November 06, 2009

The Bloggess Does Japan: Memoirs of a Geisha. (Sort of.)

by The Bloggess

It’s technically more like “Memoirs of an Oiran” but people don’t know what that word means so I dumbed it down a bit.

Oirans and Geishas

I asked her first how much a Geisha costs per hour and if we could go interview one but not actually have sex with her. Chicako turned a little green. Turns out geishas are just high-class, elegant entertainers who don’t have sex with you and it’s kind of offensive to even imply that. Apparently they just play the harp and giggle when you want them too. So yeah, if you order a Geisha you’re probably going to be disappointed. Unless you’re really into the harp, I guess.

Me: They don’t even give handjobs?


Her English wasn’t perfect but I’m pretty sure that means no.

Turns out that there are a lot of different chicks that look like Geishas. Like the Maiko who are the young apprentices of the Geisha, and the Geiko who I think sell insurance. I wasn’t really paying attention at that point because then I heard something about the Oiran who were the true elite courtesans of the time and I’m all “The prostitutes! Those are my people. Take me to the prostitutes!” But Chicako must have misheard me because instead she decided to make me an Oiran. Which? Even better.

So we went down to the Harajuku district in Japan and walked down a back alley where I assumed we’d get mugged by ninjas but we totally didn’t. I think I must have looked a little disappointed because then Chicako reluctantly pointed out some guys who might be Yakuza and I felt much better. This is when Chicako looked like she kind of wanted to run away. It was kind of how she looked the whole time though so maybe she always looks that way.

Soon we came to a tiny little studio where the people spoke little to no English and they mimed for me to get undressed and put on a thin robe and I didn’t know if I was supposed to take my under-things off too but then I thought that I was technically dressing up as a prostitute and prostitutes probably went commando all the time so I decided to go traditional.

Me. I’m not wearing any underwear.

Then Chicako watched while two Japanese women pulled back my hair and gave me a mini-face lift. For real. They taped my eyes back. Probably so I’d look more Asian but honestly I looked 5 years younger immediately. So first lesson: Fuck plastic surgery. Just stick with duct tape. (You’re welcome.) Then they smeared me up with an inch of make-up, false eyelashes, etc.

I told the make-up artist that she was very good and could probably do drag queens too. She smiled graciously but I don’t think she understood. Or maybe she thought I was saying that she could have sex with drag queens. This is precisely why I needed Chicako there and I’m all “Can you translate that?” She said she couldn’t. I don’t entirely trust Chicako.

Then it was time to get dressed in what I assumed was a kimono but turns out you wear layers of sashes that are tied with strings so tight that you can barely breathe. Or possibly that’s what they have to do to fit fat white chicks into the outfits. The guy dressing me kept saying something in Japanese to his assistant. Chicako wouldn’t translate but I’m pretty sure it’s something like “GET ME MORE STRINGS! GET ME ALL THE STRINGS!” He used a lot of strings.

Me. First layer:

Me. Second layer:

Then the second layer started getting bulky and he kept adding more sashes and I was all “This is making me look even fatter. Wouldn’t a Japanese Oiran want to look all svelte? Why didn’t they just wear kimono dickies so it looked like they were wearing 3 robes but really it was just one?” He just smiled and nodded.

Me: I mean, in America the prostitutes hardly wear anything. I mean, that’s kind of the point.

Them: Hmm.

Me: Probably because it’s easier to “do the deed” if you’re not wearing a lot of clothes.

Them: Hmm.

Me: And it’s easier to run from the cops if you’re not wearing much. I mean, not that I would know. I’m not a prostitute.

Them: Hmm.

Me: Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Them: Hmm.

Me: But I guess if an Oiran was wearing 4 layers of clothes plus a dozen sashes and a bunch of strings then probably by the time the guy finally got her undressed he was so exhausted that he wouldn’t want to even have sex. And then she could just rob him instead.

Them: Hmm.

Me: Really, this is kind of ridiculous. I look pregnant.

Them: Hmm. Here. Let’s tuck this enormous quilt into your shirt.*

Me: You’ve got to be fucking kidding me.

*They didn’t actually say that last part though. They just did it. It was like having wearing a duvet as a lobster bib. So, yeah, totally sexy.

Then it was time for hair, which was basically a wig with a shitload of stuff in it. I think part of it was that stuff you use in the swimming pool to hit people with. Pool noodles, I call them. Not sure if there’s a technical term for those. Also, I’m pretty sure the rest of the stuff was old Christmas ornaments, which is weird because I don’t think they even celebrate Christmas in Japan. Also, I think there was part of a salad in my hair. At the very least there were tomatoes

Also, there was a dog there wearing a sweatshirt. No shit. He was the only one who seemed to understand me though so I mainly just talked to him even though he looked at me like I was insane after the wig came on and I was all “Don’t judge me. You are a dog in sweatshirt. Do you have any idea how ridiculous you look?” Also, he might have just wanted the tomatoes. It’s hard to tell with dogs.

The last step was the special shoes of the Oiran, which are incredibly high so people can recognize that she’s an Oiran and not a Geisha. They’re like Japanese hooker boots basically. Except not really as hot but way more comfortable.

Then it was time for pictures.

Picture Time

Yes, I assure you, that is me. The fashion director was shouting things to me in Japanese which I can only guess translated to “Act sexy even though you look like you’re smuggling a sleeping bag in your shirt”. Then they gave me an opium pipe to make me feel more sexy except there was no opium in it. So yeah, I felt a little ripped off. I asked if they had any opium and they said no. Chicako looked a little chagrined. Probably because she’d smoked all of it while I was getting my wig done and forgot to ask if I wanted any. The Japanese are very generous that way. I told her it was fine anyway because I still had some airplane booze back in my purse.

Then I was supposed to “become angered” which I think means “Work it, girl! Look fierce!” so I’m all “ROWR!” and everyone looked at me like I was insane. Apparently they don’t have America’s Next Top Model in Japan.

Tyra would have loved that one. (I had to ask Chicako to take that picture because the photographer thought I’d gone mental.)

Then they lead Chicako and me out to a small garden behind the studio.

The frogs seemed a bit out of place.

The locals were horrified:

And also a little bit horrifying as well. I asked Chicako why there was a creepy giant rabbit outside and she just laughed like I was making a funny joke just by asking. True story.

In the end though, it was awesome. Even though technically all I really learned is that ancient Japanese prostitutes were hell to get undressed and probably just stuck with hand-jobs most of the time. That’s not actually based on fact because whenever I asked about hand-jobs Chicako started to look a little terrified. What I did learn, however, is that whatever they make, Oiran’s are under-paid because that shit is heavy and I think I ruptured a disc in my neck just carrying the hair around. Also, when you have huge hair and 5-inch shoes and you’re already a foot taller than everyone else in the entire Country and you try to go outside to the garden you are going to whack your forehead on the door jamb so hard you’ll almost pass out and a bunch of tiny Asian people will try to catch you and you’ll feel like Godzilla. It’s kind of awesome.

And that was my story of becoming an Oiran. It was lovely and charming and I highly recommend it even thought I felt bad at the end because I was all tarted up for nothing because I didn’t have to actually perform any sex acts. It was a lot like my prom night. Except no one threw up on me.

But that’s another story completely.