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The search for Fukuoka’s most talented foreigner brought over 700 people to the Fukuoka Now Lounge on September 17 to watch eight gaijin sing, dance, rap, play guitar, and vogue before a panel of judges.
The first ever Gaijin Idol competition, inspired by the Idol TV shows in which aspiring pop stars risk public embarrassment for a shot at fame, featured performers as diverse as Fukuoka itself. The evening offered the kind of lively conversation, gorgeous night views, and fun and stylish atmosphere that define Now Lounge parties. The Idol hopefuls—several in elaborate costumes—shared their excitement about the contest. For some, it was a chance not only to win fame and a free trip to Thailand, but also to share their culture.
A panel of judges–radio and TV personality Yu Shiba, Fukuoka Foreign Talent Club owner Pixie Garnaut, Sfpglobal Services Art Director Rod Sebaoon, and Fukuoka Now’s own Nick Szasz–offered their advice to the would-be Idols. Sebaoon said that more than appearance, he looked for “taidou, or attitude” in the contestants. He paid close attention to the way each person moved, because, as he said, “the body cannot lie.”
It was first-time performer Jovana who was triumphant, thanks not to beginner’s luck but to unmistakable talent and stage presence. On winning the premiere edition of Gaijin Idol, she said, “There were many talented people in this competition, and I am sorry that they all couldn’t win. But at least I hope they had as much fun as I did!” With her first prize of free flights to Bangkok, Jovana plans to visit Thailand in the winter and escape Fukuoka’s cold weather. Her goal for the trip is to take her son to an elephant nature park and spend a few days learning about the animals. “For me,” she said, “there is nothing better than to make my family happy!”