Grieving With T&A

by Chris Bodenner

First divorce parties in Japan, now funeral strippers in Taiwan:

Funeral strippers work on Electric Flower Cars (EFC) which are trucks that have been converted to moving stages so that women can perform as the vehicles follow along with funerals or religious processions. EFC came to Taiwan’s public attention in 1980 when newspapers began covering the phenomenon of stripping at funerals. There is a great deal of debate about whether this should be allowed to continue. In Taipei, Taiwan’s capital, one often hears middle and upper class men complain about the harmful effects of this rural practice on public morality. In contrast, people in the industry see themselves as talented performers and fans of the practice say that it makes events more exciting.

From a fascinating interview with the film's director, anthropologist Marc L. Moskowit:

Do people appreciate the supernatural component of the striptease and the way it relates to funeral traditions, or has it become mostly a secularized practice?

One of the things that I found to be really interesting about this practice was that people's explanations for why people hired Electric Car Performers varied tremendously. One person I interviewed told me that it was because a new ghost would get picked on by older ghosts so the performance was to distract the older ghosts to give the newer ghost time to get used to his environment without being harassed. Other people told me that the lower gods liked this kind of entertainment so that it was for them. Yet others said that the deceased liked that kind of activity when living so they wanted to send him off in style.

Most people agreed that an important component of this is the Chinese and Taiwanese emphasis on hot and noisy (renao) which is the excitement of public events. In the West, we have this in rock concerts or amusement parks, in that the noise and the hustle and bustle is part of the fun. In Taiwan, all public events need to be hot and noisy to be a success, ranging from going to the beach to funerals …

(Hat tip: Nerdcore)