9.17.2013

Storytime: The "Unofficial" Host Club

On our Facebook, some of us watched and talked about The Great Happiness Space, a brutally honest documentary about host club culture in Japan.



The documentary focuses on one club in particular, Stylish Cafe Rakkyo, and its record-breaking owner Issei. Since it was filmed in Osaka, it occurred to me to ask blues rock singer Davina Robinson (who's based in Osaka) if she'd ever been to one.  She said she hadn't, not an "official" one anyway.  When I asked if there were "unofficial" ones, she replied:
Not exactly. Once, a friend and I wandered into a small bar that looked kind of "American-ish" cool from the outside. There were two really good-looking guy bartenders. And the boss was an older female. They were very friendly, chatting us up.

We ordered a couple of bottles of wine and we noticed the bartenders would also drink with us. From OUR bottle. We just wanted to talk amongst ourselves but they kept joining in, with their drinks from our wine bottles. So we knew that the bar wasn't a regular bar but a mini-version of a host club.


We realized that we needed to get out of there before we got charged an arm and a leg, so in English we'd whisper amongst ourselves and were able to leave before the bill got too high.

I think we wound up getting charged around 200 dollars but if we'd stayed it could have easily wound up at 500 or more.

These host and hostess clubs charge for the table ("cheap" is about 30 dollars an hour - at least in Osaka. In Tokyo it's probably at least double). And they overcharge for everything you order. Or don't order. For example they'll bring a few snacks to the table, even though you didn't order them. These are "required" purchases.

But I'm not an expert. Besides that experience, I've been in a few hostess bars either as an employee (singing) or as part of a group of people where I didn't have to pay.

If you have a lot of money to waste, they could be fun because the hosts and hostesses are paid to make you have fun and spend your money.
She added as an addendum:
"Official" host/hostess bars will post a placard outside, outlining the charges. This place that I went to with my friend didn't. I guess that Japanese people would have figured it out, but as expats we didn't know. The "nuance" wasn't clear to us.

12 comments:

  1. Not only am I cheap, but I love a glass of good wine. With that said, the second the bar tender took a drink from my wine, we would have had a problem. Note to self: if I ever make it to Japan, do not go into a bar. Buy your own wine and enjoy it.

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    1. My lil sis says, "They would've met a Negro that day." While explaining host clubs to her, I noticed she got worked up, especially when Davina mentioned how they "ended up" getting charged $200. She wondered how someone just "ends up" getting charged $200 just for popping into a bar and opening a bottle of wine.

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    2. Exactly! I would have had to go through all my stress management techniques to avoid acting unpleasant once they gave me the bill. $200? That's just crazy.

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  2. If you have netflix you can watch it there. Also blogger from Life Behind The Wall talked about the ones in China.

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  3. I watched that documentary out of mild curiosity of the host life. It was very interesting to say the least, especially that opening scene of the number one host that took me by a surprise, haha.

    Anyways, I'm surprised that this "unofficial" place charged $200. It is a good things they left before the bill went higher.

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  4. Ever since I watched The Great Happiness Space on netflix, I've been obsessed with host clubs. I tried to visit one in Tokyo this winter but I got lost. I was in Kabukicho on like 10am on a Tuesday... not prime host club hours. When I tried to return to the area later that night, I got lost and ended up in Harajuku.

    I see a connection between Kpop fanservice and host clubs. Both offer male sexuality to female consumers, and that is one of my kinks. I used to make my ex-bf pretend to be my host lol. Good times.

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  5. "Make him" is the wrong way to put it. He's a grown ass man; nobody can force him to do anything he doesn't want to do. "We both enjoyed pretending like he was my host" is a better way to phrase it.

    After we watched the documentary together one night we started a bit of a running joke that he was my host and I was his patroness.

    Consenting adults pretending and joking around between the sheets is nothing new.

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    1. But the documentary was what triggered it? I was mildly interested I host clubs before I saw the doc, but afterward I was kinda horrified. And sad.

      And oddly inspired. There's a novel in there somewhere......

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    2. The bottle of red wine we shared may have played a role too, lol. I hadn't known about hosts until I saw the doc, but the concept appealed to me. Instead of men buying women's bodies, women are buying men's affection. It seems empowering to me. In the documentary, it was unclear who was pimping who. If I am participating in that kind of exchange though, I will NOT be getting pimped in the process. So that is a critical difference imo.

      NaNoWriMo is right around the corner, and I'm already getting an hour a day in toward my novel (is it cheating to start in September?) so maybe you should participate this time and write a host club novel!!!

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    3. Day to day life is still to cray-cray right now, so no NaNoWriMo for me this year. But I'd loooooove to read your host novel.

      The bottle of red wine we shared may have played a role too, lol.

      Oh....I'm sure it did.

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  6. I think if I were in Tokyo or Osaka and just had that much time and money to waste, I wouldn't mind paying ridiculous amounts of money to be entertained at a host club.

    I remember watching "The Great Happiness Space" a few years ago on my TV at home actually. It was on a documentary station or something, I was just shuffling through the stations and once I realized it was about I started watching it. . . .

    It was definitely an eye opener, to an outsider it looks like this amazing fantasy world but it's not all happiness and rainbows. I actually felt sorry for the hosts as well as their clients (sounds like just a bunch of lonely people looking for acceptance and love in all the wrong places.) My only personal beef with some of these hosts. . . .THEY'RE TOO DAMN PRETTY!! >_<

    Super thin bodies, faux tans, bleached/over-processed hair. . . .really not my cup of tea X-( I wonder if they have any clubs where the hosts are manly-men. . .?

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