If you’re a JAV (Japanese adult videos) fan, then you may already know June Lovejoy, the foreign actress who frequently stars as the curvy English teacher in JAV films. Or maybe you’ve seen the queer actress on YouTube, where they (Lovejoy uses “they and them” pronouns) interview sex workers and various people in the JAV industry.
However, despite their current fame, Lovejoy never intended to pursue this career path.
Finding Freedom in the Adult Film Industry
Lovejoy came to Japan for a dream job as an interpreter, but the corruption at the Japanese company quickly soured their experience. If something went wrong with a project, Lovejoy would be habitually blamed just for being a foreigner.
“No matter how hard I worked it always felt like I was a scapegoat for when things didn’t go well in the company even though it wasn’t my fault,” Lovejoy says.
They also had problems with senior staff members who would harass new female hires. Despite reporting the harassment, nothing would change and the employees would soon quit. Eventually, Lovejoy left the corporate world based on the assumption that all Japanese companies are corrupt. They decided to explore the JAV industry due to their interest in human sexuality.
“I thought it [porn] was the most corrupt but at least I’d be making good money and I’d be able to express a side of myself that I couldn’t in a regular, non-adult themed job,” Lovejoy says.
Despite enjoying work as a porn actress more than as a corporate employee, Lovejoy still faces stereotyping. For example, coworkers will ask “What do foreign women like?” and Lovejoy will reply with their personal preference, but they will consider Lovejoy’s opinion as representative of every foreign woman.
On the other hand, Lovejoy notes they have more bargaining power and their contract provides more support when they experience issues at work. They previously didn’t have anyone to consult when their bosses abused their power. Now they have multiple parties protecting them. The end of every contract, for example, includes the contact information for a human rights group actresses can contact if they are being trafficked or forced against their will to make the film.
Contracts and Consent
Lovejoy expresses feeling safe due to the JAV contracts protecting them. For instance, a JAV contract clearly lists all sexual acts required from the actors in the film. If anything changes on set, the actors can stop production immediately and refuse to engage in the act.
These contracts typically note how long companies can use the film. There’s also a clause about who to contact after a certain period of time if an actor would like to take their film out of circulation for any reason.
“While the JAV industry can control used copies, downloads and new copies, they can’t control pirating,” Lovejoy explains.
Japan recently passed its first law to protect people being pressured to appear in adult films. The law allows those who appear in films to cancel their contracts within a year of the work’s release for any reason without paying penalty fees. It also states that JAV producers need to wait at least one month after a contract is signed to begin shooting and four months to release the work after filming.
Lovejoy says the new law is useless and even harmful and believes the government should hold agencies and scouts accountable rather than production companies, studios and actresses who already have similar contracts in place.
“…if someone’s going to be coerced, I don’t see it [the new law] helping them at all,” Lovejoy says. “They’re already being coerced right now.”
Rather than passing this new law, Lovejoy says it would be more helpful for an independent group with no vested interests to screen every girl who signs with an agency. The group should not have a stake in whether or not the girl signs the contract. Instead, they should make her aware of the nature of the work and the way it will affect her life so she can make an informed careful decision.
When it comes to other foreigners who want to enter the JAV industry, Lovejoy doesn’t recommend emailing an agency to ask to appear in a film unless they have a portfolio and fluent Japanese skills.
Addressing Misconceptions About the JAV Industry
Lovejoy is irked by negative assumptions that all women involved in the JAV industry are coerced and that they don’t have skills outside of acting in porn.
“The majority of people who are here just want to do it and enjoy doing it,” Lovejoy says.
Lovejoy also notes that people often forget the acting part of the job. Co-stars are coworkers and they are not all dating each other and sleeping with each other. Even though actresses act super sexual in their films and on their social media accounts, Lovejoy shares that many of them are just cuddly romantics in their private time.
Lovejoy attempts to clear up misconceptions about the sex industry via their interview channel “With Love and Joy” on YouTube, which also introduces English speakers to a more nuanced perspective on Japanese female sexuality. According to Lovejoy, many foreigners think Japanese women are “demure and pure” when that’s just a stereotype.
Lovejoy, like anyone else, likes to relax after a long, tiring day. Sex is usually the farthest thing from their mind after work. Their favorite hobby is chilling in hot springs, spending time with friends and playing with their cats.
“I also like going to BDSM bars but I don’t engage in anything. I just like being in an environment where I don’t need to explain my work,” Lovejoy says.
Queer in Japan
Due to their experiences growing up in the south of the US, where religion creates a negative perception of sexual minorities, Lovejoy enjoys the sexual freedom of Japan in comparison. While being LGBTQ in some parts of the US might lead to murder, harassment or firing from work, Lovejoy says that being queer in Japan means only ostracization. For instance, Japanese people might be surprised and distance themselves from discussions of sexuality with Lovejoy, but won’t become violent.
“I would prefer ambivalence to violence,” Lovejoy concludes.
As an AV actress, Lovejoy can express their queerness more openly. However, they’ve had some awkward experiences in Japanese media. When asked about their first sexual experience, interviewers will often expect a heteronormative answer even though Lovejoy’s first experiences were with women.
“…they’ll say ‘No no no, not that. Tell us about the first time with a guy. That’s wildly offensive to me but at this point, I’m used to it,” Lovejoy says.
Lovejoy’s experience with women comes in handy in the AV industry where they are often cast to co-star in lesbian and trans-women content. Studios like hiring them because they aren’t “gay-for-pay” and enjoy working with women. In fact, studios will often contact them to ask if they would co-star with a woman in her first film.
Life after JAV
Lovejoy admits that at some point they will need to quit acting, but they would still like to remain in the industry on the production side and continue addressing misinformation about the JAV industry.
Few foreigners are as lucky as Lovejoy to occupy such a singular space in Japanese society as a queer American JAV actress whose story has captured the hearts of those around them. They have clearly paved their own path driven by the pursuit of authenticity whether it’s in the departure from their agency to become a freelance JAV actress or in the creation of their educational and entertaining YouTube channel. What’s clear is their motivation to live an honest life doing what they are passionate about.
Featured image by Kazz Takahashi