As talked about in the Japanese host post host style isn’t always in host clubs. Many large urban area’s you will see host type guys outside of most major train stations that are in leisure districts. Any large station will have them the standing on corners or streets hassling every single attractive girl that walks by.

Q – Who are these guys, part of a cult, or just really desperate?

Nope the best description would be recruiter. There are two main groups trying to recruit women off the street. The first are the Hostess clubs as they need as many women as they can get to keep the patrons happy. So these recruiters are on the street every night trying to get women to work for their respective club. Second are actual Hosts standing on the corner trying to drum up business for their Host bars.
There’s an excellent documentary on this process called The Great Happiness Space.

If you like this then, you should check more from the “Japan ain’t so fucked up” series:

bathroommoney bribe friends host killerrobot
Keeping Bathroom money Paying the Bribe in Japan Making Friends in Japan Hosts in Japan Build a Killer Robot or….?