One key element in the creation of the widespread popularity of all-girl idol group AKB48 and its affiliates is the fact that fans can actually meet the members at events.
This pseudo-intimacy has necessitated that members maintain a squeaky clean image, which — through a mostly compliant media — has been accomplished.
A recent exception is Kaori Matsumura. According to Flash (July 7-14), the 25-year-old was employed as a hostess at a club in Tokyo’s Kabukicho red-light district the year before she joined Nagoya-based SKE48 in 2009.
“She worked under the name ‘Karin,'” says a former employee at the club, which is not named. “At that time, she didn’t express any interest in becoming an idol.”
For Matsumura, who finished in 13th place in the group’s annual poll on June 6, her appearance while working at the club was not too dissimilar to that of an idol: According to the magazine, she often dressed in a maid outfit. (In originally breaking the story, a previous issue of Flash ran a number of photographs showing the performer in her costume.)
“She made about 400,000 yen a month,” says the former employee. “For the younger customers, she took on a snarky, almost selfish demeanor. For the older gents, she behaved like their grandchild. She worked for about six months.”
She was known for her innocent, lolicon-ish face. But that look was deceiving.
“Everyday, she dutifully recorded all of the number of customers she served and drink sales in a notebook,” says the employee. “On payday, she would then check to make sure that the amount was correct. If it wasn’t, she’d raise a stink with the shop manager to get a correction. She was hard-nosed.”
Matsumura confirms that the report is accurate, telling the magazine that she took up the part-time work to make up for a cash shortfall.
“In thinking back to those days, and my demeanor, I would like to offer an apology to my customers,” she says.
Flash hopes that share a karaoke session with Matsumura sometime soon. (A.T.)
Source: “AKB48 senbatsu menbaa ‘kyabajo’ kako!” Flash (July 7-14, special pull-put section)