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Sushi in the raw: Restaurant's displays get women's group steamed
Seattle Times ^ | 11/11/03 | J. Patrick Coolican

Posted on 11/11/2003 2:45:06 PM PST by Tumbleweed_Connection

Saturday night at Bonzai in Pioneer Square, a nearly naked woman is laid out on a table. A chef slices sushi behind her, to be arrayed on her torso, bare except for a sheath of plastic wrap and some decorative flower petals.

Chopsticks at the ready, patrons line up.

Hours earlier, across town on the campus of the University of Washington, eight activists, mostly Asian-American women, express outrage at what they call the prostitution of sushi and the exploitation of women. They plot their strategy.

Welcome to a clash of values — Seattle style.

While the promoter and the sushi model say this melding of prandial and sexual is performance art, Bonzai's patrons — men and women of various ethnicities — say it merely adds to the restaurant's sensual vibe.

Opponents say treating women like a serving platter reinforces attitudes that make domestic and sexual violence so prevalent.

"It's dehumanizing, the manner in which people are buying and selling sushi to be eaten off a woman's body. It's dehumanizing to be treated as a plate," said Cherry Cayabyab, president of the Seattle chapter of National Asian Pacific American Women's Forum.

Calling it performance art, a model becomes a serving station for sushi as Bonzai chef and owner Jun Hong, top right, covers the woman's torso for "naked sushi." Activists are strategizing on how to persuade the restaurant to stop the weekly displays.

The restaurant, which has featured naked sushi monthly since May and every Saturday night this fall, could be called a capital of the Seattle lounge kingdom.

Japanese animation art hangs from exposed brick walls. Bottles of high-end scotch are prominently displayed, awash in dusky light. Candles flicker. When the model arrives about midnight, wearing a thong, plastic wrap for sanitary safety and carefully placed flower petals, patrons line up, having paid a $5 cover charge and bought a drink.

Using chopsticks, they pick among salmon and ahi tuna, eel and California rolls. The model, one of a rotating group of seven, breathes softly, her eyes closed while she does her 30 minutes of work.

Bonzai chef and owner Jun Hong, who also owns Wasabi Bistro in Belltown, looks on with the promoter, Cheresa Nemitz. They enforce the rules: Respect the model; no hooting or hollering; no tips; and no talking to her.

By the looks of it, they don't need to be there — most of the 40 or 50 patrons are regulars.

Yet the spectacle carries harmful consequences, according to the women who gathered at the University of Washington's Women's Center.

"It provides a forum to see a human being as an object. And when women are viewed as objects, they are more likely to be violated," said Norma Timbang, executive director of the Asian and Pacific Islander Women and Family Safety Center.

The activists say they want to meet Nemitz and ask her to stop, and will be calling and e-mailing Hong, the owner. If they don't get the results they want, they say, they will launch a media campaign against the restaurant.

They appear to be the first organized opposition to naked sushi, which has its roots in Japan but has arrived more recently in Los Angeles and New York.

Nemitz said she's eager to meet with the women. She said she considers naked sushi performance art, using the nude human body — an ancient artistic subject — to form an aesthetic tableau altered as every piece of raw and lightly cooked fish is taken for consumption.

"As a woman, I can't ignore what other women are saying, but I think there are bigger fish to fry than performance art," Nemitz said.

The night's model, an Asian-American woman who won't say how much she is paid and asked not to be named, said the experience is relaxing, sensual and meditative.

"It's ridiculous to comment on it without experiencing it. It's hearsay," she said of her critics, who contend the model has "internalized her oppression."

Bonzai's patrons think otherwise.

"It's a visual art. It sounds worse than when you actually come here," said Shelly Eldredge, who did not partake Saturday night because she'd already eaten.

Naked sushi carries no connotation of exploitation in its native Japan, said Bonzai regular Danielle Kim of Newcastle.

Some men in the room were slightly more flip in their endorsement.

"It appeals to puerile interests, I suppose, but what the hell?" said Keith Ancker, 28, of Seattle. He said he'd never tried sushi until now.

That's part of the point, says Hong, the owner, to bring sushi to non-sushi-eaters. Sushi is a sensitive and artistic food, and he means no disrespect to women, he said.

Luké Janich, 26, said the last thing he wanted to do was disrespect women. Nevertheless, he said, "Seattle needs to relax."


TOPICS: Culture/Society; News/Current Events; US: Washington
KEYWORDS: raw; sushi
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Hours earlier, across town on the campus of the University of Washington, eight activists, mostly Asian-American women, express outrage at what they call the prostitution of sushi and the exploitation of women.

Freedom of abortion?

1 posted on 11/11/2003 2:45:07 PM PST by Tumbleweed_Connection
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To: Tumbleweed_Connection
I'm having the TUNA!
2 posted on 11/11/2003 2:46:13 PM PST by Onelifetogive
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To: Tumbleweed_Connection
Can you post the address??
3 posted on 11/11/2003 2:47:42 PM PST by Dog
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To: Onelifetogive
The prostitution of Sushi, something smells fishy about this!
4 posted on 11/11/2003 2:49:01 PM PST by tet68 (Patrick Henry ......."Who fears the wrath of cowards?")
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To: Tumbleweed_Connection
ewww... they gotta use a good-looking woman at least... all those skin blotches in the photo would turn my stomach!
5 posted on 11/11/2003 2:49:03 PM PST by thoughtomator ("A republic, if you can keep it.")
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To: cmsgop
Isn't this in your neck of the woods??
6 posted on 11/11/2003 2:49:10 PM PST by Dog
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To: Tumbleweed_Connection
Eating raw fish I understand. (Yeah, I like sushi.)

Eating raw fish off a semi-naked girl, I don't understand.

Why would I want to look at a menu from which I cannot make a selection?
7 posted on 11/11/2003 2:49:34 PM PST by Prime Choice (The judiciary is supposed to be 1/3rd of the checks and balances; not a special interest trump card.)
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To: Onelifetogive
Tuna hell....Do they sell beaver fillets as well?
8 posted on 11/11/2003 2:50:35 PM PST by Delbert
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To: Tumbleweed_Connection
"It appeals to puerile interests, I suppose, but what the hell?" said Keith Ancker, 28, of Seattle. He said he'd never tried sushi until now.

LOL.

Call me old-fashioned, but I'll take my sushi served in the more traditional way.

9 posted on 11/11/2003 2:50:56 PM PST by Luke Skyfreeper
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To: Onelifetogive
I prefer "cat" fish lol
10 posted on 11/11/2003 2:51:26 PM PST by cajun-jack
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To: Prime Choice
Eating raw fish I understand. (Yeah, I like sushi.)

Eating raw fish off a semi-naked girl, I don't understand.

Same here!

11 posted on 11/11/2003 2:52:01 PM PST by Luke Skyfreeper
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To: tet68
I'm starting to get a glimmer of how the condom got in the chowder...
12 posted on 11/11/2003 2:54:06 PM PST by ErnBatavia
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To: Prime Choice
Even sushi comes with garnish, it's really no different than a fancy plate.
13 posted on 11/11/2003 2:55:33 PM PST by discostu (You figure that's gotta be jelly cos jam just don't shake like that)
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To: Delbert
beaver fillets do you get a side of mountain oysters for that?
14 posted on 11/11/2003 2:55:47 PM PST by SF Republican
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To: Tumbleweed_Connection
Notice, to feminazis, a woman should have the right to do whatever with her own body, except that which pleases a man.
15 posted on 11/11/2003 2:56:10 PM PST by Paul Atreides (Is it really so difficult to post the entire article?)
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To: Paul Atreides
Sushi, eh. Now if it were a nice pepperonin pizza served on a nekkid gal, bring it on!
16 posted on 11/11/2003 2:58:48 PM PST by TheBigB (We are a NEWSPAPER! We are supposed to print THE NEWS! -- Carl Kolchak)
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To: Dog
Isn't this in your neck of the woods??

YES, THANK GOD !!!!!!!!!
17 posted on 11/11/2003 3:01:30 PM PST by cmsgop ( "Love For Sale",.."Yummy Appetizing Love For Sale")
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To: Paul Atreides
Just pray that the fishy smell is coming from the sushi.
18 posted on 11/11/2003 3:01:34 PM PST by Callahan
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To: Paul Atreides
Just pray that the fishy smell is coming from the sushi.
19 posted on 11/11/2003 3:01:34 PM PST by Callahan
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To: Prime Choice
Eating raw fish I understand. (Yeah, I like sushi.) Eating raw fish off a semi-naked girl, I don't understand. Why would I want to look at a menu from which I cannot make a selection?

I'm with you, pal. I like looking at beautiful women as much as the next guy in most parts of San Francisco, but why would I want one in my face or my lap if I'm not supposed to touch them in earnest?

A standup comic recently on Late Night With Conan O'Brien said it best: "After leaving the club, I said to myself, 'I just spent $60 on a boner when I get one for free every morning!"

20 posted on 11/11/2003 3:03:39 PM PST by L.N. Smithee (Just because I don't think like you doesn't mean I don't think for myself)
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To: Tumbleweed_Connection
This is easy to set up in L.A., and there's none of that plastic wrap, either.
21 posted on 11/11/2003 3:04:09 PM PST by Heyworth
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To: Tumbleweed_Connection
Y'know, I really like the naked female form and I really like sushi. But I'd prefer to concentrate on one at a time. Both at the same time is overload.

Though I do wonder whether someone can get a hand roll. 8>)

OTOH, the protesters -- How should I put this? -- should mind their own bloody business.
22 posted on 11/11/2003 3:04:20 PM PST by Celtjew Libertarian (Shake Hands with the Serpent: Poetry by Charles Lipsig aka Celtjew http://books.lulu.com/lipsig)
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To: CyberCowboy777; Libertina
ping
23 posted on 11/11/2003 3:05:18 PM PST by Libertarianize the GOP (Ideas have consequences)
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To: Onelifetogive
'it's what's for dinner!"
24 posted on 11/11/2003 3:05:29 PM PST by sheik yerbouty
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To: TheBigB
Make sure to order the double anchovy...
25 posted on 11/11/2003 3:06:15 PM PST by Pharmboy (Dems lie 'cause they have to...)
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To: Tumbleweed_Connection
Raw fish on a 98.6 degree serving platter? Sounds unhealthy as well as disgusting.
26 posted on 11/11/2003 3:07:40 PM PST by Allegra (CBS has canceled this tagline. It was "not due to controversy." Tom Daschle is disappointed.)
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To: Paul Atreides
Notice, to feminazis, a woman should have the right to do whatever with her own body

They endorse the right to murder a fetus within a woman's body yet not the right to "serve" sushi?

27 posted on 11/11/2003 3:10:03 PM PST by Tumbleweed_Connection
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To: Tumbleweed_Connection
bump
28 posted on 11/11/2003 3:10:28 PM PST by Mike Darancette (Proud member - Neo-Conservative Power Vortex)
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To: Tumbleweed_Connection
Hours earlier, across town on the campus of the University of Washington, eight activists, mostly Asian-American women, express outrage at what they call the prostitution of sushi and the exploitation of women

Probably some of the same wenches that lay around naked to spell stupid things with their bodies

29 posted on 11/11/2003 3:12:28 PM PST by paul51
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To: Tumbleweed_Connection
Well I guess I'll be in the minority here but I find this distasteful and I'd be uncomfortable if I found myself in a restaurant that featured this display of a mostly naked model with food on top. Certainly, I wouldn't be one of those lining up to pick food off of her. Call me old-fashioned or prudish but that's the way I feel.

That said, the restaurant does have the right to do this if they can find the models willing to do this sort of thing.

30 posted on 11/11/2003 3:13:15 PM PST by SamAdams76 (198.8 (-101.2))
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To: Tumbleweed_Connection
It's funny: the feminazis gave Bubba complete pass on his treatment of women, which was no surprise. However, it was surprising how quickly they displayed their hypocrisy, even further, concerning Arnie. I was certain that they would get their media pass for their knee-padding and that would be it. However, with the about-face they did with Arnie, they proved to everyone how useless and outdated they actually are.
31 posted on 11/11/2003 3:14:32 PM PST by Paul Atreides (Is it really so difficult to post the entire article?)
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To: SamAdams76
How does that concern which rights women have?
32 posted on 11/11/2003 3:19:36 PM PST by Tumbleweed_Connection
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To: Tumbleweed_Connection
How does that concern which rights women have?

It doesn't and I never said it did. I just said that I, personally, find such a display distasteful and if I was in the restaurant, I would not partake of the "buffet."

33 posted on 11/11/2003 3:21:06 PM PST by SamAdams76 (198.8 (-101.2))
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To: SamAdams76
That said, the restaurant does have the right to do this if they can find the models willing to do this sort of thing.

Which they can if they pay them enough. Since this is all a matter of stuff between consenting adults, our libertarian friends should think it just fine. If you disagree, you're some sort of liberal, big government, anti-free speech, puritanical, authoritarian Nazi. Everybody knows pornography is a basic right. It's right there in the Constitution!

34 posted on 11/11/2003 3:21:42 PM PST by findingtruth
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To: Tumbleweed_Connection
I think this has to do with the conflict between a woman's right to choose, and a man's right to chew...
35 posted on 11/11/2003 3:25:06 PM PST by null and void
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To: SamAdams76
I would not partake of the "buffet." What choice are they attempting to allow us? Realize how many "buffets" exist where I can smoke a cigar?
36 posted on 11/11/2003 3:29:16 PM PST by Tumbleweed_Connection
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To: Tumbleweed_Connection
Mmmm....I'll have the fish taco, brownie for desert, and two milks.
37 posted on 11/11/2003 3:29:58 PM PST by Bronco_Buster_FweetHyagh
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To: Tumbleweed_Connection
This kind of thing is pretty common in Asia...
38 posted on 11/11/2003 3:35:54 PM PST by Oldeconomybuyer (The democRATS are near the tipping point.)
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To: Tumbleweed_Connection
Reminds me of the joke about the guy that wrapped himself in plastic wrap and ran into the Psychiatrist office; the Doctor said "Well I can clearly see your nuts"
39 posted on 11/11/2003 3:45:35 PM PST by SF Republican
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To: Tumbleweed_Connection
Hmmm, the way it's done (as depicted in the photo here) seems mildly interesting. I suppose it could be a whole lot worse. The restaraunt could belong to Andrew Dice Clay.
40 posted on 11/11/2003 3:50:15 PM PST by Prodigal Son
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To: Tumbleweed_Connection
Hey! I found Nemo!

Mark

41 posted on 11/11/2003 4:11:01 PM PST by MarkL (Chiefs 9-0! Wheeeeee!!!!!)
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Comment #42 Removed by Moderator

To: Tumbleweed_Connection
So let's see here - we have 'Indigurrito', a vile and hatefilled 'performance art' piece put on by Nia Bustamonte (Cruz Bustamonte's sister, BTW), wherein nearly naked women strap on a burrito, dildo fashion, and then have members of the audience come on up annd take a bite. It's the usual Leftist victimist crap, symbolizing how the indigenous native population has been exploited and oppressed by white male culture. Yadda yadda.

Then we have this sushi display. The irony is, ummm delicious.
43 posted on 11/11/2003 4:18:59 PM PST by Noumenon (I don't have enough guns and ammo to start a war - but I do have enough to finish one.)
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To: Onelifetogive
Pass the wasabi.
44 posted on 11/11/2003 4:19:39 PM PST by Noumenon (I don't have enough guns and ammo to start a war - but I do have enough to finish one.)
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To: Tumbleweed_Connection
Got Crabs?
45 posted on 11/11/2003 4:28:07 PM PST by weegee
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To: TheBigB
Now if it were a nice pepperonin pizza served on a nekkid gal, bring it on!

I think that scene was in George Romero's Knightriders...

46 posted on 11/11/2003 4:33:24 PM PST by weegee
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To: Tumbleweed_Connection
You can smoke a cigar at my buffet. No naked women though. Sorry.
47 posted on 11/11/2003 4:34:05 PM PST by SamAdams76 (198.8 (-101.2))
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To: Paul Atreides
Notice, to feminazis, a woman should have the right to do whatever with her own body, except that which pleases a man.

There are many men who are content to pay to have their kids aborted after a one night stand. Feminists don't see that as "exploitation".

48 posted on 11/11/2003 4:36:05 PM PST by weegee
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To: thoughtomator
ewww... they gotta use a good-looking woman at least... all those skin blotches in the photo would turn my stomach!

Those aren't bruises and blemishes, they are soy sauce stains...

49 posted on 11/11/2003 4:38:48 PM PST by weegee
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To: thoughtomator
ewww... they gotta use a good-looking woman at least... all those skin blotches in the photo would turn my stomach!

The report didn't mention that when the woman finished her shift at the sushi bar she had to go to her second job at thaisluts.com. That photo is definitely disgusting.

50 posted on 11/11/2003 4:39:16 PM PST by Looking4Truth (I'm in one of 'those' moods again....)
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