I have never talked about host clubs here, but YES NOW THAT YOU MENTION IT I know a thing or two about hosts. I have never been to a host club, but I've dated a former host and a working host and a few of my friends have been hosts. I actually don't know how I've known so many hosts, but I'm glad because that shit is interesting no matter how you look at it. Kabukicho is the famous place for host clubs in Tokyo. I just found this set on Flickr with photos of hosts in Kabukicho. I think they capture the atmosphere pretty well.
You can read the basics about hosts on Wikipedia or whatever. What I've gathered from talking to hosts is that it is an absolutely miserable job. They often work from 9PM to 11AM or later at the club. Many (not all) of the customers are hostesses who come in after work, which is why the host club hours are so late. New/lower-ranking hosts also spend hours on the street trying to pick up new customers. Hosts have to drink tons and tons of booze almost every night. Like, drink, puke secretly in the bathroom, come back with a grin and keep drinking levels of booze. Hosts make the most money off of the drinks girls order, so guzzling alcohol is required. I'm sure the job can be really fun sometimes, but in general it just sounds super rough.
Two of the most interesting things I've heard from hosts:
1. A new host is paired with a more experienced host during his first few weeks at the club. The mentor shows him the ropes and makes him do grunt work like fetching towels or whatever while they entertain girls. I guess the new guy gets very little money during this period. Basically any work he does entertaining pays off to his mentor, so things get bitter fast if the mentor doesn't treat him well in return.
2. One guy said that the worst part of being a host is sex. First of all, obviously, if you do it with the customer she has no reason to come back. But second, he said that when women offer tons of money (thousands of dollars) there are plenty of hosts who go for it, only to find that she doesn't want to use a condom. I find this interesting for a lot of reasons. Doesn't it sound like a weird host club urban legend? I mean how creepy. Is the implication that these women are out to get the guys with pregnancy or STDs?
When people ask what shocked me the most when I came to Japan I just think of hosts. I'll never forget walking through Osaka at night with the really young, hip woman I was homestaying with and being like, "Why are there so many pimps and why are they so fab?" She explained hosts and we spent the rest of the night going to the lobbies of host clubs and picking up pamphlets. I was so blown away by the concept. I should be way more jaded to it now but I never get sick of learning more about hosts. I'll probably go to a club eventually, although I'm not dying to.
Patrick Macias' review/summary of a magazine for hosts.
Green-Eyed Geisha's Project Host. This girl (one of my favorite Japan bloggers btw) visited several host clubs and wrote awesome recaps. This is the first.
The Great Happiness Space: Tale of an Osaka Love Thief. AMAZING documentary following the owner of a successful Osaka host club.