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Subject: Behind closed doors: The high-class sex business in Singapore By Jeanine Tan, TODAY

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Date Posted: 18:08:56 06/27/04 Sun
In reply to: Critical mind 's message, "Sexuality...gender Issues, feminism, sex trade etc" on 18:06:56 06/27/04 Sun

Singapore Authorities have stepped up their raids along the streets of Geylang to preserve the government's exclusive monolopy on the immoral sex trade.

In the past, the sex trade was confined to only various streets in the infamous redlight districts in Geylang. Far from retricting these illicit sex trades, the operators (and various proponents of organised crime) have responded to the daily (and hourly) police raids by simply shifting their operations to other more extensive parts of Singapore.

The authorities have yet to learn their lesson that a heavy handed approach simply cannot be applied as a universal solution to all problems.


Time is GMT + 8 hours
Posted: 19 June 2004 1301 hrs

Behind closed doors: The high-class sex business in Singapore
By Jeanine Tan, TODAY

SINGAPORE : One of her favourites is a man in his 70s who never
demands sex but likes her to dance for him. Sometimes, he dances the
Macarena for her — stiffly.

With other clients, there is usually sex. The kind that would send
polite company fleeing.

Group sex. Bondage play. Asphyxiation. Simulating necrophilia. Emily
has done it all.

Emily, 28, is a Singaporean who makes her money acting out the
fantasies of her clients.

Emily is a sex worker. She does not operate in the lorongs of Geylang
but in luxury hotel rooms in the Orchard Road area. Her world is one
the average Singaporean knows little about.

As a high-class social escort, Emily can earn up to $1,000 an hour
for "extra" services. Her clients come from all over the world. What
they have in common is money — lots of it – and an appetite for sex,
often kinky sex.

Emily, and others like her, are featured in Singapore writer Gerrie
Lim's book Invisible Trade, an insider look at "high-class sex for
sale in Singapore", which will hit bookstores this weekend.

Mr Lim, who splits his time between Singapore and Los Angeles, is the
international correspondent for porn network AVN Online. He has also
written for Billboard, Playboy, the South China Morning Post and The
Wall Street Journal.

Invisible Trade comes six years after the late David Brazil's No
Money, No Honey, a paperback guide to prostitution in Singapore that
sold more than 20,000 copies.

Mr Lim's book tells the inside story on the lucrative escort agency
business in Singapore and how it balances on the fine line between
legal and illegal.

Escort agencies are perfectly legal businesses, and there are clients
who really only want company or someone to pose as a girlfriend for a
few hours.

Often, though, sex is the real purpose. One agency owner quoted in
the book calls this "extending the booking".

Some agencies offer it almost openly as "discreet companionship",
costing more than the regular "dinner companionship". One agency
Today spoke to said that discreet means "full service", stopping
short of mentioning sex.

The agencies insist that they play no role in facilitating sexual
services, which is a deal struck only between client and escort,
although they do collect fees for the extra hours with their girls.
And these extra hours can be spent fulfilling some strange sexual

The escorts come from around the world – Singaporean, Mongolian,
Eastern European. Mr Lim writes about a Hong Kong-based professional
dominatrix who makes frequent trips to Singapore to service her
clients here.

The women, some of whom have fulltime day jobs, work in Singapore's
ritziest hotels, right under the noses of hotel staff.

Some escort agencies advertise their services on websites. There is
never any mention of sex, but at one website, the vital statistics of
social escorts are listed beside photographs of scantily clad bodies.
No faces are shown. At another, the cost for dominatrix services is
listed at $650 for two hours.

Mr Lim also explores the world of gay male escorts, and karaoke

Why did the escorts agree to talk about their sex work, so much of
which is carried out privately, discreetly?

A former male escort who is featured in the book told Today: "I
trusted Gerrie. Talking to him was very comforting because he knew
where I was coming from. He doesn't take your words and twist it to
form a news angle."

Why did Mr Lim decide to write the book?

The blurb on the book cover describes the work as one of "cultural

In the closing chapter, Mr Lim talks about Singapore being a
country "known for imposing sexual convention", pointing to evidence
such as the "tame" men's magazine Playboy being banned.

He refers to the global survey by condom-maker Durex that found
Singaporeans the least interested in sex, and the government's
efforts to raise the national birth rate with the Romancing Singapore

And yet there are the women like Emily who live for their dangerous
liaisons, "challenging the frontiers of sexual behaviour".

Says Mr Lim: "It's an ironic situation, if not an entirely romantic
one, but it sure is personal, spontaneous, clandestine, and
intimate." - - TODAY


By: "Mr Sillipore"
16 June 2004
Singapore Review

Sexual Prejudice At Its Absolute Worst

Singapore is one weird country. That thought ran through my mind as I gazed
upon the Sunday edition of the Straits Times (copy attached below).

I am still trying to come to grasp with the subtle logic behind the mesh mash
of policies implemented by the nanny state. On the one hand we are told in no
uncertain terms by the government that chewing gum requires a permit (and
registration), and on the other hand it is entirely legal and possible for an
18 year old to avail himself of the services of any one of the few hundred
legal brothels located along the infamous Geylang district.

What gives? Where is the logic? Lets put all that aside and naively accept the
official line towed by Singapore's law enforcement officers, that basically it
is impossible to control the oldest profession in the world, so some control is
better then no control in the noble interest of the general public.

But wait a second here, there’s more to this then meets the eye. Not content
with micro-managing the sex lives of the citizens, Singapore’s law enforcement
officers have also declared that street walking is outlawed. So whilst its
perfectly legal to have a fling with a prostitute in a Geylang brothel, its a
NO No if the same lady approaches you on a street outside the Brothel and
invites you to intercourse in any one of the readily available motels located
in the same street.

There is a hidden agenda in this mesh mash of haphazardly implemented laws.

1) The first obvious economic effect of the mesh mash of convoluted policies is
that they have the net effect of creating a virtual monopoly on the sex trade
in Singapore. Now this is starting to look vaguely familiar if we view the sex
industry as simply another commercial venture.

Make no mistake there is huge money to be made in the gambling and sex industry
and it is small wonder that it has remained the oldest profession in the world.
And like any typical mafia boss, the powers from the havens want a piece of the
action. Usually with a normal trade, the modus operandi is for the GLC/TLC to
move in on the stakes and "unlevel the playing field."

But this is a rather delicate situation...No, Mr Lee and Ms Ho will not (and
cannot) adopt the tried and proven formula: set-up another GLC/TLC to
corporatise the sex trade. That's really not in keeping with the immaculately
clean, virgin white uniform of the dominant party. So how do you have your cake
and eat it, without getting your grubby fingers dirty?

Legalize the trade, and impose a tax on it. Make no mistake, the government has
a direct stake in the set-up. Of cause the actual numbers are shrouded in
secrecy but the amounts involved are substantive. Each working girl in the
legitimized brothels can charge up to SGD150-SGD200 for 45 minutes of tender
loving care. The figure can go up to SGD300 if the customer happened to be a
foreigner who was not conversant with the house rates.

2) The flip side of the coin is that only ladies with permits are allowed to
work in the legal brothels. The Anti-Vice squad maintains a daily log of each
working girl as they have to log-in to their place of work and register each
customer they bed. So it is possible to calculate right down to the dollar, the
daily takings of each girl.

The girls typically originate from either Malaysia and Thailand. Now here's
another mystery, why limit issue of permits to girls originating from only
these two countries?

Again the ultimate effect is to create barriers to entry for other races (from
eastern European countries and especially from Mainland China). The Anti-Vice
squad conduct nightly raids on illegal streetwalkers (who also happen to be
mainly China girls). The women are often chased and physically beaten by
Singapore Law Enforcement officers, all in the noble name of cleaning of the
streets. Never mind the minor fact that their legitimate counter-part is
selling the very same product next door in a legal brothel.

In this respect we must really applaud Singapore's conscientious law
enforcement officers. So dedicated are these virtuous gentlemen to their duties
that they even saw it within their duties to avail themselves of the services
of the very victims they were targeting. In the past years there have been
several formal reports of law enforcement officers who have performed above and
beyond their call of duty in this aspect.

So that then is how we end up with this unholy marriage of policies. The merits
of the venture are determined solely on corporate business strategies. Moral
values have no place and is rendered totally irrelevant in the final analysis.

In this case the final victims are of cause the street walkers who not have to
pay a King's Ransom in getting protection money from their personal "Ma Fu"
(the local equivalent of a pimp who is supposed to look out for them and warn
them of police raids). The government owned media (Straits Times and Sunday
Times) have also been roped in to churn out bad publicity regarding female
Chinese migrants. Many of these women are here for legitimate factory jobs but
have been marginalized by local Singapore women who deem them as husband

To those of you who want to flame me because I am taking the side of the China
hookers, please remember that the sex trade is already there and thriving in
its legitimized form and any argument you wish to address to me can also be
addressed to our dear PAP government.

It is indeed a sad day when Singapore's Ruling Elite are reduced to virtual
pimps and living off the takings of the sex industry. My hats of to you folks.
That’s the government that you elected.

Yours disgustedly

Mr Sillipore


China girls hitting on kopitiam Ah Peks
They target older men with CPF money at Geylang coffee shop

By Li Xueying

KOPI, teh or China lady?

At star station 23, in Geyland Lorong 23, heartland Ah Peks and China
women mingle in a no-frills, no air-con, low-cost version of a
karaoke lounge.

A kopitiam in Geylang's Lorong 23 has gained notoriety for being
a 'no-frills, no-aircon' and low-cost version of a karaoke lounge
where women from China accost grey-haired Ah Peks.

For men whose CPF pensions can't support exquisite Gong Li-lookalikes
and $350-a-bottle Chivas Regal at swanky lounges like Tiananmen, Star
Station 23 Cafe Restaurant is perfect.

Some businesses in the area, such as brothels and restaurants, resent
its presence. Others say the colourful denizens of Star Station 23
have been good for business.

Green plastic tables dot the coffee shop where retirees nurse 80-cent
Chinese tea or $6 Heineken for hours. Each time a woman enters the
premises, they check her out from head to toe.

If they like what they see, they beckon her over. If not, their eyes
flicker back to actress Phyllis Quek on the mounted TV screen, or to
their copy of Shin Min.

Making her move, a China woman zeroes in on a prospective client.
Competition is tough, so many are bold about approaching men.
The bolder women, meanwhile, zero in on prospects, unsolicited.
Speaking in lilting accents, they flirt with their long hair and
tease with their hands. If the chemistry - and the price - is right,
they adjourn, with their trick, to a nearby hotel.

It's a community in there.

The friendly kopitiam cleaner came to wipe the table where I was
seated with my female photographer colleague and asked in
Mandarin: 'Just got here today?'

In three hours, my colleague and I were propositioned three times.
Referring to me, one of the men told his companion at the next table
in Hokkien: 'This one - new girl. Never seen before.'

Competition is tough. The women are here on 30-day social passes, and
need to recoup the money they borrowed to pay for their air ticket.

Ms Huang arrived from Jiangsu province on June 3, on a 11,000 yuan
(S$2,255) loan. She has had only one customer so far, who paid $80
for her services. She said: 'It's so hard. There are so many young
pretty girls here. Who wants a 40-year-old like me?'

After some flirting and teasing, if the chemistry and price are
right, the couple may adjourn to a hotel. -- WANG HUI FEN
It was her first time prostituting herself, claimed the divorcee. The
high-school graduate worked as an accountant until she was retrenched
in 1997. 'My son is 18, and we need money for his university fees. It
costs 1,000 yuan a month. I look down on myself for doing this but
there's no choice,' she said tearfully.

A 60-something man, with thinning hair and a toothy grin, approached
her and asked: 'Why so unhappy?' Some 45 minutes later, they were

Ms Wang, 32, who arrived on Wednesday from Funan county in Anhui
province, was luckier. Fair, sweet and doe-eyed, she landed a
customer in his 60s, who gave her $300 for spending the whole night
with him.

She had told her gambler husband that she was going to find work in
Shenzhen. They have two children, aged seven and 10.

'I heard that these older men are better than the younger ones.
They're not so cunning and they won't run off without paying. Anyway,
I just close my eyes.'

Some of the men at the kopitiam claim they weren't there for sex, but
just to talk to the girls for 'company'. Odd-job labourer Khoo, 55,
claimed: 'I come here once every two weeks not for the girls, but
because the kopi here is very sweet.'

The stallholders, meanwhile, said they 'don't know anything'.

Other businesses in the area say the China girls began coming around
two or three years ago.

Hong Kee Noodle Restaurant, located across the road from Star Station
23, has seen its business drop 40 per cent since.

'The customers get scared off. These girls are here when I open shop
at 9am, and they're here when I close at 9pm. Sometimes, they come in
without ordering and we'll chase them out,' said its manager, 59, who
wanted to be known only as Ms Chong.

Chinese construction worker Zhang, 35, who rents the unit on the
third level of the building, said the women are so aggressive that
he's 'scared to go down to buy food'. 'They will pull at our arms
asking if we want to 'play' with them,' he said.

Not surprisingly, the legitimate brothels at Lorong 18 have been hit.

Mr Ong, who manages 11 Thai girls, said: 'These China girls are very
clever. They know how to target these old men with the CPF money.
They eat, drink and talk to them. They're like girlfriends. But it's
dangerous because they don't go for medical checkups.'

His prostitutes charge $40 for a 20- to 25-minute session, and are
not allowed to 'socialise' with the men outside the brothel. The
Chinese streetwalkers, on the other hand, negotiate their own rates.
Some may work with pimps.

Shop owners told The Sunday Times that police raid the area at least
twice every two weeks.

But an hour later, the girls are always back, said Ms Chong.

Not everyone resents Star Station 23's presence. On San Woh Medical
Hall, for example, has extended its opening hours from 8pm to 10.30pm
after business went up by 10 to 20 per cent, fuelled by sales of
condoms and Chinese medication.

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