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Amazing, Ray Bradbury loved, story
 of a dancer overcoming prejudice and homophobia while captivating audiences around the world!
Amazing, Ray Bradbury loved, story of a dancer overcoming prejudice and homophobia while captivating audiences around the world!
154 backers pledged $15,223 to help bring this project to life.

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The Imperial Dancer: The Incredible Life of Keigo Takeuchi

$15,223

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"Congratulations! Great story!  Now dammit, go out there and tell the world about it!"  Ray Bradbury on an award-winning short story version of "The Imperial Dancer" at the 2006 Santa Barbara Writer's Conference.

THE STORY

  From the dimness inside the barbed wire fences of a WWII Japanese-American internment camp, one child learned to shine amidst over 110,000 others who were put into the same hopeless situation for no other reason than their nationality, skin color and eye shape.   As the child grew into a graceful dancer, Keigo Takeuchi uplifted audiences all over the world for decades through his performances and his magnetic personality.

 Stemming from a chance meeting on the movie set of “The King and I” with what turned out to be the impetus of his troupe Takeuchi Keigo and His Imperial Dancers, the group performed for audiences in the exotic locales of Baghdad, Teheran, Cairo, Rome and Hong Kong, under the glitzy lights of Las Vegas and New York, and in front of cameras of television programs like “The Today Show” and “The Ed Sullivan Show”.

  Along the way, they performed for dignitaries that included Middle Eastern royalty, international business tycoons and world leaders like a very enthusiastic and appreciative then-Vice President Richard M. Nixon.  He and the group got drunk with Steve McQueen, hung out with the great Satchmo, Louis Armstrong (pictured below with troupe) and even taught Sammy Davis Jr. that one should never order Chinese food from the menu.

  Via its travels, the group intersected historical events and were in relevant locations during the Kennedy assassination, the Israeli/Egyptian peace talks and the Iran/Iraq War-often times getting near enough where escape from danger was a necessary means of survival.

Through all of this, his personality radiated and people were able to forget their own personal prejudices whether it was racial bigotry or homophobia.  Keigo’s personality was such that he even convinced his high school football team to perform a ballet in tutus!

  One can call him a real-life version of Forrest Gump, the main difference is that he wowed others with his brilliant performances and continues to touch people deeply enough for them to enthusiastically exclaim “I loved Keigo!” when recounting their experiences with him.

The life of my uncle, Keigo Takeuchi, “The Imperial Dancer” is an uplifting story that needs to be told and something that many people will enjoy.  

(For a more detailed encapsulation of Keigo Takeuch’s life, please click on this link of a story I wrote for the Rafu Shimpo Newspaper published on October 16.)http://www.rafu.com/2014/10/uncle-the-imperial-dancer/

THE PROJECT

This non-fiction book project of my uncle’s story is immensely relevant to not only the Japanese-American and LGBT experiences, but it is far more wide-reaching and will inspire any reader to embrace who they are and what they want to do.

 Eight years ago, I had promised my Uncle Keigo that I would tell his story.  He passed away two years later, but not before I collected several hours of interviews with him.  Since his passing in January of 2008, I have been experimenting with telling the story through documentary filmmaking, screenwriting and even a novel.

  After a long conversation with a literary agent (who is one of three that I am considering representing me for the project), I discovered that the best way to tell this story is to make the project a non-fiction book. 

A funny thing happened when I started contacting people that he performed with, and his old friends-- their great stories invariably begat another person to contact, or another number to call until the book began cascading, turning this story into a force that continues progressing forward with no signs of abatement. 

I'm knee deep in notes, recordings and the beginnings of a rough draft and there’s no way in heck I’m going to stop now.

Risks and challenges

The two main obstacles I need to overcome are time and resources. Time is of the essence to get at least the research part of the project completed because most of those being interviewed are between the ages of 70 and 95. I can’t let them get away.


The other is where you come in.

Being an unknown writer, I know that no advance is forthcoming. I also know that expenses are considerably more for non-fiction than works of fiction. After mapping it out, my expenses will be higher than the original $13,000 and closer to a STRETCH GOAL of $20,000 to $30,000.
Because this is my first project, and I have no idea what kind of response I'll get, I am erring on the side of caution to at least get the bare bones amount to keep the project alive.

The breakdown of expenses include monies for securing official documents, including one FBI file on the subject's father (my grandfather), a wrongly accused spy against the government. Funds will also be used to convert hundreds of still photographs into high-resolution digital files and securing one-time rights of photos. A portion of the amount will be used to rent a desk in a shared workspace and to hire a professional editor who has worked in a publishing house. Part of it will be set aside for the cost of the non-book premiums.

While several interviews are in progress or are nearing completion, many others located around the country are popping up. Also, I will use the funds for one trip to Topaz Utah and Crystal City Texas to visit the internment campsites that my uncle lived in.

Approximately 10% of the monies taken in will go towards paying the accompanying Amazon and Kickstarter fees.

If the basic goal is reached, I think I can get the essential research done within a calendar year and then write part time while working. Making it to the stretch goal will allow me to take a hiatus from most of my journalism assignments for a more expedient completion. It will also alleviate some of the $5000 in expenses already incurred.

I have been blessed with the advice from several writers such as Pulitzer Prize winner David Maraniss. I am not sure where I would be without their generosity. Nevertheless, material costs that I was completely unaware of when taking this vow exist, which is why I am reaching out to the Kickstarter community.


WHY I CAN OVERCOME THE CHALLENGES WITH YOUR ASSISTANCE

Not only do I feel capable due to my professional experience, I possess the one quality that a writer or any artist needs to have, tenaciousness. While writing a weekly outdoor sports column, I have not missed one week in over 15 years-that’s 795 Fridays in a row. While the number is not exactly Ripkenesque, it’s something that I am very proud of.

Another example of my dedication and tenacity occurred in 1994 when I entered the 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike and 26.2-mile run Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii. Due to swallowing a large amount of seawater in the initial phase of the event, I suffered from severe gastrointestinal distress over the next 13 hours while on the bike and the run.

During this competition I visited seemingly every outhouse on the Queen K Highway. Imagine trying to sit in a porta-john in 90-degree heat with 40 mph gusts blowing, at least seven times. It lent a whole new meaning to the term “blown away”. But I did end up finishing with the belief that I could emerge from the crap and grit through just about anything until I cross that damn finish line.

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge US$ 5 or more About US$ 5

    Cyberspace Fist Bump-A full-on fist bump plus fingertip explosion via the internet in gratitude!

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    Pledge US$ 10 or more About US$ 10

    A digital photo of Keigo Takeuchi and a fully enveloping warm hug like your auntie used to give you and like my uncle used to give me! Oh yeah, I'll be sending you a thank you email and updates too.

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    Pledge US$ 25 or more About US$ 25

    A digital copy of the book and a witty thank you card with a photo of Keigo that is my muse. Also, I will give you a mention in one of my update emails to everyone! *Note book delivery is pending publication date.

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    Pledge US$ 50 or more About US$ 50

    A signed printed copy of the book, a printed photo , a personally handwritten "thank you" note (please note that I went to Catholic school and I received a "Needs improvement" for my handwriting grades).Plus the email mention and social media shoutout. *Note The book delivery is pending publishing date.

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    Pledge US$ 100 or more About US$ 100

    Two signed, printed copies and one digital copy of the book, the updates, the email mention and social media shoutout, the slightly legible letter and photo, and the warm Aunt Bee hug. *Note delivery date is for all items except book. The book delivery is pending publishing date.

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    Pledge US$ 150 or more About US$ 150

    Two bundles consisting of a custom-made soft cotton, telling the world you supported the creation of "The Imperial Dancer" Kickstarter, a signed, printed and a digital copy of the book, the thank you not, the shoutouts and a hug. *Note delivery date is for all items except book. The book delivery is pending publishing date.

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    Pledge US$ 200 or more About US$ 200

    An excerpt from the book prior to publish date, four bundles (signed printed copy, digital and t-shirt), the shoutouts, the slightly legible letter and photo, and hug. *Note delivery date is for all items except book. The book delivery is pending publishing date. Please denote desired size of shirt after January 1.

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    Pledge US$ 400 or more About US$ 400

    Five VIP bundles (signed printed copy, digi copy and t-shirt) that also include Invitation to a private signing in Santa Barbara and possibly SF and LA) personal letter and photo, the mentions and the hug.
    *Note delivery date is for all items except book. The book delivery is pending publishing date. Please denote desired size of shirts after January 1.

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    Pledge US$ 500 or more About US$ 500

    Coffee in SB or cyber coffee (Skype or Face Time) with writer. Your name on the Kickstarter acknowledgment page of the book with accompanying tears of joy, six VIP bundles (invite, printed copy, digi copy, shirt), letter and photo, mention and shoutouts, and the hug,
    *Note delivery date is for all items except book. The book delivery is pending publishing date. Please denote desired size of shirts after January 1.

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    Pledge US$ 1,000 or more About US$ 1,000

    Coffee in Santa Barbara or cyberchat with writer, excerpt of a voice recording of the main subject, mention on the Kickstarter acknowledgment section of the book, eight VIP bundles (invite, signed, printed copy, digital copy, shirt). Plus the mention and shoutout, the updates, the hug, the photo and letter as neatly written as I possibly can.

    *Note delivery date is for all items except book. The book delivery and signing is pending publishing date. Please denote desired size of shirts after January 1.

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    Pledge US$ 2,500 or more About US$ 2,500

    Lunch with the author in SB, SF, LA or a major US airport city nearest the donor's residence, eight VIP bundles, specially framed and printed customer framed photo of Keigo along with a digital voice recording, an advanced excerpt of the book as well as a few surprise goodies along the way.
    *Note delivery date is for all items except book. The book delivery and signing is pending publishing date. Please denote desired size of shirts after January 1.

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    Pledge US$ 5,000 or more About US$ 5,000

    Okay time to get outrageous. Ten hand-delivered bundles that include signing invitations to the private signing, either lunch, dinner, bike ride or a ballgame with the author. Digital recording. Plus mention in the main acknowledgments of the book, rough copy of the first chapter, and the other goodies including the photo and a letter of thanks handwritten by my wife.

    *Note delivery date is for all items except book. The book delivery and signing is pending publishing date. Please denote desired size of shirts after January 1.

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    Pledge US$ 10,000 About US$ 10,000

    The opportunity to name the dog I promised my wife once this project is completed (please don't tell her I'm getting her a puppy!) .

    Ballgame or musical, bike ride and dinner in weekend with the author, advance first chapter, digital recording of the subject. Prior to release, I will hand-deliver 10 V-VIP bundles (signed copy, dig copy, shirt, invites ) that also include a private reception prior to the signing , surprise goodies, prominent mention in the main acknowledgments of the book, expressions of gratitude during interviews, personal phone call and email updates, and a sob-filled hug of gratitude. *Note delivery date is for all items except book. The book delivery and signing is pending publishing date. Please denote desired size of shirts after January 1.

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Funding period

- (30 days)