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Jack's not so nasty

By: Christopher Lynagh

Date Posted: 1998-07-30

On Sunday, Katsuhiro Kawamitsu will make his fifteenth appearance at the annual Peaceful Love Rock Festival. "I missed out on the first one," he explains. "It was only a small party with only one group performing!"

Kachan as he is better known, has dazzled Okinawa for the past thirty years with his own brand of shock rock. It all started when as a teen, he heard live jazz at Kadena Air Base. He remembers thinking, "I can do that," so at age twenty one, he formed his first group, 'Whispers' followed by 'Condition Green' and 'Zig Zag.' Presently he is the front man to 'Borderless,' who rehearse and perform at Jack Nasty's, his well known bar on Kadena Gate 2 Street.

There, mannequin limbs dangle from the ceiling and the rest rooms are indicated by drawings of genitalia. Videos are shown of Kachan's antics over the years, including a sequence where he defecates underwater. "I bit off a snake's head once and popped it in a glass of beer. I drank some and then offered it to the crowd. I used to get naked, expose myself and piss into a glass, but people stopped coming." Prudently, he now confines himself to smoking through his nose and sticking pins into his face.

On his business card he projects a fearsome image. Beneath the words ‘Jack Nasty's Neanderthal’ is an illustration of a bearded man wearing sunglasses and a black hat. The mouth is open as if screaming, an obvious rendition of Kachan himself.

Those who know him well realize that there is a much gentler soul underneath. Rick Howell, a friend, explained, "He's a very kind individual. He does wild stuff for the shock factor. You need to see him when he's sailing his boat. One on one, he's different."

His apartment balcony has a view of Kadena Marina where his boat is moored. "I like sailing very much and go whenever the weather permits," he confesses. The balcony has tatami mats on which he lays some evenings to look at the stars. Sometimes he sleeps there. "I like nature, it relaxes me. Being around lots of people can be stressful," he says.

His wild reputation takes a toll on his private life. "I'm lonely, so I go out driving to enjoy nature. It would be nice to go with a lady, but women are scared by what I do on stage."

The performances, he believes, are a way of inspiring people to follow their dreams. "When they see the energy it takes to do what I do, then maybe some of them will keep going until they reach their own goals."

Certainly, whatever Kachan does this Sunday at the Peaceful Love Rock Concert, his band promises to be a crowd. Watching the band perform, Jack Harrison of South Carolina was visibly impressed. "They are as good as anything I've seen in Tokyo. It takes a lot of practice to get that good!"

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