Saturday, December 12, 2009

I Went to a Host Club

It was inevitable. I've always been intrigued by hosts, but I never really cared to go to one of their clubs. I love all things shady and beyond the fringe, but the thought of paying boys for attention never sat well with me because I am vain and uptight. Plus, I wasn't confident with my Japanese, so I thought I'd say something wrong and buy a $20,000 bottle of champagne or something. Anyway I ended up dating and befriending so many hosts and former hosts that after awhile there didn't seem to be any point.

Buuut I knew I had to go at least once. So the other night, a friend and I got dressed up and set out for the part of Kabukicho where the hosts prowl. We sauntered around conspicuously, making eyes in all directions. The first few advances came in broken English and dissolved into quick retreats. Whatever, wimps. Still, it didn't take long before a boy from Club Joker spotted us. He was the only one who came on energetically and checked our Japanese. Once he realized we could communicate, he turned on the charm full force and we followed him back to his lair. We were super nervous but he kept us talking and laughing with quick, flirty conversation and smooth moves. By the time we got to Club Joker we had gone from "We're just doing this to get it over with," to "OMG and after this one we can go to ANOTHER ONE!"

I'm wearing a kimono, writhing in the name-cards I received from hosts. It's like THUG LIFE translated to GIRL IN TOKYO. Hahaha. Anyway, for two hours we sat in a cushioned corner while a couple dozen boys came two or three at a time to entertain us. Apart from the first ten minutes with a couple of totally incompetent, presumably newbie guys who barely said anything to us, our experience there was flawlessly fun. It didn't feel phony or weird at all -- it felt like a fabulous party with extremely witty, glamorous hosts whose only concern was to keep us in the best mood possible. And now, in those terms, I completely understand the appeal of host clubs.

The most interesting part was seeing each host's angle. Some boys were lighthearted and cute -- one had a medley of perfectly honed adorable faces and poses just to make us go AWWW! Some were all jokes and wicked grins and kept us laughing. Some flirted and flattered and swooned over our beauty and charm. Some were just clever, friendly and easy conversationalists. They knew how to work together, too, and I think their chemistry and familiarity was largely what kept the atmosphere from feeling phony. I hadn't expected that. My favorite host was a blond who sat down near the end. As soon as I met his deep, concentrated gaze, my very tested and reliable instincts said this guy is sooo in love with me... The magic of hosts!

The best part was the bill. Host clubs always have a first-time special, usually 3,000 - 10,000JPY for 1-2 hours depending on the club. We thought we were paying 3,000 each for a two-hour, all-you-can-drink visit, but in the end, that was the cost for both of us! For the price of one expensive cocktail, I spent two hours guzzling booze with a bevvy of pretty boys bending over backwards to entertain me. Best deal ever?

IN CONCLUSION, I think host clubs are fab. I love that there's a place catering to female vice/desire that's clearly way more awesome than the sports bars, strip clubs, etc. that men have for refuge/comfort. If you speak at least conversational Japanese and are not a lonely person with an addictive personality, you should go to a host club. I'm pretty sure you can dig it.


selena said...


just according to that review!

Beth said...

well i would totally go again so hit me up if you need a date!

also, i kind of never want to date one again. i have a perfect metaphor for this but it makes me sound like a total sleaze WHICHHHH I DECLAAAAAARE I AM NOTTTTTTTTTTT

Jen B said...

Ditto selena, you actually managed to make going to a host club sound appealing.

I guess I always felt a bit "meh, although consenting adults etc" because one of my friends was a hostess and she put herself through such self-confidence wrecking misery that she was never quite the same again... Sorry, quietly draping the wet towel there.

Lovin' the writhing photo BTW. I could try that with coffee house stamp cards.

Rachel O. Lesser said...

wow, for someone with very little money coming in (art student) i think it's amazing to be paying for male attention in the first place. But it would make sense why an atmosphere like that would be intoxicating for any girl. Men just aren't as brave with women as they used to be... or maybe our standards have raised in comparison to previous generations. I think if I had that money, I'd probably would try it out too.

i have to say i love your blog. Every-time you update, it's such a treat. Would it be alright if i did my illustration thesis on you and your blog? It would be a series of illustrations about your life and shenanigans in Japan. I'm going to ask Julie in Japan, and couple other of my favorite "gaijin girl" blogs. I can send you my artwork so you can judge on whether or not you'd want me to illustrate you. This is all voluntary so if you say no, then that's totally cool.

Green-Eyed Geisha said...

I'm so glad you decided to post about your experience!!! I don't know how anyone but the most jaded of people can't be charmed by the hosts in Kabukicho. I'm going tomorrow night to continue my project and need to find a place I haven't been so I may keep an eye out for this place. Thanks for the entertaining post!

Beth said...

jen - the world of adult entertainment is full of shady places and sneaky poisons. no denying that. a lot of people have a good time and a lot of people get hurt. gambling, smoking, prostitution, drugs, drinking, porn, and all the things that seem more innocent but are hardly removed, like host/hostess clubs. you can talk any of them up or down and find truth in either direction.

i'm obsessed with hidden sleazy shadows and i explore them whenever i get a chance. but, it would be pointless if i weren't thinking about the implications and what i may be supporting when i consume, participate, or even just observe. it is complicated.

my previous entry on hosts was pretty negative towards the job and how the guys are treated. i don't think it's very good for many of them, at all, but i went to a club anyway and enjoyed it. i can't resist going to places i'm curious about. i do treat everyone i meet there with respect and kindness and never forget for a moment that they're as real and complex as i am and any other person is. which is obviously what should go without saying for everyone. geez look at this tangent.

Beth said...

rachel - HELLOOOO THAT SOUNDS FABULOUS. i would love to see your artwork beforehand but i am stoked either way to be illustrated by anyone because i'm that kind of person. you're so my COMMENTER OF THE MONTH.

i could never afford to go back to the same club. but the first time, come on, $15? i can work with that.

as for why it is intoxicating, honestly? i wish someone else who's been to one could chip in, i might be alone on this, but i think the greatest part is just that they are really good hosts. not like HOST CLUB HOSTS but like actual hosts of a party. i think if i went to a club and found myself surrounded by a bunch of really well-dressed, witty, cheerful, energetic, confident, entertaining GIRLS who made me laugh and kept me feeling comfortable and spirited, i'm not sure i would be any less entertained.

maybe this just me, but i think the sexual/romantic pretense is not even close to being the bulk of the host club experience. and i think that's why i liked it so much more than i expected to.

i really think you're paying to go to a PERFECT, EXCLUSIVE PARTY where you are the honored guest and everyone is awesome and attractive and they all think you're amazing and pay attention to you and the mood never drops for a moment. that is how i think host clubs are meant -- not the chance to pretend guys are in love with you. i think anytime a lonely person gets attention from an attractive person they're going to run with it, but i don't think that is necessarily the main work of a host club.

but i guess it depends on each girl's perspective. this is mine but idk if it's common or not. i don't know a single person who goes to host clubs regularly, so. but i would not have enjoyed it if i felt i was paying for romance.

Beth said...

Geisha - i can't wait to read your review!!! i want to check out some of the clubs you've written about! Club Joker was pretty simple and low-key with barely any patrons, not nearly as atmospherically dazzling as some of your descriptions. but the hosts were almost all super fun, so it was totally fine by us.

Julie said...

Let's go back soon!!
The writhing picture is so good. With the cards.


Gaijin Wife said...

Am jealous. Would love to check it out if lived even remotely in doable distance and could leave two toddlers and a baby long enough to get pished, glow under the attention of young lads lavishing me with their witt and praises for hours AND get over the hangover.

Excellent meishigasm shot there.

Beth said...

Gaijin Wife - the hangover at least shouldn't be a problem, they ask you if you want your drinks mixed weak or strong. go for it!

tokyo moe said...

hi beth, i love your review of the host club joker, and your xmas story, too. i wrote up my version of geisha and my trip to Kabukicho. it was sooo fun, and i am eager for a return trip.

shibuya_nights said...

I have still yet to pay to go a host club, I keep telling myself I will. But I am so skeptical about the prices they tell me hah! I'm worried I'm going to accidently nominate someone or order something I shouldn't and leave with a 50000 yen bill!

Anonymous said...

I have been wanting to go to a host club for soooo long! They seem like so much fun :D Also, I want to hit up a butler cafe :p

Michy said...

I love this post, thanks for sharing your experience! :) I've always wanted to go to a host club as well just to see what it is really like but I was a worried about the prices and language-barrier misunderstandings too x_x

Anonymous said...

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