Memoirs of a Jewish Geisha

Working in Midtown to give businessmen the girlfriend experience

"Good. You already know. Sometimes, if you're working in the karaoke room, you help them with the machines."

"And that's it? That's how it works? That's all we do?" Angie asked.

"Yes. You show up at 8:30, and you work until 1:30. The pay, it's not so good—$70 a night—but you can make more if a customer calls to request to see you, or if you sell a lot of drinks. Every time a customer calls me and says, 'I want to see Angie' or 'I want to see Victoria,' you make another $10 for the night. Sometimes the customer will want to go out to dinner with you before your shift. You go with him—just let me know that you went out—and you can make an extra $30 if you bring him back to the club. When you're out to dinner, you get to come in at 9:30 instead. But you set that up yourself."

"And that's really all there is?" I asked.

"Sometimes, the Russian girls, they will try to do more," Michelle said. "But this isn't that type of place, and that's why the Russians never last very long here. You go to dinner with the customers. If you want to spend some extra time with them, like show them the city or something on the weekend, that's fine, but you don't have to do anything with them. Sometimes, they will try to push it, and you just say, 'No, thank you, I had a lovely time at dinner—thank you for the drinks. Please come visit me again, please request me.' They might get mad at you and not come back to the club for a few months. Just be very clear with them, and you should be fine."

"Sounds great," Angie said.

"So when can you girls start?" asked Michelle.

It's another night at Kaoru. The air is heavy with raw fish and cheap perfume. A swinging ditty comes from someone playing the piano. A customer stumbles up and flips through a songbook, and the song ends. The man wants accompaniment for karaoke.

I've been hostessing for about three weeks at this point, and I have a sense of the basics.

Right when you get in, at 8:30, you punch your time card. Mama-san, as I've been told to call Michelle, gets angry if you're even a minute late, say the girls. Then you go to the back of the club, next to the men's bathroom, to change. The dressing room is a windowless space, and has the vibe of an unpainted broom closet. There's a pile of hair irons on the floor, and a row of mirrored closets, where some 15 hostesses keep their eveningwear. Between 8:30 and 8:45, the girls rush in, quickly changing from jeans, Mickey Mouse T-shirts, and messy ponytails into strappy gowns, Prada platforms, and slick updos.

Most of the hostesses are Japanese, though a couple come from South Korea.

I'm the only gaijin—foreigner—on staff, ever since Mama-san asked me to fire my friend. Mama-san said she couldn't bear to tell Angie not to come in anymore—would I mind telling Angie for her? She said there were too many girls and she needed to cut back, but that didn't make sense. For some reason, Mama-san just didn't like Angie, and I never really figured out why.

The other hostesses are friendly, but they mainly speak in their native language. I know that I'm missing out on some of what's going on, but it seems to be the same conversation girls always have when they put on makeup together—complaints about boys, concerns about weight gain, compliments on a new dress or haircut, etc. You really don't have to be a linguist to pick up on that, just a chick who has attended a sleepover at one time or another.

Eight hostesses usually work each night. They are mostly in their late twenties, though a few are in their early thirties. Most are in the U.S. on student visas, and have to be paid under the table. Some are taking English classes during the day, while others study singing or acting. Many have one or two other jobs, too. One girl works as a housekeeper and babysitter. Another works as hair-dresser. The two bartenders, both men, came to New York to dance.

Kaoru officially opens at 9:30 p.m., though most customers trickle in a little after 10. Until then, the hostesses chat with each other behind the bar, swigging glass after glass of unsweetened black tea. Sometimes they slip into the kitchen and use the gas range to light up a Dunhill or Marb Light. The kitchen serves three purposes: busing station, business office, and makeup touch-up area. There's a small mirror in there, a bottle of body lotion, and a couple of gem-colored vials of perfume.

When the men start to show up, they sit at the bar or at a table-and-booth combo. There are also two private karaoke rooms. To sit at the bar, the cover charge is $70. For tables or private rooms, it's $130 per person.

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27 comments
Swtmst
Swtmst

It is like a strip club with none of the stripping. I thought about hostessing in Japan, but it becomes very taxing on your body and mind. You consistently have to text customers ect. I also find it very sad, because in big clubs, rich men (and women!) will spend 10,000 or more a night, and really think the host/ess is going to marry them one day...bizarre.

Cdaniels56
Cdaniels56

Page me when Lauren Ezersky writes hers..............hehe

Angela Garcia as NeonMosfet
Angela Garcia as NeonMosfet

This is almost Victorian in tone. There's some thing sweet and a little sad about these men living out the weird fantasy of High School Musical, on the rocks and 80 proof. However as Bekiempis should have known, she was supposed to carry a fan. When her customer went for the hooter shot demanding a return favor, she is supposed to take the fan, and whack him on the shoulder blade for getting out of line

Angela Garcia as NeonMosfet.

Cassidy
Cassidy

By Jewish girls? I love Jewish girls the most.

Isaiah
Isaiah

This was THE most self-indulgent article published by the Voice in a long time. It was a waste of time to go out of my way, (as I usually do) to read the paper this week. I am personally insulted by this masturbatory piece...

Cassidy
Cassidy

It was a real tease of an article! I guess the only reason the title mentioned a Jewish geisha was due to the author's self-indulgence. I was half expecting Daphne Rosen or somebody! Instead, it was just another broke whitegirl making money off of some easy Asian marks.

Erika
Erika

The article basically read like "those Japanese people are so weird and exotic" (accentuated by the Orientalist photos). Which is pretty much every article written by non-Japanese folk, ever. Honestly as a Japanese-American, it depresses me. Did you know that we're actually pretty normal people? And yes, we're *individuals* with independent thoughts and feelings.

Cassidy
Cassidy

Kept waiting for the "Jewish stuff," given the title of the article, but aside from hairy legs (and no one every commented on her nose??) I don't see what was the point of calling herself a Jewish geisha.

Kept thinking there was going to be a Russian connection somehow, since "Jewesses" in czarist Russia staffed the brothels.

mg
mg

What an inane article. I especially like the line "Then came some mystery fish, which tasted so richly of the ocean, they were undoubtedly endangered." How would you know? Is there anything about life in general that you enjoy, or are you simply the "PC Police" for everyone else's existence. Sad. Sad. Woman.

elcalato
elcalato

Im not a professional writer or for that matter any type of writer. I think whoever wrote this article was using the reference to the endangered fish to give a sense of the forbidden....like something sort of dangerous. I mean to be going out with a stranger under her circumstances could have all sorts of outcomes....

Cassidy
Cassidy

Yeah, I thought it was rather fine writing on her part.

ET
ET

The Voice is no longer relevant.

Sad demise

Cassidy
Cassidy

Well, I did rather enjoy this article, even though I was hoping for more (like those lonely losers profiled?), but I agree with you in general: the Voice is no longer relevant.

zqxz
zqxz

Finally (48 hours) time limit to buy.

LV Muffler $ 5.99LV Bags $ 19.9 LV Wallet $ 6.55Armani Glasses $ 5.99LV Belt $ 6.9

Buy addresses---- tntn.usTips (48 hours after the special product is invalid)

zqxz
zqxz

Finally (48 hours) time limit to buy.

LV Muffler $ 5.99LV Bags $ 19.9 LV Wallet $ 6.55Armani Glasses $ 5.99LV Belt $ 6.9

Buy addresses---- tntn.usTips (48 hours after the special product is invalid)

Bbradley
Bbradley

BORING. This was very West-meets-East and offered nothing but a one-dimensional report of the job, which is a very common form of entertainment in Asia. And like any customer service job, it has your good and bad customers. Hooters waitresses are far more demeaned than hostesses.

Theplaceforjunk
Theplaceforjunk

I learned that there is a bar where women are paid to increase drink orders. And everyone there was dumb or weird (expect the writer and maybe some of the other workers). And that is it.

NightOwl
NightOwl

Sad and funny illustration of Human Condition, Arigato Victoria-san.

elcalato
elcalato

I read this story expecting to be titillated or at least get a cheap thrill from reading about the sexual escapades of a working girl in the escort business. Girlfriend experience? Please, this is more like...I dont even know how I would even describe this. Im sure there is more that goes on in here then the writer lets on. This is more like an advertisement for this establishment....I think Im actually going to check it out. The writer didnt even mention if the the girls working there are pretty or not.

Msue
Msue

There is no "sexual thing" whatsoever you idiot.Girls are prretier than your sister. And please don't come if you don't have enough money to buy a bottle + cover charge.We don't have coors light.-ex geisha

elcalato
elcalato

I think you didnt get what I was trying to say. The article itself was presented in a way to make it seem like it was about someone working in the escort business.

Qwitzach
Qwitzach

korea is not in southeast asia. it is in east asia.

Sakara
Sakara

soon to be a cable tv movie, no doubt.

Without Pie
Without Pie

Who Else Wants To Get A $829 iPad.2 3G For $121.37. Or a $1799.00 Macbook-Pro For Under $217.81? Forget Retail Stores With Their Jacked Up Prices. I Already Sold A Bunch Of Stuff For Half Of What People Would Have Paid At Retail Stores, But I Am Getting Stuff For Much Cheaper Than That. I Use Two Sites, Both Are Good, BidsGo.cömAnd BidsWave.cöm

Clint
Clint

I was in Naganno Japan and for fifty bucks extra they give you a blow job at the end. For real

Cassidy
Cassidy

By Jewish girls? I like Jewish girls the most.

 
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