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Cigarettes: Way Before You Die of Cancer, Your Idol Contract Gets Revoked


Some of you may still be outraged by the drug- and nudity-based exploits of 20 year-old American actress and singer Lindsay Lohan, and for those of you who say, “Yes, that’s me,” I urge you to sit down immediately. For in Japan, young stars are up to a level of debauchery and delinquency that shakes the whole foundation of society.

Kago Ai — the 19 year-old infantile idol and last recognizable face of the crumbling Morning Musume/Up Front Agency empire — has been forced out of the entertainment business. Her transgression? Getting caught smoking in public for the second time. You see — the legal age for igniting and inhaling the tobacco leaf is 20 in Japan. Had she been in her second porn film, that would have been perfectly legal.

(In case you feel the need to immediately change Kago’s page on Wikipedia, you can rest assured that somebody’s already taken care of it.)

Kago has also been dating a 37 year-old man, which does not look especially good for a young idol singer in her position. Had she been a real first-tier star, she would be one of the many secret lovers of her 65 year-old talent agency boss and would only be kicked out of the entertainment world once he discarded her for someone much younger. Cigarettes and a disrespectful, non-organizational outlook on love took years off of Kago’s career.

ZAKZAK sees her last career move as becoming an “Akiba-kei” (Akihabara-based) idol. Apparently getting thrown to the geeks is the lowest rung on the ladder.

W. David MARX (Marxy)
March 27, 2007

Marxy wrote a lot of essays back on his old site Néomarxisme. This is one of them.

16 Responses

  1. Duffy Says:

    Give Houston a wide berth for a while. Yes, I was there recently, but only for a week, and I can say with some confidence that, last time I checked, I am not a clean-shaven black man.

    And, no, you may not have your ascot back.

  2. Duffy Says:

    Oops, wrong blog!

  3. marxy Says:


  4. Adamu Says:

    Best comment ever?

  5. lauren Says:

    You’d think with so many H!P girls they’d have room for a bad girl or two, but as it stands they have distinguishing features like ‘the girl who is scared of lizards the *most*’ or ‘the girl who is the youngest right now’.

    But seriously, I wonder how Tsuji Nozomi feels with her twinsy getting herself axed for reals this time?

    And do the fans bail on a girl as quickly as H!P imagines they do? Do Kago fans feel like they ended up betting on the wrong horse by picking her as their favorite?

  6. Brad Says:

    Reading that article, the thing that blew my mind was that after she got caught smoking and was sent away for a year, when she came back, she was relegated to pouring tea and fetching copies in the office while waiting for the “right time” to make a comeback. Holy shit, talk about degrading.

    Maybe Avex will take her over like they got Suzuki Ami or something.

  7. marxy Says:

    “she was relegated to pouring tea and fetching copies in the office while waiting for the “right time” to make a comeback. Holy shit, talk about degrading.”

    Again – “idols” are not artists with individual rights. They are contract employees of the company. And making them type or clean the office is no different than having them dance or sing.

  8. marxy Says:

    On the other post, Chuck F wrote but meant to write here:

    Now you’ve got me intrigued Marxy Marx –

    Are these idols contracts based on some type of profit-sharing? I mean is she literally getting paid the same amount of money to pour tea and fetch copies? This isn’t seen as a punishment time, they are just paying her assumingly obscene amounts of money to be a secretary because she still has contract time left?

    Kinda on topic, wondering how far this runs, Looking back at your previous posts on muscians and not just idols getting bit by this. Does this apply to self-run rockers on major labels too? if someone like Koumoto Hiroto got caught doing some type of illict drug, do you really think BMG would up and drop him?


    1) Sony recalled the records of Makihara Noriyuki – recalled! – when he was caught doing speed with his boyfriend. Yeah, being gay is not so cool when it is not “hard gay.” He was not in the Sony Artists Management jimusho if I remember correctly. There was just a need for the record label to create a distance from him.

    Since he is back to having a career, my guess is that his records are un-recalled.

    2) “Are these idols contracts based on some type of profit-sharing?”

    No. She is on a salary like most artists. They make the same wage as an OL and collect no personal royalties on anything. Even if they write a song, they have signed away their publishing 100% to the jimusho. When Puffy was selling millions of records their first year, they were still making 200,000 a month. Only when your contract gets re-negotiated can you bump up your earnings.

  9. Adamu Says:

    Just a question to clarify: On TV during the many ‘industry insider’ type jokes everyone talks about “gyara” – ‘guarantee’ payments for participants in a show. This does actually exist right? And do musicians/other tarento receive it/get to keep it?

  10. marxy Says:

    I think it depends on the contract. And a common trick is that your production company books you for 200,000, tells you it’s 100,000, takes 80% of that (or whatever their fee is) and then pockets the difference. Since you are not allowed to deal with the TV show personnel on your own, you have no idea what your actual fee is.

  11. Aceface Says:

    Jimusyo is a double edged sword for idols and artists.It guarantees you some income whether you make money or not on CD sales and would nudge you into TV world.But then again it takes away all the freedom you were suppose to be enjoying as a free individual.

    Makihara Noriyuki never had any trouble with his jimusyo for being homosexual as far as I concern.
    He,however is now on trial with manga artist Matsumoto reiji over Matsumoto’s accusation of lyric theft by Makihara.Makihara sued Matsumoto for damaging his reputation.Depends on the course of the trial,change may occur to his career.

    Puffy was a pet project by Okuda Tamio and I think their debut song “Asia no jyunshin,Pure hearts of Asia”was written by Inoue Yousui,industry big shot and veteran singer song writer who is also close friend of Okuda.Ami and Yumi was bunch of girls picked up by jimusyo and
    put together for Okuda’s project.Nobody thought at the time that they would thrive for more than a decade nor make it big in the states.So 200,000yen a month seems to me a fair deal at that point of the history.

    There is a book called “ex-idols”元アイドルa book with series of interview to former idols speak up about their days and how jimusyo ruined their careers by writer and cult celeb interviwer,Yoshida Go吉田豪.Interesting reading.

  12. marxy Says:

    “Makihara Noriyuki never had any trouble with his jimusyo for being homosexual as far as I concern.”

    It was clearly the shabu that did him in for a while, but it didn’t help that he was also outed at the same time.

  13. Eddie Lin Says:

    Hey Marxy,

    Love the blog. Listen, I was wondering if I could pick your brain about nyotaimori (body sushi). I read your Aug. 2006 post about it.
    I’m writing a piece for the NY Times. Thanks!

  14. marxy Says:

    You can contact me at marxy (at mark) but I am pretty sure that Aug. 2006 piece you read was highly sarcastic in a underplayed way.

  15. marxy Says:



    I had it in my memory that the commenters figured out that the entire essay was bullshit (at least from when I get off of the InoKashira line and go home), but looking back, I left a lot of people wondering what all these weird non-googleable and non-writable-in-japanese terms were. Oops.

  16. bhauth Says:

    As long as we’re talking about things we’d like to see, how about something on the modern day evolution of irony in Japan? It seems like the US and Japanese take on, say, Ramenz, is quite different.