Male hosts pour drinks and will often flirt with their clients more so than their female counterparts. The conversations are generally light-hearted and depending on the host, they have a variety of entertainment skills, be it simple magic tricks or loads of charisma with which to tell a story. Some host clubs have a dedicated stage for a performance, usually a dance, comedy sketch etc. The time for their performances are 'show time'. Even if a host is poor at conversation, or prone to blunders if he can make it amusing, or is skilled with changing ash trays wiping glasses to prevent them sticking to the drink mats, lighting the customers cigarette he still has a chance to be a successful host.
Hosts are often aged between 18 and their mid-20s. They will take a 'stage name' usually taken from a favourite manga, film, or historical figure, and will often describe their character.
Pay is usually determined by commission on drink sales, or uriage, with hosts often drinking far past a healthy limit, usually while trying to hide their drunkenness. Because the base hourly wage is usually extremely low, almost any man can become a host regardless of looks or charisma (depending on the bar). However, hosts who cannot increase their sales usually drop out very soon, because of the minimal wage. The environment in a host bar is usually very competitive, with tens of thousands of dollars sometimes offered to the host who can achieve the highest sales.
Many of the clientel who visit host bars are often female hostesses, who finish work at around 1:00 or 2:00 a.m., causing host bars to often begin business at around midnight and finish in the morning or midday, and hosts to work to the point of exhaustion. Drinks usually start at about 1000 yen but can reach around 3 million yen ($US 15,000) for a bottle of champagne.
Buying bottles of champagne usually means a 'champagne call'. All the hosts of the club will gather around the table for a song or talk, a mic performance of some kind. The champagne will be drunk straight from the bottle by the customer, then her named host, and then the other hosts gathered. Often a wet towel will be held under the chin of the customer and hosts while they drink to prevent spills. The perfomrance differs from club to club, and is believed to have originated at club Ryugujo in Kabukicho by the manager Yoritomo.
Also a 'champagne tower' can usually be done for special events. Champagne glasses are arranged into a pyramid, and champagne is poured onto the top glass until it trickles down the layers of glasses. A champagne tower uses at least 6 bottles, but for a 7 layer tower 20 bottles can be used. Depending on the champagne used this can cost between 1,000,000~2,000,000 yen.
On the first visit to a host club, the customers will be presented with a 'menu' and will be allowed to decide on which host they would like to meet first. But the customer will meet most of the hosts in that club that night and will be given their name cards. Once the customer has decided on which host she likes, she will make him her named host, and he will recieve a percentage of the future sales to that customer. This will be done by buying a 'keep bottle' (a bottle of liquour that can be saved for next time), saying you are intersted in a host, or inviting them to sit by you. Also most clubs operate on an 'eternal nomination' system where once a host has been nominated, you can not change hosts at that club unless under special circumstances which will need to be discussed with the club.
Sometimes a host will go with a customer for a meal or karaoke after business; this is called 'after' and is considered bad manners by some people. Staying longer at the host club is considered the 'proper' way to treat your host. However it's even possible to go on day trips or travel with a host, but a host can only go with his own customer. Meeting or communicating with a customer who is not your own customer is usually against the host 'rules' and if discovered he is liable to be fined or fired from the club.
It is possible to buy drinks 'on tab' if the customer doesn't have enough money. A copy of their ID will be taken, as well as their telephone number and address, with a promise of paying by their pay day or the end of the month. If the customer doesn't pay the host is liable for it. Going to settle the bill is known as 'kaishu'.
It is bad manners to leave a customer alone, called 'only'. Sometimes it cannot be helped (for example in the confusion of a champagne call) and will be appologised for. However if a customer is left alone for longer than 20 minutes, they should make a complaint.
A customer who drinks and behaves badly, shouts abusive remarks, is difficult about paying, or is troublesome to the hosts and other customers is refered to as a 'painful customer'. They are liable to be banned from the club.
Sometimes, in some situations such as if a female pays a big amount of money and/or if the host likes them in return, the host can have sex with them. But not all the time. If the same host meets the same client, she has a higher chance of having sex then the host having sex with another client. There are various terms for a host who has a sexual relationship with his customer, eg a 'colourful love business', 'colourful love', 'colourful guy', 'pillow business' or 'pillow'.
There are other methods of 'business', for example 'mail business'where a host will email his customer regularly to ensure their return. Similarly a host may call their customer, but this is fading in popularity now as opposed to mail business. Hosts will usually carry a business phone and a private phone, sometimes more.