In its ongoing series about bubble-era sex businesses that went from boom to bust, Nikkan Gendai (Aug. 1) introduces an “image club” (imekura) that opened its doors in the summer of 1993 in Tokyo’s Ikebukuro entertainment district. Billing itself as a sekuhara (sexual harassment) club, it featured female staff, decked out in the spiffy uniforms typically worn by “office ladies,” whose bodies were freely available for such activities as crotch-sniffing and groping from the neck down.
After handing out a variety of hurtful treatments, the service climaxed with a “69” session that culminated in deliverance via oral messenger. The price: 20,000 yen for 60 minutes.
In retrospect, the shop’s popularity was understandable: 1993 was also the year that the Nikkei average plummeted from a one-time high of 38,000 yen to below 15,000, and salarymen, their monthly stipends rapidly shrinking, increasingly demanded outlets where they could work off their accumulated stress.
So the sekuhara shop initially did a land-rush business.
But the “OLs” employed therein were mostly students or part timers, which meant they failed to feign pain and suffering in a convincing manner. Customers, for instance, would barrage them with questions about their supposed employers, but the gals couldn’t provide a satisfactory response. Or they refused to take the bait, giving evasive replies like, “It’s a secret, I can’t tell you.”
The shop’s patrons soon figured out that these OLs were as ersatz as a three-pfennig deutschmark note.
Meanwhile, a rival sekuhara biz set up shop across town in Marunouchi, and this place was the real McCoy. Not only were the staff genuine OLs, but they reported for work in their actual company uniforms — with examples alluded to here as the “I***** Trading Company” and “M********* Electric.” And best of all, for 30,000 yen they didn’t merely dispense oral entertainment; they went all the way.
As its business tailed off, the Ikebukuro sekuhara club tried cutting the price of tail by 5,000 yen, but by then the market had gone into a tailspin, and after two years of willy wagging the business retreated with its tail between its legs.
“Our gals were just as pretty as the other place,” the former operator tells Nikkan Gendai. “But we didn’t make them put out, like the other shop did. That’s the real reason we went under.” (K.S.)
Source: “Honmono no OL no honban ni maketa sekuhara kurabu,” Nikkan Gendai (Aug. 1, page 28)
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