32 Comments

This one time when I was drunk, I went to the Banana Show.

I had intended to space out my this-one-time-when-I-was-drunk stories so it would seem like I’m not a total lush (which is a lie).  However, I received some bittersweet news today that conjured up a fond memory: The Banana Show lady died about a month ago.

Now before I tell the story, let me fill you in on what the Banana Show is:  Reliable sources are scarce, so I’m just going to repeat the things I’ve heard.  The Banana Show has been going on since the World War II era (A Facebook friend of a Facebook friend commented that his grandfather saw the show during WWII).  In the show, an Okinawan woman slides a banana up her cooch, cuts it into pieces and tries to get drunk marines to eat it.

This would all be disturbing enough, but the woman who performs the show is really old.  It is said that the original banana lady trained another girl to do the show as well–a daughter, a niece, a granddaughter–some relative as the rumor goes.  I’m not sure if the one who died on December 30th was still the original, but I’d be willing to bet it was the replacement.  Anyway, it’s supposed to be a sex show, except the old lady who performs is older than my grandparents, making it a freak show that’s more likely to cause shriveling than arousal.  The Banana Show’s target demographic is drunk Americans.

The Banana Show Lady

The Banana Show lady terrorizes some poor guy with her snakes.

And a drunk American is exactly what I was that night.  My friend Aaron’s wife and kids had already moved to their new home back in the states, and he was soon to follow, so it was one of our last nights to hang out while he was still in Okinawa.  Aaron’s wife had been to the Banana Show on a girls’ night out, but he hadn’t been yet and neither had I.  Thus our plan for the evening was to see the Banana Show.  We kicked off the evening with a few pregame beers before we walked out Kadena Gate 2.

On the way down Route 20, better known as Gate 2 Street, we stopped by First Chance, one of the first bars out the gate, to get ourselves sufficiently inebriated for the evening ahead of us.  When we got there I learned that my favorite cantankerous bartender, Nami, was no longer working there.  Fortunately, Masami, the cute one, was still there.  She made us a free round of Kamikazes because I remembered her name and had asked about Nami.  Aaron bought a round of Snake Bites, and we had a few beers, too.

Nami just slapped me.

Nami, my favorite bartender ever, just slapped me for getting fresh. (I had asked for a hug.)

When we finished up at First Chance, Aaron and I decided it was time to do it:  We were finally going to see the Banana Show.  We turned a left at the corner after the Richie Rich clothing store, and halfway down the block several old Japanese ladies asked us if we wanted to see a show.  They tried to charge us each 2000 yen, but we haggled them down to 1000.  The old ladies showed us to our table in a seedy North Korea-esque bar scene.  While we waited for them to bring our drinks, I drank in my surroundings: we were seated next to a small stage with a dingy curtain at the back and some crappy speakers up front.  And it may just be my drunk memory playing tricks on me, but it sure seemed like there were old communist propaganda posters on the walls.  The ladies returned with Jacks and Cokes, but I tried to send mine back since I’d ordered my Jack straight.  They just left it at the table for Aaron to drink and brought me another.

Afterwards, two of the old ladies sat down next to us and got a little touchy-feely.  After some unintelligibly accented small talk, the ladies walked back outside to the street to bring in three more hapless victims.  Later Aaron found he was missing the money he’d saved for a cab, and my ID card was nowhere to be found when we went back in the gate several hours later.  Still more time dragged on before the show started, and Aaron conversed with the three young airmen who had just come in.  I don’t remember very much about them.  One of them was the belligerent drunk type who told us how much more badass his job was than ours, and another was a friendly drunk type who offered to buy us a round if we met up with him at Fujiyama’s after the show.

Several minutes later, the show began.  The old Japanese music that played seemed better suited to come from a phonograph than the speakers up on the stage, and the wrinkled, boxy old woman who had emerged from the curtains swayed in time to it.  She dropped a bottle and a cluster of brand-stickered bananas that looked as if she’d just picked them up at the local Kanehide on the way in.  While she danced, she undid her top and flopped out an old lady tit so she could shake it in Aaron’s face.  It was much scarier than the pair of snakes she produced in the following part of the act, but it was the snakes that made Aaron recoil when she waved those in his face.  Next she pulled out a stack of quarters and set them neatly on top of the bottle.  She lifted her skirt to expose her wrinkled, hairy old lady vagina and squatted down to swallow up the change.  One audience member was asked to produce a dollar so she could make change, and she deposited four quarters right in front of him.  Then she plinked the rest of them one at a time into a small box.  Finally, she picked up the bananas and peeled one before sucking it up into her meat curtains.  When I say sucking, I mean that her vagina quite literally sucked it up in there.  Thankfully, nobody in the crowd was willing to eat the banana when she offered, so she just chopped it into little pieces that she dropped all over the stage.  It actually looked more like she was having a bowel movement than demonstrating the might of her kegels.  She did several more bananas that way before finally calling it a night.  The whole experience was about as sexual as witnessing the miracle of birth–in the way that it ruins your mental image of the lady flower.

Kanehide

Kanehide is a grocery chain in Japan

Afterwards, we staggered over to Fujiyama’s to meet up with the guy who’d offered to buy us a round, and the rest of the evening is fuzzy.  I vaguely recall trying to get back in the gate, discovering that my ID was missing, and having to have Aaron sign me in to get a pass.  I got home, crawled into bed to snuggle up next to my wife Danielle, and regaled her with this tale the following morning.

I’m glad to be one of the people in this world who was witnessed this tradition–this unusual and unmentionable piece of G.I. history here in the Pacific.  I hadn’t planned to ever go again, but now that I can’t anymore, I’m a little disappointed.  People have been asking if she had a replacement, but her dingy little bar was getting cleaned out this week, with a full removal of furniture and equipment, so if they do plan to keep going, some serious renovation must be going on.  I secretly hope Fire Yoko moves in to take her place.

Rest in peace, Banana Show lady.

32 comments on “This one time when I was drunk, I went to the Banana Show.

  1. damn you in okinawa lol
    i thought about writing about life here in okinawa guess some one beat me too it oh well :P

    • Go for it! We may be in the same place, but I’m sure we’ve got different perspectives on it. Make sure you get all the good Engrish pics on your phone; the readers love that stuff.

  2. I went there twice. Once with bunch of people and once with the girls. The one with girls was second time and some hadn’t seen it. When I went first time some dumb drunk went up there and she chopped the bananas up and dropped them in his mouth. She also pulled his penis out to suck it a little. OMG I bet he never heard the end of that!!

  3. How incredibly weird! No wonder no one wanted to eat the banana!

  4. I was wondering if they still has shows because I can not find the location, an someone please tell the location/hours? Would like to go out with a bunch of friends. Thank you

    • I hate to say it, Jackie, but you’re out of luck. When the banana lady passed away, they cleared out her bar, and the show is closed. If you’re trying to find something similar, one of my friends is a DJ who spins at Ando, which hosts a traveling act by Fire Yoko. I’ve never been to that one, but from what I hear, it’s much more impressive, and the lady is a little better to look at.

  5. It is amazing to me that you all are talking about the banana show. I was there
    from 75 to 77. I lived in Koza with one of the girls from the Moonlighter (BC St).
    I think Koza is now Okinawa City? and worked up at the Hanza site in Yomitan. Anyway, back on topic. I was told that I had seen the original banana show.
    It was done at the Moonlighter. The star of the show was much younger than what you guys are describing. My girlfriend, who worked at the Moonlighter, introduced
    me to her right after a show. In that show Marines where falling over each other trying to get a bit of the banana. She went by the name of “Dump Truck”. I asked her why.
    She said “it’s because I am tough and nasty”. I never went to see her show again.

    Some of the bars that existed at that time on Gate 2 Street were:
    Club Boston, The 19th Hole, The Gypsy, The Nighter just to name a few.

    Anyone have any photos of the mid 70’s period?

    • I think you’re right that Koza is now Okinawa City. I live in Okinawa City, but a lot of places there still have “Koza” in the name. The bars you named are all gone now, or else they have changed their names. I don’t have any photos from the 70’s but I’ve seen some at the prefecture museum in Naha. Based on that, you probably wouldn’t even recognize the place.
      I love these stories. I’m glad people stop by here to leave their comments about them. I’m a little sad to have caught the show in its twilight years, because it must have been pretty crazy back in the day.

      • Hey Tony. I lived on Agaeda Street, down by the high school. I also lived at the
        Lancer Hotel for a while. That was on the main drag in Koza. Maromi Street?

      • This is pretty bad, Tom, but I actually don’t even know the name of the street I live on. If it’s not a main road with a number, I don’t know what any of them are called.

      • Ha Ha. I had to know the street name so I could tell the taxi driver where to turn off the main road to get to the apartment. I couldnt tell you the building # though.

  6. do you remember wisper alley, fucky, sucky, five bucky?

  7. I don’t know what is better/worse – the story or the comments you’ve received in the last year.

    I’m pretty sure I snorted this teeny box of wine through my nose at least six times while reading both.

    1. I’m laughing and incredulous that you went to such a show.
    2. I may be slightly jealous, because it seems like the kind of think I’d have such a great time doing while drunk that I’d want to blog about it, as well.
    3. Seriously, that last comment (KPO’s), ZOMG CAN NOT STOP LAUGHING!
    4. I had so many other things to say but DRUNK so can’t remember them.
    5. I am still laughing that you got slapped after asking for a hug. Hee!
    6. Ask Danielle if she cares if you day drink next Saturday. I’m thinking I can arrange Rat Race for (my) Friday night, and it totally isn’t the same without you.
    7. I’ve run out of points, I just like typing numbers at this point.
    8. “in the way that it ruins your mental image of the lady flower” HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!
    <3

    • I’m glad that you are so organized in your inebriated commenting! I’ll see what I can do for day drinking on Saturday. I think it will be okay because we’re planning to do that day as Christmas before we leave the island on leave (mostly so we can give the kids gifts that will shut them up on the airplane).

  8. Thank you for reposting this, because I would NEVER have seen it, and I am laughing so hard I just snorted soda up my nose. Ouch. OUCH.

    When I was in Amsterdam I think we got invited to something similar to this by some weird street-huckster in the Red Light District, but we got the giggles and ran away. I should have stuck around. Future blogging GOLD, baby.

    (I like how clinical this all seemed for the lady. “Now I pick up the quarters! Now I chop up the banana! Now I go home and watched dubbed reruns of ‘Night Court!'”)

    • Haha! Glad you enjoyed it! It seemed appropriate to repost because I had to think up a lot of euphemisms for “cunt”. It’s funny that you point out how normal this must have been for her. I guess you’ve gotta play to your talents and find a gig that pays the bills, huh? RIP, Banana Lady.

  9. I was a marine stationed on Okinawa (Camp Kinser and Camp Foster) back in 1995. I seen the banana show on Christmas morning 1994, what a merry Christmas that was! She shot a banana chunk at my buddy and it landed on his table, he looked at it with a startled look on his face and got up and went to a table a little farther from the stage, lmao! That morning some drunk air force guy ate the banana for his Christmas present.

    Lol @ KPO and Tom asking about Whisper Alley, it was $20 bucks when I was there…
    A little window would open up and you would her in a whisper “Hey GI twenty bucks”

    There was a place called the Naha Music Factory better known as the Stage. Is that establishment still around? I remember they had dancers from South America and you could roll some big fuzzy dice to be the lucky guy to go up on stage and do the nasty with the dancer. The end of the stage had a revolving turntable where you would lie on your back and she would give a blowjob and put a condom on you. The third song is when the lucky guy would do the nasty. I never went on stage but some of my buddies did, it was a crazy and wild vibe in that place. The best were the older Okinawan men who would blow their load after about three or four pumps, lmao! Drinking a beer and watching people have sex right in front of you was a fun way to end a night out on the town.

    • Haha, most of those places have different names now, and they’re on the list of banned establishments. I’ve heard about a few illicit places in recent years, but I haven’t been to anything crazier than the banana show.

  10. I know those places were crazy but those experiences were nothing but a small slice of what I did on Okinawa. I stayed in the city the whole year, I never went farther north than Camp Hansen.

    Banned establishments huh? Now that’s funny! What did they say “Detrimental to good behavior?” When I PCS’d or rotated from Okinawa to Camp Lejeune my buddy and I went to a Carolina cat house and the next Monday morning I noticed the commander of Camp Lejeune banned the establishment for marines, lol…

    Back to Okinawa, you know what I miss? I miss eating taco rice (takeout of course) and washing it down with a cold can of Orion beer while sitting on the Sunabe Seawall and watching a sunset on the East China Sea.

    • I just moved into a sweet little bachelor pad about a block from the Sunabe Seawall. I usually get Orion on tap at about any of the places within a short walk and take the scenic route back home. Also got my little Japanese girl who comes to visit a lot because of my prime location, haha!

  11. Wooo. Brings back memory’s. I was there 88 to 90. I remember it well, and I also remember whisper alley. The Naha music factory was the best In okinawa, but none of it compared to the TDY at Clark AB, Angeles City pi…….those were some memories I still talk about till this day

  12. I liked Tsubohachi outside gate 2 street. Is it still there?

    • The TDY stories are always the best! I don’t think Tsubohachi is there anymore. A lot of other bars, clubs, and businesses have come and gone in the area. I recently moved over to Sunabe and my favorite place here is Beer Rize. It’s walking distance from my house with a craft beers on tap from mainland Japan and other places around the world, and they also have some good scotches. Somehow, I don’t think it was there back in ’88, though.

  13. You should have seen the girl doing the bananna show 40 years a go. Guys were fighting for them nan slices.

  14. I remember that Dan. I first saw the show in 76 at the Moonlighter Club on BC.

    The marines were going nuts grabbing up those slices.

  15. Banana show still exists its the next street over from gate 2 street. the street whee deja vu is. clun member or member club something like that. the old ladies sit outside and try to get you to come in. negioate you can get in for $10

  16. 4Bn 12th Marines Camp Foster Okinawa. Fond memories.

  17. there is actually a video of the banana show on youtube!

  18. I was in Okinawa from 11/2003 to 10/2006 and I saw the banana show with some coworkers of mine. I am actually a lil sad to know that the banana lady has died. Does anyone know when she died? Thanks.

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