"You want some Miyabi?”Budi, a youngish pirated-DVD merchant, grinned and grinned, like he was letting me in on a delicious secret as he flashed me a copy of one of the adult movies from his extensive collection. The DVD cover art was a badly designed collage constructed of pictures of the attractive 23-year-old Japanese porn actress Maria Ozawa, also known as Miyabi.
“It’s really hot, bro,” Budi (not his real name) said, as he tried to persuade me to buy the film.
“No, I already have that one,” I said, fibbing my way out of the situation.
As I squeezed between the crowded rows of DVDs in Budi’s stall in Glodok, West Jakarta, I heard him repeat his offer to every passing young male.
I had heard that since Miyabi’s thwarted plan to visit Indonesia to star in the locally produced film “Menculik Miyabi” (“Kidnapping Miyabi”), an increased number of pirated adult movies had been confiscated in police raids. But it seems Budi and his many comrades are far from running out of stock.
As I approached Budi again to pay for the DVDs I’d chosen, he continued his sales pitch, holding aloft the Miyabi DVD for all to see.
“Bro, she’s so hot and nice,” he insisted, sounding like a Californian surfer-dude.
Going with the flow, I tell him a few jokes about Miyabi, whose titles include “Fallen Urine-Drinking Pig Idol,” “Obscene Nymphomaniac 5,” “Share a 24 Hours Full of Sex with Maria!” and “Nakadashi Raped for 100 Consecutive Times!”
I finally tell him “I prefer my porn free or cheap from the Net.” It takes me fully 10 minutes to untangle myself from Budi’s web of Miyabi-ness.
And all I wanted was the new season of the animated television series “Dora the Explorer” for my nephew.
Budi is but a tiny ant in the world of JAV, or Japanese adult video, sales in Indonesia.
From soft core to more controversial genres such as sadomasochistic porn, and the uniquely Japanese “tentacle rape” genre, JAVs offer something for every possible taste.
Japanese porn has been available in Indonesia since the early 2000s, when it was mostly sold in stationery stores near universities, the most notorious of which were in North Jakarta.
With the rise of the Internet, JAV spread its wings, and more and more JAV communities and online merchants began popping up, offering thousands of titles.
Unlike Budi and other pirated DVD merchants on the street, they specifically sell JAVs, and at higher prices than the standard Rp 7,000 per pirated DVD.
Information regarding the actresses also became easier to track down online, and by early 2002, JAVs were becoming increasingly well known all over the world.
Porn connoisseurs in the Western world also began to show an interest, leading to the establishment of JAV-dedicated Web sites, including javtalk.com and scanlovers.com,
JAV itself has been prevalent in Japan since the early 1980s, and has introduced many starlets, who are referred to as “AV Idols.”
It was not until late 2005 that Miyabi gained recognition with her debut film, “New Face — Number One Style.”
Ari (not his real name) is an online JAV merchant who has been selling JAVs through his blogspot and various Internet forums since 2008.
“Miyabi’s [planned] visit? No effect at all. Longtime JAV fans have long since moved on,” Ari said.
John (not his real name), another internet JAV merchant who splits his time between college and a full-time job, agrees.
“The ones who are rushing out to buy her films are probably curious people and newer fans. To longtime JAV fans, she’s old news,” he said.
Both John and Ari said they were pocketing good money from online sales.
John said he sold an average of 30 DVD sets a month through Internet forums. A set costs Rp 250,000 and contains 10 DVDs on a theme like bondage, Lolita or the collected works of a particular actress.
John said he was in the business for the money, but also because he is “personally a fan of JAV.”
Vero (not his real name), a 40-something veteran JAV seller, said he was in the business because “I love JAV.”
He said it could be difficult to meet the surging demand.
“I also have a full-time job, so sometimes I just have to say no to orders, because it takes time to burn the files, pack and ship them.”
Bob (not his real name), a 29-year-old graphic designer and online JAV merchant, said selling JAV DVDs “is pretty rewarding financially, especially because there is no promotional cost. You just keep updating your thread on the [online] forums and Web site. You can also post ads for free [on marketplace Web sites], which gets you Google hits.”
Denny, 30, is another online DVD merchant.
He said his main sales were educational and science-based DVDs.
“Selling JAV is just a side thing,” he said, although he admitted that it comprised almost “50 percent” of his income.
Meanwhile, Ari — whose full-time job is as a stock officer in a Jakarta mall — said as a “new face in the business” he was still struggling with sales.
“I only make enough to upgrade my PC once in a while, and pay for my Internet bills” he said.
So, has there been a crackdown on pornography since the whole Miyabi media extravaganza?
While some online forums are still allowing pornographic film sales, the more prominent ones have completely banned them — but not because of recent raids.
One official statement on a prominent Internet forum went: “We’ve had many complaints from [social organizations] voicing their objection toward adult DVD sales on our forums. … We will ban anyone who does not comply.”
Still, the business continues to be lucrative, perhaps due to the lack of control by the local cyberpolice.
Unlike most international online stores, almost all of the JAV DVD payments are done through bank transfers.
Denny said: “Basically, they look at the DVD list on the Web site, then they e-mail or text us the order. No phone calls. After which we send them our bank account. They will let us know when they’ve paid [100 percent] of the price [which includes shipping costs].”
“It’s based on trust” said Nino, a self-professed “JAV freak of five years,” who frequently orders DVDs from Denny and Ari.
“I’ve never had any problem with buying from the Net. After we pay, the package always arrive in one or two days. It’s like eBay, but sexier,” the 21-year old said, giggling uncontrollably.
Shouldn’t it be easy for authorities to track down these merchants simply by posing as a buyer and tracing their account details?
Denny said: “There’s ways of getting around that, but sorry I can’t tell you what they are.”
Vero explained a little more thoroughly. “Basically, you can buy bank accounts [with fake names and addresses] online ... They are untraceable accounts.”
The merchants also never conduct any businesses on their home computer, preferring to hop around various Internet cafes to avoid being traced through their IP (Internet Protocol) number, which is traceable to each private computer.
John said to distinguish their numerous orders, the merchants assign “unique numbers” to each buyer.
For instance, if someone’s total purchase was Rp 50,000 and their “unique number” was 015, then they would have to transfer Rp 50,015.
According to all of those interviewed, almost all of their JAV collections were downloaded from the Internet.
Vero said that most people were still too lazy to download films themselves.
“Miyabi. Booorrring,” John said to me in broken English before reverting back to Indonesian.
“Every month, there is a new idol who is hotter than her. Trust me, this is a promising business if you stick with it,” he said. “We are slowly spreading the good word of JAV.”
PS: Together with many of our Indon friends we were very concerned about Miyabi during the Japanese radiation event. We were not bothered by the other Japanese as we believe them to receive more-than-sufficient help from their freely-elected government: we were only troubled by the situation of what we are convinced as Japan's National Treasure.