Porn star memoir

"Platonic Sex" is a bestseller among Asian teens.

Published February 9, 2001 8:07PM (EST)

Mothers in America may wring their hands over their young children's obsession with Britney Spears and her pseudo-porn persona. They may even express disapproval over their teenagers' awareness and understanding of genuine XXX-rated stars like Jenna Jameson. But in Taiwan, young teens are buying up thousands of copies of a Japanese porn star's bestselling memoir. Many experts, including school administrators, don't seem to mind at all.

The 28-year-old Ai Iijima quit the porn biz eight years ago and now works as a television actress, but her legend lives on via the Internet, as well as in the fantasies of males throughout Asia. Her new autobiography, "Platonic Sex," chronicles her adventures as a young girl entering the porn video industry, having plastic surgery and getting paid for having sex with strangers. After the book was translated into Chinese, sales soared in Taiwan, with more than 70,000 copies snapped up in the last month and a half. It's already gone into eight editions, and is currently Taiwan's third bestselling book, surpassing the latest from Nobel literature laureate Gao Xingjian. Her popularity among teenage girls has been called the "Iijima phenomenon," and in some ways reflects the younger generation's open attitude towards sex.

Not everybody is pleased with a bestselling porn book popular with youth. Taiwanese women's groups fear that Ai Iijima's life story will encourage other young girls to drop what they're doing and run off to join the porn circus.

Tang Li-yen of the Women and Children Protection Foundation told the Straits Times, "It would encourage our young people to learn from Ms. Iijima."

Fans say they're learning much from the book, but more about overcoming teenage obstacles, not necessarily how to be a porn sensation. "I want to know how a former porn actress like her can finally find her way back to the right path and lead a normal life," said 17-year-old student Veronica Hsieh.

When reached for comment, Taiwan's education minister Tseng Chi-lang was not concerned at all, and said the Iijima phenomenon was just a "whirlwind," and would soon pass.

By Jack Boulware

Jack Boulware is a writer in San Francisco and author of "San Francisco Bizarro" and "Sex American Style."

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