Erotic art history (8) --- Japan, ca. 1750

(From the pages of Erotic Art History:)

Today’s piece of gender non-conforming erotic art history comes to us from 1750 Japan and was composed by Suzuki Harunobu.  Kabuki theater was originally all female when it began in the 17th century, but in response to the actresses moonlighting as high end sex workers catering to the gentry in their audiences, the government banned female actresses. (1)  The male actors who replaced them, however, were just as in demand for paid sex (as male same sex relations were not taboo) (2) and rapidly became high end sex workers, themselves, leading to a long series of government bans on common theater modes of dress and presentation in an unsuccessful attempt to stamp out the practice.  (1)
In kabuki, a male actor playing a female role was called an onnagata (1), and many onnagatas were also kagemas, or male prostitutes. (1) (3)  In this scene, a male patron has sex with an onnagata who is also working as a kagema.  Both are wearing loosely bound kimonos which are arranged to allow for sex as they lay on a mat on the floor.  The patron anally penetrates the onnagata from behind as he lays on his side while the onnagata turns to kiss him and lifts a leg to facilitate penetration, their own cock erect.


(2) WIKIPEDIA ARTICLE: “Homosexuality in Japan”