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  R.I.P.

Remembering Masaki Koh: What Made The Late Gay Porn Star So Special?

tumblr_mnka2v1mAW1qcochxo1_r1_500It’s been nearly a month since the gay porn industry experienced the passing of Masaki Koh, one of its most prolific stars, but discussion of the late star’s contribution to Japanese LGBT culture is still raging on social networks across the web.

It’s difficult for Westerners to imagine an adult star being an unsung hero and proper role model for gay youth struggling to find acceptance, but to Eastern cultures that harshly demonize and discourage an openly gay lifestyle, Masaki Koh was just that. He provided a face and injected pride into the Asian LGBT scene, and by doing so, encouraged a huge number of his fans to accept themselves and reclaim the beauty of their sexuality.

Unlike many gay porn stars in Asian countries who often wear swim goggles or surgical masks while performing in order to protect their identities, Masaki Koh was one of the first and most recognizable stars to ditch the norm and appear without censors in his many gratuitous flicks. Koh found fame in being unashamed of his sexuality and, more or less, an abundantly proud gay man.

In the years before his untimely death from peritonitis brought about in the process of treating appendicitis, Koh began traveling to events in Thailand and China to meet with the fans he inspired in the East—something that Asian stars before him wouldn’t dare do, fearing both social and legal repercussions. Koh even appeared with his partner, Tien Tien, in music videos and web series to spread his message of acceptance and openness. In Ayumi Hamasaki’s video for “How Beautiful You Are,” the couple is seen kissing, which is still a rarity in Japanese media.

Whether or not you’re a fan of porn is irrelevant. At the end of the day, regardless of his profession, Koh was a life force for a number of LGBT Japanese kids struggling to find acceptance in a traditionally conservative culture. Though his groundbreaking work will live on in the hearts of a younger, more accepting generation, he’ll be sorely missed.

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Koh with his partner, Tien Tien, just days before his death

By:           BENJI DOUGLAS
On:           Jun 12, 2013
Tagged: , , , ,

  • 41 Comments
    • miagoodguy
      miagoodguy

      It is sad that anyone (especially kids) would look up to a guy who got paid to have sex on film.

      Jun 12, 2013 at 9:12 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • n900mixalot
      n900mixalot

      @miagoodguy: Because Jay-Z, Seth Rogen, and John Boehner are so much better? If what we get paid to do to make a living is our measure of whether we are good or bad, we are already effed. This guy used his money and his fame for good. That’s what’s important.

      Jun 12, 2013 at 9:20 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • miagoodguy
      miagoodguy

      Never said kids should be looking up to a musician, actor, or politician. He still wasn’t someone KIDS should be looking up to.

      Jun 12, 2013 at 9:26 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • mz.sam
      mz.sam

      Its obvious he neglected his health (if not overall well-being) to maintain is career if he is such a role model to Japanese LGBT youth…and perhaps Koh never cared enough to. Deepest sympathies to his surviving partner. Next!

      Jun 12, 2013 at 9:30 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • MudgeBoy
      MudgeBoy

      What an unfortunate and untimely death. And such a loss of a brave, fearless role model. It’s amazing how far behind the Japanese are in so many ways. I wish that I had half of Koh’s courage. Rest in peace.

      Jun 12, 2013 at 10:07 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • skcord
      skcord

      I am sincerely starting to think that most of us are jerks! The comments section on gay sites are so ridiculously negative for no good reason. What is the point of making rude comments and judging others with no insightful basis? Is seeing your projected sadness and anger written out cathardic in some manner? Were we all raised so poorly?

      Jun 12, 2013 at 10:08 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • MudgeBoy
      MudgeBoy

      @skcord: They are probably trolls who frequent sites and get their kicks out of being nasty and rude to others. They view us as vulnerable to their nasty comments. The best approach is to completely ignore them and pretend that they haven’t posted.

      Jun 12, 2013 at 10:11 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Todd
      Todd

      Judging by the comments here, sometimes I feel there are many in the gay community who are quite prudish. I even had someone who, when I posted about Michael Douglass and HPV, said Douglass was “dirty” for getting the disease – a disease that affects 90% of all those who are sexually active by the time they are 25 years old – a disease that few people know of or discuss, despite the fact that 70 million Americans have it. And, the person who commented was a GAY PORN STAR! No kidding!

      A lot of you are stating that he shouldn’t be a role model for “kids” (I think the term here should be young adults) – but let’s be honest, MOST of us had our first view of porn as a teenager, right? Just think, if as a teen, you would have had someone as open and positive about his sexuality to look up to – there might be a lot less gay teen suicides here. Koh was courageous, for he was open in an area of the world that does not accept such openness, and by doing so, he made it easier for others to accept their own sexuality.

      Koh’s loss is immeasurable. May he rest in peace.

      Jun 12, 2013 at 10:25 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • skcord
      skcord

      @mz.sam Just so you know for the future…. Appendicitis is most often caused by a fecal obstruction in the appendix, the bacteria from that can cause an infection in the tissue that lines the abdomen which results in peritonitis and in some cases death. None of those things are caused by “neglecting ones health,” as you so ineloquently put it. This can happen to the healthiest of people. So not to put too fine a point on it, but the only thing that’s obvious here is that you’re a judgemental jackass who hasn’t the slightest clue what you are talking about.

      Jun 12, 2013 at 10:40 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Eiswirth
      Eiswirth

      @miagoodguy: As opposed to say, almost any politician, CEO, banker or most clergy? At least he was true to himself, didn’t lie about who he was or what he liked doing, and made people happy. Is working in porn ideal for anyone? Of course not. First you have to accept who and what you are, have confidence in yourself and your ability to perform and then follow through with it. I give him credit. We treat sex like it’s some filthy thing only depraved people partake in; such hypocrisy. It’s natural and beautiful, and I think those most critical of it are jealous that they could never work in front of a camera. Porn has brought much pleasure into my life, so I for one am thrilled people like Koh do what they do. How unfortunate he died so young.

      By the way, does anyone know if his DVDs are available in the U.S.? I’ve never seen one advertised.

      Jun 12, 2013 at 10:45 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • underboy
      underboy

      some of these comments make me really sad to be part of the gay community. actually, no… they make me sad that you are part of it. sex is and always will be the primary way in which we are different from others. for someone to come along and help champion and be proud of that sex – without shame, without masks, in a culture that is resolutely against that sex – that man is and should be a hero, role model, and icon for any kid or adult yearning for such positivity in their own lives. you have many layers of painful shame that clearly this beautiful man did not, and the joy in his face in these photos is the ultimate “fuck you” to any, straight or gay, who would prefer his life and sex be kept behind masks, illuminating nothing, and bringing light to no one. he live perfectly free and that is the most legacy any man can leave behind, and yes, something every kid should aspire to.

      Jun 12, 2013 at 10:59 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • miagoodguy
      miagoodguy

      I would laugh about how people try to glorify porn and porn actors if it weren’t sad.

      Jun 12, 2013 at 11:09 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • BlogZilla
      BlogZilla

      Wow this is sad. While many feel the need to come on here and vent their feelings of disgust of this guy, which is understandable, I can only wonder and think that something is fishy. How does someone this young die of appendicitis or peritonitis?. Does this come about because of diet? What kind of drug habits did he have? Did he have drug habits? The videos I saw of him eating while out on the town was not unhealthy stuff. Perhaps being a slut (whether a paid one or not, And let’s get honest here, that’s what he was), exposes a person to more health dangers than they thought

      Jun 13, 2013 at 12:31 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • BlogZilla
      BlogZilla

      @miagoodguy:

      Well there really is no reason to laugh. Most people who become porn actors are really quite lost and desperate.

      Jun 13, 2013 at 12:38 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Scott Gatz
      Scott Gatz · Queerty Editor

      test

      Jun 13, 2013 at 1:59 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • gayboys4u
      gayboys4u

      An extraordinary gentleman, ahead of his time and a true proponent of a the acceptability and existence of gays in society. He will be greatly missed by many.

      Jun 13, 2013 at 2:51 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Trodkim
      Trodkim

      I wanted to make a statement on behalf of the Asian LGBTQ community that there are not many queer asian males or females for that matter to look up to. Especially, an Asian male that embodies “Masculinity”. The fact that Masaki Koh used his sexuality to show pride helped KIDS like me to actually love ourselves and accept OUR bodies. I couldn’t think of any other role model to teach us about our sexuality in a time where a lot of people are still trying to understand what being GAY means.

      Jun 13, 2013 at 4:59 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Tackle
      Tackle

      Not familiar with his work. But wow! He was one beautiful man.

      Jun 13, 2013 at 8:31 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • balehead
      balehead

      Nice to see the jealous controlls are back…This gay porn star definitely broke ground for gay rights…the “very being of gay porn stars” always helps ….

      Jun 13, 2013 at 10:37 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Spike
      Spike

      @miagoodguy: You obviously do not understand the point that was being made as it pertains to the cultural differences and acceptability as it pertains to being gay, gay sex and how they are reflected in porno in Asia vrs. western countries.

      With that said, at least this time the ‘porn star’ didn’t commit suicide and wasn’t know for a a self-hating meth addicted nuttbag.

      Jun 13, 2013 at 12:10 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • miagoodguy
      miagoodguy

      Oh I get the cultural differences, it still doesn’t change the fact that a sex worker shouldn’t be considered a role model that children (or anyone actually) should be looking up to.

      Jun 13, 2013 at 12:24 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Gigi Gee
      Gigi Gee

      @miagoodguy — I would laugh at how negative and pissy you are about everything if it weren’t so sad. You should change your screen name to: miasadguy.

      Jun 13, 2013 at 1:22 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • miagoodguy
      miagoodguy

      Nah. I am plenty happy. Too bad criticism is seen as being pissy and sad. ha ha

      Jun 13, 2013 at 1:37 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • B Damion
      B Damion

      @Gigi Gee…That being said. I can’t stand these fake ass white people i’m working with. jesus they workin my nerves today.

      This is someones son,brother,partner,child,lover,best friend etc…he is gone now. I pray for his family and friends who are most effected.This life isn’t easy and the fact that he pushed any envelope for change and equality makes him a great human being.
      R.I.P child!

      Jun 13, 2013 at 1:38 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Spike
      Spike

      @miagoodguy: Actually, no, you totally don’t get the cultural differences because you are looking at it from your cultural life experience. When one grows up in a culture that deems a specific behavior to be shameful, then anyone that steps up and performs that behavior for all to see if they choose to look, proudly, without shame, sends the message to others, young people in particular, that it’s OK for them to participate in the same behavior, without shame.

      This is not about a sex worker, as you put it, being a role model as a sex worker, but you will never understand that, apparently.

      Jun 13, 2013 at 1:43 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • miagoodguy
      miagoodguy

      Oh yeah of little brain, just because I don’t agree with your opinion doesn’t mean I don’t understand it. Once again, no one should be looking up to a sex worker.

      Jun 13, 2013 at 1:49 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Spike
      Spike

      @miagoodguy: Name calling, hmm, why does that sound familiar, oh that’s right, high school. Feel better now? And gotcha, no one should be looking up to a sex worker, everyone should just look up to whom you deem acceptable. Hmm, why does that sound familiar, oh that’s right, the Catholic Church.

      Jun 13, 2013 at 2:30 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • miagoodguy
      miagoodguy

      Good thing I am not Catholic (and never have been) then.

      Jun 13, 2013 at 2:45 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • miagoodguy
      miagoodguy

      And I didn’t call you a name. I said you have a small brain.

      Jun 13, 2013 at 2:46 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • car
      car

      I want to thank Queerty for posting this story. He was important and his loss is significant. As for the negativity, it has long been my suspicion that many homos are unhappy and it cannot help but leak out here in the vitriol of comments.
      One clarification though on a medical note: mr koh did avoid surgery as he was concerned about scars and this did indeed lead to his untimely death. It is only a caveat for anyone in that circumstance.

      Jun 13, 2013 at 4:26 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • balehead
      balehead

      so much hatred and obvious unhappiness with oneself….

      Jun 13, 2013 at 9:01 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • miagoodguy
      miagoodguy

      i see someone created a screenname to make it seem like I think this porn actor got what he deserved, but if you look closely, my screenname doesn’t have a period at the end of it but the entry saying “Anyway, he got what he deserved.” has a period. It is so funny someone would take the time to do that. lol

      Jun 14, 2013 at 12:20 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • LeNair Xavier
      LeNair Xavier

      @miagoodguy: I’m going to tell you what is sad!

      What is sad is your pretentiousness!
      What is sad is your lack of compassion!

      Based on what this article shows about how Asian culture demonizes sexuality, especially homosexuality more so than the prudishness of American culture, is it any wonder that Asian gay males looked up to him? I actually identify quite well with him on that because that was partly why I got in the porn industry in 2005. Back then, porn was the only way gay males saw another gay male comfortable with his sexuality. So I was hoping to use my exhibitionism AND media outlets to let those questioning their orientation know that there is nothing wrong with your sexuality. And I admire that Masaki seems to have been trying to do the same thing. Especially by doing scenes with his real-life partner, and not being a prostitute like most porn actors today.

      There are just as many reasons people are exhibitionists as there are for people not being one. Some good and some bad on both ends. But your commentary seems to make your not being an exhibitionist be out of pretentiousness. With that said, just because you are not an exhibitionist, that does not justify you criticizing his exhibitionism without seeing and addressing the big picture behind what he seems to have been doing. Could he have taken better care of himself in the process? Probably so. But A MAN HAS DIED! Have some compassion, why don’t you?

      Jun 14, 2013 at 4:04 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • miagoodguy
      miagoodguy

      It boogles my mind people are elevating porn actors to a high level as if they are some kind of role model for kids to emulate. smh Porn is not a nobel profession (nor is it an evil profession). Don’t make it out to be some ideal thing and a wonderful way to make people feel comfortable about themselves. Porn is for sexual gratification and to make money. Nothing more than that.

      Jun 14, 2013 at 4:37 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Yong Agile
      Yong Agile

      To all those who care enough to know about Masaki Koh and Asian homosexuality read this: http://mustbeyaoi.blogspot.com/2013/06/why-masaki-koh-is-gay-role-model.html

      This was written very recently by an Asian fan of Masaki Koh in response to this post. The blog is new but I’ve come to like it because the one behind it is just so smart. I support the blogger’s views, and I too am disappointed with how Asian homosexuality is so misunderstood. The article is not so extensive or even that well written, because the writer was angry while writing it, but the message about Koh and his efforts is clearly present.

      Jun 15, 2013 at 2:22 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • BlogShag
      BlogShag

      @car: Scars? So he had never heard of tea tree oil, onion juice, aloe vera , peppermint oil and vitamin paste?

      That is what killed him. Appendicitis is nothing to play around with. If you don’t get it treated, it will kill you. In some articles they mislead and say he died due to complications of surgery. That’s a lie.

      Jun 15, 2013 at 6:00 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Terrance
      Terrance

      @mz.sam: Someone should really take away your right to use the internet…

      Jun 17, 2013 at 4:30 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Terrance
      Terrance

      @miagoodguy: I actually read the whole article and comments again after reading your self-righteous posts to see where someone suggested that kids and children should be looking up to this man. As I expected, I didn’t see it. I thought you might have just been your regular, run-of-the-mill pessimistic internet jackass before. But now I see you’re a troll and irrelevant.

      Jun 17, 2013 at 4:36 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • miagoodguy
      miagoodguy

      From the article: “Whether or not you’re a fan of porn is irrelevant. At the end of the day, regardless of his profession, Koh was a life force for a number of LGBT Japanese KIDSstruggling to find acceptance in a traditionally conservative culture.”

      Jun 17, 2013 at 4:20 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Terrance
      Terrance

      @miagoodguy: I will admit my mistake. I was wrong. I’ll take back the troll part.

      Jun 17, 2013 at 7:46 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Tampabiker
      Tampabiker

      @BlogZilla: I had a botched appendectomy when I was a sophomore in college, a year later developed peritonitis and had to have a major surgery, and nearly died. It can and does happen. I wasn’t a slut at the time (unfortunately).

      Feb 8, 2014 at 8:36 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·

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