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February 19, 2014

Short Cuts - Jennifer Sky "Queen of the Tokyo Ballroom"

Queen of the Tokyo Ballroom

In the Short Cuts series, writers discuss how a single song relates to their recently published short story or essay.

Jennifer Sky's Queen of the Tokyo Ballroom is acutely and intensely told, the story of the author's time as a fifteen year-old model in Japan.

Interview magazine wrote of the book:

"Sky's descriptions pop with Tokyo's blinding futurism and fast paced energy to create a gorgeous nightmare of a city. Her vulnerable honesty is touching, aching, full of feeling and the intelligent hindsight of an adult."

In her own words, here is Jennifer Sky's Short Cuts piece for her book, Queen of the Tokyo Ballroom:

Modeling and Music

My new book, Queen of the Tokyo Ballroom is set in 1992. As girl of fifteen, I was given the opportunity to travel to Japan and be a model. Instead of glamour and success, I found myself caught up in fashion's darker underground. I had already been modeling on and off for almost a year—my mother agency was based in South Beach—but nothing I had previously experience prepared me for Japan. Fashion was exploding globally. American designers were coming into their own. Leaving behind the ultra-suede-ness of the 70's, ready-wear had run through the power-suit, shoulder-padded 80s into the plaid-shirted-granny-dress-wearing early 90s. With it came a new hybrid of punk: grunge rock. I was from a small town in Florida, and so, the new tunes coming out of Seattle had a whole country to crawl over before reaching us. Instead, my tape deck still rotated the swoony moods of Depeche Mode, The Cure, Jesus Jones, Erasure, Peter Gabriel and The Smiths. My roommate for my Tokyo trip, Lisa, was another teenage girl from the West Coast of Florida. Her father owned a radio station, and so, among her usual teenage girl things were boxes of tapes: of which my favorites were Duran Duran, Concrete Blonde and Seal. While Concrete Blonde's Bloodletting would become my anthem as I trekked the streets of New York when I moved there the following summer, it was Seal's self-titled album Seal that ran on repeat in our small Tokyo flat. When Lisa left only two weeks later, as a consolation to her too-soon parting, she gifted me with a selection of cassettes. And so, I found myself alongside a mysterious European man, driving to a house in the mountains, with the now familiar sounds of Seal's song "Crazy" playing on his imported auto's stereo. As Seal's synthetic rhythms rose, we drove higher and higher, skirting the coast. "We're never going to survive unless we get a little crazy." "In a sky full of people." "We're never going to survive unless we get a little crazy." My Tokyo life had become just that: spontaneous, outside of the status quo, crazy.

Jennifer Sky and Queen of the Tokyo Ballroom links:

the author's website
the author's Facebook page
excerpt from the book
buy the book at Atavist

Interview Magazine interview with the author
Reddit interview with the author

also at Largehearted Boy:

Other Short Cuts pieces (writers relate one song to their short story or essay)

Book Notes (2012 - ) (authors create music playlists for their book)
Book Notes (2005 - 2011) (authors create music playlists for their book)
my 11 favorite Book Notes playlist essays

100 Online Sources for Free and Legal Music Downloads
Antiheroines (interviews with up and coming female comics artists)
Atomic Books Comics Preview (weekly comics highlights)
Daily Downloads (free and legal daily mp3 downloads)
guest book reviews
Largehearted Word (weekly new book highlights)
musician/author interviews
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
Shorties (daily music, literature, and pop culture links)
Soundtracked (composers and directors discuss their film's soundtracks)
weekly music release lists