By Emma Silvers
By Gary Moskowitz
By Alee Karim
By Ian S. Port
By Ian S. Port
By Derek Opperman
By Emma Silvers
By Alee Karim
While training with Lu Yi, Jade got what many acrobats would consider to be their big break. Cirque du Soleil wanted to hire her for Zumanity, its Las Vegas show devoted to eroticism, acrobatics, and sensuality. But it required months of training in Canada. Being an undocumented immigrant, which helped drive her mother out of the country more than a decade before, now kept Jade from leaving to launch a new career.
It wasn't that Jade hadn't tried to get a green card. She'd spoken to many immigration lawyers, but they told her she had too many records on file where she'd already claimed to be a citizen.
Cirque du Soleil considered getting involved to help her obtain legal status, but ultimately decided it would be too risky. Jade says they were also worried her paperwork wouldn't arrive in time for the debut of the show.
Her friends always knew she didn't have legal status, but it was at about this time that they started to witness how much it was affecting her. "I found it heartbreaking," David Aaron Clark said. "When Cirque du Soleil announced they were going to do the erotic show, she bounced through the audition. I thought, wow, she's going to have a platform now."
Jade has since decided that being denied a chance to join Cirque was for the best. She thinks that doing the same show night after night, week after week, might have driven her crazy. And she didn't just want to be known as "The Contortionist" forever.
But her undocumented status kept coming up. "Unkle" Paul Nathan, host of the Exotic Erotic Ball and owner of San Francisco's annual magic-inspired carnival Dark Kabaret, considers Jade a world-class performance artist among the thousands of people he's seen perform. He repeatedly tried to hire her for shows in Europe, but Jade was always worried that if she left the country, she wouldn't be able to come back.
Lu Yi made countless calls regarding employment on Jade's behalf, but immigration issues always seemed to get in the way. Jade stopped training with him about two years ago. "I realized I was getting older, and I pretty much did all the tricks that I said I wanted to do. I knew that it wasn't sustainable for my body and, um, I wanted something bigger than that. Me and my wants!"
Jade had studied healing arts including Chi Nei Tsang, a Taoist form of internal organs touch therapy. But she didn't want to become a practitioner because she found living people could be "a lot harder to deal with energetically," whereas "once they're dead it's kind of a done deal." So she decided to open a business specializing in cleaning up after crimes like murders and suicides, which she named Novo Response Inc. Jade tried to do things the right way, and, as required by law, became a registered trauma scene management practitioner with the State of California's Department of Health Services. She tried to be as meticulous as possible decontaminating crime scenes so that people could "get on with their funeral."
Around the time she started setting up her business, she also applied for and received a U.S. passport. She did so using the name and Social Security number of a person born in Hawaii who had died of heart failure as an infant at Stanford Hospital in 1979. Jade doesn't offer details about how she got the Social Security number, or how she learned to go about committing passport fraud. It helped her set up a legitimate business, and it also helped her function in society in general. Newer laws on proper identification cards had made things more difficult for her, and she'd lost her Japanese passport and could no longer prove that she was from Japan. She hadn't been able to renew her driver's license and things had "just got waaaay complicated."
Then things got even more complicated.
In 2005, about a year after Jade-Blue applied for her passport, the U.S. Government Accountability Office submitted a report to the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs stating that the passport system is open to fraud, that it facilitates other crimes such as drug trafficking and human smuggling, and could be used to support terrorism.
The Department of State's Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) has for years provided protection for U.S. foreign policy officials, working both abroad and protecting foreign dignitaries visiting the U.S. It also works to capture fugitives who've fled the country.
But now DSS is increasingly spending its resources conducting criminal investigations into passport and visa fraud.
Early last year, DSS Special Agent Jeffrey Dubsick found that a person purporting to be named Catherine Izuo submitted an application for a U.S. passport in San Francisco. The application listed Izuo's occupation as "Acrobat." There were several clues that something was amiss. For example, Dubsick found a copy of a 1979 death certificate for Izuo, and found that the person who applied had submitted to have her name changed to "Jadeblue Lotos" but listed her e-mail address as firstname.lastname@example.org. He quickly found that the photograph she submitted for the passport was of the same person on her Web site, and also found her old mug shot from a 1999 arrest, according to his affidavit.