In 2007, Las Vegas-born Leah Dizon conquered Japan, appearing in PS3 ads, releasing best selling photo-books and music albums. But, as of this month, she's leaving the country that made her famous.
After moving to Los Angeles to attend college, Dizon started working as a booth babe to help cover her educational expenses. She tells CNET that it was an easy way for her to make money. Her American mother and half-Chinese half-Filipino-American father passed along striking good looks, and young Dizon's booth babe and cosplay pics started getting serious Google-fu. Dizon was able to parlay that into securing that into a contract with a Japanese entertainment company.
Dizon had always been interested in Japan. The culture, whether it was the video games or the pop music, and the language, which she studied in high school, fascinated her.
"Guys that play videogames are cool as long as they don't turn into a sore loser when I kick their ass at DOA," she told IGN back in 2005.
A year later, though, this booth babe moved to Japan. Her sexy looks were toned down to suit more classy and cute Japanese tastes — and perhaps to even appeal to young Japanese women as a style icon.
By 2007, she took the country by storm, releasing two top ten music singles and appearing as the face of Ninja Gaiden Sigma in Japan. The Japanese press dubbed her a "black ship" (黒船), a reference to the U.S. vessels that arrived in 1853 and opened up Japan to the outside world. Dizon seemed as though she was in Japan to stay.
But then a nude photo scandal later that year started scaring away conservative Japanese companies who had enlisted Dizon to hawk things like shampoo. And by late 2008, Dizon revealed that she was pregnant and planned to marry a then 29-year-old hairstylist named "Bun", who worked on one of her music videos.
The number of "dekichatta kekkon" (or loosely "a marriage due to an unexpected pregnancy") is quite high in Japanese entertainment industry. There are a number of reasons for this, and perhaps, a general aversion to condoms and the pill in Japan could be the biggest one of them.
Of course, there are theories that these types of pregnancies allow young women to easily leave the entertainment world, which is often the case.
Whatever the reasons were, Dizon's career never quite recovered after she took maternity leave as wild rumors of an impending porn debut and divorce swirled. She did lend a track to 2009's Katamari Forever, but her stardom didn't seem so everlasting.
The adult video rumor seemed entirely unfounded and never happened, but the divorce did. And this week, it was revealed that Dizon, is leaving Japan with her young daughter. Apparently, she will be studying acting in the U.S. and plans to eventually return to Japan. But for the time being, this "black ship" is sailing home.
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