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What Happens to Female Japanese Pornstars After They Retire?

17 Aug 2010

The adult video industry is, relatively speaking, a part of everyday life in Japan’s mainstream: Only there would you have a porn actress attend an expo to promote an online video game! Still, with the age-old taboo inevitably attached to pornography, do its female stars find it difficult to start anew after a flesh-filled career? CNNGo interviewed AV idols, retired and still in the game, to find out; we’ve provided the most illuminating excerpts below:

Akifumi “Aki” Matsuoka, chief manager at Prime Agency Inc — which represents AV superstars like Sola Aoi (pictured above; link NSFW) — said that “not an insubstantial number” of women who exit the adult industry have the savings to start their own businesses, such as a bar. On the other hand, there have been “cases where they have been discovered at work and fired from their new jobs,” but Matsuoka describes them as “quite rare.”

As for relationships, he indicates that industry incest surprisingly doesn’t occur; more and more, the ex-stars’ partners are regular everyday citizens — and so are the women themselves, he says:

“These girls are surprisingly normal girls. They have friends and really aren’t out of the ordinary. And a lot of urban men these days don’t seem to mind. Perhaps in rural areas of Japan they would. But now, they are more open-minded.”

Retired porn star Saori Tsuchiya told CNNGo that she’s now a university student at the same school she stopped attending when she first entered the adult industry. Though Tsuchiya keeps her past experience a secret, she noted that “these days fewer and fewer girls feel the need to hide their background and only a few slip back into total obscurity.”

For nine-year veteran Sola Aoi, her fame has become so ubiquitous that she will keep using her performer name outside of the industry, and remain candid about her AV background. Though her porn star role is a persona of sorts, Aoi suggests the line between her private and professional identity is (or has become?) indistinct:

“I still use my non-business name in my private life but I really don’t have any desire to fully return to it. Maybe in many ways Sola Aoi is a character I play, and I don’t really differ so much from her in my private life, but Sola is the name that I feel comfortable using in many professional arenas, not just AV. I have no desire to erase or deny my history.”

In the United States, we’ve seen the inklings of a similar trend with pornstar Sasha Grey making mainstream appearances in the likes of Entourage and Stephen Soderbergh‘s film The Girlfriend Experience, though nowhere to the degree of success Japan has enjoyed: One ex-AV idol, Ai Iijima, was such a well-known TV personality that some weren’t even aware she was once paid for having sex on camera!

In any case, it’s a fascinating look at pornography’s drive towards the mainstream. Are we really starting to foster a openness toward our so-called perversions?

[CNNGo via @bournecinema; image via Abjit]

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. Joe permalink
    17 Oct 2010 12:20 AM

    I think you vastly oversimplified a complex and oftentimes dark reality. Japan, from what I have learned from Japanese, is a radically different culture from almost any other on the planet, and many would argue it is a culture in flux, or decay.

    Of course a porn star’s representation is going to say that “by and large, the girls are just like anybody else, and most of them return to normal life”. THESE GIRLS SEXUAL EXPLOITS PAY HIS FAT SALARY!. (sorry for caps, but I just had to do it) What should he say, that many of them struggle with questions of intimacy, trust and alienation for the rest of their lives, and oftentimes blow all their winnings on drugs?

    You have to be hardened to certain things to work in certain professions, and porn is one of them. Porn, for better or worse, is a part of our culture, still, its a private thing for most people. We don’t talk about our favorite starlets or the website we’ve been jerking of too lately with our co-workers (for the most part).

    I know Japan is different, like America its troubled, but its troubled in different ways. (Child pornography is a massive problem in Japan, due to precisely how accepted, and “embraced” the adult industry is.

    At the end of the day just ask yourself, would you want your daughter, cousin or sister to do it? If the answer is no, ask yourself why.

    Of course, this is just my opinion, and I’m wrong quite a bit. Kudos for talking about stuff like this and bringing it to the public discourse (found you through a google search on what happens to ex porn stars)

    • 20 Oct 2010 3:55 AM

      Joe,

      Thanks for your thoughtful response. With various taboos being more openly probed by Japan’s porn industry, the Japanese public’s relation to pornography is definitely a complex and often morally ambiguous one. You’re right, it’s naive to say that a porn actor’s return to the normalcy of “regular” life would be smooth sailing.

      But maybe it’s also too simplistic to posit porn stars as being desperate or psychologically damaged people forced into the business. Is it unfair to suggest that by and large, a porn star might have some sort of agency in her decisions? I suppose some would argue she doesn’t, or that any apparent agency is the result of internalized cultural forces at work. It’s hard to say.

  2. 29 Sep 2010 3:40 AM

    Damn Good Post “Michael” It’s Cool That in Japan AV Idol’s are Able to Still Live a Good Life After They Retire From Their AV Career Unlike Most Pormstars Here in America Who Just Seem to Hit Rock Bottom, Find Religion, or Both When Their Career’s End.

    In Your Post You Discussed That Most of The Time AV Idols are Accept in Japanese Sociaty But is It The Same for Former AV Idols That Had a Mainstream Career Before They AV Idols Like “Natsuki Ozawa”.

  3. ken permalink
    22 Aug 2010 4:18 AM

    Japan is different, Jav gals have a good shot at going into mainstream showbiz
    http://www.japansugoi.com/wordpress/jav-japanese-av-idols-are-sexy-and-popular/

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