Due to the lack of an L phoneme in Japanese (R and L are equivalent in transliteration from English) and similarity between er and or in English, Hard Gay has a number of commonly used variants on official and fan sites. Even official Hard Gay merchandise has been known to use less common variants. The following have wide usage on the internet or appear on official merchandise and are listed in approximate order by popularity. Since Hard Gay is also commonly used for homosexual pornography, it is difficult to assess popularity of this name.
Hard Gay is neither homosexual nor particularly outrageous, but a heterosexual male comedian portraying a character. Television programs in which he has appeared have increasingly made reference to this, and he himself has significantly reduced his comic gay mannerisms in live appearances on variety and other types of programs.
It was through wrestling in their college years, that Sumitani met Makoto Izubuchi, with whom he would later form the comedy duo Razor Ramon in 1997. During their college years, Razor Ramon won the Fukuwarai award in the Imamiya Kids’ Ebisu Manzai Contest, and gained experience on the stage through the audition live performance SABUKI at 2chome-gekijo, an Osaka comedy club opened by the Yoshimoto Kogyo comedy troupe at which many comedians from the Kansai area start their career.
After completing his degree at the prestigious Doshisha University, Sumitani got a job at CO-OP KOBE, as a grocery delivery man. His desire to pursue a career as a professional comedian led him to quit his job after four months, when he joined Yoshimoto Kogyo with his partner Makoto Izubuchi. Razor Ramon made their TV debut in 1999, and won the Judges Special Award in the ABC Owarai (Comedy) Grand-Prix in 2000. Both Sumitani and Izubuchi joined the Yoshimoto Kogyo-produced program Yoshimoto Shin-kigeki, one of the most popular comedy stage acts in Japan, in 2001, often playing yakuza, salaryman, udon restaurant owners, construction workers, and others.
Sumitani continued his wrestling aspirations in late 2005, working in the comedically off-beat HUSTLE promotion and defeating Yinling the Erotic Terrorist in his debut match; he has since gone to team with Naoya Ogawa and Yoshihiro Tajiri in leading the HUSTLE Army against Generalissimo Takada’s Monster Army.
The most well-known character developed and portrayed by Sumitani is , introduced in 2002, as whom he finally rose to national prominence in 2005. While the official name is "Razor Ramon HG," he is most frequently known as "Hard Gay," or simply "HG." Dressing in a tight black leather gay fetish outfit, he goes around performing acts of charity (yonaoshi, “social improvement”) for unsuspecting bystanders while performing trademark pelvic thrusts and vocalisations, often accompanied by "Livin’ la Vida Loca" by Ricky Martin.
According to some accounts the name "Hard Gay" was the suggestion of Sumitani’s senior comedian in the Yoshimoto Kogyo group, Kendo Kobayashi, in reference to his hard dancing. The name has also been described as a pun on 芸, gei, which means "skill" or "art." However, to develop his character, Sumitani visited gay bars in Doyama-cho, Osaka’s biggest gay area, and his costume, which consists of hot pants, a small vest, and cap, all in black leather, along with aviator sunglasses, was purchased at a shop called VFTQ in Minami-Horie, Osaka, which specializes in gay fashion.
Hard Gay makes regular use of a number of catch phrases in his act; he usually makes his entrance in front of the camera shouting "Dōmō Hādogei dēsu" ("Hello, this is Hard Gay"), with arms thrust out and a spin afterwards. His self-introduction is then followed by his famous dance moves. He often shouts "Hoooooo" (フゥ～!) or "Foohhhh!" (フォー！), a running joke in his performances. He often stops people saying unfavorable things to him by shouting "Sei sei sei sei sei" with his palm in front of the person’s face. Whether this means anything is debatable, although Sumitani has commented that "sei sei" is something that comes out from his mouth when he is not happy, and that he does not mean "say" as in to speak something, although one might compare this action to the popular "talk to the hand" gesture. A possible interpretation might be that the origin lies in the word urusai (lit. "noisy," meaning "Be quiet!"), which is often pronounced urusē うるせー in Kansai dialect, shortened to sei. Another theory is the word sei written by kanji 静, meaning "quiet." Also, sei 性, means "sex" or "gender" in Japanese.
In early 2006, he started working with Razor Ramon manzai partner Makoto Izubuchi again, with Izubuchi taking the name Razor Ramon RG ("RG" meaning "Real Gay"). He was brought in on the gimmick after it gained immense popularity. Izubuchi’s character wasn’t nearly as well received as Sumitani’s, but is still an active wrestler in HUSTLE, recently teaming up with The Great Muta. Sumitani's character is that of an underdog face that has a never say die attitude and uses his quickness to defeat his opponents... nearly all of which are larger than him.
The registration of his marriage to Anna Suzuki was announced on Thursday 10 August 2006. Suzuki has stated she will end her modelling career after her commitments are finished and concentrate on starting a family. The two officially became married on November 27, 2006, only four days after his retirement.
On March 1, 2008, it was announced that their first baby is to be born on July 30, 2008. He also announced that he will start to reappear on television as Masaki Sumitani instead of the famous Razor Ramon HG. First reappearance as Masaki Sumitani will be on April 18, 2008 on jidaigeki, HAKANA.
A spokesperson for the Hokkaido Sexual Minority Association Sapporo Meeting, a support group for gay, lesbian and transgender people, has said: "Hard Gay’s acceptance by the Japanese public shows me that there is a strong tendency here to see homosexuality as something to be laughed at. That is sad."
Openly lesbian Osaka Prefectural Assembly woman Kanako Otsuji has been quoted as saying:
[The way the media treats sexual minorities] makes me angry. This morning I saw [comedian] Razor Ramon for the first time. I never watch TV. I’d only heard about him. He’s not homosexual. He just uses gayness for his act, to make people laugh. I’m afraid that people will get the idea that gay people are all like that, yelling and pumping their hips.