Japanese comedian and former pro-wrestler, Masaki Sumitani, better known by the name Hard Gay, has been struggling to find a new outlet for fame and success. Ever since being outed as a straight man, Hard Gay’s comedic mockery of gay flamboyancy has fallen from popularity in Japan. And, after a severe foot injury in July of 2009, his wrestling career has also been forced to a close. According to an interview conducted by the online news site Owarai Natalie, while Sumitani is still interested in continuing work as a comedian, he has decided to revamp his public image. We’re not sure how easy it will be to replace the image of Hard Gay’s tight, leather booty shorts, aviator sunglasses, and frantic hip thrusting that’s been burned into our mind’s eye. However, the comedian hopes that by starting a second career as a professional model he can achieve even greater success as himself and not his character. And hey, if these test shots are anything to go by, we think he may be on to something!
Last year Sumitani, still using the name Hard Gay, teamed up with his old partner in wrestling, Makoto Izubuchi, aka Real Gay, to compete in The Manzai, a televised contest for Japanese comedy duos. They called themselves Razor Ramon and played heavily off of Hard Gay’s most loud and obnoxious qualities. This year, the two hope to take their partnership even further, starting with the live show, “We Don’t Need HG and RG! We Wanna’ Be Ourselves!” this Saturday, June 7, at Tokyo’s Yoshimoto Infinity Hall. Owarai Natalie met with Masaki Sumitani to ask why their comedy routine was taking such a drastic turn after only a year of mainstream recognition. What they got was less about the new comedy approach and more a detailed account of the funnyman’s serious determination to now pursue modeling.
▼ Here’s the Hard Gay we’re all used to seeing.
Whether it’s due to the public’s preconceived notions about Hard Gay’s brand of comedy or the limitations of that persona itself, Sumitani sees his association with the HG character as a disadvantage for him and his partner. He hopes that working as a serious model to gain more public exposure as simply himself will help to break that automatic association between him and the character.
The idea of professional modeling more-or-less began after taking promotional photographs to advertise Razor Ramon’s comedy skits. Sumitani was surprised by how well they turned out and became interested in doing more professional photography sessions. It took a lot of flattery from many different sources to even vaguely convince Sumitani that he has the looks to make it as a model, but after taking some test shots with a former classmate who’s now a cameraman for the cover of fashion magazines, he can see his own potential. Sumitani may have gone into the photo shoot half jokingly, but he impressed himself with the turnout.
▼ Here’s the bare-chested pro model that Sumitani is on his way to becoming.
After seeing the great conviction that Sumitani has for modeling, many might wonder whether his comedy skits will take a back seat to this new fashion passion. The comedian expressed some concern that his own partner, Izubuchi, might be questioning his commitment to their funny act. However, Sumitani assures everyone that he is determined to succeed at both.
In a word with Sumitani’s manager, Owarai Natalie confirmed for the rest of us that “It’s no joke. He wants to be a serious model.” The management seems to support him in his decision. But then, they admit that they’d be happy to make use of anyone with such a chiseled physique!
Best of luck, Hard Gay! I mean, Masaki Sumitani.
Comedy event details:
“We Don’t Need HG and RG! We Wanna’ Be Ourselves!” (HG、RGはいらない。住谷、出渕で漫才したいんや!!)
Date/time: Friday, June 7, 2013 at 9:30 P.M.
Location: Toshimoto Infinity Hall, Tokyo
Price: presale- 1,500 yen / door price- 1,800 yen
Performers: Razor Ramon
▼Masaki Sumitani is really serious about this modeling business.
▼Thankfully, he can still crack a smile and give us more than the model pout.
▼Sorry, boys, he’s straight and married.