Hello Cruel World
Tuesday, July 12, 2005
bar hostess (also called entertainers)
bar hostess (also called entertainers)
The hostess, I learned, was the modern equivalent of the geisha, a centuries-old and highly venerated profession that attracts Japanese girls like a vocation. Geishas are the embodiment of that enduring Japanese icon: feminine perfection. They exist to serve men and preserve the
traditional arts such as singing, dancing and playing classical instruments like the shamisen.
Her modern counterpart, the bar hostess, has exchanged silk kimonos for cocktail dresses, and the shamisen for a karaoke box. She is considerably less expensive than her predecessor yet she shares the same values: to be the feminine ideal, to entertain, to listen, to be serious, to dazzle with
her wit and charm. It is not considered a demeaning job. Certainly no sexual favours are expected - just mild flirtation, perhaps a glimmering eroticism...
Hostess bars, I learned, abound in their thousands in Japan ... Western girls, particularly of the blonde-haired, blue-eyed variety, are considered a special treat and a myriad bars boast them like a range of exotic fruit ...
There was Danielle, a skinny American with flaming red hair. She had just graduated and was hostessing to repay college loans. Anna and Femka, two marvellously tall Dutch girls saving for another season of going gaga in Goa. Sophia, a sexy Swede, with an unrealized dream to be a model and legs
that undulated from beneath her skirts, and Domarra, an Italian linguist perfecting her Japanese.
Our guests arrived. A group of Japanese salarymen, that is businessmen, on a corporate razzle... Assiduously we catered to their every need; we topped up drinks and clinked ice cubes in glasses, we lit their cigarettes, and intermittently, unwrapped a sweet to delicately pop into a guest's mouth ...
We were perfect young ladies. Never so inelegant as to cross our legs, lean back in our seats, bite our nails or play with our hair. Never so rude as to divert our attention for a second, our admiring gaze for an instant from these latter day Samurai who, weary from another day fighting for Japan's economic miracle, would look to us adoring gaijin girlies to ease away their tensions...
This was a "decent" bar... The only thing we were to massage was ego ... Our guests frequently asked us to sing karaoke ... You can double, triple the basic rate with tips earned for anything from being wined, dined or complimented to singing a soulful ballad or performing an exotic belly dance. The job can be as risqué as you want it to be and consequently you can earn as much money as you like. A woman able to handle the masquerade and approach the whole affair as some peculiar brand of performance art can make a killing ...
As a teacher and through living with a Japanese family I saw women treated in a different way. Marriages, which are often arranged, are an economic necessity. The family is like a small business, producing the next generation of mothers and salarymen. In the most sinister privatization of all, the chemistry in human relationships seems to have been disentangled, set apart and sold as a service. Instead of relaxing at home with their families, Japanese salarymen go out in droves to relax with strangers ...
I'm glad I had a short stint at hostessing. It gave me first-hand experience of an aspect of Japan that is often missed by travellers. I was surprised ... [that] my need to be appreciated for everything I am as a woman, rather than just one feminine façade, was more intense than I had ever really known. Hostessing helped me to work out what I don't want with my life.
©Sarah Dale 2004
Hostess are not prostitutes! some bars are dodgy, but in expensive bars where the richest man in the city drinks, nothing happens!
a hostess is paid to sit there and pour drinks and talk with a customer, its the hostesses decision whether she wants to meet him out of work. Being a hostess is a good way to earn money, you get tips from customers
as well, and its also your choice to drink with the customer. Just because your a hostess doesnt mean you have relationship problems, some foreigners do it to get better at japanese and that is all!
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