Press "Enter" to skip to content

Don’t ask, don’t tell: Tokyo’s ailing SM clubs feel the pain

Since last autumn, demand at clubs began to drop precipitously

One of the types of sex businesses that seems to have been sorely impacted by last year’s Great East Japan Earthquake is SM clubs.

Nikkan Gendai (July 3) reports that because SM clubs have the type of business that have enjoyed a hard-core following of dedicated sadists and masochists, they have, until now, been largely immune from economic ups and downs. But for reasons not fully understood, from around last autumn demand began to drop precipitously.

“Up to the year before last, I never cleared less than 500,000 yen per month,” says a 32-year-old woman who works as a “queen” at a Tokyo SM emporium. “But these days my income’s down to around 300,000 yen a month. In my seven years in this business, it’s the first time business has been so slow. It’s even worse now that it was right after the ‘Lehman Shock.'”

A veteran reporter covering the sex trade thinks the drop in demand for bondage and discipline may stem from “dread.”

“In the same manner that passengers on a roller coaster know that the ride is actually safe, but can still experience a thrill, SM enthusiasts can enjoy tying up women — or being spanked in return — because they know it’s basically safe and things won’t get out of hand,” he explains. “But after the catastrophic earthquake, tsunami and nuclear reactor meltdowns, people found what it is like to experience a true sense fear for their lives. With horrifying things like that, what’s the point of paying for a girl to whip their butts? They can get the shit scared out of them just from the everyday reality.”

Word on the street is that several SM deri heru (out-call) services that previously operated in Sendai and Morioka cities, in the region devastated by the earthquake and tsunami, have already gone bust, and that those in Tokyo are hurting badly.

To make efforts at ensuring that customers are fully satiated, SM clubs are reportedly requesting customers to complete questionnaires before departing, asking if they were sufficiently satiated with the service. But this method appears to have only encouraged more customers to pour out their complaints.

“I don’t like these kind of questionnaires, and don’t want to work in a shop that uses them,” pouts a 25-year-old employee of a sensual esute salon in Tokyo’s Kinshicho district. “Since customers’ budgets appear to have been cut, we try to keep bringing them in by offering shorter sessions, like around 40 minutes,” the girl continues. “But as soon as we get out of the shower they’ll say to me angrily, ‘Come on, let’s not waste time.’ And when they order me to suck them off and I take my time by doing it gently, they’ll get upset and complain, saying, ‘You’re doing it slowly like that to make me run over the time limit and have to pay more.’ And then they get asked to fill out the questionnaire…

“So even when I went all-out to do my best for the customer, I’ll get chewed out by the boss.”

Source: “‘Kyofukan’ ga maneita SM kurabu no teimei” Nikkan Gendai (July 3, page 18)