December 10, 2010

Confessions of a Tokyo Hooters Girl

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Over at Slate.com, Paige Ferrari (ex-Radar features editor) writes about her experience going behind-the-scenes at Hooters Tokyo, the “delightfully tacky, yet unrefined” restaurant chain’s first store in Japan. Of nearly 400 applicants, Ferrari was one of only 40 to make the cut. As she recounts, the process of being transformed into a Hooters girl was specific, and one-size-fits-all:

After three days of training, we were deemed ready for uniforms. No one asked for sizing information; shorts and tanks in size XXS were distributed to all. We retreated to the bathrooms to wrestle ourselves into suntan-colored pantyhose and elastic tanks—assuring one another the look was cute, or kawaii—and lined up in front of the trainers. They inspected us for uncovered tattoos, forbidden nail jewelry, and proper shorts length. (As the trainer said, showing us do and don’t photos from the Hooters Bible, Page 9: Shorts should never reveal any posterior cheek. They should just come very, very close.)

Another interesting point is the contrast Ferrari noticed between the behavior/expectations of Japanese Hooters customers versus that of their American counterparts. As you might imagine, there’s less outright ogling in Japanese culture, and the patrons are far more reserved — sometimes awkwardly so.

To end the piece, Ferrari recounts her exchange with a male customer who sat buried behind his Nintendo DS most of the night. When he finally mustered the courage to talk with Ferrari, he asked if she’d be willing to take a picture with his girlfriend: “I agreed and asked if she would be coming soon. He turned around the screen of his device to show an animated computer image constructed through a dating simulation game, Love Plus. His girlfriend’s name was Nene, my customer explained. She’d like to meet a real Hooters girl. On the screen, an animated brunette wearing a modest yellow diner-waitress uniform, with a high collar and ¾ sleeves, blinked back at me expectantly. I struck a pose and said cheezu.” TC mark

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