At first glance, ‘Man-zoku’ is just the same as any other Japanese girlie mag – a mix of glossy and not-so-glossy pictures of babes in a state of near-undress. And like many of it’s kind, there is a fondness for using Japlish; normally, these are intriguing but near-unintelligible phrases such as ‘Exciting Magazine Attack on Gals!’, but in ‘Man-zoku’ (translatable as ‘Man Tribe’, I believe), the reader eventually notices a pattern:
- “I’m waiting for Exective [sic] companion”
- “Yoshiwara V.I.P. Room”
- “First Lady King Owner’s Club”
If you haven’t worked it out, I’ll be blunt. ‘Man-zoku’ is a 160+ page catalogue of prostitutes. Name, age, height, measurements, specialities, telephone numbers and prices are all there, and that’s just the bits I can decipher. Even blood-type is listed; in Japan, this has significance in perhaps a similar way that star-signs have here, supposedly influencing personality, etc.
When this realisation hit me, I was awe-struck. It is at once such a simple idea, and yet so beautifully fresh (bit like the Walkman, really). It waltzes merrily around the major problem people have with prostitution, namely the low-life scum associated with red-light areas (kerb-crawlers, drug-pushers, judges, MPs, etc.). Instead, simply flick through the selection, select the girl of your dreams, and dial her up, easy as ordering a pizza. If this method of getting sex took off here, half the wine bars in London would probably close.
Further research (god, I love this job!) revealed some interesting trends. Well, actually it revealed no trends at all, but Steve and I had a whale of a time, one dull Sunday afternoon, typing in Japan-easy girls’ stats into a computer spreadsheet. We plotted graphs, drew charts and tried to correlate age with bust size, price with blood type, or height to hips/waist ratio, but about all it proved is that we probably need to get out more often. Though we did discover the ‘158 Factor’; theory suggests height should follow a bell-shape curve, so why did so many say they were 158 cm tall? 17% did, but I only found a single maverick listed as 157 cm. All explanations on a postcard, please.
However, some more general points should be mentioned. Firstly, the price is quoted for a time: Y8,500 for 30 minutes is common. To save you the bother, that’s about fifty quid. This may seem expensive – OK, it is expensive – but bear in mind that in Tokyo, getting into a night-club could easily cost you 30 pounds, and that’s without drinks and no definite shag. However, you can shop around: prices range from 5,000/70 minutes to 12,000 for half an hour. Some babe in a very nice jacket was offered at forty thousand, but that did get you two hours. You presumably do not get a refund if you call any time outs.
“What do you get for your money?”, you may be asking. To which I would reply, “How the hell should I know?”. But luckily, we have this (suspiciously eye-witness) account from Nick Bornhoff’s “Pink Samurai”:
“Shirahama makes sure that the guest gets every yen’s worth, beckoning to him to join her over on the psychiatrist’s couch. Intermittently resorting to amazingly skilled oral and manual sexual techniques for the best part of an hour, Shirahama will coax renewed vigour and repeated encores from even the most flagging and recalcitrant member…If a job is worth doing to the Japanese, it’s worth doing properly”
None of which does anything to dissuade me that the Japanese have come up with another worthy export. Another point is that the photos accompanying the texts have the definite ring of truth. The thought of faking something up probably wouldn’t even occur. Compare this with here, where the three certainties in life are “death”, “taxes” and “the girls in adverts for 0898 numbers are not the ones on the other end of the line”.
Thirdly, it may be a racist, stereotyped cliché to say they all look the same, but it is also accurate – at least for the admittedly non-random sample in Man-zoku’s pages. Now, I’m a great fan of “elfin beauty”, but there’s only so much elf a man can handle, and even I got to the stage where the sudden appearance of a few blond-haired, siliconed, Western hookers was sufficient to evoke a pang of nostalgia. Incidentally, they weren’t notably differently priced from the local product.
But the cream on top of this particular pint of Gold Top is a sheet in the middle of the magazine, which perhaps sums up the entire difference in cultures more than anything else. No matter what, even if Man-zoku began to publish a London edition, I can never see English prostitutes accepting money-off coupons…