She is a mixture of talent from hosting TV shows to writing books – La Carmina is someone who is not ready to settle for the quiet life anytime soon: “Most of my career paths came about by stumbling upon them, and taking them as far as they could go.” With a vast knowledge of quirky places to eat in Tokyo and a cute style inspired by the streets of Harajuku, we caught up with the professional blogger to talk all
You’re a TV host, professional blogger and journalist, but began by writing books. Why did you decide to start writing books in the first place? Most of my career paths came about by stumbling upon them, and taking them as far as they could go. Growing up, I never aimed to be an author. However, writing was always a favourite means of expression. When I was studying at Columbia University, I learned how to write a book proposal during an internship. On a whim, I submitted my proposal to a publisher and they loved it which turned into a book deal. I realised I enjoyed the process of bringing a book to fruition. When my La Carmina blog caught the attention of a literary agent, I ended up doing two more: Cute Yummy Time and Crazy, Wacky Theme Restaurants: Tokyo.
When did your love for Japanese culture come about? My family is from Hong Kong, so we frequently travelled to Asia when I was a child. I felt at home among the cute, vibrant pop culture – I owned quite a few Hello Kitty toys! Later, as a teen, I identified with Tokyo’s Harajuku Goths and electric street fashion. I began playing with subculture styles, and exploring theme restaurants and kawaii culture. This led to the spooky world I inhabit today.
One of the things that you have done for TV (and for books) is to find unusual and bizarre places to eat in Tokyo. Did you have any particular favourites? I took Andrew Zimmern to Alcatraz E.R. in Shibuya for Travel Channel’s Bizarre Foods. We were handcuffed and locked behind bars. The food consisted of chemical flasks, Russian Roulette takoyaki and red slush inside a mannequin’s head. There are photos of this haunted jail in my book, Crazy Wacky Theme Restaurants: Tokyo. I also love the restaurants with monkey waiters, and cat cafes.
I felt at home among the cute, vibrant pop culture – I owned quite a few Hello Kitty toys!
Japanese street style is iconic around the world, especially thanks to Fruits magazine. Why do you think the Japanese style has become so influential? I think it’s a breath of fresh air. The decora accessories, candy pastels and aristocrat Goth gowns are a world apart from what you’ll find in Western malls. A lot of young people grow up watching anime and reading manga, and identify with the Japanese fashion depicted in these works.
Want to read more? Check out issue 17 for the rest of the interview!
Copyright Vanity magazine 2012
Words: AJ // Photos: Jesse Winter Heading
Assistants & stylists: Alena Shason, Diana Heading & Sean Lenihan
Hair accessories by Kreepsville 666, corset is by Wilde Hunt and
dress is by Heavy Red