A Seattle restaurant is serving up ‘naked sushi’ every Saturday night. It’s a $10 cover charge to eat sushi, served on top of an almost-naked woman.
"Naked Sushi" is an idea that some say began years ago in Japan. It was featured in the 1993 film, “Rising Sun.”
Now Bonzai, a Seattle restaurant, is serving it up every Saturday night. The gimmick? The food is naked and so are the women. One of seven volunteer models takes 30-minute shifts as the serving platter. Women are wearing a thong, some plastic wrap, and not much else.
For the restaurant’s manager, it’s a promotional thing. “It gives people something to talk about,” says Danny Park, manager of Bonzai.
And people are talking, some of them, loudly.
“This is definitely not harmless,” says Norma Timbang, the executive director of the Asian and Pacific Islander Women and Family Safety Center. “We are saying to men that it’s OK to perpetrate the objectification of women. It’s OK to treat women as if she is an object, and it’s OK to forget that she’s a human being. I think that’s the wrong message to send.”
“It’s not a sexist thing and I’m not trying to just objectify women,” says promoter Cheresa Nemitt. “It’s tastefully done — no pun intended.”
And according to the manager, it’s more than just dinner. It’s... art?
“The chefs in a way related their presentation of food as art,” says Park. “And she’s part of that art. I guess that’s what we were going for, something that people can take with them.”
“If it is performance art than it should be marketed as art, in a gallery,” says Timbang. “Any artist must be responsible for what kind of message they are sending to society. What we see a lot, and there are many studies about this, is that this is connected directly to sexist attitudes. This is connected to the perpetration of dating violence.”
The restaurant manager says Saturday night business has doubled since they have started naked sushi. They will continue serving as long as the models feel comfortable. Women safety advocates say, if this idea spreads to other cities, they are prepared to fight it at the national level.
The manager says that someday, there may be a male model as well. Until then, careful with those chopsticks.
This was Monday’s No. 1 story on ‘Countdown with Keith Olbermann.’ ‘Countdown’ airs weeknights, 8 p.m. ET