I have a Canadian female friend who used to work at a foreign hostess club in Roppongi, and I invited her to write something about her experience. (I edited for grammar and length.)
I was backpacking through either Thailand or Cambodia — it’s a blur at this point — when some British girl mentioned to me that I could make a lot of money being blond in Japan. Japan sounded equally Asian as Thailand (or Cambodia or Laos), so I booked a ticket for Tokyo Airport and then figured out how to get from the airport to Tokyo, which took me like three hours or something.
I ended up crashing on my college roommate’s cousin’s floor for a week before I finally got an interview with the club. My college roommate’s cousin had mentioned that this whole “water business” of foreign hostessing was sketchy and sometimes dangerous. So I was a bit on edge during the interview. The manager’s English and breath were terrible, and there was something very dark and depressing about the whole bar. When not trying to look down or up my dress (he had this kind of Galileo telescope thing), he kept staring at my roots to make sure I was really blond. He reached for something in his jacket and suddenly asked me, “You dye now?” and I started to freak out. (Turns out he was just scratching himself.) I explained that I had been naturally blond as a child but that most adult Western women become more brunette as they get older. He ominously told me, “Well, I hope you dye soon” and then handed me my punch-card. I was hired.
The job was boring. I would come in to work at around 8, and then the awful customers would start coming in. First of all, the customers were mostly Japanese men. Second, they were Japanese men without any sort of history with real life women. It was almost as if going to this club was a product of failure with Japanese women. They smelled bad and wore boxy black suits and wanted to talk about golf. The liked to sing John Denver at karaoke, and I don’t like John Denver. I would always want to sing No Doubt or that one Adam Ant song, but they didn’t have these in the karaoke machine.
One guy always came in and wanted to show off by reciting Pi to 6,000 digits. This would take three or four hours — before he finally gave up and went to the bathroom. He would always want us to join in, which was impossible for most of the girls, but this helped me learn to count in Japanese.
Another guy used to come in and recite “e” — the natural log digit or whatever — and he would get in a battle with the Pi guy. This was a big source of stress. The Pi guy was “my guy,” and the e guy was this Russian girl’s guy. This Russian girl hated me, and the e guy started to like me, because he thought I liked to have digits read to me, which I don’t, even to this day. So the Russian girl starts to totally hate on me, because the e guy and the Pi guy are fighting for me very openly. In the end, they both got over me and started to like this bimbo from New Zealand. Once they made amends, they would read off together the 3,000 digits of if you subtracted e from Pi. All I remember is that it starts out 0.4233.
After a while, the whole thing became very tedious. The money was not that great, and Japan had no beaches or anything.