I started hanging out with “the girls” at one of the hostess bars we would pop into during a big night out. They always made me feel welcome and loved to dance with me. I watched them greet male customers, flirt and entertain them; always hoping for the drink. “Buy me a drink mister?”
I talked to other girls who’d been to hostess bars and they said they found it difficult because they pitied the hostesses. I’m not naïve about the downsides of their job. But looking into their strong, animated and beautiful faces I couldn’t dare pity them. Instead I asked if I could paint their portraits and was thrilled when they said yes.
Their beauty is their commodity - not the only one but the most important and ephemeral requirement of the job. At the end of the sitting I offered them a small amount of money to go out and buy themselves dinner. They refused, calling me “sister”. They wouldn’t even let me buy them a drink.