Japan's Must-Read Magazine

American Woman

Valuable Conversation

Most people who meet me for the first time are surprised to learn that I work in a hostess club. Just so you know, not all hostesses are blond and flashy. We’re not even all that easy. And most of us are not prostitutes. That’s not just talk, because it’s not like I haven’t had offers—and how many of you finger-pointers can say that? Maybe you would do it, for the right price.

Not that there’s anything wrong with being a prostitute. After all, there are worse things one could be selling—firearms to extremists, crack to pregnant women. It’s only sex (and really, think about some of the people you’ve slept with for nothing). But there is a pretty definite distinction between hostesses, dancers and prostitutes. Not a critical one, just that each group feels like they couldn’t do what the other one does. A hostess shudders at the idea of baring herself for customers. A prostitute is disgusted by the idea of spending hours conversing with clients. The breadth of the mizu shobai means there is cheap talk and expensive sex, and cheap sex and expensive talk.

Like any job, time is money for a hostess and that can determine "how far" she is willing to go to please a customer. Going across town to meet a customer for lunch can carve three hours out of your day. But it could also earn some "shopping money" or a much-needed dohan the following week. Not a bad pull for an afternoon. On the other hand, a dinner date on a day off is usually more trouble than it’s worth. The customer typically spends a lot on the meal, so he’s less likely to be generous with the "taxi fare," plus he’ll want to stay out drinking at least past midnight. Which is the last thing you want to do on a day off. This is how you start to determine how much your time is worth. The trick is not to let this way of thinking creep into your personal life—and not to get too greedy.

Recently, a friend of mine, a Roppongi hostess, received an interesting—and tempting—proposition from a customer: spend two evenings a week with him and he would pay her ¥300,000 a month. No sex, just companionship. Dinner and drinks, twice a week. She turned him down flat. "If it was just during the week, I would have agreed for sure but he wanted one of the nights to be Saturday," she explains. "I couldn’t give up my Saturday nights for anything."

A year ago, another hostess friend of mine received an actual proposal—for ¥3,000,000. You could live for a year or put a down payment on a house for that kind of money. She spent a week considering before eventually deciding against it. She still brings it up every now and then, lamenting that she "just couldn’t go through with it." There is something old fashioned, almost medieval, about a profession that challenges your virtue.

But I’m a modern girl: I think that just about everything can be had for a price (except of course love, but don’t tell the customers that). Wanna know my price? I’ll tell you: A penthouse apartment in a posh neighborhood. Fully paid for and in my name.

When I tell people that, they usually laugh.  As one friend said, "You know I love you honey, but you’re not worth that!" Duh, I know.