And then God created…HOST KNUCKLE (full name: "Hard Core Men’s Nobility and Guynes Host Knuckle") a one-shot special “mook” from Million Shuppan, publishers of that perennial favorite Men’s Knuckle magazine. Sharing the same resources and models as it’s parent publication, Host Knuckle makes explicit the connection between Shibuya-based gyaru-o fashion and the host club workforce centered in Shinjuku, Kabuki-cho. While the average issue of Men’s Knuckle concludes with 10 or so pages of job recruitment ads for host clubs, Host Knuckle assumes you’re either already in the running for a coveted “King of Dandy” flower bouquet or just need that subtle push over the edge, lead on by visions of hot wimmins and wads of cash.
Host Knuckle kicks off with a spread of dudes standing around, modeling clothes at Shinjuku hot-spots, all of which are across the street from each other, ala the Taito game center (above), the gateway to Sakura-dori, and, of course, the outside of Don Quijote. How the photogs managed to put this together without even a single dasai gaijin tourist bumbling into the frame is something of a minor miracle.
It’s hard to believe these habitual street rats even HAVE places to live, but the “Host’s Room” feature adds a touch of reality, even as it builds up the dream to greater heights. Tiny single room apartments are decorated in monochromatic color schemes. Big ass TVs are common, as are miniature dogs and house cats. Conversation pieces include drawers full of nothing but instant food, fridges full of booze and stamina drinks (you better believe Our Man here is having an Ukon no Chikara), books about host clubs and entrepreneurship, a complete set of collectible Final Fantasy soda cans, assorted game systems, and in one guy’s case, an “Electric Personal Body Massager” (read: “vibrator”).
The “Host and Money” feature gives you some idea of how many 10000 yen bills you’ll be able to stick in your oversized Vuitton wallet once you get on-board the “one month – two paydays” system. There’s also a guide to where the money needs to go if you want to maintain the lifestyle…car payments, food, accessories, phone bills, suits from Shibuya 109-2, etc. It says, "Love is the triumph of the imagination over intelligence. MONEY IS LIFE" somewhere in that alphabet soup there.
But of course, there’s more to life than just counting cash. Hosts need love too! Which is why there’s a guide to drilling hot gals during off-hours. Before revealing your masterplan to take them to the “rabuho” (AKA Love Hotel), Host Knuckle first recommends buttering up the females with one of the following activities: dinner, karaoke (above, note subliminal message hidden in song lyrics), shopping, going to a movie, driving, and last but not least…reading manga together! There’s also a handful of “no goods” to be avoided, like offering the girl money straight up or "grabbin' them cakes" Junkyard Dog style in public. Good to know! Thanks, Host Knuckle!
“How to Host” is a fascinating verité day-in-the-life look into the inner workings of club AI$ and club AAA. Starting at 7pm, employees prepare by mopping the floor, unpacking crates of booze, and polishing up the tables and ashtrays. At 8pm, the doors open and the nightly regimen of welcoming female customers, lighting their cigarettes, handing them glasses, filling them up again, and emptying ashtrays begins. The timeline here say 10pm, but it could happen at anytime: a customer bravely orders the “Champagne Course” (above) which can cost them thousands of dollars in one fell swoop. The reward is having all the hosts gather around the table where they yell into a microphone and everyone guzzles some of the good shit. At 12:30, it’s time to get lost. Occupational hazard: a few of your fellow host employees will be totally shit-faced and piss drunk at closing time, if not earlier. Give them some water or something. The same goes for the customers, who also need to be shown the door and escorted to the elevators. Make sure they’ve don’t leave their Louis V. bag behind!
And then? World is yours, baby. Find an open spot near the entrance of Kabuki-cho and just stand around looking cool (like Ryoma, above). Maybe someone will take your picture for a Men’s Knuckle “street style” feature. Perhaps you can whistle while the girls pass by, or ruthlessly try to pick them up using assorted nampa techniques. Or you can fill out the questionnaire in the back pages of Host Knuckle about how you liked the magazine and get a chance at winning some great prizes (a jacket from Deadly Jester, some mahjong tiles, autographed pictures of the hosts from the AIR-GROUP, or a figure of Goku from Dragonball).
Repeat till fade or the first train home...