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Dr. Julia Yasuda, Antony and the Johnsons collaborator & more, has passed away

Julia Yasuda

Julia Yasuda was born in a hermaproditic condition in Sheng-Yang, Manchuria during World War II. Today she is a set theorist (someone who studies the universe of mathematics) and a performer. Her career was started in 1959 as an assistant at the radio engineering department of the Musashi Institute of Technology in Tokyo. After she got her Ph.D. in mathematics in 1973, she started researching and teaching mathematics at various colleges. In the late 70’s, she met photographer Erika Yasuda at an SM bar in Tokyo and began working as Erika’s androgynous model and assistant.

In 1984, the couple came to New York while Julia worked as a visiting professor at the Courant Institute at NYU. After they returned to Tokyo in 1985, Julia was appointed as a professor of mathematics and logic at the University of Maryland (Asian Division) and awarded a Doctor of Sciences degree in mathematics from Nagoya University for her contribution to descriptive set theory.

In summer of 1987, the tragic loss of Erika became one of the major events of Julia’s life. Julia published Erika’s book of photographs “Who Saw Beautiful Things” in memoriam. Then she moved to New York City, where she started to work as a research reviewer for The American Mathematical Society and The Association For Symbolic Logic.

Julia became a permanent resident of the US as a distinguished scholar in 1994. She met Antony and Johanna in the East Village in the winter of 1995 and began performing with the Johnsons. In that year she also produced and managed the NYC rock group Transisters. In 1996, Julia appeared in Rosa Von Praunheim’s film “Transsexual Menace” and gave an address about her hermaphroditic life experience at the Lesbian and Gay Community Center in NYC. On September 3rd 1999, Julia was naturalized as “a female US citizen” at the New York US District Court. She continues to appear at all Johnsons events and is participating in her friend Professor Milton Diamond’s study of Klinefelter’s Syndrome. [web archive of antonyandthejohnsons.com]

Dr. Julia Yasuda, a performer, professor, and more, has passed away. Yasuda also worked with Antony and the Johnsons early on in their career, and Antony posted an Instagram mourning her death, writing: “Dr. Julia Yasuda, one of the 3 founding members of The Johnsons, and my dear friend and muse for over 2 decades, passed away on Monday. She was a model, performance artist, Ph.D. educator published in set theory, meditation practitioner, star of Transsexual Menace, ham radio enthusiast and pioneering intersex activist.”

The text quoted above is from an archive of an earlier version of Antony and the Jonhsons’ website, and here’s a little more about Yasuda’s connection to Antony from a 2009 feature on Independent:

Other photographic works include a self-portrait, Ghost, with an image of his late great-grandmother, who died of consumption, projected on to his face and Julia’s Hand, featuring Dr Julia Yasuda, an intersex person [someone who is classified as neither male or female] and Hegarty’s mentor, who used to open Antony and the Johnsons’ early live shows, performing a welcome in Morse code. “This is my favourite photographic work,” he says. “It’s almost like a trust-your-mother pose.”

Rest in peace, Julia.

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