Thursday, February 12, 2009



Japanese eroticism is so on the contrary to our deep-rooted concept of eros that is difficult to understand, if not tested on your skin. Vera Svechina is the living-key to catch the secrets of eroticism made in Japan, a woman that has lived the experience of a Hostess Club and has worked with one of real Tokyo’s Geisha. She was born in Russia, in Obninsk, and took a degree at the Moscow University of Culture as a Director and Producer of Cultural Programs in 1994. Few years later, in 1996, she took a second degree in FilmMaking at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco. Now she lives there and she is trying to make her own life real, and make a film called “Last train from Roppongi”; so she can finally share her erotic experience of Tokyo. In the meanwhile her autobiography has been published in Russia and she writes of herself on the virtual pages of her site: Playboy has gone to find and ask her some stimulating questions…

How and when is it born your project “Last train from Roppongi”?

When I came to Japan for the first time in 1993 and started to work in the hostess club, I knew right away that it would be a great set for the movie. Even if I didn't know anything about movies at that time. I didn't know how to make a movie and I didn't like to watch movies. But I liked to look at Japanese man in suites and beautifully dressed girls with them. Visually it was great… They were beautiful and the sound track was great too: lot's of English, Japanese and Tagalog karaoke love songs. And there was something strange about it. I was not sure what it was and I didn't think about it. I just knew I need to stay there and live that life for a while to get the secret.

Describe briefly your book and your – not yet produced – movie…

My book "Last train from Roppongi" is basically my autobiography from my childhood to 30 years old. I was always really shy and could never express my feelings talking, so I was always writing since I was very young. So by the time I started to make film "Last train from Roppongi" in 2004, I already had my book written. I started to write it in late 90s, being completely confused about what was going on with my life and how all that Japanese, Russian and American experience fitted in it. So I just collected together all my experiences from Japan, my life in Russia and the USA. It's a book about my way to the movie making as well. Later It took very little time for me to work with editor to clean my writing up and get it ready for print. It was all there. We just had to cut some things out and it got published in 2005 by Russian publishing house "Amphora". We wanted my book to come out together with the film, but then we didn't get money from GOSKINO (Committee for Cinematography), so film production stopped, but book came out. The movie "Last train from Roppongi" is based on a part of my book and it's a story of a Russian hostess in Japan, from her day of audition with Japanese company in Russia and first visit Tokyo to what was happening with her 5 years later. It based on s real story. I still really hope to find producers and make it.

What is the message that you would like to pass to your audience?

I think that I don't really want to pass any particular message with "Last train from Roppongi". I just want to tell the story and I think that every person in the audience will get message for themselves, because there are many out there. But the main message of that movie for me is in the song that plays while credits are rolling, when movie will be finished.

When in 1993 you leave in search of a job in Japan, was the “Hostess Club” a conscious choice?

No, of course it was not. I had no idea what it is at all and I didn't look for a job in Japan. It found me.

What did you expect and what was, instead, the reality you found?

I didn't expect anything. I just wanted to go abroad. I was dreaming to go abroad for some time then and in Soviet Union almost no one could travel. So, as soon as I knew I could go somewhere, I went… and it happened to be Japan. I was lucky. My reality became the reality of a Hostess Club, which is not really a reality, but also is. And it was the only reality I knew for many years. And I feel very lucky sometimes not to known other reality like day time life in Tokyo, working for big Japanese company for example, because it is totally a different world and I'm not sure if I would like it. In Tokyo I found many great shops, a lot of good food, hot springs, great fashion, great everything. The Japanese reality for me was that everyone wanted to take me to some expensive restaurant and show me something great. And I couldn't say no, because it was my job. They wanted to buy me presents and buy me food in the grocery store or anything I wanted pretty much at that time. Once we had a customer who wanted to buy us food so much that he bought us a new refrigerator too, because the one we had was already full.

Is there eroticism in an Hostess Club?

Yes. I find Japanese man singing love songs is very erotic, because they do it very seriously. They practice a lot at home or in the car… It's very cute. All the feelings they can't express in a day time in work or family life they put in songs at night. They are so believable. They take their "customer" status very seriously too. I think that to be a customer it is respectful way to date girls: it's not just dating or playing around, as when you have no responsibilities. Customer/hostess relationship includes responsibilities from both sides. It's a part of life.  Maybe it's a game, but you must take it very seriously. (I always did) They never talk about their feelings but you can feel what they feel, because their emotions are very intense inside. They kindly want to know what you want and are ready to give it to you, and when you go out with customer in Japan it is always about you and what you want. Even if it's not seems so it still is, and it's very sexy. I always felt like a woman there. In USA I don't feel like a woman! I see no difference between man and woman here. Maybe because it's real life and I have no experience of it and I don't know what to do. In Tokyo Japanese man would take you to the best places they knew you want to go. They always want to surprise you with something like a present or some romantic place. And because it happens not with the same man, but with many man every day, the excitement is very high. On top of that you get paid from the club, so it's not just like you playing around with guys either. I was a job. You just flow in the river of… love of some kind… and it seems like that it is a real life. So all man become one, but it's hard to find ONE man who can do all that. Some people get offended because Japanese woman walks behind the man, but I find it very erotic too. You let man lead you and it means you trust him, even if you go just inside the restaurant. It's very little things, but I find them very sexy. To trust someone is very sexy… I didn't have to think when I was with Japanese man and it was great. You don't need to know the language; you learn how to communicate with hearts. You learn telepathy. I don't know if it's possible to live without it in Japan. I always felt safe and relaxed as soon as I step in Japan. Very protected. By Japanese culture. I knew that nothing bad could happen to me there. I knew that Japanese customers would have meet me in airport and send me back to the airport when I leave, even if that days they must work (they used to skip the work and come to pick me up to just drive me to the place where I stay). They would have take care of me as I'm their personal guest; if I get in any trouble, cold or get sick, they would have make sure I have enough money for every day, medicine, food, a warm place to stay, work. They would have make sure that I make my dohan's norm in the Club (dohan is a part of hostess job: you meet with customer outside the club and come to the Club together; at the entrance Customer pays entry price for two people and hostess gets part of it). And if they know I'm behind (even if I lie) they would have come and have a dohan with me so I don't get penalty. I think it's all pretty erotic... When a man takes care of a woman it's erotic. This way you learn, as a woman to be soft, to listen and find harmony. It's very feminine… It's all just like one big meditation time. That is why I could write my book or think about my movie there: my head was very clear. No trouble, except to make money for my school and even then they tried to help. You don't need to be anything with Japanese man customer, I mean anything you don't already is. You always in the moment and customers are there for you, it's great. Sometimes there is something special between customer and hostess and as soon as that happens spending time together becomes very relaxing; it's called “shibari”... and it's not a physical connection. I think it's because Japan is an island, people learned how to be with others in a small space without interrupting into the place of other person. Even sitting close by, you can have your own space and it's nice, and it's sexy too. Also couples there don't sit facing each other. They always sit facing same direction. They don't look at each others eyes, they feel. That what I felt going out with Japanese customers most of the time until I understood that some it's just my job and they are just my customers.  In America I could find it rarely. I would like to create harmony and listen, but people aren’t as Japanese. They are not trained to listen, I think. They are not centered. They just do what they want, so it's hard for me to find real harmony with American people. At least it takes two people for a harmony, and in Japan they can do it in groups! That was one of the reasons why I couldn't live in Japan forever: I can't do it with big groups for a long time. It is very hard for me.

What is eroticism in Japan?

They say: The neck of a woman in Kimono. I find hot springs being very sexy too. Especially the ones where man and woman can go together. To me all Tokyo is one big breathing erotic creature. Also because I can't read kanji - I don't know what is where and I can fantasies about what is in the places around me...

Nothing special... I think Majan game is sexy for some reason. If I could I would like to study how to play it. Maybe it's because it's going on in a simple room with man in it.

I like that girls wear skirts there and everything is clean, I like to see Japanese couples walking around and I like to wonder where are they going next... I like to see man buying things to woman. They not buying woman. They make presents. Or a woman to a man - same. I like how they treat each other. It's very soft and living in America I never see anything like that.

 I like to see beautiful faces of young Japanese man... I like how they become shy... Romance is everywhere... Especially if you work at night. It's all about romance. It's in the air .....

Who is the “Customer” of an Hostess Club and what he is searching for…

Usually it's a man, single or in groups. It depends. Different people in different clubs. Every club - for different purpose... different mood. Some like to sing, some like just talking to girls... But I think we are all in search of harmony and inner connection; to love someone, to be nice, to relax, to have fun, experiences things together, to create good memories, to have a good time.

In what differs the western conception of eroticism from that oriental one?

To be honest I'm not sure what western eroticism is, I couldn't find much of it in the West. In USA, for example, I found a little bit of it by working in Hustler. I sow some innocence there, that I don't see in real life much, and for me that was erotic. But more I don't know… It's seems like eroticism in Japan has  no ego. Where in America - there is pure ego and it's to show it off.  In Japan it's more internal. When in America it's totally external and it's flat. There is no feeling to it, no depth. In Japan there is feeling... It's all about feeling. It's beyond physical.

I thought what was interesting in being a hostess, is to find that connection with people, that hopefully will last a long time. You need to do it in first 15 minutes from meeting a customer - because then you can be moved to another table.  But  it's not flirting. It's more like seeing if you feet or if you will be able to take care of each other in the future. Like a promise that there will be a relationship, but not sexual one. It's like you always looking for long time relationship with everyone. Long time relationship - is the  business.

According to you, why sexuality and sex in Japan (if remains in the private sphere) are so free from preconceptions and inhibitions?

Because it's great fun. And it's peaceful. Just getting drunk and go to some clubs... Maybe it comes from Buddhism: they know that sex is a part of life and they accept it in many forms. Maybe because they work to much and need to have good fantasy life. They seem don't see anything wrong with different types of adult entreatment. Or maybe “kankenai kara” that means many people never experience any of "strange erotic entreatment", they just live normal lives, so they don't care.

Is it changed the way you live your sexuality after your Japanese experience?

Yes. I still can't forget about it.

You always continued your study, well graduating two times - in Moscow and then San Francisco; where there is culture there it is eroticism too?

If you call culture “intellect”, yes there is some eroticism, but not much. I like when it's physical. And of course there is eroticism in every culture: I find Brazilians very erotic, for example and Russians and Koreans... But there is so many different kind of eroticism... in every nation. If you read traditional stories of one or the other vulture - you can find what excites you in the culture. If I go see something - I always like to feel it with my body - the excitement or 0 of it. I don't really like to think about eroticism.
I like to feel it or not. And my studies had nothing to do with eroticism as well.  Usually  - all eroticism is  in happening in between studies... on a lunch brake or something... When you go with your mate to have coffee.

Can be said you know a Geisha, you worked together with a former one; what she reveal to you of her background? Did she makes you richer inside?

Her father was kept in Russia in the concentration camp during the World War II. Maybe he had a love story there, she doesn't know for sure, but when he came back to Japan after the war he had great memories about Russia - HIMAWARI (sunflowers) and cocked Borsch for my mama-san Geisha as a little girl. He past on her that true love for Russia and when I came to work to her place we had that special connection: love for my Country. And yes, she made me richer not only inside, by introducing me to some greatest Japanese people living today, but outside of Japan too. When they come to San Francisco we see each other for lunch or dinner.

Please, expose your definition of a Geisha…

Geisha... To me it's a woman with big heart, who works a lot.

Why, on your blog, you call yourself a “Russian Geisha”?

I don't really call my self Russian Geisha. Russian Geisha does not exist. Geisha exist only in Japan. :) Everything else is a secret. Do you know JAPAN?


t said...

It is really very offensive for an ex-hostess to call herself a geisha, a Russian geisha, or any kind of geisha.
Geisha are very highly trained and accomplished artists who put years of training into their art.
Please have some respect for these artists of Japan and take the word geisha out of your web-site.

Vera Svechina said...

Thank you very much for your comment. I wish you at list showed your name so I could know who I'm talking to. To me, you sound simply not very educated about japanese culture.