My Bleeding Heart:
Confessions of an American Mamasan
Based on a true story
Novel by Tomiko Ok Lee
After the devastating war in Korea, a young girl fights for her survival through the most difficult of circumstances. Growing up quickly, she had to find ways to survive. Because of extreme poverty and the need to provide for her family, she vowed never to go hungry again. Like the character of Scarlett O’ Hara from ‘Gone with the Wind’, she found that her beauty and charm could open many doors–some of which allowed her to attain her greatest dreams, and some that led her to her darkest moments. Her quest for success eventually led her to America.
In her mid 20’s, she started out as a popular burlesque showgirl in Denver, Colorado and, eventually found herself in Los Angeles, California during the late 1960‘s at the legendary Pink Pussycat, a Hollywood burlesque showroom, where Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis, Jr., Dean Martin and other entertainment stars of that era frequented. From Hollywood to the beautiful islands of Hawaii, she ventured as a professional showgirl to stake her claim of the American dream. She eventually gave up the glittering world of burlesque and, with the money she earned, opened her very own hostess bar, Domiko’s Lounge, located in the heart of Honolulu, Hawaii, becoming a Mamasan to hundreds of beautiful young women, and bringing the thousand-year-old Geisha tradition to the United States. By the early 1970’s, she and a group of female business partners succeeded in pioneering one of the most successful and lucrative business establishments owned and operated by women on the West Coast of the United States.
Over the years, she learned what it took to operate a successful business. She taught her trade to immigrant girls from the Far East, which was then considered the “way into the promised land.” She was the first to bring the Karaoke Machine into the western world. And, in the smoked-filled hostess clubs, she alone was at the top of her game. With her success and popularity in her profitable business, she encountered many individuals who worked on the fringes of law and order–such as crooked politicians, the Japanese Mafia or ‘the Yakuza’, and those who existed in the underground organized crime syndicate in Hawaii where murder, corruption and an occasional car bomb was a common experience. She never fathomed that this life of great success would come with a heavy price for her and her family. The very core of her belief, morals, and life would eventually be tested.