The “Asian Underworld” Theme At This Year’s Black Party Is Definitely Not Racist. Nope. Nosiree!

If you’ve followed the history of New York’s infamous Black Party, then you know, in addition to orgiastic hijinks and erotic stage shows, the 32-year-old event usually has a pretty weird theme that no one can seem to wrap their head around.

Last year it was some kind of gay Human Centipede concept and we seem to remember a Nascar/paintball theme a few years back.

Our BFFs at Next Magazine got the dish on the theme for Black Party 2012, being held March 24 at Roseland Ballroom:

This year, as you may have noticed from their teaser ads, has an Asian theme which they have dubbed Yakuza: Asian Underworld. No, it’s not a rice-queen fetish thing—well, [not] completely. The previously announced DJs do include one Asian export in the form of electro DJ Satoshi Tomiie, alongside Hector Romero and favorites Chus + Ceballos.

Looking at the ad above, though, we are getting a little objectification vibe. But maybe that’s just because fetish parties are inherently about sexually objectifying people and things (in a totally cool, sex-positive way)?

Sadly, hearing Pevner describe it doesn’t make it any clearer:

After a first date at your favorite sushi restaurant with someone just slightly out of your league, you find yourself as a couple on an orgiastic Amazing Race and wake up not being able to distinguish reality from a sake-infused wet dream…

[This year’s theme evokes] the seedy maze of back alley brothels, old fashion tattoo parlors and current Tokyo squalor.

Okay, so sushi, tattoos and squalor. Got it.

Wait, what?

Oh hell, we’ll just do what everyone does and wear a black leather harness.

What do you think, Queerty readers? Is an Asian theme just as fair game as, say, an Old West or futuristic theme? Or is this getting into Madame Butterfly territory? Share your thoughts in the comments.

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  • Jon

    Okay, lets get this sorted:

    It’s not just an “Asian” theme, it’s a Japanese Underground theme evidenced by:

    The one DJ Import, being from Japan
    The mentions of sushi
    Tattoo parlors being a part of Yakuza culture
    The title: Yakuza
    The bondage style is that of Japanese rope bondage
    The thong the guy is wearing, is of a Japanese style, the guy, at the very least looks Japanese (yes, we can tell).

    Even the font itself is very reminiscent of Japanese calligraphy, not something you found in Microsoft Character map, some of those letters are actually Japanese letters (props to the designer).
    And finally, the main title actually is the word “Yakuza” in Japanese.

    Is the ad insensitive? No, it was researched, the designer and the planners did their homework and know enough about Japanese culture to know what constitutes as appropriate for the theme and what isn’t.

    Having, say, a Shaolin Monk, or mentioning peking duck would have made this flyer insensitive. But as it is, it doesn’t generalize, which would have been the crime. If anything it romanticizes the gritty underbelly of a Japanese sub-culture.

    Racism comes out in themes or advertisements when ignorance is a part of the selling point. And based on this country’s track record on how it likes to generalize the Asian population, this amount of research is actually refreshing.

    It’s more Kill Bill than Hong Kong Phooey.

  • takakupo

    Lol, I think the advertisers of this event are just drunk and high on energy drinks when they wrote their press releases. Other than that, objectification and racism are a tad bit different, don’t you think?

  • Mike in Asheville


    +100% on both!

    Japan has approx. 130 million of the 3.9 billion Asians, so yeah, this is definitely a Japanese theme, though I suspect using Asian offers a better selling opportunity than limited to a Japanese theme. Oh, and Queerty, there is a difference between Import and Export.

    And indeed, there is a huge difference between objectification and racism, and this is most certainly objectification, and thats a good thing as the model in the ad is hot.

  • Spike

    Awww, the twinks at Queerty again asked for comp tickets to the BP and were denied. And this is your response.

    Really boys, you claim to report on the the gay community and your first response to the flyer is that it’s racist? Really, really? Might you have considered googling gay Japanese bondage before you were so quick to label the event as racist? You might have found A LOT of links that might have led you to the conclusion that in fact Japanese culture, gay and str8t, has a very rich history in bondage otherwise known as shibari.

    BTW, hello, Linsanity, haven’t you heard, asian guys are IN and have always been HOT, it’s you clueless twinks who are the racists. Go back to reporting on and posting pics of twink bars, that is that what you do best.

  • Jim

    Not sure if it’s racist or not, but i’d love to fuck the guy in the photo!

  • FreddyMertz

    @Jon: I completely agree!

  • James

    Nice theme but I think they will turn off all the guys who aren’t in to Asian guys.LOL

  • Aric

    @James: Fortunately, I, like many other people, do not classify attraction prematurely on race.

    I suggest you stop reading Grindr posts along with desolate, vapid, and insignificant people who use it.

  • Farquart

    That’s a hot picture. Don’t anal-yze everything to death.

  • kevina

    What’s a asian??

  • Adrian

    If you don’t “get” the theme then chances are you probably don’t belong at the Black Party.

  • Jerald

    Ugh! It seems the politically correct would like to show respect to cultures by refusing to acknowledge them.

  • CBRad

    It’s getting into Yellow Peril/Fu Manchu/Yakuza/Yukio Mishima territory, yes, and…it’s perfectly fine. The theme/advertising of that Black Party is always way cooler than the party itself. (The only people who’d get upset about this are politically-correct Manhattan gays who want all references to any ethnic distinctions wiped away for good, so we can all live in a bland world).

  • hoho

    Being really into Japanese bondage porn, I like the theme. But as others mention, that poster is probably hotter than anything found at the Black Party.

  • reason_sf

    The thing that riles me is that the characters along the left side are just gobbledygook. Why couldn’t they have put actual Japanese text there? They did get “Yakuza” right for the upper right, so how much more trouble would it have been to put real text on the left too?

    That (to me) sends a signal that the event is not actually for Japanese people or people interested in Japanese culture. The overall yakuza/bondage/sushi theme doesn’t bother me inherently, but the squiggles on the side make it seem like yellow-face.

    (And I know that a couple of the characters are real, and some are close, but it is still gibberish.)

  • Dave

    If you need that harness for the event you might want to check out our site.

  • Dave


  • Dan Avery

    Just a note: The characters on the side are stylized English letters that say “Black Party.” Not sure if that’s clear in the image because of size constraints.

  • Faszagyerek

    I think there is no difference between racism and objectification. I think the convergence of the two makes many gay men feel there are being open to other races, but in truth are only interacting with a stereotype or affectation. At the same time, there is very little depth here. The producers are not self aware activists, but businessmen appealingto the largely white main stream gay culture. They are not interested in how a particular race would view themselves. They are interested in selling sex. Fetishism sells.

  • Spike

    @kevina: An oriental, like the rug.

  • Shungaboy

    I think the poster is beautiful, especially with the Japanese rope bondage. I originally had the same reaction as @reason_sf · Member but now with @Dan Avery · Member’s explanation I can see it. My post and pics on last night’s Art+Sin Black Party poster exhibit at the LGBT Center on my blog.

  • JayKay

    Would you think a Viking theme night, featuring some blond, blue-eyed, Nordic hunk in that same position was racist?

  • Gus

    Slow news day in Queertyland?

  • Travis

    I’m sorry… I can’t get past the poster. WHO IS THAT ATTRACTIVE MAN? *slobbers*

  • AdamA

    Orientalism. Read some Edward Said some time.

  • Huh ...

    @AdamA: Took you long enough, Generic Liberal Arts Major.

  • Belize

    @Aric: *applause

  • Corben Dallas

    totally hot japanese guy yumm let me pour some soy sauce on that haha

  • Frank

    @reason_sf: Actually, that “gibberish” reads “BLACK PARTY” in a highly stylized font as mentioned in the article.

  • Ben

    Well, to be honest, I don’t really see what’s wrong with it…or am I missing something?

  • shannon


  • scott ny'er

    that’s a cool font… i want that. Anyone know the name.

    this ad rocks. The model is hot. And the thematic design is well-executed. I love the black bar over his ass. I don’t think the ad/theme is racist at all.

  • David

    Shannon who cares? It’s their choice and if the older men like rice and want to pay for it that’s their choice! Goodness knows most younger gay white men don’t like rice and let’s face it Asians can be very racist towards blacks and whites.

  • wiredpup

    I think that pic looks hot.

  • Derek Washington

    I have no issue with it, but, I’m not Asian. I do think dude is hot.

  • Jay P

    Its a clever theme. At first glance I thought wtf, because of the title of queerty’s post “Asian Underwold.” But after reading it, it seems like they actually put effort into it.

    However, I don’t know if the actual Yakuza will be too happy about being turned into a gay fetish party theme? haha

    I kinda wish I could go..I love me some tatooed men.

  • FootStudNY

    This image seems to be quoting/celebrating Japanese queer bondage art, featuring distinctly Japanese forms of both bondage and erotic art. Just as other forms of Japanese culture — food such as sushi, or graphic/animation arts, such as manga and games — are enjoying growing popularity in the US and around the world, so is Japanese erotic art, particularly their very distinctive BDSM arts. As someone above said, porn is often about objectification, this feels more to me like the Black Party acknowledging (a) that Asians make up a growing part of their gay community target market and customers, and (b) general growing interest in Asian culture. Considering current economics, I suspect if they’d been able to find good Chinese gay fetish erotic art, they’d have gone with that, appealing to the new guys with money in the market.

  • Kevin Donohue


    What would you suggest? You could use ??, but it isn’t really a word and certainly wouldn’t convey the same meaning. Or maybe ????????? But either way, not many Americans would be able to read it. So, they settled on spelling out Black Party in a funky, kana-esque font, which I think is an acceptable solution. My only complaint is it doesn’t read too easily – I’m sure there are other similar fonts that are more obviously English letters.

  • Kevin Donohue

    @Kevin Donohue:
    Hmmm. Kanji and katakana don’t seem to display properly…

  • MJ

    I just want the guy in the poster unbound because he looks really, REALLY HOT!!

  • 13Zeroither

    asian guys are hot :)

  • lohen

    soo now im gonna go learn how to tie people up :3

Comments are closed.