These news stories are coming thick and fast.
Just Monday we reported on the emergence of a service using Zoom to offer a virtual hostess club experience.
Now there is SmaCaba, another remote hostess club service.
With a typically Japanese mashup of “smartphone” and “kyabakura” (cabaret club, a euphemism for hostess club) for its name, SmaCaba links hostesses and customers through their handheld devices. The session that a customer enjoys with an available hostess is conducted via LINE, Zoom, or Skype. Sessions are available from 7pm every day except Sundays.
The customer/user pays with digital “drink tickets” that are priced in three tiers (silver, gold, or diamond), ranging from ¥1,500 to ¥5,000 per 30 minutes. The customer buys these through the service and then sends the QR code or URL to the hostess via their app of choice to start their session. However, there are also additional “food” and “drink” tickets if you want to pay extra: these must be like perks or tips, since you won’t actually be buying a real drink for the hostess like in an actual club (which is generally how the bill increases). It is also apparently possible to “drink” with friends in the same way as a group might go to a hostess club together.
Certain details about the SmaCaba system are still tentative or unannounced at time of writing (the registration page, for instance, is not ready yet), though we expect it will become a popular service if the crisis continues and real hostess clubs remain closed.
This is just one of the ways that the coronavirus pandemic is affecting the adult and sex industry in Japan.
With Kabukicho in Shinjuku quickly identified as a risky district where COVID-19 infection was spreading, hostess clubs and various other services in the red-light district are now closed and the streets deserted. This has put thousands of hostesses, touts, bouncers, other club employees, and sex workers out of work for weeks, not to mention all the people in secondary industries who served the needs of hostesses like hair and nail salons, beauty clinics, luxury retailers, and even taxi drivers.