The LATimes on "Charisma Man"
After countless stories on Asian prostitutes and asexual Asian males, the LATimes finally brings us a story on "Charisma Man."
Charisma Man: An American geek is reborn in Japan
With his blue eyes, tousled blond hair and foreign passport, Charisma Man is a sake-sipping man about town, suavely negotiating the intricacies of Japanese culture. Women adore him. Men respect, even fear, him. Life in the East bends to his every whim.
"It's great to be a Western guy in Asia," he says. "I've got lots of money, chicks dig me -- everybody respects me."
Well, not everybody.
In this land of anime, Charisma Man is a comic strip character created in 1998 by Larry Rodney, a Canadian then teaching English in Nagoya, to lampoon what he saw as the absurd hubris of many Western men in Japan. Capitalizing on their novelty status, they prowled for cheap thrills, an easy paycheck and sex -- not necessarily in that order. Many were slackers posing as teachers (a job for which they were underqualified) to continue the charade of their low-wattage celebrity.
Even with Charisma Man's limited knowledge of Japanese language or culture, he nonetheless sees himself as a self-styled Superman -- albeit with a debilitating kryptonite: Western Woman.
"She sees him as the loser he really is," says Garscadden, who penned the comic strip after Rodney returned to Canada. "When she's around, he reverts back into an average Joe Blow."
After an eight-year run in an alternative expat magazine, the black-and-white five-panel monthly strip was discontinued in 2006.
But now Charisma Man is back.
Following their 2002 collection of the first four years of Charisma Man adventures, Rodney and Garscadden are teaming up to publish a book containing both old and new installments. And there's even talk of a new monthly strip.
(They dismiss Charisma Man comics between 2002 and 2006, saying the writers took the character in an uncharismatic direction after Garscadden also left the picture.)
The reprise comes at a much different time than the 1990s heyday, when fewer Westerners living in Japan meant bigger egos for the ones who were there.
But Charisma Man still reigns supreme, the pair says.
"Part of his success comes from the fact that many Japanese women are frustrated by their choices -- Japanese men who often are very conservative, old-fashioned and not very romantic," says Rodney, 41, who now lives in Vancouver.
"And even after all these years, many still have a romanticized view of what Western men are all about."
Stereotypical fantasy is a main theme of the comic strip. Charisma Man is like the boy in the Calvin and Hobbes comic whose stuffed tiger comes alive only when he's alone.
In the presence of Japanese women, Our Hero is a muscular he-man. Readers only see his true loser self when Western Woman shares the frame. Likewise, the Japanese girls in Charisma Man's arms are all Barbie-like -- until someone else shows up. Then they're often rather plump.
"I guess I spent too much time on trains without much else to think about," Rodney says of his inspiration for Charisma Man. "Maybe I saw too many of these geeky social misfits living above their station in Japan. Something snapped."
I'm sure all the expat sites are going nuts over this article.
And let's face it, this phenomenon also happens here on a lesser scale (except for maybe the gay community where it may even be worse).
And as a nearperfect adjunct, the LATimes happens to also have a story on childmolesters who traveled to Cambodia.
Three American men who are suspected of traveling to Cambodia to molest children have been charged in federal court as part of a new initiative aimed at cracking down on the child sex tourism business there, authorities said Monday.
Ronald Gerard Boyajian, 49, of Menlo Park, Calif.; Erik Leonardus Peeters, 41, of Norwalk; and Jack Louis Sporich, 75, formerly of Santa Monica and currently living in Sedona, Ariz., were arrested by Cambodian police in February, authorities said. They were recently expelled from the country and arrived Monday at LAX in the custody of U.S. immigration officials.
The three men, all previously convicted of sex offenses in the United States, were charged here in absentia earlier this year with traveling overseas for the purpose of engaging in illicit sexual conduct with minors, a charge that could bring up to 30 years per victim, authorities said.
They are the first to be charged under an international law-enforcement operation dubbed "Twisted Traveler," specifically targeting American sex offenders who travel to Cambodia, a country that one U.S. immigration official said was "the world's ground zero for child sex tourists."
Boyajian is suspected of traveling to Cambodia a year ago and molesting a 10-year-old Vietnamese girl, according to court papers. Peeters is accused of sexually abusing at least three Cambodian boys whom he paid between $5 and $10, according to a court affidavit.
And Sporich is suspected of molesting at least one underage Cambodian boy after he arrived in November 2008, according to the affidavit. Authorities said he would drive his motor bike through city streets and drop money as a way to lure children.
Last edited by j&j2; 09-01-2009 at 11:43 PM.