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Thursday, Oct. 9, 2008


Geisha, Interrupted


Whether addressing the G8 summit leaders' wish-making during Tanabata (Fukada should have asked for "sexier hair," she writes), the demise of Nova (in a collage of Nova Bunny suicides), or an experience on Japanese TV as "a scientist who doesn't care about how she looks," the blogger behind Geisha, Interrupted always delivers her points with sharp wit and spontaneous insight. The blog is the creation of Lea Jacobon, who proudly describes herself on the site's front page as being "gratefully, joyfully, painfully, pissedoffedly, reflectively, creatively SOBER since January 3, 2007." Having lived in Japan since 2002, Jacobson has worked as an English teacher, translator, writer and club hostess. Her experiences as a hostess are documented in her nonfiction book "Bar Flower: My Decadently Destructive Days and Nights as a Tokyo Nightclub Hostess," published by St. Martin's Press in April. In this interview, Jacobson talks about her transition to sobriety, the instant gratification of blogging and the joy of being a control freak in her own "little kingdom."

Lea Jacobson
Lea Jacobson

What got you started with blogging?

I started blogging because I needed something to do with all the free time I had when I quit drinking. ?As a result, the blog is largely about my rediscovery of Tokyo from a less troubled perspective.

Has your approach to the blog changed over time?

I grieved a great deal for alcohol in the beginning, but the blog eventually grew into a place where my sober adventures eclipse my drunken ones.

There are a lot of blogs about being a foreigner living in Japan. Do you make a conscious effort to have your blog stand out?

Not really a conscious effort, no. ?I am half crazy, but I try not to advertise that so often anymore.

Your experience as a hostess at a Tokyo bar inspired a memoir. How much of an influence has it had on your blog?

I don't talk frankly about my experience as a hostess much in my blog anymore, but my blog is about life in Tokyo and my time as a hostess has definitely influenced my point of views about the state of affairs here.

Do you ever wish you had blogged while you were a hostess?

That would have been interesting, but I didn't really have the presence of mind to do so at the time.

Your blog often reads like a diary. Do your topics come out of you as they might when writing in a diary, or is there more to the blog than personal catharsis?

I don't tend to think of my blog as a personal diary. I keep a journal for myself as well, and it's pretty different from my blog. But at the same time, my blog is nowhere near as structured as my book had to be. Rather than a catharsis, I see my blog as an opportunity to publish something that doesn't have to go through years of editing and copy editing and legal reads before it's finally out there.

Based on the comments or your interaction with readers, what sorts of people are reading it regularly?

Cool people; thinking people who don't take themselves too seriously.

Do you ever consider individual readers or the "community" when coming up with a blog entry?

Absolutely. Everyone needs a muse.

Have you ever been tempted to edit or delete a post?

I edit my posts all the time. In fact, some of my posts are only intended to live for a few days before I delete them. I consider my Web site to be my own little kingdom, where I am the reigning control freak.

If a reader is offended by something I write (which happens often) and I agree with the reader's objection (which happens far less often, but does happen) then I will change it immediately. Blogging is very different from traditional forms of publishing in that respect.

Has blogging been helpful to your other writings?

Yes, because my blog is really a compromise between journal writing — which is purely personal — and my published memoir — which is largely commercial. Creatively, my blog allows me charter the middle ground between those two extremes.

I would imagine that many of the regular readers were eager to get a copy of your book once it was published. How has the blog been useful in regards to the book?

Yes, the blog has been very useful in publicizing my book, especially since I've been too shy to agree to make any publicity-oriented appearances out in the real world.

Where do you see your blog five years from now?

I can't really say for sure. It's more of a day-to-day thing for me.

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