Members fighting for fans, some members rubbing fans’ breasts behind their backs… “Men Underground” is a dangerous situation that even the management is worried about. | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Members fighting for fans, some members rubbing fans’ breasts behind their backs… “Men Underground” is a dangerous situation that even the management is worried about.

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The photos are for illustrative purposes only. They have nothing to do with the text.

At the end of January, it was widely reported that two men in the “Men’s Underground Idol” (a.k.a. “Men’s Underground”) group were arrested by the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department for indecent conduct with underage women who were their fans.

Mr. A, who is deeply involved in the management of Men Underground, said, “I knew this kind of incident would happen someday. Mr. A, on condition of “absolute anonymity,” tells the tragic inside story of the men s underground that is not reported by newspapers or television.

The men underground is the male version of the underground idol category, but in the end they are just amateurs. So is the management. It is a small, small world made up of boys who would never make it into Johnny’s or a good-looking unit of a major agency, and ordinary people who have never worked in the entertainment industry before.

Mr. A has been in the industry for more than 10 years. He has been managing not only men underground but also female live idols, gravure idols, and child actors.

I started getting involved in the men-underground industry six or seven years ago, and I feel like 2018, before Corona, was a bubble. ‘Men Underground is profitable!’ and a lot of amateurs who didn’t even know the word “entertainment” entered the industry.

There was a reason Mr. A called them “amateurs. People assume that even “underground” idols have created their own original songs and costumes ……. However, Mr. A laughs, “Only a small percentage of them have done so.

We wear T-shirts, play karaoke recordings of famous idols’ songs, and dance to choreography that we devised ourselves. …… That’s about it. If it’s not good enough, it’s below the level of a high school festival. But the idea of both the performers and the management is that it’s all about making money, so it’s a viable business.

The photos are for illustrative purposes only. They have nothing to do with the text.

According to Mr. A, there are many units in the Men underground that “cannot participate in big events due to lack of mobilization, but sales are stable.

To put it simply, “A few fans are paying a lot of money. The ideal would be to have 100 people come to a live concert and buy a cheki for everyone. But in most of the members’ basements, the number of members and fans is about the same, so even though we don’t have 10 people in attendance, one fan buys 10 checkees, or even 30 checkees for some of the girls. Fans are not motivated by the desire to “spread the unit to as many people as possible,” but rather by the desire to “be the best customer. That’s why they don’t demand that much in terms of the quality of the songs and costumes.

The photos are for illustrative purposes only. They have nothing to do with the text.

The majority of sales come from the photo shoot after the concert, which costs 1,000 yen per picture and allows the audience to have a one-minute exclusive with the member of their choice.

Holding hands, hugging shoulders, and hugging during the photo shoot are commonplace. There were also services such as kissing on both ends of a pocky and kissing through plastic wrap. There were also kisses through masks, and one member even touched a fan’s breast without the staff’s permission. This would never happen to a female underground idol.

(Mr. A) Although there are some underground idol members who seriously aim for the majors, most of them are “satisfied with the status quo” and have no desire to move up. There is a reason for this.

Many of the men underground idols are virgins. Even if they are not virgins, many of them have extremely limited experience with women. They have spent their unattractive school days at the bottom of the school caste, and they want to ‘get clean’ and ‘change themselves. I want to change myself! and become a member of the men’s underground. So, they are satisfied just by going out in public, looking good, and being cheered on by girls who would never have taken them seriously before. If a girl really wants to do well in the entertainment industry, being in the men’s basement is definitely not enough for her,” said Mr. A.

(Mr. A) “It is a common occurrence in the menzoku that girls get into trouble with their fans and bullying tends to occur within the unit.

They don’t have the idea of cultivating new fans. Instead, they try to steal the “big customers” (those who pay a lot of money) from other members to make them their own customers (laughs). They give excessive fan service during live performances or send DMs (direct mails) behind their backs to show that they are interested in them. I think it’s stupid, but in fact, there are fans who “change their mind” because of it, and it’s a real pain in the neck. And when they find out, they start bullying each other within the group. It’s nothing short of a shithole,” said Mr. A.

“There’s another problem with fan competition. If you say, ‘You are a middle and high school student with good make-up,’ then yes, you look like that. If you say they are “young-looking 20-somethings,” they look that way. I can’t say for sure, especially since I haven’t done any ID checks. …… I think it’s a good idea to have a “young-looking 20-something”. I can’t tell you how many I’ve seen who approach their fans on their own.

The photo is an image. They have nothing to do with the text.

There are also some members who have approached fans on their own, and have ended up being dumped by fans and exposed on social networking sites, even though they have become friends or lovers with the fans.

I think that maybe because they get in close contact with the fans when they take pictures, they get the wrong impression of them, or maybe they fall in love with them. However, if they go out or have a physical relationship, the fans will get tired of it and discard them because they are all full of shit to begin with. Eventually they post on social networking sites the fact that there was a relationship or a fling.”

The management sometimes realizes that the members and certain fans are suspicious, but they cannot take action without conclusive evidence. However, sometimes the fans’ acts of exposure, which would normally be considered annoying, do the trick.

However, for members who are not popular or whose sales are not expected to increase in the future, having a relationship with a fan can be a good opportunity to fire them (laughs). (Mr. A)

Finally, I asked Mr. A about the future of the men’s underground industry.

He replied, “Well, …… I am originally from the entertainment field, so I want to create a unit that can aim for the majors. But looking at the kids in the men’s underground now, I think it’s going to be tough. I want to make it to the majors! I want to make it in the entertainment industry! I don’t think there are many who want to make it in the entertainment industry. Some fans leave indignantly, saying, “I can’t see their growth,” while others don’t care as long as they can just get a picture with a checkerboard. On the other hand, if we eliminate the cheki system, the management will not be able to operate, and it is very difficult to maintain the …… system.

After saying these words, Mr. A disappeared to a live house, saying that he had a site for the unit he was in charge of. There were eight reservations that day. His last line, “It’s a weekday, but I want to sell at least 50 chekis,” was filled with sadness.

  • Interview and text Sariy Yoshizawa

    Born in Yamanashi Prefecture in 1985, Sarie Yoshizawa is a gravure idol with over 100 cm big breasts and was a finalist in the 2016 "Miss FLASH" pageant. She is also active as a writer, and her most recent book is "Kinda de kara de kara de kara de kara de kara de kara de kara de kara de kara de kara" (Saizusha Publishing Co., Ltd.). For the latest updates, check Twitter (@sally_y0720).

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