90-Day Geisha: My Time as a Tokyo Hostess
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An introspective journey into the glamorous world—and temptations—of Japanese nightlife, by former model Chelsea Haywood.
The hard-drinking, drug-taking, all-night culture that dominates Tokyo’s Roppongi district can be a surreal place. Overworked Japanese business men will pay handsomely for the services of a hostess—someone to talk to, someone to provide hot towels and drinks, and sometimes just a companion with whom to sing karaoke with all night. Intrigued by rumors of this strange subculture and armed with her 90-day work visa and new husband, Matt, Chelsea throws herself into the lion’s den. Yet what she discovers about herself and about the inhabitants of this nocturnal life far exceeds her expectations.
Hostessing, she comes to find, has “very little to do with sex, quite a lot to do with psychology, and nothing to do with prostitution.” Her personality and conversation skills are her top commodity, and Chelsea quickly finds herself charmed by these billionaire men, many of whom are funny, intelligent, even kind, and often, very lonely. But as she becomes more and more attached to her clients, Chelsea soon finds herself getting burned at her own game, as the endless presents, compliments, and destructive atmosphere of alcohol and drugs threaten to take both her marriage, and her sanity, to the edge.
high-voltage airspace. Far below, double-sided billboards circle the block on the sides of trucks, selling everything from ice cream to holidays. From a two-tiered fortress, a frenetic, one-size-only Starbucks dispenses relief to an overworked, caffeine-dependent population, right below a CGI brachiosaurus lumbering across ten storeys of television screen. And then there is the soundtrack: pop videos, commercials and news updates, an audio fun house of shrieking, shouting, laughing, singing and
would shout, ‘OCHA! OCHA DESU!’ and so would six others. With Shin beside me explaining every detail and putting me in stitches, I was absolutely enthralled with the magic of the place. ‘This restaurant very famous,’ Shin revealed. ‘Last time I saw Yoko Ono, sitting over there.’ He sounded unimpressed. ‘Do you know meaning of inakaya? It is “country house”, but maybe, I think not. Is mistake. Japanese house not usually so big,’ he smirked. ‘Maybe name should be “country mansion”, but maybe it is
be given to that? The flip side was that these men needed us, many of them, as much as we needed them. Nori had told me that he knew the game, it didn’t affect him, but he had already proved himself wrong. Nori’s mind was stuck deep on the same old track, scratchily playing it over and over again, every three months or however long his latest hostess happened to last. He couldn’t help it; the pattern was too deeply ingrained. So what was this place? Transsexuals across the hall. Russians
his own entertainment company. This was all very impressive, yet, promotional material aside, it was Fujimoto-san’s joie de vivre that I fell in love with in ten seconds flat. His timing couldn’t have been better — he’d arrived as a breath of fresh air just when my perspective was becoming stale, an uplifting reminder of how it’s possible to feel an instantaneous affinity with someone even in the most curious of settings. ‘Chelsea-san! You are not a typical gaijin,’ Fujimoto-san exuded five
as if I’d gone mad and agreed hesitantly helping to separate the arm from the head. One sucker was a centimetre in diameter, and when I dropped it in the shoyu sauce, it grabbed the bottom and wouldn’t let go. ‘I am going to put that on my tongue,’ I declared with little conviction, and Shin looked at me again in disbelief. This time I counted down in Japanese to allow for more time, closed my eyes and blindly chucked the squid in. HOLY. FUCKING. SHIT! The sensation hit like electrocution. Acute