Kaoru Kuroki: JAV’s Unconventional First Superstar

Published : June 24th, 2021 Written by Fried Chikan

With the recent release of Netflix’s The Naked Director, audiences were captivated by it’s offbeat humor, 1980’s setting, and of course it’s risque subject material. With some eyes and finger tips being keyed onto it’s female lead, Megumi. Megumi, portrayed by Misato Morita, is based on the real life adult actress Kaoru Kuroki. 

(Netflix's The Naked Director)

Though her time in the industry was short, Kaoru made her mark with her unconventional ideas, attitudes, thoughts, and her adult video work. She could be considered Japanese Adult Video’s (JAV) first true superstar, crossing over from adult video to mainstream television.

A Conventional Background

Born into a middle class household of modest means, Kaoru was a naturally gifted and artistic student. Leaving public school at 15 to study at and art college and later studying fine arts at the prestigious Yokohama National University. When learning of her background, many viewers were simultaneously mystified and entranced by her entry into the adult video career choice.

(The real and fictional Kaoru)

An admirer of radical film makers such as Nagisa Oshima, Ingmar Bergman and Bernardo Bertolucci. Oshima in particular was known for his sexually explicit film “In the Realm of the Senses”. Kaoru tried to approach the medium as a performance art form, an approach that gave way quickly. In an interview she describes JAV as "not very sophisticated”, calling it primitive and likening it to ordering off a menu of restaurant. Adult video’s low brow nature ultimately proved to be more of a turn on than a turn off. 

An Unconventional Adulthood

The fine arts major first chose to appear in adult video when looking for a way to pay for expenses to study abroad in Italy. With her first video selling extremely well and the experience sexually liberating, and so began her short but prolific career into the public eye.

Working with major studio Crystal-Eizou and often paired with the innovative and controversial director slash actor Toru Muranishi, her videos proved to be both popular and polarizing. Many of their videos started with her interviewing; talking about herself or topics on subjects like sexual conventions and liberation. She would chose the stage name Kaoru Kuroki which loosely translates to "Black wood Fragrance".

Even by JAV standards, Kaoru was atypical from most actresses. Many of her videos centered on BDSM with her taking on either submissive or dominate roles. BDSM at the time being a far more alien and deviant concept than it is now. Her outrageous video choices paired with her frenetic and free attitude proved to be immensely popular with AV’s audience.

Into the Mainstream 

Her popularity was not restricted to adult audience and she would enter into the mainstream consciousness with her television interviews. While many adult actresses are engaged with media to promote themselves and their videos; Kaoru gained national notoriety when revealing her conscious decision to not shave her arm pits. 

In her interviews she would speak about on topics like sex, feminism, and changing social attitudes among the newer generation. Her well spoken eloquence and her modest demeanor, paired with her frankness and candidness made her a popular television guest. She became a regular on day time panels and as late night show guests. Kaoru saw a rise in mainstream popularity, a rarity in adult actresses at the time.

Like many adult actresses, her tenure was only a short one. She retired from filming JAV in 1990 and from the public eye in 1994. However she should be remember not only for her adult work but her radical views on pornography, sex, and feminism. Kaoru would lay the groundwork for future actresses, gaining mainstream media attention. As well as normalizing sex, desire, and BDSM for the general public. Detractors of porn may characterize it just sin in video form or dismiss it as smut for deviants but Kaoru is an example of porn being more than just what it is at face value. It can have an impact society and reflect the growing and changing attitudes on sex by newer generations.

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Joopten 2 years ago
Such a shame the second season was so miserable. Well made, but where was the fun of the first season. I was so disappointed.
ZENRA 2 years ago

I think each season had a different purpose. As an industry fan boy, I definitely liked the first more, but the second is quality in a different way.

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