In 2005 by what route I honestly cannot recall I was put in contact with Yeeshan Yang. So much of how this began I cannot remember but with certainty I can say that Ms. Yang was a proficient English and Japanese speaker, a talented writer who would later publish the well received piece of investigative journalism “Whisper’s and Moan’s'” and in fact a very talented kisser and overall “make out” artist. An anthropology student and world traveler, Ms. Yang was several years my senior and had already ventured at least in some way into writing and although the details of how or why elude me at this time , she referred me to a publisher that had recently encountered a rather singular obstacle in converting a particular book from Japanese into English.
The name of the book was “A guide to a sleepless town” and the singular obstacle was in fact it’s author, Mr. Lee Xiao Mu.
Mr. Lee was born in 1960 in China and through a series of misadventures (misinformation?) he arrived in Tokyo with his then Chinese wife, his first of 6 last time I checked (but he married the 5th one twice so does that count?), and quickly found himself in Kabukichou, the infamous red light district of Japan.
Lee arrived in Kabukichou at the height of Japan’s economic “bubble” and he quickly reaped the rewards of being a hungry, charismatic and cunning young man bent on fortune and fame. According to Japanese friends I have talked to that were up and coming young company workers at that time, one would think the streets were paved with gold and money was being given out for free in large wicker baskets. The tales about the “bubble” are grandiose and listening to these men talk about it I can only feel a certain melancholic and sad resemblance to a High school football star who is now 46, a used car sales man and loves nothing more than telling anyone who will listen about the time his team “Won State” back in the Glory days.
Lee Xiao Mu took advantage of this apparently “magical era” and made money, made friends, made enemies and met many women….most of whom he slept with. Forays into the fashion industry, the sex industry, movies and television, writing and many other things have since culminated in a genuine public personality that is fully equipped with a website, staff and groupies.
In 2005 an effort was being made to translate his book “A guide to a sleepless town” into English for publishing both in Japan and abroad. Initially a french woman whose name I can’t recall was contracted to meet with Mr. Lee and conduct a series of interviews as the the publishers of the English book required more detailed accounts of things and in the end, as I would find out, completely original content not found in the Japanese edition.
Everyone being whom everyone was things did not go as planned. The French woman fell in love/lust with Mr.Lee and as far as I could tell they slept together. Thing’s soured quickly as her obsession with Mr.Lee increased. Sensing genuine trouble with his Wife and a lack of general well being on the horizon, Lee Xiao Mu contacted the publisher and insisted that someone else be found to replace her.
At the time, my Japanese level was pathetic at best and sauntering into McDonald’s to order a coffee was a rather big deal for me so I begged bargained with and threatened a friend of mine named Ayu (a talented photographer and artist, also a good kisser.) until she agreed to come with me as my interpreter.
We met Mr.Lee at a coffee shop in Kabukichou near the big Romanesque McDonald’s there and enjoyed several cups of decent coffee while I fumbled around like a blind man on a shooting range first ever face to face interview. In talking to Mr.Lee I found him very agreeable and easy to speak with despite the language barrier. I also noticed that he was very skilled at non-verbal communication and body language which he displayed well while he constantly hit on my translator.
The comment that most intrigued me about that whole evening was when he finally told me “Just write whatever you want as long as it makes me seem interesting. Really anything is OK. Just make me more interesting, its simple.”
We parted ways after his wife arrived, a 21 (I think) year old Chinese woman who was his 5th wife that he would later divorce and then marry again. She was also charming in a very young way and told me I looked like David Beckham (Not Brad Pittt this time?!) but more handsome.
I look nothing like David Beckham. More handsome however, there is little doubt. ” Don’t hate the player, hate the game.”
I began organizing notes and and thinking about things that night at home and then the next day I began writing. Over the course of two weeks I submitted multiple copies of various chapters to several different editors and the majority of the feed back was less than thrilling. The person who consistently gave me positive support and good advice was Yeeshan Yang and I still appreciate that to this day. She has a very hip yet straight forward way about her writing sensibilities which I find attractive. And she is also a good kisser.
After several emails and various revisions it was made clear that I needed to generate several original chapters of content about “Lee Xiao Mu…Today!” and as ridiculous as I found this I jumped at the opportunity to write something original that would be in a book…any book.
I contacted Mr.Lee again and probed him for details. I begged him to give me something juicy, something interesting and thrilling that I could take and then adapt to my awaiting pages. This time he told me two things.
First he said “You know I never wrote a word. I just talk into a tape recorder and get one of the women who love me to write it all in Japanese.” I found this confession very random indeed and tried to steer away from this now useless line of conversation and was pushing for something involving the Yakuza if possible or better still something about the terrifying and infamous Chinese gangsters from the Fukien Province who had been arriving in Tokyo as of late. Mr. Lee’s reply was less than stellar.
“Look, I write a column for “Newsweek “. I’m trying to get a new book published in China. I have kids and need a lot of money every month. I don’t have the time for consorting with gangsters and thugs. Just make something up, I will say it’s all true. ”
And he totally did.
If my time with Lee Xiao Mu and Yeeshan Yang left me with anything it is that in Tokyo, very little is impossible and anyone can climb the latter. Perhaps that’s why I am still here.
More information about
Yeeshan Yang and Lee Xiao Mu on their respective websites.
UPDATE—–2012/09/14—–Video with Lee
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