The One-Man Show

Back to Contents of Issue: September 2003

Rio Yasuda is what they call a hamedori, or a one-man porn director, one of hundreds that supply the voracious porn industry with material.

by David McNeill

Rio Yasuda is what they call a hamedori, or a one-man porn director, one of hundreds that supply the voracious porn industry with material. Yasuda writes and edits stories and shoots and acts in his own videos before selling them to magazines, satellite companies like SkyPerfecTV and Paradise TV and, increasingly, Webcasters. The 35-year-old does three shoots a week with women hired from modeling agencies, a job he claims is not as easy as it looks. "I can't to do it anymore without Viagra, and it blocks my nose, makes my heart go too fast and gives me a headache." The compensation is revenue of JPY1.2 million a month, about half of which comes from growing Internet sales.

For me, at least, adult magazines are stuck in the past. They're in terrible shape. People can find free porn photographs on the Net so they wonder why they should pay for it. The only adult publications that are selling well now are weekly-type magazines called jitsuwa, or true-life stories, which are actually full of lies. But they sell for about JPY300 to JPY400, cheaper than glossy magazines, and they're quite full of material so they're good value for money.

The influence of convenience stores is also very important for magazine sales. You used to be able to get adult publications in small book stores, but they're all nearly gone now and the bigger stores won't stock them. That leaves the family stores, but they're really strict about what they sell and they are really powerful now.

Adult video is a little better because most have long term relationships with retailers for a certain number of releases, and this hasn't really changed. But the Internet will definitely hurt video sales too.

I'm focusing on the Net, on Web streaming. I make half my income from Net sales now, and it's growing. Most Net firms still can't make money, but they will someday. Credit card sales will become more popular. Magazines won't die, but they will become a niche industry. The bigger picture is that there will just be so much more of this stuff around, the market will get much tougher.

The porn satellite boss
Porn barons probably don't get more affable than Michiyuki Matsunaga, the 56-year-old president of 24-hour sex channel Paradise TV. A self-confessed family man, Matsunaga positions photos of his children and grandchildren on his office desk beside images of his company's Bacchanalian shenanigans in the four-story building that houses his company in West Shinjuku.

An award-winning documentary filmmaker before trying his hand with satellite porn after the airwaves were liberalized in the late 90s, Matsunaga now claims revenue of over JPY100 million a month in subscription fees from cable and satellite operators and love hotels in Japan, the Philippines, Hawaii and elsewhere.

During our interview a television monitor in the corner of the room shows a semi-naked woman pottering around her small apartment "somewhere in Tokyo." "She's an ordinary housewife," says Matsunaga. "We pay her JPY30,000 to JPY40,000 a day to have a fixed camera on her all the time.

"I worked in the sales department of a company called Tsuburaya (makers of Ultraman) for 10 years. When I was there I learned that the big issue was copyright. You could merchandize Ultraman all over the place, sell abroad, repeat broadcast. They haven't made Ultraman in years, but it still makes money.

"When the broadcast market was deregulated I decided to go into business, but licenses were hard to get. The qualifications were tough, and you needed a lot of capital to start up. We finally got our license in 1998, but we had no programs and no money left, so I decided to make something that is cheap and which few others will touch -- adult entertainment.

What do we make? Anything that sells. Naked English lessons, people having sex in front of a panel of judges, housewives, young guys, old men. It's all a bit of harmless fun, but people do the stupidest things in this business!

Our strength is that we own all the rights to our shows and we broadcast 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. We employ 80 people, up from 15 at the start. Our big customer is SkyPerfecTV. We earn up to JPY85 million a month from selling to them. About another JPY20 million comes from cable TV and love hotels, and we sell video-on-demand to Hawaii.

We market products over the Internet in English, Russian, Korean and Japanese. We have 10,000 subscribers a month paying JPY2,000 each, and we have also started to sell short clips to keitai companies. The Net is becoming a bigger part of our business, but it's still comparatively small. @

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