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'If I don't dance, I dead' - Japanese Dancehall Queen enjoys contest's spin-offs

Patrick Campbell/ Staff Photographer
Junko Kudo, the Dancehall Queen.

Nagra Plunkett, Staff Reporter

In the aftermath of her winning the Dancehall Queen 2002 title in Montego Bay, it would appear that the sky is the limit for Japanese national Junko Kudo.

The 24-year-old woman, who goes by the name Junko Bashment, has been booked for several major shows in the island and is being considered for appearances on Courts Jamaica Limited all-islandwide roadshows.

"We've been approached by promoters for her to appear on shows including Sashi and Sting," Bryan 'Big Head' Martin, the promoter of the Dancehall Queen competition, said. "I am 99 per cent sure she will be on the Courts roadshows, along with Stacy Edwards (who was second in the competition)."

Junko took the Dancehall Queen title at Pier 1 in Montego Bay, St. James, two weeks ago.

'Big Head', who has promoted the event since 1997, says that Junko will also be on tour in Canada and the United States with his Pure Playaz sound system. While admitting that she is still in a daze about having copped the title, the young woman said her love for dancing and reggae music is endless. I can't believe myself that I got the title... I am besides myself," she said through her interpreter, Jun Tochino.

Junko, who says she lives with her duck, worked as a hairdresser before she moved into dancing. She says she now earns her living in her Tokyo hometown by dancing on reggae shows and teaching reggae dance classes. "I learned to dance reggae from watching videos from Jamaica and visiting the island," she said. She said she has been to Jamaica twice before entering the competition and has gone to 'sessions' on Maxfield Avenue, Cockburn Pen, Tivoli and Seaview Gardens as part of her learning experience.

The petite, blond-haired woman was discovered at a reggae show in Japan by 'Big Head', where she outdanced about 20 other girls. Junko was seen recently in a performance at Breezes Montego Bay's 'Jamaican Night'. Both locals and hotel guests alike were impressed at her acrobatic moves, gyrations and execution of the different Jamaican dances. She was showered with thunderous applause and shouts, especially from the males.

While her main pastime is listening to reggae music, Junko says she intends to dance for the rest of her life. "If I don't dance, I dead," Junko said with a laugh.

For copping the Dancehall Queen title, Junko says she won a Slam trophy, $50,000 and an adult toy courtesy of First Choice Videos and Toys. However, she will have to give the 'toy' to someone as it will not be allowed to pass through airport security in her homeland.

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