Revisiting the Karaoke Hostess

It’s been nearly two years since I stopped working as a domi. It’s funny. I was only a karaoke hostess for a few months, but it still occupies a large space in my brain. I got funny stories, sure, and met interesting people, but, mostly, the thing was an awakening.

It took a while for me to iron out the thoughts. Maybe they are silly thoughts, petty things, easy to brush aside in favor ofΒ realΒ concerns like getting a job and paying the bills.

It’s not as if I am the first woman to see my body as an object. The world wants us to see ourselves as objects. Open up a magazine and you will see page after page of women dissected for their parts–their luscious tits, their perfect asses, their lean legs, their flat stomachs. We are parts, not wholes, smooth and poreless from plenty of photoshop. Sure, men are posed provocatively in ads, but it is never the same. Men are strong and powerful, big muscles and broad shoulders. Women are weak and diminutive, with tiny bodies taking up as little space as possible.

It is hard to explain how if feels to see yourself as thing first, person second. I’m mostly over it, mostly able to think of myself as a whole thing, my brain first, my body second. But I think all women feel this to some degree. How we look is always most important. How much we appeal to men is always most important.

I liked being a karaoke hostess. It was an easy job, except for the cigarette smoke and the late hours. It was surprisingly easy to pretend to like boring assholes. After all, I have been taught how to play this role my whole life. I have been taught to be sexy, to be sweet, to be demure–that is what a woman should be. I have been taught to play defense. I am a thing to be protected, to be defended from the big, scary thing that is male sexuality. Women on defense, men on offense– our culturual expectations play out in those karaoke rooms. I had to deflect groping attempts and requests for sex nicely, like so many women do, despite the progress made by sexual harassment laws.

The funny thing is how unremarkable the whole thing was. I was so used to this kind of thing–wanting to look pretty, win male affection, trade my body for money–that it never stood out to me. I never told any of my friends. A few strangers, here and there. My boyfriend. But friends and family–no way. How would I even explain it? The truth it, I didn’t want them to know. After two years, I crave confessional, but I am afraid of perverting others’ opinions of me. Will they take me less seriously? Will they think I’m a slut? Will they even understand what it was.

I have always had a problem with my self-worth. Many people do, women especially. I have always needed something to measure it by. In the old days, my eating disorder days, I measured my worth by my calorie deficit. The less I ate and the more I exercised, the more value I had. But, with that horrible phase mostly behind me, I needed something else to measure my value–my look and my ability to make money.

In a capitalist society, people are only as good as their ability to earn and spend money. In a sexist society, women are only as good as their ability to fit into the role of mother, wife, or ingenue. How convenient–a job that assured me of my sexual value while it made me a good, little capitalist. The trouble is, it didn’t work out quite like that. Instead of rising, my self-esteem got tangled in the idea of making money. I was only worth what I brought home every night. I was only as happy as what I brought home every night. If I didn’t make enough, I wasn’t enough– pretty enough, fun enough, sexy enough.

I don’t know how I managed to untangle my self-worth. I am finally at a point where I recognize my value as a person, aside from my looks or my earning potential. I still don’t earn a lot of money, but I don’t let it define me. I have moments where I obsess over my appearance– changing my hair, perfecting my makeup, criticizing my stomach–but I acknowledge them and push past them. I wish I had more useful advice, but I have no clue how I arrived at this place.

I don’t regret any of my actions, but I don’t recommend them to others. If you have other options, don’t trade on your sexuality to make money. Not because it is immoral or indecent. Because you start to see yourself as a thing, and it is very hard to see yourself as a person again.

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24 thoughts on “Revisiting the Karaoke Hostess

  1. Pingback: Indecent Proposal: Part 2 | dating sucks

  2. Do you still keep in touch with any of the other girls, drivers, or guys you met in the karaoke rooms from those days? I’m curious if you ever got to know anyone from that scene outside the work environment.

    That includes the other domi girls. Like what were their reasons for becoming domii? How did they even hear about being a domi in the first place? How did you all communicate in the rooms when it consisted of Korean-only speaking men?

    • I’m not in touch with anyone. I worked with other English-speaking ladies. Most of us were educate enough to get other jobs, but we didn’t want to commit to them. One girl had a business degree and was a model and actress. Another had been unemployed for years and would never again find a job that paid this much. Not too bright. Another was just graduating college and hated the domi job, but was doing it until she found anything else.

      Some of the other girls were not educated and wouldn’t be able to find any other job that paid so well. Others were non-citizens who couldn’t get a real job.

      I found the job on a modeling site, actually, but there are tons of craigslist ads for it.

      We spoke English in the rooms. Most of the guys who wanted non-Korean girls wanted the whole American/white girl thing, so they expected English speaking.

      • Thank you for replying!

        Were the customers always middle aged Korean men? Or was there any other type of demographic? I would think the Japanese would love this karaoke scene, but maybe there isn’t a large enough Japanese community to support a large karaoke social scene in LA.

      • I’d say it was 50-75% middle aged Korean men. There were also younger Korean men, Chinese men (usually 21-40), and Japanese men. White guys sometimes came with their Asian friends, but, generally, I think the karaokes distrusted non-Asian customers and wouldn’t offer them domi.

  3. Checked out the domi scene in LA Koreatown. It is awesome, huge, and exploding in growth and level of organization, from what I could tell from conversations. A man’s paradise (if he has disposable income) and an easy way for pretty women to make money fast cash without engaging in prostitution or stripping.

    The women are almost universally 8s, 9s, and 10s, and mostly white or Latina. Not as many Asian girls as I had expected, but that may be because the clientele (at least from what I witnessed at higher end karaoke joints) is not generally middle aged Korean men, but rather, Korean American and other Asian American white collar professionals in their 20s and 30s. This was confirmed by the domi girls, so maybe the scene has experienced a clientele demographic shift in the last few years, and the domi pool is keeping up with demand.

    I spoke with 4 domi — 3 blonde and 1 Latina — and they all had the same interesting observations: Korean guys were the most respectful clients, white guys — especially when it was a room full of white guys with no Asian make friend intermediaries — were the least respectful and tried to treat the domi as prostitutes (maybe white guys don’t understand the scene?), and in particular, Russian guys were the most demanding, roughest, and creepiest of all the white guys.

    Anyway, I’m going back to sing, drink, talk, and hang out more! This is much better than regular clubs, where you have to deal with such attitude, and strip clubs, where it is so mercenary. And I think the domi girls are better looking across the board than most strippers. This is a fascinating subculture in Los Angeles! Glad I found this blog!! πŸ˜ŽπŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘

      • I can’t help it. The girls are just too hot, the music and drinking and singing are just too fun, and the partying with the girls is even sweeter. If you have some cash to burn, this is a pretty awesome party scene.

      • I’d been fascinated with host/hostess culture since I saw the japanese doc “the great happiness space,” so I wanted to see what it was like. I have this complex where I only feel happy when I’m making money, plus I wanted to prove to myself that I was/am an attractive girl with sway over men. Sadly, that is typically what society deems as valuable in ladies.

      • What made you stop then? Didn’t you horrible at the same time? The reason I’m asking you is because I’m curious what is running through a person mind to do this kind of job or service.

  4. Have you ever actually liked any of your customers enough to date them or known of any other hostess who has? I’m in need of some serious advice…

      • Oh, and I wouldn’t date a customer because the dynamics of the relationship are that the hostess gives and the customer takes. It’s not a healthy dynamic long term.

    • I’ve liked them fine, but I wouldn’t date a client. The whole point of a karaoke hostess is that she makes you believe she likes you. The illusion is why you pay her.

      • I understand you had your experience and views, and that is probably shared by a great many domi and clients alike.

        However, dating between domi and clients happens quite frequently. In fact, I’d say the majority of domi end up dating at least one of their clients at one point or another. Like all relationships, those dating situations are hit and miss.

        Sometimes, the relationship works out long term. Other times, it’s just sex a handful of times. Still other times, it’s one uneventful date and no more.

        You have to choose wisely.

      • The times I saw domi and clients dating, there was always the implication that that client would be footing some of the domi’s expenses. I’m sure it happens, sometimes, but it’s something I’d advice against for both parties. When you’re pretending to like someone, it’s easy to start believing it/ when someone is pretending to like you, it’s easy to start believing it’s real. It’s hard to really know where you stand, and that’s a recipe for getting hurt. It’s possible it could work out, but it’s fraught.

      • Yea, that’s what I thought but is there a reason why the hostess would date a client completely free of charge? That’s what’s happening and I’m wondering if it’s a longer term play that some hostesses do or what. I think she’s really cool in “real life” but I’m afraid to let my guard down given how we met.

      • I definitely saw domi dating clients with the intention of getting the guys to start paying their bills. And, realistically, if a domi and a customer really hit it off, then is the customer going to be cool with her continuing to work as a domi? It’s certainly possible to make a real connection under the circumstances, but it can be hard to see the line between real and BS. There’s a difference between trying to impress on a date and molding yourself into the shape of an entertainer as a hostess. (And there’s a difference between being on a date and being entertained by a hostess. With a hostess, you are not expected to put in any of the work). For most, this is a subconscious thing. And I was alway good with one on one or talkative clients as I was used to offering nothing of my real self/only giving people what I knew they’d want to see /hear, only giving support and never asking for it.

        If I really liked the person, I might do it. But it is a situation where you are likely to get hurt.

      • Truth be told, my girlfriend and I met while she was working as a domi. We have been together 3 years now and know each other very well and have gotten to know each other’s families, too.

        Like any relationship, it has had its ups and downs over time, but we have always worked things out. Both of us have grown a lot in the past 3 years and have become integral to each other’s lives. I would not trade the good of the last 3 years away, even with some of the early drama, which thankfully has dissipated with time and maturity.

        Before her, I did have some other (brief) dating experiences with other domi. One I knew was trying to use me as a cash register and was easy to read as a user of men. That one didn’t last long, and I don’t think she lasted very long as a domi, either. The ones who seem to last as domi learn to immerse themselves in the karaoke scene and actually enjoy themselves (or be top notch actresses who can give off that impression while completely drunk).

        Another was willing to have sex anytime I wanted, but there was an understanding that I would return the favor by paying some of her bills or just plain giving her some spending money. One issue with that was that her bills and money requests seemed to increase over time, until it reached the point of exasperation. I cut that one off, and she understood, though I think she probably just moved on to someone else (or multiple others).

        With yet another, there was no chemistry on the first date, and it was awkward and rather dull. Neither of us contacted one another after that dud of an evening.

        Finally, another was honest and upfront in the beginning and said she wasn’t ready for a relationship and didn’t want to take advantage of me money-wise. I suppose she didn’t want to be tempted to try to use me, as there is too much of a risk of that happening due to the dynamic of the domi-client interaction. Thus, she cut things off. I respected that about her and appreciated it, though getting dumped sucked at the time.

        With my current girlfriend, she stopped working as a domi after committing to our relationship. I don’t think it would have worked out had she continued to work, even if just once in a while or for a short time. It would have been like having an “open” relationship, which in my opinion never really works.

        Again, like anytime you put yourself out there in a relationship, you can get hurt. Maybe the risk is even moreso in these situations for the reasons Fiona already pointed out.

        But if you don’t try, and you really like this other person, I think you are doing yourself a disservice by not at least allowing yourself to explore the possibility that this might be the real thing.

      • Thanks for all the thoughts, the both of you. It does seem very case-by-case. She’s made it known that she doesn’t want anything from me other than my time, but I’ll still proceed with caution given the circumstances. BTDT’s right about one thing, which is if I don’t at least see it through, I’d always wonder.

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