100% Taiwanese, porn and bred

'Taipei Times' commentator gives frank account of Taiwanese adult television in response to the debate over launching of free adult cable TV channels

Taipei Times
Saturday, November 3, 2007

By Johnny Neihu

Recently I made fun of school-ma'am Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator and caucus whip Kuo Su-chun, who warned all us original sinners that teaching schoolchildren about their bodies and puberty would encourage them to "taste the forbidden fruit."

Well, this receptacle of essential sexual knowledge and experience has thrust herself back into the pubic, er, public domain by denouncing the National Miscommunications Commission for allowing a company to screen adult material on regular cable TV.

As I so often say these days, what's the big deal?

Viewers looking to spice up their solo sex life still have to buy or rent a decoder. And when you finally pluck up the courage to suggest to your partner that he/she help pay for the rental, you discover that 95 percent of programming is from Japan, and censored to boot. What's the point of that?

Ah, how times have changed since I roamed the streets of Beitou all those decades ago, finding action without having to look.

These days everything has to be digital to be arousing.

But I think Japanese porn has a bad effect on Taiwanese men. Why? When young Taiwanese women are in a real-life sexual situation and don't respond as a Japanese porn diva might, the guy can get all confused and insecure.

"Why," he asks himself as he stares dumbly at the pissed-off lady before him, "aren't you lying on the bed like a catatonic tweenie pleading not to be mistreated?" And then: "Why aren't you shrieking and convulsing like a pig that's been gutted by a gravel truck when I lick your eardrum and try to shove this plastic thing down your pants?"

Even worse, when our young man takes his lady friend's underwear off and discovers -- like that scene from The Crying Game -- that instead of a continuously changing pattern of colored squares there is nothing but hair and folds of skin, what is he to do?

Crestfallen, disoriented and sickened, he slumps out of the bedroom and, in his deranged state, commits suicide by attempting cunnilingus on the cable decoder and electrocuting himself.

In other words, porn can cause negative population growth.

I'm not necessarily suggesting that Taiwan start a full-scale porn industry. And anyway, given that porn models generally come from the working class and the lumpenproletariat, a local production would on average feature three Filipinas, two Thais, four betel nut girls and a handful of Aborigines. So much for ethnically correct porn for the masses.

But as a Taiwanese patriot I am obliged to ask about the prevalence of Japanese porn in my beloved country. If you're going to have it on tap, can't we at least have our own languages and sexual mores on display? And anyway, do Taiwanese men aspire to be as ugly, brutal, witless and anonymous as the men in these films? And do Taiwanese women aspire to be as vacuous, submissive and infantilized as these would-be sexual role models?

I don't know about your partner, dear reader, but if I treated my gal Cathy Pacific like some cut-price geisha reject, she'd kick me in the bollocks and cut my pub allowance. Our women may squeal and clap their hands like six-year-olds, but when it comes to sexual politics you'd better get your shit together or you're out the door, sans one testicle.

Even so, there's a lot of sexism here, especially in the workplace. And for this we can hold captains of industry and virtually every male legislator responsible. There's more to equality in the workplace than dobbing in the middle-aged personnel pen-pusher who feels you up in the elevator.

Some DPP legislators (men, of course) think the new adult channel is a spiffing idea. Why? Because it will encourage "population growth." This may sound idiotic, given that the largest population increases in the world are in countries where porn is banned, and that the US and Japan, for example, hardly have exploding numbers. So I investigated further to see what is already available.

First, there's the "local" movie channels. Late at night we get a serving of bigger budget erotica: movies such as Sex and Zen II, Erotic Ghost Story and A Chinese Torture Chamber Story. All period sex pieces but with almost all of the sex chopped. Hmph.

These channels also run dollops of indistinguishable movies about hostess clubs; again, all missing the crucial scenes that made them money in the first place. And they're mostly from Hong Kong -- but dubbed into ludicrously Beijing-accented Mandarin to give the illusion that Hong Kong, Beijing and Taiwan have the same popular culture.

I then traveled deep into the dreaded late-night, post-channel-80 zone to see what was on offer. This is where the real action is. And I gave each channel a Population Acceleration Potential (PAP) rating out of 10.

Penglai Zonghetai has videos of women dancing, stripping, doing aerobics in thongs looking morose, looking bored, walking along the beach, lounging on a bed in a bikini in extreme close-up and watching grass grow. They never say anything, so it's not always clear if they are Taiwanese.

But there are ultra-low budget Taiwanese dramas with titles like Bedside Witness that include sexual interludes with erratic masking of body parts (and unsuspecting subtitles). Licking of male nipples is uncensored, unfortunately. PAP rating: 3/10 for cheesy drama and an occasional appearance by Chu Ko-liang, that legend of burlesque TV.

Huaren Shangyetai has interminable, repetitive videos of young women taking off most of their clothes for no apparent reason, including the odd bleach-blonde foreigner. Has all the production values of a generic karaoke video. Some of the music seems lifted from KTV videos, too. There's also a show called Bikini School that isn't very educational, unless you can learn from girls photographing each other as they blow bubbles in a betel nut plantation.

But all this is partly compensated for by the program Desire to Night. Hosts Tungtung and Guava have a real repartee and interview working class women (it is not clear if they are from the sex industry) about their sex lives and romance in explicit detail. There are also questions from viewers.

This program seems more suited to horny or curious women than men: Despite random close-ups on their chests and pelvic areas, it's all talk about female feelings and experiences. Guava is a funny and naughty male host who interjects with his own take on matters. Female host Tungtung is an anomaly: not particularly pretty but vivacious, packs an attitude and is happy to probe these women on very sensitive topics, which makes her the sexiest among them though she's usually fully clothed. PAP rating: 6/10, for allowing Taiwanese women to show their bodies and personalities. If you want babies, you have to be turned on by real people. And at least the bubble-blowers get out in the open air.

SBN: If you're a desperate loser and hang around long enough, this financial advice channel has a show called Happy and Healthy Room with scantily clad women prompting some idiot to extol this or that health drug, sexual potency pill, pheromone spray and other snake oil products. PAP rating: 0/10.

Congress Satellite TV is another tedious finance channel. But after hours it offers up a show with bored women in ill-fitting bikinis playing a combination of pool, twister and musical chairs in what seems to be someone's warehouse with a black curtain as backdrop. Oddly, the camera angles don't focus on the balls and cue when the ladies bend over to make a shot. Watch five minutes of this drek and you'll be signing up at a monastery. But hey, ladies, you can register to compete and win cash! PAP rating: 1/10.

Z Channel used to show scenes of modified hardcore porn, seemingly as a promotion for one of the locked porn channels. Even though there wasn't an undercarriage mosaic or a nipple to be seen, the stuff that remained had all that grisly Japanese sexism intact. These days it seems to be wall-to-wall wrestling from Japan and the US. PAP rating: 0/10, unless fat guys bouncing off each other does it for you.

Tali Channel has a more structured show called Hot Babe Mobilization that shows off ordinary, slightly awkward (but never overweight) young women who do pole-dancing routines, model swimwear, play with hula hoops, get a traditional massage, practice semi-nude self-defense against a guy in a bad Spider-Man suit and the like. Homegrown, studio-bound stuff. The practice of lining up interviewees across the screen in bikinis and high heels seems to have been lifted from Japanese TV and at times seems creepy. Still, Tsao Hsi-ping is a congenial, inoffensive host.

Finally, Pink Corps offers games like tag team Q&A while running on a treadmill and deep-throating bananas in pairs. It's like those puerile variety/game shows but with sexual allusions. PAP rating: 5/10, for showing that erotica and goofy skylarks are not always incompatible.

All the stations are supported by a number of phone sex ads that are far more graphic (but not that graphic) than the programs themselves. But how many women will tolerate their man trying to make babies when he's on the phone?

Judging from this lot, If we have to dabble in erotica to keep the population at today's level, we're going to have to do a lot better. Certainly, one more adult channel ain't gonna do the trick.

Which is why I'm considering giving Kuo Su-chun a call and asking her for a personal manifesto of acceptable sexual behavior in the interests of advancing Chinese unification. Call it "Su-chun's Guide to Approved Erotica for the Chinese Master Race."

I don't know about you, but I'm getting hard just thinking about it.