All photos Laura Hayes

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When his brother invited him to a naked sushi party, Jordan thought he’d be eating sashimi. “I thought it meant sushi with no rice,” he says. Imagine his surprise hours later when he, and the rest of a sweaty, Champagne-buzzed crowd on the rooftop of Sakerum, was using chopsticks to tweeze tuna and salmon nigiri off nearly nude male and female models lying cadaver still.

A combination of flower buds and leaves covered the female model’s special parts while a swollen succulent sprouted at just the right spot for the male. Didn’t you hear? 2018 is the year of the succulent.

Unlike the male newbie, the female was an experienced naked sushi model, having splayed out at private parties and District Nightclub and Bablu, which are now both closed. Her trick? “I drink a lot before I do it so I can just lay here and take a nap.”

Also, she doesn’t like sushi. 

If you thought naked sushi was born out 1990’s America when entrainment also included studying lava lamps, driving to Blockbuster, and watching Sex and the City wearing overalls with one side unclipped, you’d be wrong. 

“Nyotaimori,” or eating sushi off of the bodies of naked women, originated in Japan during the time of samurai warriors and geisha women, roughly from the 17th to 19th centuries. This was an era when the division between buttoned-up Japan and its freaky side was more fluid.

Most know painter and woodblock printer Katsushika Hokusai for his work, “The Great Wave off Kanagawa.” It hangs in every cultured college student’s dorm room. But the artist, who was alive at the same time naked sushi took off (1760-1849), was also producing some pretty perverted artwork starring women and sea creatures. Google “The Dream of the Fisherman’s Wife” later.

The naked sushi parties weren’t prolific then nor are they today, according to Nagoya, Japan native Kaz Okochi of Kaz Sushi Bistro. “It originated in Japan but 99.9 percent of people in Japan haven’t seen it,” he says. “It’s a crazy thing at parties. Some Japanese do those kinky things.” He believes most people know about nyotaimori from the heavily stereotyped 1989 movie Black Rain starring Michael Douglas

Okochi has been approached several times by people asking him to throw a naked sushi party. “I’ve turned them down,” he says. “This is Washington, D.C. I was really worried about women’s rights organizations or the health department. I don’t want to get close to any trouble.” 

Sakerum, which blends Japanese and Latin cuisines in a clubby atmosphere on 14th Street NW, didn’t share the same trepidation when it asked a man and a woman to strip and act as both serving platters and centerpieces last night. “Nantaimori” is the Japanese word for when you eat off of a male’s body. 

“I have eaten food off of many things, but never a naked person before,” says a government contractor named Dustin. His pal Andrew, who works in small business lending, says, “It’s a completely different experience, we didn’t know what to expect. As soon as I saw it on Facebook, I screenshotted it.” 

Most attendees are like Dustin and Andrew, groups of 20-something and 30-something guys swigging sake and Champagne from an open bar and swiping at raw fish. But there were some women and couples too.

“You see it on television sometimes,” says Ryan, a United flight attendant who found out about the event through Twilight Tuesdays—a popular gay pool party event series. “I thought it was kinda cool.” Though he has one gripe—he wishes there was a no-picture policy because it’s too distracting.   

Tickets to the event were $75—about the same amount Stephen Miller paid for sushi earlier this week that he threw away in a fit of rage. Sakerum owner Stephanos Andreou says the first-of-its-kind evening is a part of his mission to make sushi more fun. 

Sakerum, 2204 14th St. NW; (202) 518-2222; sakerum.com