Ken Maeda Interview

By Yuki Keiser

Ken Maeda

8. Impersonating Lady Gaga?!

-- I've heard that you like going out for good food. Are there any restaurants in Tokyo that you would recommend?

Whenever people ask me, the one place I always recommend is a restaurant called Eat. It's in Takaido in Tokyo's Suginami Ward. The name of the place is pretty straightforward. It's run by an elderly couple--a woman and a man--and it serves original-style Western dishes. The food is terrific and the restaurant has been shown on TV numerous times. I love it because they don't use microwaves at all and the food is prepared with lots of zeal.

-- You're someone who's driven by curiosity and passion, and you've tried your hand at a lot of things until now. I hear that recently you just started photography. Now, when you take pictures, are there any particular themes or images that you like to focus on? Is there anywhere we can see your photographs, or will you release a book at any point?

Right now I'm enjoying taking pictures of people. But also this is because I feel like more technical knowledge of photography is required in order to work with landscapes and distance photography. Of course, technical knowledge is needed for taking pictures of people too, but since there is less physical distance between the photographer and the subject it's easier to adjust the focus and all.

I really like people, so it makes me happy when I am able to catch someone's essence in a photograph. Also, I'm studying make-up and other things related to the whole process, so I've taken some close friends who are actresses and models and I take pictures of them: both without make-up and then again after I've transformed them using make-up and all. Right now I haven't released anything yet, but I think I'd like to release a book of photography at some point.

Ken Maeda

-- Who do you think you would like to try impersonating next?

Right now I feel like Japanese singers from popular music groups are kind of all the same, so it's hard to really pick anyone. There isn’t anybody at the moment that I really want to impersonate. And, anyway, I've been doing more theater work lately so I've moved away a bit from doing impressions. But I'd like to try doing an international star, like Beyonce.

-- How about Lady Gaga?

She's that singer-songwriter--the "New Madonna", right? She's fascinating.

-- Recently she's been performing at queer venues [though not in Japan] and has a built a sizable gay following for herself. This year she made a point to appear at the world's largest lesbian event, held annually in the United States with thousands of lesbian and bisexual women in March. Also, she’s an out bisexual.

That must be part of the reason why she's being recognized as the "new Madonna". It's like she's a gender hero. That and the fact that her fashion is also very original too. Very cool. She's young, isn't she?

-- I think just 23 or so. She's also apparently inspired by one of your favorite artists, Andy Warhol, and you can recognize elements of Warhol’s art in her shows and music videos. Also, she's an excellent dancer and singer, and she sings herself for her live performances, which is another reason people respect her work. I think she's a hot, tough female artist!

Wow, that's wonderful! I'll start a closer study of her! (laughs) But you know what, when I was cross dressing, people would tell me that I looked like Fergie. (laughs) It's too bad that she hasn't gained more notice in Japan.

-- So what are your plans from here?

I’ll be working on two filming projects--a drama and a movie--at the same time. Actually, the reason I went into comedy is because, originally, I wanted to be an actor, so I’m having a lot of fun with the way things are panning out now. When I hear the words, “Ready, Action!!” and I go into character to perform, I get a real sense of fulfillment. Since you're allowed to immerse yourself more in acting when you do movies, I think they’re a lot more fun than television. Right now.

-- Good luck with your projects, and we look forward watching your movie and drama!

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