I have taken down the Naked Flame section for a simple reason - it made me feel guilty, and I've always held that you should pay attention to feelings like that. Especially since I am hoping to one day achieve some measure of fame as a writer, I need to be careful about what I do so that no-one can cast up things from my past and shame me. That sounds egocentric but at least it's sensible egocentricity. Also, the whole enterprise ran counter to my usual motto of 'don't do anything you couldn't stand for your mother to know about.'

So, I apologise to anyone who liked this section, but it's not going to be here any more. The pictures were just too close to full-on hentai for my personal comfort and it's simply silly to keep something up on my website that I'm not comfortable with. It's not that I've gone off yaoi, I'm still interested in it and you can still read what I wrote about it below, although the justification in the third-to-last paragraph should be taken with a pinch of salt. Actually, I've been writing a long yaoi story as part of my mammoth continuation of the Scars On the Heart fanfic, but that's neither here nor there (it's in Fanelia).

Thank you for your patience, and I hope you enjoy the rest of the shrine.


<<naked flame>>

Yaoi: What the Heck Is It, Anyway?

I'm glad you asked. I'm not an expert myself, but I'm learning, so I understand some people will need clarification on this point. Any inaccuracies in the following explanation result from misunderstandings or good old-fashioned ignorance on my part.

Yaoi is a genre within anime and manga, Japanese animation and comic books. Yaoi stories are also sometimes known as shounen ai ('boy love') which is a good summary of their subject matter - romances and sexual encounters between young males. A term for similar stories in English is 'slash' or 'slashfic,' which makes them sound as though they're about gruesome murders or something. The real explanation, if the guy who explained it to me can be trusted, is slightly odd (like the guy who explained it to me) - it originated, like so many things on the Internet, on Star Trek newsgroups and bulletin boards, in this case ones where people posted fanfic stories about various imagined couplings among the Enterprise crew; the participants would be indicated in the subject line as, for example, 'Kirk/Spock.' When you read that aloud you have to say 'Kirk slash Spock.' Hence 'slashfic.' (Just to go off on a quick tangent, Kirk and Spock? I think not. Although Spock/McCoy sometimes seemed possible, in a smouldering love-hate sort of way.)

Yaoi seems to be chiefly found within the shoujo category - animation and comics for, and often by, women and girls. This trend begain in the 1970s, in the work of influential female manga authors like Moto Hagio, who wrote wonderful, bittersweet romances, often using science-fiction as a way to explore matters of the human heart. You can read more about this, and shoujo manga in general, at The Shoujo Manga Home Page, which is actually maintained by the guy who translated some of Moto Hagio's stories into English. He's cool. Male characters in shoujo manga often have a quality of ethereal, delicate beauty which extends into a certain gender ambiguity. The term bishounen, literally 'pretty/beautiful boy,' is often used to describe such characters. (Gee, who do we know like that? *^.^*) It's easy to make the imaginative transition from gender ambiguity to sexual ambiguity, which I guess is the logic behind these stories. That, or there are just some people who like seeing boys together, and really, you could do a lot worse.

You can find hints of yaoi even in quite mainstream, strongly heterosexual series like Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon; of course, in the original Japanese version, Zoisite and Kunzite were a gay couple (which DiC tried to hide completely in their North American dub), and in the Sailor Moon R movie you could make some pretty interesting speculations about Mamoru and Fiore's friendship, although this is really only a tease. (Incidentally, for a rather clever look at the portrayal of sexuality and gender roles in SM, check out Hello Sailor!) Those are just two examples; you can find many more without looking too hard, even sometimes in shounen (boys') series - Kaworu's apparent crush on Shinji in Neon Genesis Evangelion is the famous example, and seems to be the major reason why Kaworu was the most popular character among girls in NGE's audience.

Of course yaoi is not a cultural phenomenon exclusive to Japan; that's simply its Japanese name. You can find stuff like this in Ancient Greek literature, Renaissance English poetry - in fact, some of William Shakespeare's poetry is in a very yaoi spirit, though for obvious reasons like not wanting everyone up to and including the Queen to think he was a raving pervert, he didn't write directly about desire and sex between men. Read Venus and Adonis and tell me if I'm wrong. (You may also draw the conclusion that Shakespeare was capable of getting far too excited about horses.) The term yaoi comes from a Japanese expression meaning something like 'totally unproductive fantasy.' Check out number 20 from Shakespeare's Sonnets. (I bet you didn't know this was going to be so literary.)

A woman's face, with Nature's own hand painted,
Hast thou, the master-mistress of my passion;
A woman's gentle heart, but not acquainted
With shifting change, as is false women's fashion;
An eye more bright than theirs, less false in rolling,
Gilding the object whereon it gazeth;
A man in hue all hues in his controlling,
Which steals men's eyes and women's souls amazeth.
And for a woman wert thou first created,
Till Nature as she wrought thee fell a-doting,
And by addition me of thee defeated,
By adding one thing to my purpose nothing.
But since she pricked thee out for women's pleasure,
Mine be thy love, and thy love's use their treasure.

He's writing with very much the same idea in mind, and a bit more. And, if you are wondering, yes, that is a pun in the second to last line. If you didn't realise Shakespeare used words like 'prick' in that sense (and they tend not to mention this side of him in high-school English classes) it may startle you still more to learn that 'quaint' is an obsolete spelling of, um, a word for part of a woman which rhymes with 'bunt.' Another pun in very questionable taste *^.^*

This is not meant to say Shakespeare was a gay poet, or even a particularly sex-obsessed one. He wrote in such variety that you can find examples of nearly anything in his work, but the thread of homoeroticism is often remarked upon, just because it's so fascinating. Ambiguity always is. Ambiguity is a big part of Dilandau's appeal to many people. I like to think that Shakespeare would have liked him too.

The thing about doujinshi like the one featured in this section is that they may be seen as overlapping into the hentaior ecchi category. Hentai literally means 'pervert' (ecchi is how you pronounce the initial letter H in Japanese), and, well, it's pornography. I feel that I'm treading a very fine line in presenting these images because, as a rule, I don't like hentai; I find much of it is exploitative or degrading, and heaps of it is just plain gross (the always-lively tentacle rape sub-genre springs to mind). But I think these stories are in relatively good taste, and the beauty and charm of the artwork outweighs my misgivings about the theme. You may disagree but I did give you a fair warning up above.

If you want to learn more about yaoi, try AnimeRose's Yaoi Links Garden or Team Yaoi. (Note: when I try to use the Team Yaoi link, I get a message saying 'Forbidden: You do not have permission to access the requested file on this server.' I don't know what's the deal with that, see if you have any better luck.)

And now that you've sat through this lengthy explanation, read a little Shakespeare and hopefully gotten a clearer idea of what yaoi means, you can go


'cause there's nothing else to see here!