News Sushi: Morsels of News from Japan and Beyond #21

Editor Note: It is Friday and that means it is time for the World Famous, soon to be Intergalactic Famous, News Sushi from our very own, Hamish Downie. He brings us a decidedly different slant on Pop Culture as viewed through the lens of a non-native living in Japan. Thank you Hamish for your insights.



Thank you Carol! I’m here! And we are 21… finally we can legally drink in America!


Yes, I know…


I did that one for you last week, but, one good turn deserves another. And if you think this week couldn’t get any more fabulous…


You ain’t seen nothin’ yet!


Steve Leadbetter!

TGG: My hometown, Newcastle (Australia), has a couple of Drag Duos, most famously Mr. and Mrs. White Trash… but, my next interviewee is one half of another legendary Drag Duo, Steve Leadbeatter! For those who don’t know you, could you please introduce yourself?

STEVE: Thank you Hamish for letting me be interviewed. As for legendary Drag Duos, Mr & Mrs White Trash seem to have been around forever. When I first met Ian Leadbeatter back in 1998, he was interested in getting in contact with his drag alter ego, and her name was Hattie (she often wore lovely hats), as he couldn’t come up with a name he liked. Me on the other hand had been dabbling in drag for a while, when involved with amateur theatre…I discovered my drag name quite easily, I thought of famous drag queen names, having a normal household item and making it my own. So Margarine became me…my name was Marge Reen, and then I created an array of other members of the Reen family. In later years Marge dipped out of popularity and my new drag name became Norma Desperate (based on the character Norma Desmond from Sunset Boulevard), Norma was more elegant than Marge, and physically more fat, so she was now wearing full length kaftans or tarpaulins.

TGG: And you both look fabulous! In the LGBT community, one generation acts as a guiding light to the next generation. As one of my guiding lights, what do you think about all of the changes that you’ve witnessed?

STEVE: As for changes in the LGBTQI family, I’m sure this not only relates to us here in Australia, but the broader International family as well. We have been accepted by some members of the broader public, but still have a long way to go. Too many naive people still see us as a threat, or sexual perverts, who are going to rape their sons or steal their husbands. I agree that we need to be ourselves, like holding hands in public, there is no law against it, and we shouldn’t have to put up with abuse because of it. Straight people hold hands, even of the same sex and no-one cares, but 2 guys walking down the mall hand in hand causes the world to stop spinning, and perish the thought of kissing in public.

TGG: Indeed! One of the biggest changes I’m sure is the introduction of Marriage Equality in Australia. But, as far as I’m concerned, paper or not, you’ve been married to Ian ever since I’ve known the two of you. What’s the secret to a happy marriage, especially in the LGBT community?

STEVE: Ian and I met in 1998, one year later we had a Commitment Ceremony, and 2 years ago we were legally married. How has our relationship lasted…it hasn’t been easy. We’ve had disagreements, raised voices, tears but we also have the ability to sit down and talk it through. Both straight and gay couples only succeed if they are willing to be honest and trustworthy of their partners. In my experience a lot of straight couples split because of sex, and I’m sure so do a lot of gay couples. It is very hard for gay couples to remain monogamous, we enjoy sex with others too much. Most guys will say they are primarily monogamous, but Ian and I are in a Public Relationship [TGG: Sometimes referred to as an open relationship], it doesn’t matter if we have sex with others, so long as we tell each other and return to each other. I’m sure this will annoy some people, but we are not looking for their approval.

TGG: As they say, whatever works for you! It’s really no-ones business but your own. Do you think people in our community will ever be fully accepted?

STEVE: Acceptance of people in the LGBTQUI will be an ongoing task. Some people are accepted by their families and friends when “they come out”. Others do not, and it can make life very difficult. Prior to 1998, I was in a straight marriage for the previous 20 years, and that partnership resulted in 2 children both females. When I left them and subsequently got divorced, and came out to everyone, life took a very nasty turn, when it came to my biological family. Both my parents and my sister, disowned me, took me out of documents and photos. When both parents passed away at different times during the 20 years that followed, I was refused to attend their funerals, nor was I left anything in their Wills. They also managed to change the relationship between me and my girls. Both my children, now grown adults chose not to include me and my life partner into their lives. So I was not invited to either of their weddings, nor have I met their husbands, and the thing that hurts the most I have not been informed of the births of my Grandchildren and their birthdates and names. No pictures, no contact…nothing.

TGG: I’m so sorry to hear that. I have a relative going through the same thing. But, I’m glad you’ve stayed strong and have found love in your life.

STEVE: Life goes on, sure I can worry myself sick, but I need to live my life on my terms.

TGG:By the way, your posts on Facebook take us on grand tours of the world, and show us handsome men… if your new found transatlantic fans want to follow you, where can they find you?

STEVE: If people want to contact me, follow or become a friend on Facebook or Instagram, just put in my name in the search bar. Thanks Hamish for letting me rabble on.

TGG: It’s been an absolute pleasure! Thank you for agreeing to be interviewed, and thank you for being one of the guiding lights of my young gay life.



Speaking of guiding lights, one of my mentors as a filmmaker and writer is the next lady, Deborah DeSnoo, whom I’ve spoken about before in a pervious column. For anyone who has an interest in Japanese history, the season of the PBS Empires that Deborah produced is now available on Amazon Prime. And it is just filled with five star reviews. Go check it out!

Amazon Link

While you’re looking for something to watch, perhaps I could share one of my private joys – watching old Dick Cavett interviews, especially with the stars of yesterday. There’s something that you don’t see often these days, older people not only being talked to, but also being respected. I have no idea why the modern talk show hosts never talk to older guests. I guess they don’t want to be outshone (with Dick Cavett, it’s always about the guest), and perhaps the older person’s stories might interrupt their comedy routine. In any case, if you are at all interested in the arts, then I recommend watching the following shows.

First we have Dick Cavett interview Bette Davis, and this has got to be one of my favourite interviews of all time:

Here Dick Cavett interviews Peggy Wood, who you might know as the singer of “Climb every mountain” from “The Sound of Music”, and sayer of the misread line, “What is it you can’t face?” (I can’t print the misreading in polite company). The interesting thing is that even the great Bette Davis, who I think of as such a giant, is towered over by the great Peggy Wood.

There are more, such as his interviews with Noel Coward and Katherine Hepburn, but this will get you started.

And while, you watch the series, you might want a good chair to sit in. How about this one?

Bibendum Buy now on

A post shared by Eileen Gray (@gray_eileen) on

For those in the know, you’ll know that this is one of the originators of the modern style, Elieen Gray. For those who don’t – you might have seen this on one of your favourite TV shows. Elieen Gray was an Architect and Industrial Designer. If you want to see her famous Modern House, you’ll need to click on the link: – what makes it great, is that they say the staircase is so gentle and easy to use, you barely know that you are using stairs. And the other thing, is that the stairs lead straight down to the beach.

Her connection to Japan is that while in Paris, she became the first western practitioner of the Japanese art of lacquer. And in case you are ignorant like I was, Lacquer is actually a type of tree (not just a varnishing style), and is you are allergic to the wood, then you’ll also be allergic to the Mango (as they are related). In any case, She was able to do so because at the time (1906), the Japanese Lacquer Master Seizo Sugawara was also living in Paris. How can read more about it and she her work here:

Now let’s take a look at some beautiful cinema:

Thanks for spending your Friday with me for another week. If you’d like more, please be sure to check out this week’s TGGeeks podcast, Reviews, and the ever popular ‘Old Classics – Newly Reviewed’. If you’d like to see more of me, then, please do check out my new series, “Talking about the writer“, which is kicking along with a new lav mic, and ring light (so the sound and picture has improved)… and you can find that here: along with some of my music videos and short films. If you’d like to support me, then I recommend clicking the link to the side for my comic “Mirai” or searching for “An American Piano” in Amazon. You won’t be disappointed!

And with that, I bid you a fond farewell… until next time!


Your thoughts and opinions are important to us, so please leave a comment in the section below the article, and if this is your first time visiting please be sure to read the Privacy / Terms and Conditions Of Use.

Thanks for visiting. Let us know what you think.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.