I like to thank My Cup of Tea and specifically, Melody and Toya, for granting me an interview before the never ending line on Saturday. The two lovely maids were irresistibly delightful as they chatted with me and between themselves. It felt more like a conversation than interview where answers often ran off in tangents and each would finish the other’s sentences or thoughts. They exuded immense joy in their work during our conversation where they revealed everything about the Maid Cafe. Well, almost everything.
I don’t recall the exact circumstance but shortly after we sat down, I was informed that maids are forever 17. They would have a birthday every year where they would magically turn 17 again. And apparently, I can be 17 as well!
The Paper: What led you to apply?
Melody: I fell in love with the maid cafe as a customer when I visited. I was inspired by the head maid.
Toya: I enjoyed maid cafe in Japan. I wanted to bring that feeling and experience to others. It’s also a good way to make friends. It becomes a sisterhood. [Melody nods in vigorous agreement.]
Melody: Yes, sisterhood is a good way to put it. In fact, it’s like a sorority…
Toya: Yes, definitely…
Melody: There’s an initiation process…
The Paper: Oh? Initiation? Tell me about that.
Melody: That’s classified. [I look at Toya but she's not spilling it so I move on.]
TP: How many applicants are accepted vs those that applied?
Melody: We have 30 maids with one or two backups. I don’t know how many applied.
Toya: It’s not that many.
Melody: Right, it’s not 100 or anything. If an applicant is serious, she will likely make it. There are also lots of returning maids so that’s a factor.
TP: What advice do you have for applicants?
Melody: Being a maid is more than just cosplay and being cute. It’s a serious job. You need to act the role. You need to be a maid. [I can attest to the validity of this statement.] We also volunteer to visit other cons to promote the cafe.
TP: What’s the best part about being a maid?
Melody: The job itself is the best part.
Toya: When you see them have that first smile. A lot of customers don’t know what to expect [I nod as I remember my experience from the day before.] and they’re slightly confused at first. But as they grow into it, they break into a smile. That’s the absolute best.
Somehow we got into a tangent and they expressed disappointment in my menu selection yesterday because it didn’t provide a chance for Toya to draw on my food.
Melody: Having to go home. [She sounds genuinely melancholy.]
Toya: I forget to eat and drink. You’re so busy attending to others.
TP: Did the maid cafe meet your expectations?
Both (simultaneously): Better than expected!
Toya: Definitely better. I made so many friends. It’s something that will stay with me. I want to do this forever.
Melody: I want to go to each others’ weddings…
Toya: Oh yea…
[They ramble on about weddings.]
TP: Are there any differences in how male and female patrons react?
Melody: Hmmm. It’s a personality thing I think. Guys think it’s cute. Some are nervous. Others are into it.
Toya: You notice some guys who try not to stare. Others are skeptical at first but then warm up to it.
TP: I visited the Host Club last night. Why are photos allowed there but not at the maid cafe?
Melody: We have a photo service so it will diminish the value of that. And our contract does not allow photos. It’s a privacy issue. You can take pictures of the food.
Toya: By paying for the photo, it makes it special. Otherwise it’s just like any other picture you would take at a con.
Melody: We decorate the photos…
Toya: …it’s really pretty.
Melody inquired if I took a photo with Toya yesterday. I think they were dismayed at my failure to do so. [For the record, I don't do photos.]
TP: Last question. Is there a rivalry with the Host Club?
Toya: No rivalry…
Melody: …it’s more of a friendly competition…
Toya: Yea, we’re like brothers and sisters. Some of the maids would study the hosts. We learn from each other.
Melody: Yea, we feed off each other. We’re all BFFs. We bond outside the con.
Toya: There’s a transition when the Maid Cafe turns into the Host Club for the night where we all mingle with each other…
Melody: …some of us get weak in the knees when the hosts arrive for their shift… the way they swagger in…
I think we went off onto another tangent but I felt I was overstaying my welcome judging by the bustle of noise from the cafe. It’s a real shame because I could have chatted all day and all night with Melody and Toya.
Photos via Maid Cafe.