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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Insights from a Collection

When people travel, they collect fridge magnets and Hard Rock t-shirts to boast about their wanderlust accomplishments.     

I find such collections unimaginative.
Traveling is not just shopping, eat and play. For me, it's about immersing into another's culture, truly understanding the beauty of the local's living.

local artistic magazines.

It started with Australia. I had the last AUD 10 in my hands and my housemate who sent me to the airport said i should buy one last souvenir to remember Australia by. He recommended a man's magazine. Being the thrifty ex-student, i debated if AUD 10 was worth spending on a lad's magazine. After all, i may return to Australia and this AUD 10 could go to food or a new Myers dress! Minutes before i entered the departure gates, unsure if i will ever enter Australia house mate called out, "Are you very very sure you don't want a lad's mag?!? You won't be able to get it in Singapore!"

But as pornography is prohibited in Singapore, i was not foolish and brought the $10 back to Singapore. (hooray as the AUD is steadily rising!)

Then the idea resurfaced in Japan. I was in 7-11 innocently looking through the aisles for interesting food flavours. I didn't find anything whacky but i discovered Kose individual face masks going for $5 ($20 here!). As i approached the cashier, i walked past the magazine stands and the covers caught my eye. There was a man in a suit flipping through the magazines and when i joined him, he sheepishly picked up his document bag and scoot. 

For the next 15 minutes, i hogged the magazine stand and scared off all the men. I examined the covers one by one. There were at least 10 titles of different genres. From Bored Housewives to School Girls to Office Girls and such. Japanese fashion magazines are known to give freebies, branded pouches and bags even. These artistic magazines are no lacking in the freebie department as well. DVDs and panties. For $10, it was a pretty good masturbatory deal.

If i had not browsed at the Japanese magazine stand, i would not have known the inside looked like this, the DVDs would be mosaic, even the comics are blanked out.

I thought it was because it was sold at 7-11, thus accessible to minors. It was later to multiple trial & error purchases and a curiosity like a cat that i learned the most boggling contradicting culture of the Japanese.

One of the largest markets for pornography in the world, film makers are forced to censor their films because pre-existing laws regarding pornography remained even after the WW2 as these materials are deemed "injurious to public morals".

It is possible that Japan's wacky and innovative porn could be a response of the strict censorship which makes it much of a turn off to most men. Without censorship, the Japanese directors could become as lazy as their American counterparts who reply heavily on close-ups of penetration.

That's a cultural learning.

Next was India. The legendary Karma Sutra hailed from there (although it's debatable as history seem to claim that the Chinese invented it before the Indians). India is still a fairly conservative society where the girls are cladded in saris, wrapped like a dumping despite what Bollywood depicts. I did not see any men's magazines, not even FHM. I later learnt that they are available, just that they are buried under other covers and will only surface upon request. However, the Indian girls on the cover have only displayed skin of the arms and only in recent years, it opened up to the naked back and now midriffs too. 

Singapore's FHM show a tad more in comparison.

Wanting something more authentic, i started asking for the Karma Sutra. Many bookstores offered me the imported ones, but i adamantly insisted for a local version.

Time was running out as my days of travel grew shorter. I found a storekeeper who had to spend 5 minutes digging through his dusty back room. That looked promising, he dusted off the cover and it looked authentic. Sold!

I paid $8 and the cover was an illustrated painting of an ancient man and woman, bodies contorted. It was like a thesis paper within, the Karma Sutra is an art form that teaches how a woman should behave etc. Almost like an Obedient Wives Club guide book, and not the lurid sort you'd think.

Later on in my private time, i flipped open and found imprinted on the back cover it says in bold, "Printed in Singapore." Yet Singapore bans such books/ magazines.

That's another cultural learning.

Then i travelled in Europe and could browse 3 continents at one go. The magazines were sold at petrol stations for $5. The Italians were perfetto while the Germans as one would expect, big boned. 

And in Hong Kong, porn is a big thing for locals i was told. They have call girl guidebooks ($5) sold at the news stands and at the airport book store i spotted a guidebook that teaches you how to download for free at paid sites ($35).

What was different in Hong Kong/ Taiwan than the other countries was that magazines with naked men were found at public news stands. A man's magazine for the men, i'd just say while a female model can be photoshopped to perfection and Cup Ds, it isn't the same for men. Needless to say, while the European models are neatly waxed or shaved, the Asians were proud of their fat choy. Which i later learn that Asian women who remove their fat choy will dampen their man's fortune.

Warped as it may be, i find that browsing local artistic magazines unravels cultural insights, superstitions and beliefs. Why then, do sex sell? Attractive men or women in adverts excites the areas of the brain that makes us buy on impulse, bypassing the sections which control rational thought. So watch your brain, watch your wallet. All these thoughts and analysis wouldn't have come from a fridge magnet or a Hard Rock tee.

And as i mentioned that pornography is prohibited in Singapore, do browse but leave it behind next to the bed stand. 

A surprise for the lonely traveller who will next occupy the hotel room.

xoxo Wanderlust.
Read my travel stories here.

1 comment:

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