Kadokawa Novel Award in 1974. In 1984, his novels Kaikyou (海峡 / Straits) and Yakumo ga Koroshita (八雲が殺した / Yakumo Kills) won the Izumi Kyōka Prize for Literature.

²⁵ Osamu Dazai was a Japanese author who is considered one of the foremost fiction writers of 20th-century Japan. A number of his most popular works, such as The Setting Sun and No Longer Human, are considered modern-day classics in Japan.




Translation: Yoshiyuki
Scans: morgianasama on LJ