VAMP Exclusive: Interview With Leslie Kee

It’s Leslie’s birthday today and coincidentally, he was in Melbourne, after 3 days and 3 nights of filming a new commercial for a drink. I was very lucky to catch him and besides catching up on our usual going-ons, we talked about his new project "Superstars – We Are the Asian" and our favourite topic – Akina Nakamori.

"Superstars – We Are The Asian" is his new picture book due for release on the 8th August and features 250 Asian superstars including 130 from Japan, 50 from HK, 40 from Taiwan, and a few respresentative stars from the other SouthEast Asian countries. Japanese superstar, Yuming will writing for the book and she is also one of the 250 stars featured in this special. Each star will be given a 2 page spread and no favourtism will be shown because the setting and lighting will be the same for everyone.

Leslie has disclosed that he is flying back to Tokyo and meeting Seiko Matsuda this weekend, when she flies back from NY to record her new album. He has approached Seiko about appearing in "Superstars" but Seiko wants to look at his portfolio and discuss more about the project before signing on. Like many other superstars, there is a concern that they might be outdone by someone else.

He also mentioned that he has approached Akina twice through her record producer (I can’t remember the name) for this project and has twice been rejected by Akina. The reason for declining is that Akina has decided more than 10 years ago to stop participating in group projects and will only focus on mini-projects. Leslie said that even though he has not met her, "She is the most DIVA person I know." Thankfully, he does not hold any grudges against Akina because he knows that it is important for a star to stick to their principles and he respects that.

Akina has also came back and said that she is interested in being Leslie’s model if he is interested in shooting individual projcts and Leslie has promised that he will do it definitely after this major feature. He is naturally disappointed because even Yuming-sama says "Of course Akina should be in it!" Even her "Primadam" co-star (not Kuroki Hitomi) but another female actress (who used to be professional ballerina), who is featured in "Superstars" has taken on the initiative and encouraged Akina to do it. She said that Akina is very nice off-screen but she wants to focus on acting well in this drama, and mini-projects for her fans. So, Leslie has given up on Akina appearing in "Superstars" even after I asked him to ask again.

The launch of "Superstars" will be accompanied by a tour and exhibition in 5 different countries including Japan and Singapore. He hasn’t decided on the dates for Singapore but it will be in between August and December.

So, this is the latest update on Leslie and his saga to photograph Akina. I will keep all posted if Seiko decides to go Akina’s way. Hope you enjoyed this little tidbit. Back to Ranbi for more Primadam soon!


Akina fanboy since 14. Still undecided which are his top ten favourite Akina tracks as it's mission impossible. Digs "Everlasting Love" a whole lot more than the average Akina fan.

9 thoughts on “VAMP Exclusive: Interview With Leslie Kee

  1. Wow~~ James, thanks for the info!!
    I think a mini Akina shashin-shu by Leslie Kee will make more headlines than appearing as part of Superstars ^^/
    Let keep our (best) fingers crossed that the project will materialise~~
    So excited. Hopefully it can be done before 01 May 2007, to commenrate Akina’s 25th year in show biz….
    頑張って p(^ ^)q Leslie Keeさん!!
    明菜ファンの皆さんは明菜姫のmini projectをすごく楽しんでます~~

  2. This is definitely an exclusive for VAMP! Tks, Jamez~

    Definitely, I hope that the project with Akina will be materialise by Leslie.
    Keep our fingers crossed!

    It is also good to hear that it is Akina who rejected the deal(rather than she not been invitied)…of course of Leslie would be a great disappointment…however, now that Akina has came back to him with the offer of individual projects…this is really exciting!

    On my side in Japan, tonite, Akina and Kuroki Hitomi will be appearing on a Spring Drama Special Variety program(almost 3 hours!)…I guess a lot of stupid games…haha…will be watching it!

  3. Leslie did sound a little disappointed which was why he added what Yuming and the other actress said. It was like "how can she not join in because she is still such a superstar!!". Something that I forgot to mention is that Ayu also felt the same way about Akina, but we know about that already!

    We both had a little chuckle over it but we know Akina. Once she sets her mind to something, she will not change it. The record producer said that Akina told him that she wants to concentrate on the drama right now and everything else takes a back seat. I guess she is afraid that she will not perform well.

    I found it funny that she came back with that comment as well. Knowing Leslie, he will never give up. That’s my Leslie! He has waited for so long to photograph Akina and he is finally 2 degrees of separation from her. He was hoping that she would at least give him a chance to look at his portfolio and let me sell the concept to her, but she wouldn’t even do that. So, I think Leslie is a little disappointed with that.

    I know that Leslie will approach her again but I don’t know if it will eventuate into a shashinshu. Well, if they become friends, then maybe something bigger will eventuate. Leslie has always had this vision to photograph all the top idols of the 80s in one book, so I don’t know if he might sell the concept to a magazine and they might do it.

    I know that I will be the first person he will share this with if and when he does get an appointment with Akina because our love affair with Akina and Hayami Yu started more than 20 years ago. After all, it was me who got him hooked onto Jpop. So, let’s keep our fingers crossed that something might happen after Akina finishes her Summer Tour.

    At this point, I am thinking of timing my trip back to Singapore to meet Leslie because it looks like it is the only chance we ever get to meet, and I am sure he will love to meet all the VAMPires as well. Usagi chan, I know you are a big fan, so I will not miss you out!

  4. ORRGGHHHH!!! i wanna meet Leslie!! than i also 2 degrees of separation from Akina if Leslie eventually shoots her! hahaha.

    on the one hand i am disappointed and miffed that Akina has decided not to be part of this monumental and meaningful project. being part of such an international publication about the top Asian artistes is equivalent to a stamp of world-wide recognition, and i’m pretty sure it’s a loss of what may have been a worthy achievement, more exposure.

    on the other hand, i wonder if she’d even lament/regret about her decision when she finally sees the book, and realises what she’s turned away. yet, i applaud her for sticking to her hard-assed principles. that’s our Akina for yah! HAHA.

    i think the best bet for any collaboration is for Leslie to befriend Akina. i think she’s picking with who she works with, and she needs to trust the other person. she’s not one to succumb to peer pressure for sure and can be very stubborn, even against the tide of technology! i mean, that girl doesn’t know how to use a mobile phone and the internet for goodness’ sake! hahaha.

    i think Leslie’s idea of showcasing the biggest 80s pop idols is a wonderful idea. if done well, it shd garner alotta interest, and perhaps even a major revival of the retro era.

    i’d love for Leslie to shoot Akina’s:

    1) calendar
    2) album cover and sleeve
    3) perhaps start off with a single cover first?
    4) music video (will be an interesting cross over for Leslie himself too?)

    i wonder if Leslie will be stressed, scared, challenged if he does get the chance to shoot Akina? what existing ideas does he have for her to best illustrate who she is. and what’s a fantasy project/scenario for Leslie?

  5. Thanks for a great report. It’s fasinating to read and to get Akina a little more.

    I doubt if Akina will join collection of 80s pop. It might not be good for her image. It will make it look like she is a PAST.

    That’s too bad. I wish she joined the SUPER STAR project.

  6. I don’t know what plans Leslie has for Akina, but all I know is that Leslie always tries to befriend them first before the shoot. He talks to them for sometime, getting to know them before the actual photoshoot begins. He is very good at that, and feels that it is very important to make his subject feel comfortable before taking their photos.

    How else does he come Ayu and Yuming’s friend? Yuming to Leslie is like Akina to us. So, if he manages to befriend Yuming and gets invited back for tea and dinner, then there is hope. Though Akina is "backward" in terms of technology, I don’t think it is a hindrance. The fact that Akina is willing to consider is already a good starting point. I don’t that there are that many new photographers who really want to work with her, so she should treasure someone famous in Japan like Leslie is.

    I believe the record producer, Ayu and her co-star in Primadam have all put in a very good word for Leslie, which is why Akina is willing to be his model. I also know that he is always happy to listen to his models and discuss about the concept. Hopefully, he will be able to inject some new sense into Akina, so that we see some more new poses this time.

    Leslie is famous for taking group photos, so we never know. Akina might be inspired to do something like that after looking at his portfolio.

  7. Maybe Akina doesn’t want to be "thrown in" with all the others. Or maybe she is just reluctant to get involved in any projects where she doesn’t feel she will have as much control.

    At any rate, Leslie should keep trying. It would be great if they can work out a mutually agreeable deal at some point.

    The fact that Akina is concentrating fully on the drama is a good thing. It’s been a long while since she found herself in that capacity. Hopefully her single-mindedness will pay off with some good ratings.

  8. Thank you for an exellent report!
    I really think that Ayumi Hamasaki is really a great if not the greatest choice to put on the new book since she draw a lot of attension with her special beauty which makes her 1 of the beautiful womem in the world.

    About Akina she really can get a lot if inspiration for herself participating in the project.

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