Saturday, February 11, 2006

See the movie, grope the real thing

In an innovative marketing ploy, distributor Gaga Communications is offering female filmgoers the chance to experience a 'host club' with the purchase of advance tickets for Nishimura Ryo's new film "Waters."

The 6,000 yen (around US$42) package for two includes two hours of all-you-can-drink revelry at one of five host clubs in Shinjuku's notorious Kabuki-cho district, courtesy of the film's consultant, "charisma host" Ayukawa Yu. The deal is limited to 100 tickets, and is available to all women over the age of 20.

If you're unfamiliar with the whole host club concept, think of a hostess bar but with the roles reversed. Female customers pay a door charge to receive the attention of a bevy of young metrosexuals, who are instantly recognisable for their defacto uniform of regulation black suit, fake tan and extravagant coiffure. Most clubs charge first-timers around 5,000 yen for two hours, and regulars can expect to pay considerably more. As with their female counterparts, the most successful hosts are those with finely-honed conversation skills rather than stunning good looks. Newcomers to the business start out by scrubbing toilets and performing other menial tasks, in the hope of rising up their club's popularity ranking to take the title of "number one." It's a gruelling profession that demands daily binge drinking and minimal sleep, even for those at the top of the food chain. Top hosts with business nous and a talent for self-promotion often move into club ownership, or sometimes even cross over into more mainstream entertainment such as television or publishing.

"Waters" stars Oguri Shun (23) of "Azumi" and "The Neighbor No. Thirteen" (Rinjin Jusan-go) fame, and is an ensemble piece about seven young men who, for various reasons, end up working as hosts in the same club.

The film opens on March 11th. (source: Sports Nippon)

Additionally, Philip Brasor has written this commentary on the mainstreaming of host clubs for The Japan Times.

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