The JAV actor hierarchy: the different roles, pay ranges, and how big a penis you need to become one

Published : August 19th, 2020 Written by jta

Popular JAV performers Shimiken and Yoshimura Taku show no hesitation when asked about the most important quality of an AV actor: communication skills.  The ability to make the actress feel at ease, to turn the highly scripted acts into something that doesn't feel mechanical, to perform consistently throughout long hours in uncomfortable positions, and, yes, to ejaculate on cue, is what separates the best JAV actors from the rest.

With such stringent requirements, that go way beyond what the casual JAV watcher thinks when he stares at the screen and then looks down to his own thing (more on this later), it is not that surprising that there are few male actors. It is said that there are only 70 facing several thousand actresses active at any point in time. This is not the whole picture, however. Thankfully Shimiken, one of those who sit at the top, has explained in great detail the hierarchy of male JAV performers, what each role entails, and even how much they're paid at each level:

Shimiken's hierarchy of AV actorsShimiken's hierarchy of AV actors


Starting from the bottom, extras will never come close to the main actress (the luckiest ones might get to fondle a female extra in one of those "titty fondling"-themed movies), and receive accordingly little to no pay (a token exchange of money is sometimes preferred for legal/contractual coverage).

Soup men and fellatio actors

A level above, "soup men" are in charge with providing the, huh, "soup" (semen). They are expected to masturbate in front of the actress and provide seminal coating when requested. They are judged by their timing, amount, and skill at face painting, and accordingly categorized in lower, middle, upper ranks, and "soup ace". For the most part, they won't ever get to touch the actress. Many have this as a side job, for the pay ranges between 1,000 and 10,000 yen (9 to 90 USD) per ejaculation, adding up to a monthly total of up to 100,000 to 330,000 yen (940 to 3,100 USD, if they manage to shoot nearly every day). No cum means no pay. Shimiken estimates that there are around 100 to 300 soup men. All for your onanistic enjoyment. All for your onanistic enjoyment.

"Fellatio actors" are lucky enough to receive oral service from the actress, and like other soup men are expected to make beautiful facials. Their pay is a bit higher, in the 10,000-15,000 yen range (90 to 140 USD) a shot.

Regular actors

Skilled fellatio actors, and those who prove their determination (most readers will be familiar with Shimiken's early story, where he literally had to eat shit and ended up spending the 150 USD he earned to treat what he described succinctly as a "shit disease"), can be promoted to the position where they are actually entrusted with the critical task of having sex with planning actresses 1-on-1.  They can also do 3P scenes with solo (both kikatan = freelance and exclusive) actresses.

It is only at this level that a performer can start to be referred to as an "AV actor", and he will accordingly be given a bentou and a towel when he arrives on set.  A typical pay is 15- to 30,000 yen a scene (140 to 280 USD), and 500,000 to 1,500,000 yen a month (4,700 to 14,000 USD).

This class is in high demand: the estimated 50 people in this category are extremely busy and can do around 50 shootings a month.

Who can be an actor? If you've seen any amount of JAV, you'll know that the answer is not "mainly jacked up guys", but rather "regular looking" (and yes, sometimes fairly disgusting, to fit the role) people. What about their tool of trade? Several actors refer that in fact it is better to be on the smaller side, because this will put less of a physical burden on the actress. All for your onanistic enjoyment. All for your onanistic enjoyment.

Shimiken's is 13cm long, which earned him the eco-chin ("eco-dick") nickname, as per the shikyuu ni yasashii pun ("easy on the womb") which sounds like chikyuu ni yasashii ("easy on the planet"). He also indicates that it is best for an actor prospect to be a premature ejaculator, for all the hardships of the shooting will resolve his condition (a normal person will have a hard time ejaculating when asked to, he says).

Top actors

Out of the 70 people who can rightly refer to themselves as "AV actors", around 20 belong to a higher category, with vastly increased responsibilities and higher stipends (up to 50,000 yen, 470 USD, a scene, and over 2,000,000 yen a month, 19000 USD). A top actor is the ultimate sex (for show) warrior, performs under pressure, exhibits superior combat ability both alone and in group, and can lead large armies, which means he can take the lead in orgies with many participants, can do hamedori (gonzo, POV filming), performs reliably in straining circumstances, has mastered intercourse and has some tricks up his sleeve (like special techniques). He can perform 1-on-1 with solo actresses, and can also be entrusted with their debut, which is considered an honor, given the importance of the first experience in the industry.

The pinnacle of the AV actor pyramid
These actors played themselves in the mainstream? Magmizer series, where a superhero fights the forces of evil using superpowers he obtains only when he's close to an AV performer (left to right: Ooshima Jou, Moribayashi Genjin, Shimiken, Kuroda Masatoshi, Yoshimura Taku, Tabuchi Masahiro).

Among top actors, Shimiken refers there's an elite of 5 who gained power, became able to transform their bodies, and even use strange spells. Well, no quite, but they are the only ones who can take the first time (on film) of big prospects like those you see in studios like S1 or Moodyz (and Muteki, the gateway to JAV for former celebrities, back in the day).

It is not hard to guess most of the names:

  • Shimiken
  • Sadamatsu Daisuke (seen in countless S1 debuts)
  • Moribayashi Genjin
  • Kuroda Yuto (Masatoshi)

the fifth would probably have been Odagiri Jun in the past, but now it could be Tamaki Rei.

Sadamatsu Daisuke Odagiri Jun Tamaki Rei
(left to right) Sadamatsu Daisuke and Odagiri Jun, two actors often used as a kind introduction to the AV scene. Tamaki Rei is seeing more activity as of late.

New hierarchy: VR

VR, as a relatively new genre very different from 2D movies, has got a completely separate actor hierarchy. There are only 4 actors specialized in VR. Surprisingly, other actors judge their work to be really hard: they have to remain absolutely static and quiet for a long time, and then must ejaculate on short notice. There is a rumor that AV actresses also deem VR to be quite hard, because they cannot rely on the male performer, and find it demands more acting skills to get a good performance. They don't even have a real person in front of them, but rather a huge camera with strange attachments (ears, plastic lips or appendage for kissing) that make it look like some creepy insect.

Giving impassioned glances to a robot?
This actress stares with passion at the creepy robot-like figure that stands for you, the viewer.

Back to the basics

Let's take a minute to talk about the importance of communication skills. Why are they so essential? A minute of reflection brings the answer: when he's on set, an AV actor serves two masters.

One is typically a middle-aged weirdo or Masaki Nao, everybody's favorite female director. The performer must do as requested and try to realize his/her creative vision, and the director might ask him to push the actress' limits in order to get the desired results. In particular, in movies whose theme payment processors and other financial entities don't allow us to mention, he must make the sex look really rough.

But there's a second boss of sorts: the actress. He must, to the possible extent, protect her physical and psychological integrity, make sure she is OK with everything, engaged and, of course, not in physical pain. It's not only a matter of basic decency, but also one of self-interest: if the actress doesn't like the way she's treated, she can issue a "no good" (NG) which will prevent the actor from working with her again. Too many NGs will limit his career opportunities, both because he cannot shoot with that actress again, and because studios/producers will not want to hire somebody who causes trouble with the talent.

Therefore, a good AV actor must master non-verbal communication and determine if he's going too far while following the script, it's appropriate to recall, agreed to beforehand. He must make the actress feel safe and sexy. So he knows how to make the pounding look brutal, or how to finger-bang her in a way that looks most intense, but doesn't actually hurt her.

Both Shimiken and Yoshimura Taku were NG'ed by Yoshizawa Akiho, likely because of their tendency to perform the anal drill (a technique that involves using the tongue in a cavity the reader will easily infer). Taku moreover got Asuka Kirara's NG after one of her first videos with Prestige. Even though it is said that the actresses who pick their partners don't make it far in the business, Acky and Kirara were both incredibly successful.

Why are there so few?

The path to becoming an AV actor is fraught with hardships, and provides neither financial stability, nor guarantee of success. The performance standards set by veteran actors are hard to attain for newbies. Even soup men are becoming somewhat rare: while the most competent ones are promoted to fellatio actors, those who're not that good at it usually leave eventually, because the pay is nowhere close to something they can really count on.

Actor waits for a boner. He feels the pressure on him.

An actor experiences trouble with his erection, the pressure on him growing by the second. Not getting hard is a problem by itself, but if the actress is affected by this, now he has two problems. Such an incident could be disastrous when shooting a newcomer's first scene. If there's something you don't want a big prospect to think in her first shooting (especially when it's somebody really promising, with a studio like S1), it's that she is not attractive enough to get an experienced pro hard. The blow to her self-confidence could be catastrophic. So her first partner must make sure he's got the firmest erection she's ever seen.

Foreign talent faces additional barriers: in addition to being fluent in Japanese, a candidate needs to have permanent residency. The Japanese society, as a whole, seems to have decided against immigration as a possible solution to population ageing, and robotics is seen as the elderly care of the future.  Will future JAV follow a similar track, and will a post-COVID world see AV actresses having sex, for some definition of sex, with artificial bodies with attached cameras? Time will tell.

The pinnacle of the AV actor pyramid

This performer's penis is still needed nowadays, but will things stay that way? Robots don't get neck pain, unlike this poor guy.

JAV actors hold powers beyond your wildest imagination.

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dgpar 3 years ago
Hi.Can you tell me who is the male jav actor in the movieSDMF-016.Thanks
JAV-Minded 3 years ago
Hello, do you have the answer why AV actor's fingers are dipped into a plastic glass of water? Thank you, Zenra!
ZENRA 3 years ago

It's just lotion.

Mary Poppins 3 years ago
When I lived in Japan, I had an Indian friend who knew a JAV director and he ended up starring in a movie. It was a 1 day shoot and paid 15,000 yen (about $150). The story was that he was an exchange student living with a host family and he ended up having sex with the mother and the two daughters.
ZENRA 3 years ago

You're either trolling or you gotta get us in touch with him because we showed his movie not too long ago:

Mary Poppins 3 years ago
Yeah that's him. I sent you a message via the contact form.
slurp 3 years ago
Acky's last pairing with Taku was in mxgs-446 and Kirara got Taku'd in hodv-20516 and then in hodv-20526, but as far as I can tell, never again after that.
AVenger 3 years ago
Great article as always. Does anyone know the code for Shimiken's debut?
ZENRA 3 years ago
Nope, and sadly there doesn't seem to be a really comprehensive JAV actor database like that. I'm pretty sure there are sites that have some lists linked to actors, but a truly A-Z would be a nice addition.
kim_sama_999 3 years ago
Well... Shimiken did use to work with V&R so that might be why he had to eat shit
Bizmuth 3 years ago
Shimiken's only 13 cm? The camera must be generous to him because I've always thought he's like 15cm. I've always wondered why they don't use the bigger actors more often (examples: Asano, Horio, Mumin, Carlos, etc) but I guess the actresses themselves would rather smaller ones since they do a lot of scenes, much more than your average western female porn actresses.
ZENRA 3 years ago

Actresses have described Shimiken as being 'gentle on the uterus'. 13cm may help with that.

Taku 3 years ago
What are some more cases of actors getting NGed by notable actresses?
jta 3 years ago
These NGs are for the most part secret, and theoretically the NGed person doesn't know it (he can have strong suspicions when he suddenly stops shooting with some actress, esp. if there was some incident or something felt wrong in the last interaction; also people talk and he'll probably find out if he's got enough acquaintances in the industry). The public only knows for sure in the rare instances where the actor blurts it out (like Shimiken & Taku wrt. Acky), and everything else is just conjecture.

One example of the latter is the belief held by many (me included) that Takahashi Shouko refuses to shoot with Yoshimura Taku. It's not a rare occurrence to see ppl on Japanese blogs demanding that she shoot with Taku at long last, and questioning her professionalism, especially when compared to Mikami Yua, who held a similar position as a former celebrity but is undeniably fully committed to her AV career and makes great scenes with Taku.

At this point, it's no longer a matter of career management (building anticipation for the "Taku ban lift"): she's shot with Sugiura and Imai Yuuta, she's changed her face altogether... there's nothing left of the original "gravure idol Takashou", so there's no sense of purity or whatever to preserve, and if anything not shooting with Taku hurts her career. So it looks like it's a deliberate refusal.
DigaRW 3 years ago
AV actor is not wildest dream man become of. Many people jealous and considered AV actors is lucky to sex with many women. But in reality, it's just job that shared many similarity with other common job. If there's no enjoyment in the working environment, then it would eventually tiresome job.
ZENRA 3 years ago
While the smiles in the header may indicate otherwise, JAV actors are pretty much at the bottom of a set's hierarchy. Maybe the only one lower would be a new hire AD. A-rank actors like Shimiken may have some clout, but not as much as they give off in interviews. Fans want to see beautiful women having beautifully shot sex; some actors are just better than others at working to achieve this outcome.
DigaRW 3 years ago
I used to dreams to become AV actor, but I buried that dream deeply because of personal reason. After I heard Shimiken eat shit in his first job, I did surprise and learn that being AV actor is actually not a thing I knew of. I even ever heard a rumor that JAV industry is actually exploited men and it's far worse than women exploitation.
ZENRA 3 years ago
To get to the top of JAV aching hierarchy, when you first start working, you accept ALL jobs sent your way. You want to be seen as reliable and eager.
coomer69 3 years ago
Very insightful article on a topic that is very difficult for a foreigner fan of JAV to access information about due to language barriers. Thank you for this!
ZENRA 3 years ago
Thank you coomer. I hope your username doesn't reflect the reality of your situation.
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