In addition to its bustle and blinking lights, another certainty in Tokyo’s Kabukicho district is the legions of aggressive touts patrolling the red-light quarter’s streets in search of customers for massage parlors and sex clubs.
“Kabukicho is a rip-off heaven,” says the insider who is now retired. “Honest touts are few and far between.”
The insider, who is now retired, estimates that Kabukicho has 1,000 active touts operating in eight groups. On any given day, 500 will be on active duty. Each tout has a boss called a ketsumochi, who receives between 30,000 and 100,000 yen in kickbacks per month from each underling. “To get an idea of what that means as far as scale, let’s assume the latter figure of 100,000 yen. That means the market for Kabukicho is 100 million yen per month,” says the source.
Inside each group, there are no strict rules and no real hierarchy exists. Even the relations between groups is generally cordial. The reason is that the members work in teams. “Teamwork is more efficient than single-man operations,” says the former tout, who provides an example.
“You start making your rounds in search of customers. ‘Hey, you want to pop your cork tonight?’ ‘What kind of girl do you like?’ A drunk guy might say, ‘I like young girls.’ Then I’ll say, ‘Oh, I can make an introduction to a shop.’ I’ll then guide him to a rental room that goes for 6,000 yen, which includes my fee.”
Soon after, a sex-club employee will appear. “But of course, this person is actually just another tout,” continues the source. “The customer’s told that he’s got to pay the girl directly for the fun. But since she’s a special girl, the customer is told that there’s also an added ‘guarantee fee’ of a few thousand yen that needs to be paid. We will take that.”
A rather old woman then materialize before the patron, who is now certainly crestfallen. Though realizing he has been duped, the victim will not raise a huge complaint since it is not a large amount of money. “This fraud is carried out repeatedly by many touts,” assures the source.
Shukan Asahi Geino says that since information about victims gets passed around among the touts, the cycle continues ceaselessly. Another common fraud involves collecting large sums of money to attend parties frequented by promiscuous underage girls.
So the next time, dear reader, a voice calls through the night — “Hey brother, do you want to get lucky?” — it might be wise to think twice. (A.T.)
Source: “Kabukicho bottakuri ‘ponbiki soshiki’ moto kanbu ga saishin teguchi barashita,” Shukan Asahi Geino (Sep. 20)
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