As far as I know, Suntory comes out with a new coffee product every third or fourth day, but they got my attention with a set of new ads for Boss Begin! — a coffee for morning, no matter what time your morning begins. I am guessing that this may be the first coffee ever to be used for a “morning pickup,” and I wonder how the chemistry has been altered to specifically take away the morning groggies. Caffeine may be involved. According to their website, the coffee beans have seen an especially copious amount of morning sun. And those early rays go straight to your brain, thanks to the process of liquid energy transference. Or something.
But let’s forget hard science for a minute and talk about society. The big red ads on the Ginza Line contain the following copy:
What time is your morning?
Announcer fron a morning TV show A-san
“Six. Every day for ten years.”
Marunouchi salaryman D-san
“Five. Of course, that’s in the evening.”
Kabukicho Host E-san
So we have three “morning scenarios” — the very early TV-show host, the standard salaryman going in at 9, and the “night worker” host. The first two are a respectable part of society by anybody’s measure — the television celebrity greeting us every morning as we rise and the salaryman white-collar worker putting bread on our table. The inclusion of the host, however, is quite a development.
Hosts are young men with bad fake tans, poofed-up dyed hair, and cheesy suits with open collars, who flee their small villages at 18 for the glamorous world of satisfying women in the big city. (Read more here.) Oddly, the first line of description in “host work” is always that these young men’s main clientele is “bored, rich housewives” — which is cover for the real story. The vast majority of women patronizing host clubs to get their cigarettes lit, drinks poured, and figures endlessly flattered are women from the sex industry. In recent years, there has been a “host boom” and the media likes to report that single women from mainstream society are all going there in gaggles to hang out with men who look like over-browned members of a bad Kansai-area Sharan Q cover band, but I doubt these women make-up a majority.
While hostesses are not supposed to be sleeping with their male clients — unless he basically “buys her” for a very, very large amount of money — hosts are supposed to translate big monetary outlays at the host club into some manner of sexual favor. This makes hosts the prostitutes of prostitutes. But even if you are pro-prostitution from a women’s lib angle, hosts should be your greatest enemy. While prostitutes may be “the world’s oldest profession” and catering to a natural demand, there is no evidence that this is true for hosts. Sex business proprietors invented host clubs to get back the money they have to pay out to their female labor pool. They manufactured a “false need” for this host service and now get their labor expenses back as profit. Either that, or they are capitalizing on the fact that lower-class sex workers have a difficult time meeting men in the mainstream world and have to patronize host clubs for male companionship. Plus the hosts tend to “sooth” sex industry workers and make sure that they do not quit their jobs.
But this Boss coffee ad tends to put this host occupation into the same “normal” context as the other two. I recently talked to someone about how “contemporary Japanese culture worships the host,” and she corrected me that “they are merely tolerated.” As the economy changes from income determined by a strict hierarchy of “proper companies” to a free-for-all where the income result justifies the earning process, of course 23 year-old hosts have as much right to live the upper middle-class lifestyle as a 45 year-old middle manager. Hey, they may get up late for work, but their morning is identical in concept to your morning. They just have to bed way more sex workers than you do.