Revelers who attended former Pennsylvania state Sen. Vince Fumo’s holiday party this week found an interesting item among the food laid out at his Philadelphia mansion: sushi served on the body of a naked woman.
Fumo, who’s trying to work his way back to respectability after serving prison time in a corruption case, does this in the middle of the #metoo era?
If you’re shocked, as I was, you should know that this has apparently been a thing for years.
It’s called nyotaimori, a word I’ve seen translated as “female body arrangement” and other things.
Google it, and you’ll find plenty of references, including a 2008 Vanity Fair piece called “Confessions of a Naked Sushi Model.”
The woman in such arrangements isn’t completely naked. Critical areas are covered by flowers — or something else organic and tasteful — and, of course, the trays of sushi.
I got Fumo on the phone, and he was matter-of-fact about it.
“Never done it before,” he said. “It was my girlfriend’s idea. It was tastefully done.”
I asked if it occurred to him that it might seem disrespectful or exploitative of women.
“Well, my girlfriend did it, not I,” he said. “And, no, the thought never really occurred to me.”
“The women who were there were not offended, and they were digging in as well,” he said.
The spread, as it were, was done by Nyotaimori Experience, the enterprise of chef Mark Scharaga.
According to its website, which features the headline “Why settle for boring?” the company “has been showcased on Buzzfeed, Munchies, and Playboy mansion.” Scharaga, it says, has been dubbed “the naked sushi chef.”
Fumo said the sushi station was a popular item at his party.
“We had the sushi down on a lower level, and we were mostly upstairs,” Fumo said. “A lot of people were going downstairs.”
Fumo said he heard from a cousin who’d brought teenage kids to the party who didn’t like to eat fish.
“He said, after that, they think they might like eating fish,” he said.
Fumo said if they repeat the nyotaimori experience next year, “we might have a guy and a woman.”
Jake Blumgart contributed to this story.