It is a recent Sunday afternoon atop the broadcaster’s roof, temporarily converted into a makeshift restaurant.
Here stand a group of male subscribers, each ready to dine on a dish — an omelet or perhaps a bowl of pork kimchi — doused in a golden shower dispensed by one of a half-dozen topless AV (adult video) actresses.
“Last order!” screams the announcer into the camera.
A pudgy young man dressed in only red bikini bottoms raises his hand. He then tithes a few yen, which will eventually find its way to the Japanese Foundation for AIDS Prevention, for a tofu selection.
The girl of his affection squats, drops her black bikini underwear, positions her chubby legs around a bowl of cubed tofu, and begins letting go with a steady yellow stream.
With the summer sun above and streamers of hanging plastic flags gently tilting in the breeze, he saunters up and raises the freshly marinated snack to his mouth, chopsticks clashing and lips smacking.
All in the name of charity.
“This campaign,” says Paradise TV president Tsuyoshi Shiba, “is so very important, because it is the greatest problem facing our field. But not only that, I think we have to start thinking more about how Paradise TV fits into our society.”
The channel, known for its silly and simultaneously stimulating programming, is raising money over a continuous 24-hour period for the prevention of the spread of the HIV virus and AIDS in Japan, where the condition continues to be a worsening problem.
In the downstairs studio, a used-panty auction, called the “Obanko Club” (Old Lady Club), is being broadcast live. Outfitted in a loose white gown, the first contestant, a woman in her 40s, gives a quick spin in front of the camera before the opening bid is set at 100 yen. “We’ll let her play with some sex toys,” explains Kenichiro Suzuki, manager of international sales, “until the price comes up.”
After taking a seat in an inclined chair and spreading her legs, the exterior of her pink and black-trimmed briefs begins receiving some gentle strokes from a vibrator maneuvered by the female announcer. Within a few minutes she is seen fondling her breasts in ecstasy, which sends the price rocketing to 15,000 yen and encourages a round of applause from the staff.
A viewer subsequently adds 1,500 yen to secure the moistened undies, with the bra being tossed in as well.
“Year by year,” says Shiba, sporting the pink event t-shirt, designed by legendary manga artist Go Nagai, that shows a topless female popping out of the open end of a condom, “the number of participants and donations has been increasing.”
The channel’s goal this year is to raise 1.5 million yen, nearly 400,000 yen more than the total from a year ago and equal to the amount donated overall last year by condom manufacturing giant Okamoto. The petite Chihiro Hasegawa is doing her share by raising awareness through a 24-hour free phone-sex service viewable live on Internet portal Livedoor.
Seated on a couch, her pink top rolled up to her neck, Hasegawa sucks on her fingers and rubs her breasts as she slowly coaxes callers into orgasmic bliss. Handheld signboards encourage viewers to contribute donations, which are collected primarily through the Internet or by phone.
Perhaps the biggest draw is the “Tekoki Jinja,” or hand-job shrine, which debuted in the event’s second year (2004). For a minimum donation of 3,000 yen, viewers are invited to the Paradise studios in Shinjuku to take a seat in a slightly darkened room adorned with a kamidama (small Shinto shrine) mounted on the wall.
After slipping on a condom, each patron is allocated 3 minutes of stroking at the hands of AV actress Yuki Inaba, who comes prepared with disposable towels, tissues, and a bottle of disinfectant.
“Most guys,” says Suzuki, “think that the time period is too short, but…she’s a professional.”
Indeed, by mid-day the actress was boasting an 80 percent satisfaction rate for her 30 parishioners.
While this might seem like fun and games, the number of new infections of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, reached a high of 248 over the three-month period from April to June, reported the Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare last month.
This follows a trend in which the number of AIDS cases has slowly increased in Japan since 1996, making Japan one of the few industrialized nations in which the disease is on the rise. A reduction in condom use, an increase in the number of sex partners, and a stigma that associates HIV with homosexuals or foreigners, experts believe, are the reasons for the root of the problem.
Suzuki maintains that it is a Paradise policy for its actors to wear condoms during regular filming. When queried on just how they can then achieve the standard culmination necessitated by the Japanese AV industry – the “money shot” to the face of the actress – Suzuki explains it is simply a matter of timing the removal just prior to ejaculation.
“Even I can do that,” says the manager, smiling from behind a stringy goatee and heavy-framed glasses.
Tokonatsu Mikan, an actress in over 200 AV flicks, is offering up her breasts for the cause. At the booth of the tanned and curvy star, viewers are allowed to use both hands to squeeze Miss Mikan’s mikans five times for 1,000 yen. Armed with a counter similar to that used by a baseball pitching coach, an assistant clicks off each grasp.
“My breasts,” says Mikan, who in 4 hours has already accommodated 100 men, “are like a donation symbol. I am really happy to be a part of such a worthy cause.”
At the stall “Tama Momi,” which literally translates to ball rubbing, AV actor Aki glumly shakes his donation box to cajole a few clinks from the coins inside. Though few women (or men, for that matter) have paid the one yen minimum to rub his privates, this 3-month porn novice remains upbeat.
“If my work,” he says, “is to stop the spread of AIDS, I am happy to go through with this.”
Additional funds are accumulated through more conventional means: the sale of the panties and bras of popular AV actresses, with the underwear of top stars fetching upwards of 50,000 yen.
The fund drive’s moniker, “24-Hour TV: Eroticism Saves the Earth,” is a jab at major broadcaster Nippon Television’s simultaneous telethon “24-Hour TV: Love Saves the Earth,” transmitted live from Tokyo’s Budokan theater. The three-decade-old event enlists upwards of 10,000 people to raise 6 billion yen for environmental causes.
Shiba and his staff of roughly 100 expect the competition with NTV to remain as tongue-in-cheek only, but he does see Paradise’s contributions to the AIDS cause increasing in the future.
“Until the AIDS problem in Japan is resolved,” he says, “we have to keep this campaign going.”
Note: This article originally appeared in September 2006 on the Sake-Drenched Postcards Web page.