10 pm. The lights go on and the curtains fall. The well-known district Kabukicho in Shinjuku comes to life. Vivacious advertisement signs lure the curious customers closer while the men of the night rise from the shadows. Here and there you can spot older women carrying brand items or other young woman wearing pretty dresses who suddenly disappear in one of the various clubs along the road. The ‘men of the night’ also known as ‘Hosts’ (ホスト) welcome the ladies in their ‘Host clubs’.
Host clubs provide women with male company. Some people call those clubs ‘Neverland’. A magical place that gives women a chance to dream. Most of the popular clubs are located in Tokyo (Kabukicho/Shinjuku) and Osaka (Nanba/Umeda).
Most of the customers are rich housewives who are desperately looking for affection and someone who listens to their problems in the place of their busy (almost never at home) husbands. The other customers are hostess or prostitutes who are there to receive comprehension and a cure of their loneliness from their ‘male business colleagues’.
“In host clubs I’ll be treated like a princess.” – female hostess/The great happiness space
“So rather than getting physically fulfilled, they want to be healed emotionally !” – Host, The Great happiness Space
Hosts are entertainers and not comparable to ‘call boys’! The average of employees are in their mid/early twenties, are charismatic, good – looking and most of the time spell binders. Good looks alone isn’t sufficient enough to reach the number one spot within the club. A No.1 Host ist chosen by the highest sales and can change every week. No. 1 hosts are famous for their good understanding when it comes to women’s psyche and their hidden desires.
“We have to keep them dreaming so when we have to lie, we lie!” – Issei/ The great happiness space
Hosts adapt their names (Hikaru, Rei, Takuya etc) from famous mangas (comics), movies or historical figures. They obtain a certain aura which makes them recognizable wherever they go. A dark tan, dark suit, silver jewelery and comic like hair distinguished a host.
The payment is unbelievable high. A host can earn 10.000 to 50.000 Dollars MONTHLY! That’s one of the reason why young men with a certain goal in mind walk down the road of a host to earn enough money for it first. Another reason is an interest in women or the curiosity to taste something ‘new’.
Now, let’s take a look at the ‘relationship’ between a host and his customer. If it’s a customer’s first time she gets to choose her ‘favourite’ host (Shimisha) from a special menu. After her decision is made she is not allowed to change her Host in her following visits. Other Hosts are also not allowed to steal the customer of a colleague – if that rule is not obeyed the Host has to face dismissal without prior notice.
Women are treated like princesses by their host. They receive non-stop compliments and are being spoiled.
“Girls tend to appreciate superficial sweetness.” – Host/The great happiness space
A ‘champagne call’ is used by the customers to catch the attention of all the hosts in the club. Numerous bottles of expensive Champagne (the price category starts around 100 $ and goes up until 25.ooo$!!!) are popped open and everyone gathers around to sing, dance and drink together on the customers expenses. Many women spend an amount of 1.000$ to 7.000$ a night and since they are being ‘healed’ by their host they do not consider it as a waste of money. Unfortunately there are also cases when the woman falls for her host who is forced to keep the ‘fake relationship’ up for the sake of his own sales rate.
“We lie that we love them. That’s basically being a host. You don’t love the girl, but you tell her you do. It’s a typical host-client relationship and the clients take me only half-seriously.” – Issei/The Great happiness space
Hosts usually avoid sleeping with their costumers because these woman won’t return to their club afterwards. That relationship is called ‘Pillow business’ (makuraeigyo) and only occurs if the costumer pays a high amount of money.
A Hosts pain.
During one night a Host is sometimes forced to down 10 bottles of champagne. That only works out for them by throwing up in between, drink again, throw up again and repeat. Their liver receives great damage and after years into the Host business they start to become numb to the little feeling called ‘love’. Even Hosts fall in love but if they do – they lose. They start caring more and more for their customer and eventually start to prevent her from spending too much money on them which of course leads to a decreasing income rate.
“So once you get feelings involved – you lose!” – Issei/ The great happiness space
Men who work in this kind of business get confused about their real personality. They don’t know anymore what is acting and what is real. There are only a few men out there who can still separate their private life from work. Most of them aren’t able to trust women anymore.
“I think I have a sickness. I’m phobic… I just can’t trust people.” – Issei/The great happiness space
You can count their ‘off days’ on two hands, there aren’t any holidays or weekends like in the western world.
Hosts are called ‘Love Thieves’ and ‘Lovers of the night’ but behind the facade they are as broken and lonely as most of their customers. An enviable life? I highly doubt that.
“People are not so strong…especially alone. People are lonely and sad. But they are wonderful and shining. They have warm hearts.” – The great space of happiness
Credits for all the pictures go to various flickr users!