Saturday, March 31, 2012

Sexy Cedric: History of Japanese Courtesans/Final Day to Enter Drawing

Host Cedric Mackinnon's Portrait by Arlie Adams

I hope my darlings are having a Sexy Saturday!  If not, contact me and we'll talk. 
Today, I continue my discussion of courtesans.  If you haven't yet entered to win my story, My Fearful Symmetry, in ebook, please leave me a saucy comment at the end of the post. 

Drawing ends 3/31/12 at 11:59 PM EST.  Winner to be chosen by random drawing from all commenters at this blog throughout March 2012. Please leave an email where you may be contacted. Your choice of format Kindle, Nook or PDF.

Courtesans: Part Two
Japanese Courtesans

Back in February, when I took on this project for the authoress, I realized that my subject is more extensive than I’d anticipated, so I’ve decided to discuss different aspects of the courtesan’s art in their respective countries. Today, I’ll discuss the history of courtesans in Japan.

Oiran, Japanese courtesans, were classified as a type of “woman of pleasure”, but they were distinguished from common prostitutes by the virtue of also being entertainers. The earliest Oiran were actresses who performed in a form of theatre that became the basis of Kabuki. The Oiran’s art arose in the Edo period (1600-1800). They were prized for their beauty, character, education and artistic talent. They were educated in the arts of flower arranging, calligraphy and the tea ceremony, as well as being skilled in conversation. To be pretty wasn’t enough, an Oiran must also be witty and able to write with eloquence. Oiran costumes were elaborate and ornate, with many layers of sumptuous fabrics. They practiced traditional courtly entertainments that were far removed from the tastes of common folk. Formal rituals surrounded the employment of an Oiran. They were never engaged casually, but offered formal invitations from those that wished to enjoy their services. Only then would an Oiran leave her pleasure district with her retinue of servants and process to the waiting client.  The illustration below depicts an Oiran.

*public domain image due to expired copyright

However, another sort of courtesan eventually eclipsed the Oiran. As the Oiran’s art become more and more elitist, the more accessible geisha began to increase in popularity.  The picture below shows a geisha in her lover's room.

*public domain image of an artwork for which no
known copyright exists.

The geisha’s art arose from the custom of hiring dancing girls known as odoriko. These were generally teenagers that performed in the home of high-ranking samurai. The first woman recorded to have taken the name of geisha was a prostitute from Fukagawa in 1750. Kikuya was a talented singer and shaminsen player who quickly rose to celebrated status, paving the way for the rise of the geisha.

The pleasure districts of Japan were severely regulated, and it was outlawed for the geisha to sell sex, as not to compete with the Oiran. The geisha became highly prized as entertainers and erudite companions. When the Oiran finally fell from fashion, the geisha took on the more intimate arts of the courtesan. However, she had the option of deciding whether to become sexually intimate with her clients or not. Still, not all geisha chose the life itself. There were certainly girls sold in indentured servitude to geisha houses prior to the 20th century. Accounts tell of high prices bid for a girl’s virginity.

In the WWII era, the name geisha became a somewhat tarnished term because common prostitutes often used it. Some years after the war, the art was revived, and the geisha returned to her traditional role of skilled artist and entertainer. She still enjoys that status today.

What about male courtesans in Japan? Oddly enough, the first geisha were men, who entertained clients waiting to see the celebrated Oiran--entertained in the sense of music and comedy, not sexually. In 17th century Japan homosexuality was not necessarily taboo, particularly among the priestly classes and the samurai. The samurai, like Greek warriors of the ancient world, prized male relationships and an older man would often take on a younger male companion in order to impart the virtues of samurai manhood. These lovers would often bear cuts on their bodies symbolizing their masculinity and the devotion to their bond. But these youthful love objects could not properly be called courtesans.

However, in the Kabuki theatre, young men and adolescent boys, who played the roles of women, functioned as courtesans offstage.  Literature of the period shows many examples of love letters and poems written by men to other men, many of these were composed or inspired by said stage performers. Kabuki theater started in Japan in 1603 and featured racy storylines and dances.  At first women performed female roles in Kabuki, but because they also practiced prostitution offstage, they were eventually banned and replaced by beautiful adolescent males.  As these young men, or Onnagata, became celebrated for their offstage sexual antics, they were also forbidden and adult men took over the female roles.  Below you can see a depiction of an Onnagata combing the hair of another actor.

*image in the public domain due to expired copyright

 Next week, I'll be back with more sexy tidbits and details about a new drawing for my latest adventure, Servant of the Goddess.  Don't forget to leave a comment so you can be entered in this month's drawing for My Fearful Symmetry

Love and Dark Kisses,

Your naughty boy, Cedric MacKinnon

You can win this!

Here is a little bit about my tale:
Only the most gifted and beautiful Immortyls are chosen to serve Mother Kali as adepts of the ancient arts...
For nineteen-year-old Cedric MacKinnon, the promise of eternal youth and celebrity sounds like a dream come true. It becomes a nightmare when a master vampire plucks the boy from the London streets and spirits him away to India. In the fabled ashram of the adepts of the ancient arts, Cedric undergoes the grueling process of training as a temple dancer and courtesan. With the threat of revolution hanging over court, the chief elder employs the boy he names Shardul in dangerous games of seduction and intrigue.

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