JIN-252 -- What do you know about hostessing? Part two

J@pan Inc Newsletter
The 'JIN' Japan Inc Newsletter
A weekly opinion piece on social, economic and political trends
in Japan.
Issue No. 452 Wednesday February 13, 2008, Tokyo

------Metropolis Magazine Valentine`s Glitterball-------

Glitterball is back!
Tokyo's favorite party makes its triumphant return on
February 14, 2008-Valentine's Day.
An institution for nearly a decade, the Metropolis-hosted
Glitterball was on hiatus this year due to the closing of
Velfarre nightclub, but 2008's version promises to be better
than ever.

Roppongi hotspot Alife will host over 1,000 V-Day revelers
for a night of eating, drinking, dancing, making friends-and
who knows what else.
Prize drawings, swag bags, and Tokyo's funnest crowd will make
the reborn Glitterball the highlight of the Tokyo social calendar.



This week's JIN comes from a young woman who worked in the
hostess trade in Japan. It chronicles some of her experiences and
wider observations about the industry. To read part one please
visit: www.japaninc.com/jin429

What do you know about hostessing? Part two

In the first part of this series, the topics that were covered
were: an introduction to the industry, how to identify the
different levels of 'mizushobai,' who the hostesses are, and
some insight into the culture of hostess clubs. In this part, I
focus more on the business side and ask the question, is it
possible to make good money as a hostess?


Like any other sales job, a hostess must target a certain
audience and must balance profits against expenditures. A
hostess is essentially an independent sales contractor who owes
some allegiance to the club where she works, who take part of
their wages in 'dues' and each woman is financially rewarded or
punished based on performance.

Obviously with this industry as with any other, there is a
supply and demand ratio to deal with. Uniqueness is very
important because it will help you to stand out among the other
girls; in effect carving a niche market. This is a risky move
however because it limits your customer base and the
opportunities. For instance, there was the 'crude girl' who
would talk about any raunchy topic; she was able to attract
older gentlemen who needed excitement or large groups of men
out to have fun. Her act however would not go over well with
the lawyers and business owners who were generally more
reserved. These are the most desirable because they are the ones
who will come every week in order just to enjoy your company.
They are the customers who buy you and himself matching Rolexes
and take you on trips to Hawaii. My sempai (senior) was known
for collecting and maintaining these types of customers. For
the three months that I worked in the high-end Japanese club,
she was the 'number one' which is the girl that makes the most
money for the company; much like the leading sales person in
any company. In the hostess club, the number one, two and three
received a monetary bonus every month. This amount varies from
club to club, but it is clearer enough to allow some women to
make a successful career out of their profession.

There is a wide variety in the type of girls who work in the
hostess business and many 'exotic' clubs hire foreign workers.
Usually these clubs will have only foreigners working there and
they will mainly be of one nationality in order to target a
certain market; Eastern European, Chinese, Philippine,
Brazilian, etc. A lot of clubs may be foreign but very mixed in
terms of origin too. These clubs market themselves as places
where the client can speak in another language, or if their
'product' cannot speak Japanese they have to market themselves
as being at the lower end, because of the language barrier. The
foreign women who can speak Japanese are known to work in
Japanese clubs where the clientele and the workers are only
Japanese; where the pay is better and the overall working
conditions are cleaner.

[Continued below...]

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[...Article continues]

How much does the hostess make?

Because in this industry the product is the 'experience,' every
hostess is expected to behave a certain way, and dress a certain
way. Physical appearance is very important and is seen by
hostesses and club owners as an investment. To start, the
low-end hostess clubs require that the girls wear heels and a
skirt or a simple dress. This is the most basic requirement.
Moving up the price ladder, it follows that the requirements
placed on the women grow. In the high-end Japanese clubs, the
pay is better and the opportunity to meet rich clients increases
however, the expenses are also greater. Women must set their
hair every night, wear full face make-up, more expensive outfits
and with shoes, and the highest level clubs expect their
hostesses to wear a different dress every night, as well as
never traveling by public transportation, either by their own
cars or by taxi. Additionally, most hostesses have fake nails
which is not a club requirement but you are seen as not being
as good as the others if you cannot afford to purchase that
extravagance. In the high end clubs, the ownership will further
deduct from a hostesses' wages, the cost of flowers for the
bar, toilet paper, snacks for customers, and even the cost of
electricity.To put this in perspective, the expenses for one
night of work, before nails and expenses, can be:

Hair: JPY 3,000
Taxi to and from work: JPY 3,000
Dress for that night: JPY 10,000
Total: JPY 16,000

A hostess working at the higher end club could expect about
JPY20,000 (JPY4,000 per hour) and upwards per night. So only if
a hostess cannot maintain loyal customers, and get something on
top of her basic salary, is there is an opportunity for a decent
steady income. That said, tips/gifts can double or triple a
night's fee easily. Bonuses are the only normal form that any
kind of 'commission' takes.

For the women who work in these clubs, many of them cannot get
any other work, or the draw of the money is so great. However,
if a woman cannot carve a niche market without being too
exclusive then they will be stuck in a lifestyle that is too
extravagant for their means.

By 'June'

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What is the emotional toll that these bars do to the women who work there? My girlfriend works part time at a high end bar and she seems so emotionally drained and mentally drained as well.

If a customer is buying expensive jewelry coach purses, is paying for something "other" than just conversation? Like time alone..maybe sexual?


I tried to answer your questions to the best of my abilities.

Please see the other entry => http://www.japaninc.com/jin429