Kirkus Reviews QR Code
90-DAY GEISHA by Chelsea Haywood

90-DAY GEISHA

My Time as a Tokyo Hostess

By Chelsea Haywood

Pub Date: Dec. 9th, 2009
ISBN: 978-1-60598-071-3
Publisher: Pegasus

The high and low times of a temporary hostess in Japan.

At age 20, former model Haywood decided to travel to Tokyo with her husband Matt to write a book about the curious profession of hostessing. She soon found herself in the city’s infamous Roppongi district, where sex and other vices of all varieties are available for a price. With her blond good looks, she easily found a job at a club. Hostessing in Japan, she writes, “has very little to do with sex, quite a lot to do with psychology and nothing to do with prostitution.” Haywood and the other hostesses—from Europe, America and several places in between—spent long nights in the club fulfilling the fantasy of an adoring girlfriend for an endless parade of lonely, overworked “salary men.” Haywood lit their cigarettes, poured their drinks and listened with feigned interest to their complaints and dreams. There might be dinner outside the club, but it was all fantasy. For a lot of money, the author was “available but unobtainable,” the hostess motto. Still, some customers became friends or more than friends, including Nori, a rich doctor who became obsessed with Haywood; Shin, who became like her big brother; Koji, who may or may not have been a serial rapist; and Yoshi, a handsome, dashing, cocaine-snorting multimillionaire with whom Haywood began to fall in love. The author’s story begins to falter as it becomes more about her unconsummated affair with Yoshi and her struggles to choose between him and Matt. Beyond a discourse on burusera, the Japanese male obsession with schoolgirls and their uniforms, and a hilarious adventure as a dancer on a Japanese pop-music TV show, Haywood fails to delve into her encounters with Japanese culture. Ultimately the narrative becomes part bodice ripper, part teenage diary: e.g., Yoshi was a “groomed, polished, virile specimen…egotistical to the point of narcissism, yet he oozed an invisible nectar that made him irresistibly attractive.” After three months, burnt out from booze, lies and endless partying, Haywood returned to Canada with Matt.

An entertaining but shallow read that reveals more about the author than Japan.