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Jade-Blue Eclipse seemed to have done it all on the illicit and shadowy side of life. Sex work. Stripping. Acting in adult films. Cabaret and bondage-a-go-go. Performing in fetish clubs. Erotic contortion and acrobatic work.
She even opened her own crime-scene cleaning business.
But Jade recently took on a new mysterious role: international fugitive.
Her arrest this past August, which sent her into hiding, was only the latest struggle the performer has had in a lengthy fight to stay in the United States.
Jade had been living in the U.S. as an undocumented immigrant since she moved here with her mother from Japan more than two decades ago. She was abandoned as a teenager. After years of frustration, and failed attempts to get a "green card," Jade lied on her U.S. passport application by using the identity of a deceased American.
A special agent with the U.S. Department of State's Diplomatic Security Service spotted inconsistencies in Jade's paperwork early last year and located her online. After setting up a meeting in a cafe, the feds swooped in, handcuffed her, and took her to jail.
Jade's bust comes at a time when the Diplomatic Security Service has launched an aggressive campaign against passport fraud, a felony it says can be linked to forged credit cards, drug trafficking, and even terrorism.
But is this former sex worker and well-known San Francisco performance artist really a serious threat to national security?
That question may never be answered in court. Jade has no interest in spending time in prison, so last month she broke the law again. The nimble contortionist slipped out of the country and set off for a spiritual journey to the Amazon.
"So I felt compelled to not engage in this game anymore," Jade wrote in a Jan. 2 e-mail from South America. "I have better things to do with my time."
Her first name is not Jade-Blue, but Takako. Most people know her as Jade-Blue Eclipse, Jadeblue Lotos, or simply Jade.
She was only 8 years old when her mother brought her and her brother from Nagasaki to San Jose. Her mom started working in her sister's beauty salon, with the promise that the aunt would help her get a green card. But the aunt did nothing to help the family gain legal status. Jade's brother had a lot of health problems and the family never seemed to have enough money. After five years of waiting, with no green card in sight, her mom decided to move back to Japan.
Jade, 13, stayed behind.
She played violin on the street and drifted around the Bay Area, staying with women she'd befriended. It wasn't easy, but Jade thinks Japan would have been a hard place for her to grow up, too, because she always struggled to fit into the mainstream. She used to think she was a cat, and she'd collect dead animals trying to bring them back to life. "I was such a weird kid to begin with," she said. "In Japan, it's even worse."
By the time she was 16 years old, Jade had settled into San Francisco and joined the city's sex work industry. She says it was the only job that would pay her enough money to get by and she could do it without proper identification. Jade didn't keep track of how much money she made doing "all kinds of sex work," but she says she loved her work.
"It's amazing to be able to share something profound and sacred with people," she said in a recent e-mail. For Jade, sex work was about more than just sex. For her, it was a way to offer men deep healing and love. "For the most part, I usually ended up being with guys that really loved me and wanted to be around me." Her pride in her work may explain why she's always been open about how she made a living. "She's danced for money," a 1999 article about Jade in the Webzine GettingIt.com reads. "Fucked for it, too." Despite her profession, she identified as a lesbian for years.
Jade acknowledges that being left to fend for herself at such an early age shaped her life and personality. But she refuses to see herself as a victim. "It's easy for my story to be sad. Like, 'Oh, I was forced into prostitution,'" she said. "But to find the beauty in life, in living in joy I feel that is very much my service." The word "forced" is not a word Jade uses to describe her life. She talks more about doing what feels natural to her at the time.
When Jade started dancing, she found that she most enjoyed stripping in San Francisco's seedier establishments. "I like the sleazy, dirty ones," she said. "They're the most fun."
It was in one of those clubs that she met prolific porn director and writer David Aaron Clark, who became one of her best friends and a frequent collaborator. Clark has gone on to specialize in adult films featuring Asian women, but was then an editor and writer for the now-defunct Spectator magazine. He was on assignment patrolling San Francisco's various strip clubs for the magazine when he first saw Jade. "I can tell you the specific moment," Clark said. "She's one of those people that you always remember the moment you met them."
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