When it comes to innovation in Japan’s sleaze industry, Tokyo is hard to top.
Whether it’s evading law enforcement — shops offering school-girl prostitutes under the guise of a massage, for example — or creative pricing, as in the discounting among soapland bathhouses in Yoshiwara, the nation’s capital generally leads the pack.
However, reports Shukan Asahi (Oct. 24), it was the Minami entertainment district of Osaka that gave birth to the nation’s first transgender host club — and business is booming.
“There had been no host clubs featuring women in men’s clothing providing entertainment, and I wanted to create a place for that kind of woman,” says Tuguyasu Katsuyama, the 25-year-old manager of Victorian Queen, which opened four years ago.
Until September, Victorian Queen opened inside a restaurant only three times a week. But since October the club has occupied its own space in Minami.
“I wanted to provide a specific location where such women can work,” the manager says.
The majority of the hosts at Victorian Queen consider themselves to be of a non-specific gender, known as “FTX” in Japan. Akira Javier Aizaki is one example.
“I had dated with men before, but the relationships all fell apart within two weeks because I felt something was wrong,” says Aizaki.
The club has one host who is a female-to-male transsexual (FTM).
“When I was in my fifth year of elementary school I became attracted to a female college student who visited as a teacher,” says Yudai Inukai. “It was my awakening to the fact that I like women. I am planning to change my sexuality from female to male in my family’s koseki (register).”
Katsuyama says 80 percent of the customers at Victorian Queen are women, who are charged 1,980 yen per hour (for men 3,980 yen), while bottles of champagne begin at 8,800 yen — indeed, a tad pricey but make no mistake; this is not a typical host club, where cash and alcohol flow to numbing excess.
As its name implies, the club is about refinement. To wit, female guests are referred to by the honorific ojo-sama (daughter) and men by goshujin-sama (husband).
“That loud and showy atmosphere, with the champagne towers, high-end brandy and so forth — that’s a regular host club,” says Katsuyama. “Here, if you don’t want to drink that’s not a problem. We’ll do toasts with Chinese tea.”
Akira Ikoma, the editor of a guide to the men’s entertainment called Ore no Tabi (My Journey), says Japan’s nightlife trade is in a state of decline.
“In comparison to the 1990s, the average income of a fuzoku-jo is about half,” says the editor in using the term for sex worker. “Likewise, income at host clubs has also suffered drastically.”
But Victorian Queen is proving popular, with the Web site attracting 10,000 readers per day.
It may then just be a matter of time before the phenomenon of host club featuring women dressing as men reaches Tokyo.
“There is always a need for such a business because it fills a niche,” says Ikoma. (A.T.)
Source: “Hosuto kurabu wa mo furui!? Osaka de danso hosuto ga ninki,” Shukan Asahi (Oct. 24, pages 134-135)