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     Jun 28, 2008
A new wrinkle in Japan's porn boom

By William Sparrow

BANGKOK - Recent reports and a Time Magazine feature released last week have exposed that the fastest-growing niche genre within Japan's massive and multifaceted adult film industry is pornography for, and featuring, the elderly.

The market for elder porn - some have called it "Grandpa porn" - has doubled over the past decade, a producer of "mature-women" movies told Time, and the sector seems to be enjoying what could be called a "golden age". A recent Japanese population study found that by 2025, 27%, or 33.2 million people in Japan, will be aged over 60. It stands to reason, then, that the market for audiences - as well as actors - is growing. This fact has hardly


been overlooked by adult film entrepreneurs in the highly competitive pornography market.

Studies suggest that elder porn - adult videos with "actors" sometimes in their 70s - appears poised to be the next big money maker for the billion-dollar Japanese porn sector. Over the past few years, some have estimated that thousands of productions using older - even senior - porn talent have been released in the domestic pornography market; some have begun seeping overseas.

Having an active sex life well into old age is perfectly normal. However, launching a new career as a septuagenarian porn star is odd, if not awe-inspiring. Take 74-year-old Shigeo Tokuda (his stage name) who in the 14 years since retirement has appeared in over 350 adult films such as Maniac Training of Lolitas (2004) and Forbidden Elderly Care (2006).

As Time reported last week, "The Shigeo Tokuda series he has just completed portray him as a tactful elderly gentleman who instructs women of different ages in the erotic arts, and he boasts a body of work far more impressive than most actors in their prime."

There is a unique audience within Tokuda's age group he believes: "Elderly people don't identify with school [aged-girl] dramas," he says, speaking of standard-issue Japanese porn. "It's easier for them to relate to older-men-and-daughters-in-law series, so they tend to watch adult videos with older people in them.

"People of my age generally have shame, so they are very hesitant to show their private parts," Tokuda said in his recent interview with Time. "But I am proud of myself doing something they cannot. That doesn't mean that I can tell them about my old-age pensioner job."

If Tokuda ever wants to talk shop with a like-minded artiste, he may have to go to Russia where 75-year-old David Bozdoganov has also become a porn legend. The story of Bozdoganov, as recounted on Ananova.com, began when the Russian wandered into a porn audition after mistaking posters for seeking "erotic actors" as advertisements for a muscleman show. The rest is X-rated history.

Although Bozdoganov went on to produce an oeuvre that includes The Old Neighbor and The Handyman at Work, he has experienced some generational issues. As the Russian website reported: "His female co-stars always complain because David believes in the beneficial power of garlic and insists on rubbing it on his erection before a scene and it's rather smelly."

In Japan, so-called mature productions aren't just attracting men. In recent years, there has been increasing use of female performers, some of whom have also been in their 70s. This is a bold development for an industry that traditionally labels women in their mid- to late-20s as "mature". Usually, only "title girls", or the extremely beautiful, can headline top-selling productions once they reach their mid-20s.

Trends suggest that elder porn, boosted by demographics and profit-minded producers, won't get old any time soon. The total revenue spent on pornography in Japan - in the form of videos, magazines, anime, hentai, manga and adult-oriented role play video games - was a staggering US$19.98 billion for the fiscal year 2006. The US, by comparison, spent $13.33 billion for the same period.

Profits aside, there may be some societal benefit form elder porn as well. Perhaps such "seasoned" performers may be able to jump-start Japan's sagging sexual activity rates. For example, the World Health Organization reported in March that 25% of married Japanese couples had not had sex in the last year, and that more than one in three married couples over 50 said they no longer had sex at all.

And although the elder sex set won't do much to boost Japan's declining birth rate, it may stimulate healthy, fulfilling lifestyles among what will soon be the world's oldest population.

As for veteran porn star Shigeo Tokuda, he told Time he plans to keep working until he's 80 - or older.

William Sparrow has been an occasional contributor to Asia Times Online and now joins Asia Times Online with a weekly column. Sparrow is editor in chief of Asian Sex Gazette and has reported on sex in Asia for over five years.

(Copyright 2008 Asia Times Online (Holdings) Ltd. All rights reserved. Please contact us about sales, syndication and republishing.)

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