Porn might be illegal in mainland China, but that hasn’t stopped amply-bosomed sex-kitten Sora Aoi attaining a level of celebrity there practically unheard of for an adult actress (let alone a Japanese one).
With her Chinese name now registering more than 41 million page hits on Google (exceeding the not-inconsiderable likes of Mao Zedong, Yao Ming and Confucius) the sexy, savvy JAV idol’s star is most definitely on the rise.
Having made her AV debut in 2002 (aged 18, in the Alice Japan release Happy Go Lucky!), the now-27-year-old Sora quickly branched out into other areas, and as of this year has featured not only in Japanese variety shows and dramas, but also in the award-winning Thai movie Hormones and on Korean TV. Expanding her horizons beyond not only the genre that launched her but the shores of her homeland itself has seen Sora begin to make a name for herself all across Asia.
‘But it’s China,’ writes The Daily Beast‘s Isaac Stone Fish ‘where an increasingly open-minded middle class pushes back against government censorship, where Sora and her team have been concentrating most of their efforts.’
Of particular note is Sora’s popularity among China’s denizens of the interwebs (her Weibo account – think a Chinese Twitter – sees her every published thought, no matter how trivial, forwarded and commented upon literally thousands of times). ‘Sora is so popular because she has really communicated with Chinese netizens,’ Hecaitou, an influential Chinese blogger, is quoted as saying.
Publicly practicing her Chinese calligraphy; studying Mandarin; launching an effort to raise relief funds for a major earthquake in Western China – Sora’s sincere efforts ‘[seem] to resonate with everyday Chinese men.’ ‘There are some AV stars who are very fake,’ muses William Peng, a 26-year-old salesman from Shanghai ‘I think Sora’s not too artificial or insincere.’
Her level of popularity with the Chinese everyman (and woman) ranges from the sweetly supportive (‘Even though Sora has taken off her clothes, she’s just a saint who’s also taken off her clothes.’) to the outright hilarious – one police station became a laughing stock when netizens uncovered that it had set up a Weibo account solely for the purpose of following Sora.
As The Daily Beast’s article puts it: ‘That a porn star in China can reach 2.8 million fans on Sina’s Weibo and become part of the domestic debate…shows the widening space for controlled sexual expression in Chinese media… Ultimately though, Sora faces one possibly insurmountable hurdle in her rise to Chinese superstardom. To be blunt: She’s Japanese.’
Whether or not lingering cultural resentment between China and Japan will scupper Sora’s chances of capitalising on her newfound celebrity remains to be seen, but, with enterprising young Chinese routinely dodging firewalls or arranging illicit meetings under bridges to get a hold of her material, it seems a safe bet that she won’t be easily ejected from the public conciousness (‘[Even] the big news websites have her,’ says Xu Cheng, a student ‘We don’t need to look at the websites we’re not supposed to in order to see her.’). As befitting someone with the pseudonym ‘Sora’, for this red-hot goddess the sky really is the limit.
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