Haikus With Hotties, the alluring and poetic brainchild of writer, editor and Asian arts/culture enthusiast Ada Tseng, celebrates Asian male hotness in all forms. After the haiku interview series launched in 2013 with TV/film actor and Louis Vuitton model Godfrey Gao, “Haikus With Hotties” released its first calendar in 2016 following a successful Kickstarter campaign. The campaign’s video gave an amusing, tongue-in-cheek explanation of Tseng’s research as a Professor of Hotness on haiku and hot men. In a post this year called “How I Became a Pretend Expert on Hot Asian American Men” she also shares some of the serious reasons why the calendar celebrates the hotness of Asian men:
This kind of swooning over viscerally hot Asian men is very common on the other side of the globe, where they are often mobbed by fangirls at airports, but it’s very rarely seen in American pop culture, where even in 2016, Asian men onscreen are often desexualized. Statistics show Asian American men are still consistently rated the least attractive by non-Asian women on dating websites like OKCupid.
The 2016 calendar featured Hari Kondabolu, Saksham Ghai, and 12 more hot Asian men answering haiku-format questions with haikus of their own. 2017 brings a new year and a new twist — Haikus On Hotties — with haikus creatively placed on the hotties selected for the new calendar. Today is the last day of Kickstarter campaign for the 2017 calendar. Funds raised will cover production and labor costs, while all profits will go to the award-winning blog on Asian America, Angry Asian Man. After successfully meeting its initial fundraising goals, the campaign updated its page with additional goals and incentives for those who wish to support the project.
Six men have been announced for the 2017 calendar, and more will be announced before the calendar’s release this November. The Hotties selected so far include celebrity chef Ronnie Woo, health and fitness advocate Kenta Seki, model Justin Kim (the first Asian male contestant on America’s Next Top Model) and public radio host Sean Rameswaram (WNYC). Ada Tseng says Rameswaram is basically the reason she Kickstarted the calendar in the first place — she was inspired by this episode from Sideshow, his podcast about art and culture.
Tseng kindly put us in touch with two of the 2017 calendar’s men to ask them all about their hotness. Vishavjit Singh is the cartoonist behind Sikhtoons, and he’s also a Sikh Captain America. Gerrard Lobo is an actor who appeared on Master of None playing the role of Anush. Thank you to both Hotties for entertaining these questions from me and Rohin Guha.
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How does it feel to be one of the hot men featured in the Haikus On Hotties 2017 Calendar?
Vishavjit: For me it is an utter surprise to be part of this group. Never in my entire life has the word hot been used to label me except when I have ran high fever So I am flattered to the fullest to be part of this stereotype busting group.
Gerrard: If you look closely at the pics, you’ll see me blushing.
Do you work at being hot or does it come naturally to you?
Vishavjit: Neither! I am just that outlier defying explanation.
Gerrard: Aside from basic grooming and working out, I can’t take credit for the way I look. Thanks mom and dad
What would you say is your hottest feature?
Vishavjit: I am not the one to be answering this question. I have never used the word hot when talking about myself. So lets just say it’s a secret that the beholder gets to guess and settle upon after they scan me with their antennas.
Gerrard: I’m an expert at reading body language. Like this one time on a snowy winter day in NYC, I was rushing to get inside a coffee shop and sort of cut in front of an attractive woman who I thought was letting me pass as she was exiting. When I realized that wasn’t the case I said, “So sorry, my bad” and she flipped me off as she left. I knew instantly she wouldn’t be interested.
What is your personal motto?
Vishavjit: The seeds of doing good reside in all of us even within the most despicable of characters.
Gerrard: Treat others how you’d like to be treated…don’t be a d*ck.
What do you do for fun?
Gerrard: Play my ukulele, karaoke, cooking.
Who are some of your favorite poets and/or authors?
Vishavjit: Among poets my favorites are two playful minds, the 13th-century Persian poet known as Hafiz and Shel Silverstein. Authors are led by the pack of Oliver Sacks, Edwin Abbott (Flatland – one of the greatest books) and Herman Hesse (Siddhartha – another gem).
Gerrard: T.S. Eliot, Joseph Campbell, Steven Pressfield, Hemingway, J.K. Rowling, Stephen King, and Langston Hughes.
What constitutes being “hot” in your opinion?
Vishavjit: We are programmed to think of this word predominantly tied to human aesthetics. Honestly, I don’t use this word in my own personal lexicon for that very reason. Of course this calendar changes the status quo for me. Hotness is all around us. It helps to close our eyes to really feel the hot people, the real movers and shakers whose actions inspire us to be better versions of our own selves.
Gerrard: Someone who piques all my five senses 😉
What do you think about the pop culture figures in American culture who have redefined the definition of “hot” in the mainstream? Who are your favorites?
Vishavjit: For me pop cultural figures who have had to go through personal battles with their percieved sense of beauty or lack thereof are the real winners here. I would have to say the Dustin Hoffman, Mindy Kaling, Lupita Nyong, Gabourey Sidibe just to name a few.
Gerrard: My pop culture knowledge is definitely wanting. See above answer.
Who, in your mind, is a hottie deserving of a haiku in the future?
Vishavjit: Oh boy! Trying to think of someone who is beyond everyone’s radar. In the meantime lets break the rules of Asian Hotties and write a haiku for Barack Obama.
Gerrard: Alan Yang, the showrunner of Master of None, is a classy, handsome devil.
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