“Oh, it’s me, Johnny.”
A young boy sleeping at home in Toyohashi City, Aichi Prefecture, suddenly received a call on his cell phone from an unknown number. At the time, he was in the third year of junior high school. It was a Sunday morning in February 2012.
Following up on our October 23rd report [ Part 1: The True Meaning of the Tattoo on My Shoulder ], we would like to introduce the life of Kauan Okamoto, 27, who has revealed the dark side of a major entertainment company by accusing the late Mr. Johnny Kitagawa of sexual assault. At the beginning of the article, it was Mr. Johnny himself who personally called Kauan’s cell phone. When the young Kauan boy asked, “What, Johnny who?”, he replied
“I’m in the Guinness Book of World Records. Have you ever seen the Guinness Book of World Records? Come to the live performance of “Sexy Zone” at the International Forum today.”
“The International Forum is in Tokyo, right? I think you should come today.”
“I’ll be there!
“I’ll be there!” “That’s the same Okamoto!”
There is a foreshadowing to the “direct call” from Mr. Johnny. Kauan, who had decided to become a singer in junior high school, sent his resume to several modeling agencies with the help of his mother. Through the Tokyo office where he registered, a DVD of Kauan singing Justin Bieber’s “Baby” happened to catch the attention of Mr. Johnny. The following is Kauan’s recollection.
“The manager of the modeling agency knew a friend of Kenichi Okamoto (a former member of Otokogumi) and gave me the DVD. When Okamoto-san took the DVD to Johnny’s office, Johnny-san happened to be there.”
“I think that Mr. Johnny-san saw the DVD, became interested in me, and called me directly. Johnny-san is usually at concert halls and other sites, and rarely shows up at the office. I was really lucky.” Okamoto-san said, “This guy has it all. He’s just like me.”
By coincidence, Kauan received a direct solicitation from Mr. Johnny. He hopped on a bullet train and arrived at the Tokyo International Forum just before Sekzo’s second show.
“The security guard let me through and I went inside, and there was Mr. Johnny, about 160 cm tall, wearing a cap. His aura is overwhelming. His first words were, ‘You’re late.’ He sang the same song as on the DVD, “Baby,” and then asked me, “Do you want to be the MC for the time being?” I was so surprised.”
“I felt that the story of how I was going to become a singer had begun with that phone call from Mr. Johnny, and I was determined to do it. I didn’t know much about Johnny’s, but I was introduced to the members of Sekzo and sang “Baby” acapella in front of a crowd of 5,000 people. The fans must have wondered who I was.”
Although Kauan was first spotted by Mr. Johnny, he did not make his breakthrough all at once. When he treated other Jr. members with the friendliness that comes from his Brazilian roots, he was sometimes coldly told, “You’re such a fool.” Moreover, although he was good at singing, he had no experience in dancing. The choreographer said, “Are you kidding me?”
“I not only went to a dance school in my hometown of Toyohashi, but also practiced hard in front of the mirror at home for eight hours a day. At the dance school, I was told at first that I had ‘no talent,’ but within six months I was at the top of the class of students. What drove me was the feeling of frustration. I didn’t want to lose to those who were just doing nothing. If I really put my mind to it, I would never lose to them.”
In the spring of 2014, he moved to Tokyo to settle down and settle in a 50,000 yen one-room apartment in Kawaguchi City, Saitama Prefecture. With Johnny’s encouragement, his work gradually increased.
Cleaning the store next to a magazine with himself on the cover.
“But I can’t afford to live like that,” he said. “Many of the other Jr. members lived at home, but I had to earn my living expenses in addition to rent. I worked various part-time jobs, including at a beef bowl chain restaurant, a moving company, and a delivery service. I heard that such members were rare, and that I was called “Bite Junior” by the others.”
“After singing in front of tens of thousands of fans at the Tokyo Dome, I once worked a late-night job at a convenience store. I even cleaned the store next to a shelf where an entertainment magazine that had graced the cover of the store with other members was placed. Wherever they heard about me, fans would show up at my part-time job. Girls who were fans would come into the store, put the magazine I was on the cover of at the register, and ask me if they could have my autograph.”
It seems that his experience as a “Bite Junior” was not in vain.
“I realized that if I lost my job, I could always drop out, so no matter how successful I became, I would never get cocky. I’ve learned how much I’m worth. I have confidence that I can do it, but I am always conscious of remaining humble.”
While continuing to live a difficult life, Kauan began to build a career as an idol. We would like to leave the “after” story, in which he was sexually assaulted by Mr. Johnny and began to struggle with his future, to “Part 3: Adversarial Life on 30,000 a Month” scheduled to be delivered on October 25 at 7:00 a.m.
FRIDAY Digital” is looking forward to receiving information and tip-offs from you. Please send your information to the following information form or official twitter.
Information form: https://friday.kodansha.co.jp/tips
Official twitter: https://twitter.com/FRIDAY_twit
PHOTO： Shinya Nishizaki