Yellow Fever

They got it bad, and that aint good

With that kind of calculation, it's little wonder that booking clubs welcome an increasing number of Anglo male patrons. Nicolas Cage once frequented Los Angeles' largest such club, Le Prive; it was widely reported in Korean American newspapers—and with absolutely no disdain—that Nicolas met his Korean American wife at a booking club.

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We've become the latest accessories; Asians are the new pink.

Whatcha drinking? Photo by Jennie Warren. Makeup by Bill Child
Whatcha drinking? Photo by Jennie Warren. Makeup by Bill Child

Gwen Stefani used Asians to underscore and dress up her solo career. While promoting her Love, Angel, Music, Baby album, she was attended constantly by four mute Japanese schoolgirls she re-named "Love," "Angel," "Music" and "Baby." Stefani called them her Harajuku girls, taking that name from a particularly hip and fashionable Tokyo district.

Think if she had done the same with other ethnic groups—four African American girls barefoot and dressed in dashikis. Or four Latinas in sombreros and mariachi outfits. Jesse Jackson, the NAACP and the world in general, I'd like to think, would have gone out of their heads. Any other ethnicity and a hit would have been taken out on Stefani, or at least her recording career. But for some reason, if it's Asians—cute, little Asians—we let it slide. Which explains why Stefani's use of human accessories has been barely criticized, objections limited to the occasional irate blogger.

The Harajuku girls were a component of nearly all of Stefani's publicity stops and showed up in her videos, too, portraying swashbuckling pirates in "Rich Girl" and ghetto cheerleaders in "Hollaback Girl." While Stefani clunked around in high heels, the Harajuku girls padded around diminutively barefoot behind her. To top it off, it's heavily rumored that the four were prohibited from speaking English in public.

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Asiaphilia is not limited to women, but it takes on a different form when it's applied to men. Gay Asian men have their own genre of racial obsessives known as rice queens.

Jayson has resisted revealing his homosexuality to friends and family, not because he is Japanese American, but because he is the son of a Seventh-Day Adventist minister and fears the scorn of eternal-damnation-and-hellfire-preaching peers. Only Jayson's closest friends know the truth.

So it was that he met Julian, a Chinese American, in April of last year while cruising, a website patronized by bisexuals, the bi-curious, trannies, lesbians, gays and their hags. They chatted for a month before Jayson decided to visit Julian in New York. He scored a standby ticket for a redeye to JFK and arrived in Manhattan on a Thursday night. Both men nervously anticipated their face-to-face meeting, but Jayson completed the 2,700-mile trip to Julian's apartment in Queens so late that they barely exchanged words. He crashed on the downstairs couch.

They got acquainted late the next day, going to Koreatown for barbecued spare ribs and awkward conversation, then took a train to a karaoke place in Flushing, where they got completely trashed on imported beer and sake. They headed back to Manhattan and a bar called The Web, so well-known as the destination for gay Asians that recommends the place if "you have a fetish for the Far East."

Jayson and Julian paid the remarkably affordable $10 cover, ambled down a stairwell and headed for the bar. Two Irish Car Bombs and a shot of tequila later, they hit the dance floor. Things heated up fast, and as a Basement Jaxx remix thumped, Jayson soon found himself against the sticky club wall with Julian rhythmically thrusting, humping and grinding against him. It was Jayson's first same-sex public display of affection, but even drunk, he was worried that someone was watching and would tell his conservative Christian parents.

Someone was watching: a white guy in his 50s stood no more than five feet away in one of those designer vintage tees you buy at Barney's. He was staring at them, mouth slightly agape. He ran his hands through his thinning hair and smoothed out his shirt before jamming his hands into the pockets of his jeans.

"Wow. That was really hot," he shouted over the music, edging closer. And then, putting one arm against the wall and leaning in, he confidently asked, "Can I join in?"

Jayson blinked at the intruder, assessing his age, his beer belly and his disturbing resemblance to Steve Buscemi. After an uncomfortable moment, Julian finally replied, "Uh, no, we're good."

The rice queen shrugged.

"He was strangely chill about it," says Jayson now, still unnerved. "Like he'd done it before."

Their mood broken, Jayson and Julian moved to a nearby worn, crushed-velvet couch and looked around the now-packed club. While The Web was mostly filled with young Asians and Asian Americans, there was also the noticeable presence of a handful of balding, mostly overweight white men. They stood along the outskirts of the dance floor, drinks in hand, trying to look nonchalant.

Rice queens are apt to approach any Asian man, but Jayson and Julian noticed that some tended to target the younger-looking males in the crowd, and usually those who were Southeast Asian.

"I think it's because the Southeast is even more exotic to them," Jayson says. "They figure, 'Those countries is pooooooooo, so the boys must be enamored by this glorious western lifestyle.'"

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