|Birthdate:||Oct 31, 1972|
|Born as:||Mitsuko Ishii|
|Other names:||Ai Candy|
|Height:||5' 4" / 1.63m|
Ai Iijima (飯島愛 Iijima Ai) (born October 31, 1972 in Tokyo, Japan) is a Japanese media personality.
- This article is about a Japanese porn star
Life and career
In her autobiography Iijima describes a troubled early life. She was raped in her early teens, and had an abortion, She ran away from home as a teenager, later stating, "I hated my parents, to the point where I would rather be coached by bums to sleep in parks wrapped in newspaper blankets."
In order to make a living during this time, Iijima worked in karaoke establishments, snack bars, Ginza hostess clubs, and in enjo kōsai (paid dating). She entered the entertainment business in her late teens, appearing on late night television programs wearing clothing such as thongs, short skirts, and even appearing topless. Her stage name was chosen by a fan survey.
Iijima's adult video debut was in 1992 for the Crystal Eizo AV company. She quickly became the top AV actress of the time, appearing in over 100 films. She became a hostess on the nighttime television program, Gilgamesh Night, where she became known as the "T-Back Queen," for her practise of turning her rear to the camera, lifting her skirt and flashing her G-string, known in Japan as a "T-Back". One of the top AV models by the age of 20, she decided to leave the porn business, intent on a career in mainstream entertainment.
After ending her career in adult videos, Iijima released a musical single in 1993 and soon became a regular on daytime TV talk shows. Before long, she became one of the most successful "tarento" (talent) to make the transition from pornography into mainstream entertainment. She even provided the story for her own manga series, Time Traveler Ai, in which she was featured as the main character. Publicly, Iijima became known for her outspokenness and ability to speak frankly about her past and her personal life. Privately, a friend says, "At first glance, Ai looks like the really rough around the edges, but she's actually really sensitive, and she always thinks of others in ways like giving them little presents. She's that type..."
In 2000 Iijima published Platonic Sex, a semi-autobiographical novel about a young girl who leaves home to escape her parents and ends up as an adult movie star. The book was a best-seller, selling over 1.7 million copies. By 2004, the book had been translated into Korean, Chinese, Spanish and Italian, and an English version was being planned. The novel was also made into a four-hour television series and a theatrical movie which Iijima supervised.
By 2002, Iijima had become a regular on several TV shows. With her pornographic past a decade away, Iijima was so well-known as a mainstream TV celebrity that many younger members of her audience were unaware that she had once been one of the top AV actresses. Items from her early career began going for high prices, and an unauthorized 2002 box-set release of her pornographic appearances sold very well, until her lawyers took it off the market.
Iijima's acceptance into the mainstream gave her access to the highest levels of Japanese society, including once having dinner with Junichiro Koizumi, who was Japan's Minister of Health and Welfare at the time. Iijima claims that on this occasion, the future Prime Minister discussed the sex life of dragonflies with her.
In November of 2004, Iijima was invited to speak about her past at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan. Later the same month, she participated in a United Nations program in Tokyo on AIDS awareness in the week leading up to World AIDS Day on December 1, 2004.
After the difficulties of her early life, Iijima's career in mainstream entertainment had been remarkably free of trouble for over a decade when she was victimized by an embezzler at her talent agency, who took about 100 million yen from her. Late in 2006, she took two weeks off from her position as panelist on the Sunday morning TV variety show, Sunday Japon. She later revealed in her blog that she was suffering from health problems, causing rumors of her possible retirement from show business to circulate in the press. In March 2007, when asked by the host of Sunday Japon whether rumors of her retirement were true, Iijima replied, "Yes, I have been wanting to quit for some time. I will announce my future plans next week."
Iijima's farewell appearance on the TV program KinSuma, on which she has been a regular for five years, was described as "a teary two-hour sayonara party complete with speeches, bouquets and lots of blubbering." However, when psychic Fujiko Kimura confronted Iijima on the program, telling her not to retire and suggesting that there was more behind the retirement announcement than had been made public, Iijima "seemed to admit as much and was reduced to tears." Whatever the circumstances leading to the decision, Ai Iijima's retirement at the age of 34 brings an end to what has been called "one of the more remarkable careers in the cutthroat Japanese entertainment world."
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