The Mistique is no Mystery

Erik Jay
Most Americans get their news and information from a few shallow reservoirs of knowledge, primarily newspapers, tabloids, television and movies. About other countries and cultures — even ones as putatively close as America’s largest trading partner, Japan — the American public knows precious little.

Some of our fellow citizens think that the last great samurai warrior was an American who looked like Tom Cruise, that the Japanese are sexually repressed and that Japan’s government routinely censors explicit adult materials.

These people, of course, are wrong on every count.

The fact is, you just might learn more about the Japanese — their history, culture and, certainly, their sexuality — by watching a few Japanese adult films from Third World Media than you would from a dozen cliché-ridden documentaries. You can thank Steve Scott for that. He’s a man on a cross-cultural mission.

“In every movie,” says Scott, Third World Media founder and president, “I incorporate bits of Japanese culture in interesting ways, so people can learn about Japan. I love the country, the people and the culture.” Scott says he grew up knowing that he’d be in business, and that somehow, in some way, it would involve Japan. The obvious first step was to move there.

“I started out in Japan,” Scott recalls, “by founding Samurai Video.” Fluent in the language and thoroughly acculturated, Scott not only produced his own films, he secured rights to other companies’ titles for distribution in Japan. (Scott still has a hand in this part of the business, but his firm’s main focus is its own product lines.)

When Scott returned to the U.S. in 1999, Samurai Video became, in quick succession, Asian Eyes Pictures and, finally, Third World Media. “When we were producing product in Japan,” Scott recalls, “we did the casting, the shooting, the editing — everything that Asian Eyes and TWM ended up doing.”

Scott’s personal and professional relationships in Japan “go back 15 years” and he considers himself “pretty much half-Japanese,” which is why he and Third World Media have successfully avoided being labeled as inauthentic.

Third World Media, which focuses on Asian, Latin, transsexual and interracial movies, is not exclusively Asian, or anything else, but the Japanese titles are reportedly “huge” moneymakers. Part of this is due to the company’s vow to provide only “the most authentic hardcore action.” In fact, says Scott, “authenticity is key,” so strict quality control is essential, start to finish. Scott personally travels to Japan every few months and has productions going nonstop in Thailand, Brazil and other exotic locales as well.

Still, it is the Japanese niche that carries the heaviest load of “magic and mystique” for Western porn fans. Some Japanese (and Japanese-American) porn producers downplay the notion of the “mysterious Orient” with its exotic enchantresses, which Scott attributes to their “Japanese angle and perspective. My market is in other places, both in Asia and the West, while they may aim for the underground Japanese market.”

Along with Coca-Cola and candy bars, Japanese vending machines also dispense beer and pornography. In commercial areas, Scott notes, “every other store is a sex shop of some kind.” According to America’s moral minority, just seeing these stores and vending machines should cause adolescents to go deaf, dumb and blind. Yet it is manifestly not happening.

On the other hand, Japan is no bastion of individual liberty. The government’s heavy hand is seen in every hardcore video legally sold there: the notorious mosaic, that array of blurry tiles carefully positioned over the genitalia. The underground Japanese market comprises of movies whose digital fig leaves have been removed by special software, in addition to titles both pirated and purposely produced for illegal sale.

Third World Media stays well within the law as a strict corporate policy. Interestingly, there is a large element of this kind of self-policing going on in Japan’s porn industry. “In Japan,” Scott explains, “there are no paperwork requirements. Companies aren’t obliged to have model releases or check ID’s.” The law is clear, however, that models must be 18, and that the mosaic needs to cover the naughty bits.

“If you miss a fraction of an inch of a penis,” Scott says, “you’re going to jail. If you shoot underage girls and the cops find out, it’s big trouble.” Still, Scott’s bottom-line judgment is that the Japanese porn industry “is not overregulated.”

Some Japanese porn starlets are getting famous, and have become “too expensive” for Third World Media productions. “Models here, like the U.S., come and go pretty quickly,” Scott observes. “Since we prefer to use first-timers, it works out. With a few girls we have ongoing relationships, not exactly like ‘contract stars’ but close.”

The younger generation in Japan is quite Westernized, yet some cultural taboos remain. One is having “real sex” in a porn movie. Ironically, the use of the mosaic provides any still-slightly-hung-up porn starlet with what Scott calls “a psychological barrier” — they can claim the sex was simulated (it often is, too) and no one can prove otherwise.

Other changes have affected the attitude and appearance of today’s young Japanese women. “They’re very Western in fashion and thinking, and body types are also changing,” Scott reports. “With beef and other Western food in the diet, we’re seeing more and more girls with large breasts.” For Third World Media, this means the venerable “10 Little Asians” series featuring flat-chested “chicks” has been joined by the new “Hello Titty” line of big-breasted Japanese mamas.

Scott is a busy guy these days. He is not just serving the current market with his exotic wares, but staying abreast of the cultural, economic and technical aspects of his international operations, with one eye on the ever-changing future. This, too, dovetails nicely with Third World Media’s business philosophy. “Our products,” says Scott, “are always fresh, always new.”


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