Rumors online claim that Taipei has long been home to a hidden adult entertainment industry. More than that, there have been reports of Japanese AV starlets charging for sex.
Earlier this month, the same online source cited a Taiwanese paper that claimed that popular actress Kirari Hoshizora was scheduled to serve as a prostitute for up to 75,000 Taiwan dollars (270,000 yen) per customer over a three-day period during a special event in Taipei. Last year, actress Arisa Fujii reportedly engaged in a similar endeavor.
Is this for real? A reporter for online magazine Cyzo (Mar. 25) visited Taiwan to investigate.
The Cyzo reporter first heads to the Taipei Huaxi Tourist Night Market. Known as Snake Alley, it is infamous for prostitutes once the sun goes down, as well as seedy shops peddling sex toys and restaurants specializing in snake cuisine.
One step into a back alley will likely result in an encounter with a large number of ladies of the evening. Shops managing prostitutes sit under gleaming neon lights, flanked by middle-aged women who ask in Japanese, “You want a girl?”
Here, customers can pay the equivalent of about 500 yen to a street tout to play around with a prostitute for between 4,000 and 6,000 yen — a not unfamiliar price range for Japanese men who frequent overseas entertainment districts.
A female tout said that “we could get a Japanese AV star for you for 20,000 Taiwan dollars [74,000 yen],” a far cheaper price compared to rates in Japan, which can be 30 to 40 times more.
“Many Japanese AV stars come here”
“Many Japanese AV stars come here,” the tout said, stopping short of providing any names without payment. “They’re all beautiful, you know, beautiful.”
The tout insisted they were truly Japanese AV stars when repeatedly questioned. She was then asked to summon one to verify the claim.
“I can’t just call one over tonight right away, you need to make a reservation or they won’t come,” the tout claimed. “I can get you one in four days. So why don’t you play with a Taiwanese girl today?”
Unable to stay for another four days, the reporter decided to ask a Japanese-speaking receptionist at a hotel.
“Four Japanese AV stars have stayed at our hotel so far,” the receptionist said. “Japanese AV production companies turn unprofitable AV stars into prostitutes over here, that’s true. Even if they’re not famous, Taiwanese men will pay lots of money if they’re shown the star’s DVD titles. After all, Japanese AV productions are really popular here.”
“Nameless stars you’ve probably never heard of”
A quick field investigation lent some credence to the receptionist’s claims: A large number of pirated DVDs of Japanese AV productions are available in various markets in Taipei. A local writer who accompanied the Cyzo reporter said, “There are tons of nameless stars you’ve probably never heard of. If we’re talking about stars like that, then it doesn’t seem hard to get a reservation with them.”
Even so, a little number-crunching reveals the venture might be financially futile for the actress. Unless the star fetches a high price, such as that reportedly obtained by Hoshizora, working at a soapland bathhouse in Japan may make more sense than flying to Taiwan just for a job that pays a few 10,000-yen bills per pop.
“Actually, rumors spread fast in Japan if an AV actress is working at a [soapland], but you can do it secretly over here,” the aforementioned receptionist said. “I think the AV actresses who do come here do so for a reason [other than money].”
The legal ramifications of such an endeavor are less than clear given that prostitution is banned in Taiwan. In 2011, an act was amended to allow for special sex trade zones to exist. But municipalities have not been eager to demarcate such zones over fears about a surge in crime and falling real estate prices.
Though he does not mention where he is staying, the Cyzo reporter notes that the cheap hotels surrounding his accommodation are frequently used as meeting places for prostitutes. He senses that such women and their pimps are granted silent approval from the authorities — for now.
In the end, the reporter is not able to confirm whether Japanese AV starlets are actively selling themselves in Taiwan. But if they are, he suggests, a continued low-key approach to their moonlighting might be in their best interests.