The Weird Reality Of Being A Naked Sushi Model

Nyotaimori is the traditional Japanese practice of serving sushi on a naked model. The 21st Century, Western version is more about bachelor parties and corporate events. We spoke to sushi model Charlotte* to find out exactly how weird it is to be a human sushi platter...

The Weird Reality Of Being A Naked Sushi Model

by Gareth May |

Nyotaimori is the practice of serving sushi on a naked model – utilizing the female form, although not always, as a kind of human platter. Finding its origins in the geisha houses of premodern Japan, as a reward for victorious samurai returning from the battlefield, in more modern days nyotaimori has been used by the yakuza, when presumably an errant chopstick was the least of one’s fears.

The Western reproduction of this oriental food play/dining experience mash up takes on a (in theory) less nefarious form. A twist on the far more prudish buffet, body sushi is a popular centre piece at bachelor parties and corporate events. We wonder why? I caught up with Charlotte* (*name changed), a naked sushi model for Nyotaimori Experience, the number one body sushi party providers in the US serving raw fish on raw human from LA to Tampa since 2004.

Hi Charlotte. When people ask what you do for a living, what do you say?

Really, anything goes when it comes to how people, including myself, describe my job. It all depends on whom I'm speaking to when I'm trying to explain it. The most ‘proper’ would be a nyotaimori model, but then I end up using sushi model and human platter too to further explain. I'm selective whom I tell, but when I do, it's always a conversation starter.

What are the best things about being a nyotaimori model?

The best things about sushi modeling is the money and the excitement. I'm an only child so I thrive off of the attention. Another one of my favorite parts is to talk to the guests when they come over. Some of the things they say are super outlandish, while others awkwardly pick away at the pieces they'd like without saying anything at all. I honestly enjoy watching people's reactions.

… and the worst?

Lying in the same position for two to three hours and sometimes in a cold environment. Everything gets stiff. In one instance, when the party was thrown in a popup tent in Baltimore during the winter, towards the end, which was almost three hours, the other model and I were literally shivering sushi off of us.

Are you fully naked or are parts of your body covered?

I’m fully naked, but with a sticky half thong that spans from the front and underneath to the lower of my back (this is so you can't see any underwear lines to give the perception that we're fully nude). Chef Mark [the founder of Nyotaimori Experience] then uses a flower, or leaves, to conceal the partial thong. On the top region, we’re just covered with leaves or an orange slice.

So is nyotaimori mostly about the sushi or the naked body?

In Chef Mark’s perspective it’s mainly about the sushi. Sushi is his passion and nyotaimori is one of the ways he creates art with his sushi and sets himself apart. For the guests, I believe it’s more about the naked body. They're always so interested in how it feels and what I'm thinking while I'm doing it.

…and what are you thinking when you’re doing it?

'Oh my God, this is crazy, I can't wait to do this again.'

Are the clientele generally polite?

The guests are usually polite. Aside from the occasional jealous wife, which I encountered during one of our parties. Some guests love to ask questions and because I can't really go anywhere, I just take everyone’s comments with a grain of salt.

The guests talk to you?

Do they ever! Almost every person is beyond interested in everything to do with it. Am I cold? Am I nervous? Can I take this piece here by your boob? Are you sure? How’d you get into this? They basically would ask me every question if they had enough time.

…and have you ever had a guest get a little bit fruity?

To my knowledge, no one has gotten aroused…and if they did, they would probably attempt to hide it. These parties aren’t as sexual as most people probably perceive them to be. They're just a fun way to include something different and unique to an event.

Can you talk me through a typical nyotaimori event?

Prep includes travel, making sure everything is trimmed properly, hair, and makeup. Typical sessions last around one to one and half hours, but some can be longer depending on the event.

The evening begins with meeting somewhere beforehand to do hair and makeup (about an hour for each girl). We then travel together (Chef Mark, his sous chef, and the models) to our event destination. Once the table is set up and ready to go, the models change into their strapless thongs and robes. At the table, we quickly de-robe and both chefs begin to cover up any naughty bits with leaves. Then the placement of the sushi begins.

The most awkward part (and the part I think people want to see the most) is when we get up to put our robes back on. We don't wear pasties or anything on our nipples that will stay, so we basically just suck it up and whoever gets a quick flash, more power to you. We then go back to wherever we change and get back into our normal clothes and head out.

What do you do if you get an itch?

Depending where it is, I can slowly move to try to get it. But most of the time I have to call the sous chef over and ask her to do it for me. It's pretty funny, especially because everyone else is aware of what’s going on since she has to temporarily intervene with anyone who’s in line.

How much do you get paid?

I'd rather not say, because each event and each model is different. But what I will say is that it’s worth it.

Is it about the money more than the thrill?

It’s both. When Chef Mark first approached me, it was to just do a photo shoot for his new company. I had so much fun doing the shoot that we started working parties together and they are definitely thrilling. Nyotaimori is super fun – not something most people get to say they’ve ever done. I have the craziest bucket list and I'm happy to have checked this one off of it.

** You might also be interested in: **

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Follow Gareth on Twitter @GarethMay

This article originally appeared on The Debrief.

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