TOKYO (TR) – It has been no secret that Japan is a rapidly aging society. Over the past decade, the condition has impacted everything from political policy to corporate strategy.
The adult video (AV) industry is apparently not an exception. According to Diamond Online (Mar. 20), the nation’s elderly men, whose life expectancy currently exceeds 80, are increasingly eschewing productions featuring a young starlet in favor of those with a so-called “super-mature woman,” who by definition is at least 60.
For insight, Diamond speaks with a clerk at a rental shop in the capital, who says most buyers of second-hand DVDs tend to be senior citizens. “They come to the store first thing in the morning and snap up releases from sale bins for between 50 and 300 yen a pop,” he says. “It’s not unusual to see a grandpa bulk-buying over 10 releases in one go, and sought-after titles sell out by noon most of the time.”
When it comes to female stars, seniors are in more demand than young newcomers. “A 74-year-old regular even said there’s ‘no point in watching young ones having sex,’ and only rents titles featuring mature or super-mature women,” he says.
Estimates released in September of last year by the the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications revealed that the number of people aged 65 or older hit a record 34.61 million, or 27.3 percent of the population. According to Diamond, the keen demand for senior AV actresses is likely a direct result of this graying of society.
Most customers that visit the video rental shop tend to be no more 70. “If you are any older than that, you will be ordering titles through mail-order catalogs for health reasons,” he says. “Our oldest customer was a 103-year-old man who bought a title featuring a woman in her 60s.”
Elderly actresses: A new type of “JK”
Elderly AV fans prefer DVDs to digital downloads due to greater familiarity with the technology. As well, a new market has developed over the past eight years, with the productions being referred to as “JK,” an abbreviation for jukunen koreisha, or mature elderly woman. (The label is a tongue-in-cheek designation since it can also apply for joshi kosei, or high school girls.)
This keen interest has been a bright spot in overly flaccid AV industry, whose size today is just over one fifth of its heyday, that being the peak of VHS era around two decades ago. A producer at Ruby, a venerable label specializing in productions featuring mature women, says that “performers in their 60s have been popular in recent years.”
“A debut of a good-looking actress hitting her 60th birthday will usually hit the top of the charts that month,” the producer adds. “Titles featuring women in their 50s made a big impact 10 years ago, but this has been sliding back in accordance with the rising life expectancy.”
High demand, low supply
Many enthusiasts are solely interested in actresses over 60, according to the producer. “The fan base for a particular actress isn’t just men in her generation or beyond — and this has nothing to do with the Oedipus complex; rather it is just men in their 40s to 50s who like mature women,” the aforementioned producer says. “Everyone tells me, ‘She’s just a kid if she’s in her 50s!’”
Such demand has resulted in intensive searches for performers beyond the golden age of 60, but the industry continues to find that supply is lagging behind.
“More middle-aged women have been inquiring about wanting to appear in AV productions, but most are in their 50s. A lot of them weren’t saying stuff like, ‘I want money.’ Instead, they were being urged by their cuckold husbands or had an interest in ‘experiencing a pro’s skills,’” the producer continues. “Finding talent is even more challenging once you getting into the 70s and 80s.”
The hurdle rises further still when considering that shoots can be all-day ordeals that demand stamina and endurance. Actresses need to be healthy and free from cardiovascular diseases and soft joints.
“Japan’s oldest AV actress”
Maori Tezuka, known for some time as “Japan’s oldest AV actress,” made her debut at 71. Label Ruby released her retirement DVD in January, when she was the age of 80. “It all started after I got to know someone in AV production and they invited me to make an appearance,” the former actress says.
Tezuka enjoyed unprecedented popularity in the super-mature market, using her skills honed in the entertainment industry — she was once an opera singer — to take on a variety of AV productions.
The veteran had no qualms about becoming completely naked on the set, and just as easily took to performing with several men, this despite her only previous experience with a man being her former husband.
“It was lively and fun on the set,” Tezuka says. “I mean, it’s work after all; you just have to do your best when you’re in the spotlight.”
Three years ago, Tezuka announced that she would go on for another decade three years ago but decided to retire because “shoots became difficult when the male actor wasn’t my type.”
She was also rebuked by her lover 30 years her junior, who she was meeting about once or twice a month. The more she experienced how different her sexual acts were on the job compared to in private, the more the “shoots became painful.”
Extreme shortages of male performers
“I was never in it for the money anyway, so I felt like it was a turning point,” she says. “I have no regrets at all because I worked hard, I might say.”
But, according to Tezuka, some in the industry described her retirement as “a waste” and requested that she come back in two or three years. “I was at a loss,” she remembers. “I told them I would think about it when the time comes, but I guess that would depend on who the other actor is.”
Tezuka experienced shoots that were delayed well into the night because male actors had trouble performing, making her realize that “male actors really do have it rough, I was shocked to hear that they get tested and then they have to train.”
In fact, actors are in greater demand than actresses in the mature market, according to the producer, with the shortage for male performers being at extreme levels. (When last heard from in 2014, Shigeo Tokuda was still going strong as an actor in the industry at the age of 80.)
“There just aren’t that many candidates to play the parts of senior men in scenarios involving elderly couples,” the aforementioned producer says, “and there might be people saying they’ll be up for it when they retire, but few can ensure they can raise it for a long time.”