Memoirs of a Jewish Geisha

Working in Midtown to give businessmen the girlfriend experience

"When were you born?" he asked.

"1987," I said.

"Ah! That's exactly when I worked there!" he said. "I bet that at one point, your mom was walking around and holding you, and I was walking around, too, and we saw one another. It's almost like fate. Like we were meant to know each other. Like we should have known each other all along."

The check came right around then: $320. Son of a bitch, I thought. I'd never eaten so well in my life. He put down his credit card, and I saw that after the tip, the bill came to $370.

"We should go to Kaoru now, so you're not late," he said.

Mama-san started yelling right when we got in.  

"Where were you?" she said.

"Dohan," I said. "Look, I brought in a customer."

"Go change!" she said.

And I did.

The bartenders said not to worry, that Mama-san wasn't really mad.

"Mama-san's crazy," one of them said. "She's, like, menopausal, you know. Her moods are all, like, up, down."

The rest of the night just felt off. The man who took me on my dohan was talking to another girl, which was fine, because he was so dull and there was little else to say about our celestial hometown connection. But now I saw that every time another hostess reached over the bar, he'd try to play grab-ass. She'd playfully swat his hand and laugh. And he'd buy her a drink.

At one point shortly after that, I went into the kitchen for a smoke.

"You like this work?" Mama-san asked.

"It's great."

"Good. We put you at six days next week. That OK?"

"I'll check my schedule."

"OK. Check your schedule. We put you on six days."

Mama-san was right. It takes about three weeks for the customers to warm up to you. What she didn't mention is that it also takes about three weeks for them to get grabby. And that's why it seemed like a good idea to spend no more than a month at Kaoru—I'd figured out what it was like to work there, and wanted to leave before anything really weird happened.

One night, a group of Japanese mariners came in. They had been out fishing earlier that day, went to dinner and to an all-Japanese strip club, and decided to make Kaoru their last stop for the night. One of them, the sexton, was wearing lime-green Crocs and a baggy sweatshirt.

"Some girls like smelly men," he said, lifting his arm in a hostess's face. She squealed. "You like that?"  

"No, I don't like smelly men," she said, smiling.

"What about this?" he said, popping off a shoe and holding it in her face.

An hour later, or maybe it was earlier, I was in that same corner booth.

"You must be Eastern European," a man said.

"Polish, in fact."

"I could tell."

"Really? How?"

"Polish girls like short skirts," he said, putting a hand on my thigh. My bare leg was pretty hairy. He didn't say anything.

"They also like to drink," he said.

"You're right. Could I get a whiskey-Diet?" I said. He agreed.

The bartenders knew to just give me soda. This way, I could sell at least ten $13 cocktails per night. I would also keep the customers happy by "drinking" with them, but I wouldn't get drunk at all.

He left the table for a moment. Then his friend put his hand on the same spot, right above my knee. He also didn't mention the hair. I drained the Diet Coke, and the bartender brought over another "whiskey-Diet" with a knowing laugh.

When I left that night, I noticed that one of the hostesses—a tall girl in a creamy beaded gown—happened to be walking a few blocks in front of me. She was arm-in-arm with the man she'd been on a dohan with, and had sat with all night. On his other side, also holding his arm, was another hostess from the bar. I followed them for a few blocks. They didn't part ways.

A few nights later, the man who told me about the "seaweed sake" returned. He was sitting at the corner of the bar, surrounded by the three women he'd paid to flirt with him. He'd been here a little less than an hour, but had already downed half a bottle of Johnnie Walker Black Label. He suddenly got up and ripped open his shirt, flashing a hairy nipple in front of the girls. They squealed. "I showed you mine, now show me yours!" he said, reaching across the counter to pinch a girl; his gut swung freely, so the bargirls scrambled to keep the drinks from spilling. "Come on and show me!" he said, but the girls refused, laughing politely.

The bartender sighed.

"He's really living the American dream," he said.

vbekiempis@villagevoice.com

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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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