Shibuya Scouts Roll with Regulation
The Sleaze Series > Scouts > Panties > Publisher > Upskirt
Venturing to where others won't
tread is nothing new for the
Captain. This week he's lurking in some of Tokyo's darker
corners in search of the impact a
revised Tokyo regulation has had on street hustling. So
practice that opening line - the Captain says it's all in
train car doors open, dispensing hundreds of passengers in
the direction of the Shibuya Station ticket gates. Meanwhile,
a half-dozen young men standing and chatting in nearby Hachiko
Square extinguish their half-finished smokes
in anticipation of the exiting horde making its way across
the massive intersection adjacent the square.
Often attired in well-worn black
suits and sporting wavy dyed hair, these "scouts"
repeatedly scan the oncoming crowd. Tokyo's Shibuya district
is the ultimate gathering point for young, fashionable females
dressed for attention in remarkably short skirts and snug
tops, and it is this demographic that comprises the scout's
If one spots a particular look or set of measurements
that meets his company's needs, he quickly moves up beside
and inquires as to whether she wants a part-time job. Should
she stop, utter a peep, or acknowledge him in the slightest
(all very rare occurrences), he gets down to brass tacks:
"Do you like sex?"
The jobs he has are in the porn industry. If
she is interested, he will take her to his associate's nearby
office where her breast size, sexual preferences, and the
rest of her profile will be recorded. As well, multiple photos
of her stripped to her underwear will be snapped.
"A photo ID card is always needed,"
maintains Shibuya scout Mr. A (as he will be referred to in
this story) of the photos that will eventually be shopped
to porn media production companies. "Without that, they
cannot be taken."
The reason is simple: Mr. A's scout company
prides itself on working within the limits of the law by not
recruiting minors for employment.
Such recruiting by less scrupulous companies,
however, has recently turned the Tokyo scout trade upside
down. Though employing minors in the porn industry was already
illegal, a revision to a Tokyo Municipal Government ordinance
now prohibits scouts from even soliciting minors in an effort
intended to make Tokyo a safer place for young people. But
for scouts like Mr. A, an already demanding job just got tougher.
A says the area around Shibuya
Station is patrolled by three types of scouts: fuzoku
scouts recruit lively lovelies to work in establishments that
provide sexual services; hostess
and kyabakura (cabaret) girls are sought by scouts
catering to the mizushobai trade; and AV (adult video)
scouts, such as Mr. A, hire for movies, porn magazines, Web
sites, and cable television programs.
Standard scout strategy for Mr. A is simple.
For one, girls in pairs are untouchable. And, he insists,
"make sure to choose the ones who are cute. A baby face
and big boobs are the keys for AV. The gorgeous women are
more for mizushobai, but we'll talk to them, too."
On the street a scout's honor is always certain.
"You never try to trick her or soften the description
of the work," Mr. A says. "You are always straight
after the opening. Competitors often try to trick girls by
lying. They might say, 'Do you want to be a celebrity on TV?'"
Patience is a virtue as well. "The time
it takes depends on the girl," Mr. A explains. "It
is case-by-case. Sometimes we can get an answer in 10 minutes,
sometimes several days. Others will agree in 5 minutes and
change their mind 10 minutes later after talking to a friend.
It is difficult to build trust."
Girls who do indeed enlist generally make between
100,000 and 1 million yen per AV movie, with wages for the
various other media opportunities being much less. But Mr.
A warns that this range depends on a number of factors, such
as, experience, the activities she is willing to perform,
and whether she will allow her face to be shown.
AV scouts work on a commission basis that typically
amounts to 15 to 20% of his girls' revenue. Spring, when new
students arrive in Tokyo to begin the school year, is seen
as the best time for recruiting prime talent.
Drawbacks to the profession, which Mr. A has
been engaged in for eight years, include the occasional punch,
odd scream, and the relentless rejection. "I get blue,"
says Mr. A, who indicates that he is very lucky if he can
secure three catches during a month of working Monday through
Saturday. "I talk to some of the other guys in the same
business for encouragement."
Such commiseration may be fine during breaks,
but working atop Shibuya's muck-covered streets is like engaging
in battle. Stiff competition, maintains Mr. A, demands that
a scout possess effort, a samurai soul, guts, and a hungry
spirit. "We are all enemies on the street," he says
of his fellow hounds. "The first guy in has the chance
to talk to her. We have to fight for that first chance."
started is as easy as getting a mobile
phone, the tool of communication with the girls and the
scout's contacts back at the office. Getting territory in
which to tout is another issue entirely.
"For a freelancer, it is tough to get
a prime area," Mr. A explains. "The areas around
Shibuya, Shinjuku, and Ikebukuro are all maintained by yakuza.
So it is better to belong to a scout company that has mob
ties because they will take care of access."
On evenings and weekends the steady streams
of humanity can be daunting. After the girls coming from the
exits disappear across the intersection and into Shibuya's
jungle of shoppers and traffic-snarled streets, the scouts
turn in the opposite direction, hoping to catch any prospective
prey crossing back to the station. When the crossing light
changes to red, he pivots and moves toward the station exits
to repeat the process. "It's like the ocean, and you
roll with the wave,"
Mr. A says of his surveying cycle.
revised Tokyo Metropolitan Government ordinance, which
began on June 1, levies a maximum fine of 300,000 yen and
three years' imprisonment for the solicitation (knowingly
or unknowingly) of minors for sex-related businesses. This
is making fishing in this sultry sea a much more difficult
proposition, with the obvious problem being that one can't
tell who is over 18 just by looking.
The need to verify ages during the pitch, as
was Mr. A's standard practice even before regulation took
hold, has always been an issue for him. "It (the scouting)
doesn't run smoothly," he complains, "it is tough
in the first place because you are on a street corner talking
about money and talking about being naked. Asking about age
just complicates things."
Still, nothing has changed in Shibuya since
implementation of the law's revision, Mr. A claims. "Shibuya
is always the one place in Tokyo where the scout business
is done in front of the police," he says, referring the
police box typically staffed by two officers and situated
next to the station building.
Mr. A, however, has heard of some scouts in
other areas, like Ikebukuro and Shinjku, who have quit since
the beginning of June. But he views such a retreat as more
a reflection of the critical gaze society may now cast upon
scouts, who before the law more easily melted into the backdrop
of typical Tokyo train station cacophony, rather than any
real police clampdown. "Even though the general content
of the job hasn't changed," he says, "the eyes of
the people have changed."
As a result, the revision will likely cause
a disruption in the market's economics, as opposed to a halt
in the recruiting of minors, Mr. A predicts. "The demand
for girls is always there," he says, "and we supply
girls. If this law results in us not being able to do that,
then the market will get driven underground with the demand
and price of the girls, including minors, increasing."
Note: Yukiko Kuwamura contributed to this report
from the Tokyo Bureau.
The Sleaze Series > Scouts > Panties > Publisher > Upskirt