If you are a fan of Japan and Japanese subculture, you probably came across the words Maid Café at some point. And you were probably wondering “What is a maid café?”, “What can I experience there that I can’t in a normal café?” and maybe even “Do I want to experience it?” If you are curious, let me introduce you a bit to the world of maid cafés with the help of Kchan from the US based AniMaid Café, who was kind enough to agree to an interview and share pictures.
Joe: Kchan, can you introduce yourself and AniMaid Cafe in a few words?
Kchan: Kchan desu. I am the creator and general manager of AniMaid Cafe.
AniMaid Cafe was created in March 2009 and is based in Los Angeles. We don't have a specific location but we attend conventions and events throughout Los Angeles and Orange County. We are a non-profit organization/volunteer based maid café, which means all of our maids and hosts are volunteers and the profit of the café goes to help for our future events and to cover our expenses.
Kchan, owner and manager of AniMaid Cafe.
J: Can you name a few events or conventions AniMaid Cafe has had events at? And what do you usually do at those events?
Kchan: Our first event was in Santa Anna March 2009. The second event was Anime Expo 2009. We also performed for the halft time masquarede show at ALA 2010 and 2011. We were at Club To The Max – 2010, AM2 2011 and 2012 and also had some private events like the Tea Tasting and a panel at PMX. At regular events like AX or AM2, we did a full maid cafe for 3 or 4 days depending on the conventions. A full maid cafe means we serve food, play games, and have performances.
J: What kind of performances are those? Singing, dancing?
Kchan: We do dancing, singing, magic shows, games like Jan Ken Pon and our maids and hosts formed a band a while ago as well.
Members of the Host Club performing on stage.
J: Can't wait to hear them perform some time. As you said, you don't only have maids, but you also have hosts. For the people out there, that don't know what a host is, is he just a male maid or butler?
Kchan: We don't call our guys butler. They are hosts. Their goal is to make the Oujou-sama, the Ladies, feel special and comfortable like a host club in Japan. But we want to cater for both, Oujou-sama and Goshujin-sama, the Master of the house, at our events. Our café doesn't want to serve just one kind of guests. We want to expand and introduce this service to other customers of all ages and genders. We also have a host club, which is for Ojou-sama only.
J: So mostly it is a mixed event with maids and hosts working together, unless there is a specific host club event for the ladies only. Is that right?
Kchan: Yes. When we are at the convention like AM2, in the morning, we have a mixed event, which is the maid cafe and at night we have an event for ladies only, which is the host club.
J: In the mixed event though, the maids are usually serving the male customers, the Goshujin-sama while the hosts take good care of the female customers, the Ojousama. Unless there aren't enough hosts/maids for the amount of customers of each gender, I take it. Which brings me to my next question. Are there more male or more female customers attending the AniMaid Cafe events as customers?
Kchan: Actually, the amount of male and female guests that attend the café is about the same. A lot of times, at the convention, we would have a group of mixed customers coming in. Our hosts and maids are not trained to serve only a specific customer but to serve both Oujo-sama and Goushijin-sama.
J: As do all people, maids and hosts have their own personalities. Do they bring that into the events and if yes, how do they do it?
Kchan: Yes, they have their own personalities that they bring to the event. We always encourage them to be themselves and enjoy the time with the customers. All the maids and hosts join the AniMaid Cafe as volunteers and they enjoy serving customers and meet new people. To me, if you love something, you would do a good job on it. That is applied to our maids and hosts. They enjoy being at the maid cafe and they do their best to make the customers happy and comfortable while at the event.
J: Can you give an example of how maids and hosts bring their own personality into it? Do they do something special or have something special on them?
Kchan: I will try my best to give an example. One of my favorite maids is Chiyo. Chiyo is a very nice and sweet girl but a little clumsy and awkward but that makes her a great maid. At the event, sometimes she would trip on something or the way she talks is awkward but in a nice way. I hope that is a good example.
J: Yes, it was. Okay, only a few questions left. Let's talk a bit about the future of AniMaid Cafe. Are there any events planned yet for the future?
Kchan: I am working on an event for November this year. We will attend ALA to have a game cafe, possible private events for the host club and maid cafe in February or March next year and of course AM2 2013 on August 23rd to 25th. Our AniMaid Cafe branch in Hawaii will have an event at HEXXP in October 19th to 21st in Waikiki, Oahu.
J: That's already quite a few. If you had the chance, would you want to take the AniMaid Cafe to a convention somewhere else? Maybe even overseas?
Kchan: if we have a chance, I would love to. It is always a great idea to learn from other maid cafés and countries.
J: Let's get a bit more theoretical here for a moment. If you had the money for it, would you open a stationary maid cafe? And where? Or would you rather keep AniMaid Cafe as the event and convention based cafe that it is right now?
Kchan Vo: If I had the financial possibility, I would like to open a maid cafe based in Los Angeles. I still want to do convention events because it is so much fun and we are able to meet more customers that way.
J: Okay, back to the current state as it is. If people are interested now in becoming a host or maid at AniMaid Cafe, can they do so? And what do they have to bring along with them? Or do you teach them everything?
Kchan: They can go to our web site http://www.theanimaidcafe.net to apply as maid/host. Just bring a great personality and the joy of working with customers. We do train all of our maids and hosts in almost everything.
J: If people are interested, can they see pictures or even videos of your events somewhere?
Kchan: Those who are interested can find pictures at http://animaidcafe.smugmug.com/, our Facebook Pages http://www.facebook.com/Theanimaidcafe, http://www.facebook.com/AniHostClub and http://www.facebook.com/AniMaidHawaii, follow us on Tumblr http://theanimaidcafe.tumblr.com/ and Twitter @AniMaidCafe and subscribe to us on Youtube http://www.youtube.com/user/AniMaidCafe .
J: Okay, one final question before we finish the interview. Do you have any last words for the people out there? Any advice maybe?
Kchan: I want to say thanks for doing this interview with me. Thanks for all of our Goushujin-sama and Ojou-sama who have been supporting us for the last couple years. I saw there are many maid cafés in US and around the world. It is a good thing because we all want to promote the same thing, which is Japanese culture and animation. When maids, hosts or customers come to the maid café or host club, just be yourselves and have fun. Enjoy the experiences.
J: Thank you very much for your time and the good advice to all your potential new customers out there, Kchan.
Many thanks again to Kchan from AniMaid Café for doing this interview with me. I hope you, as a reader, got an interesting view as to what a maid café is. If you like to know more about the various types of maid cafés and maid related services you can find in Japan, there will be another article about that soon. Right here on Yokoso News.