Eye On Taiwan
Date: May 30, 2016
By: Jeff Lang
Most ordinary folks may never understand why some well-heeled high-fliers would fork out millions for oil paintings that sometime look like bird cage liners. And why would the super-rich pay princely sums for gems (aka intricately cut and polished rocks mounted on precious metallic lattices) that sit inside vaults 99 percent of the time? Why would some spend untold hours and dollars to assemble massive train sets to mimic the real thing travelling in their basements? Why would the mega-rich buy a condo in a high-rise with a special elevator to ferry their Ferrari to be parked in full view of their living rooms? Why do scientists continue to squander resources to look for ways to set up colonies on a planet in the next galaxy when they know it’s essentially mission impossible? And why do men (most likely) splurge enough dollars to equal a Filipina overseas contract worker’s monthly pay in Taipei for few hours in one of the many lounges or nightclubs with presumptuously tacky names as Bulgari, Cartier, Tiffany in the seedier parts of Taipei to be entertained by hostesses or bargirls?
It’s the latter question that begs one to delve into the mindscape of such patrons, not by carefully arranged, peer-reviewed, double-blind scientific experiment but anecdotal observation of one Taiwanese bargirl’s monologue, who apparently trolls dating sites perhaps out of boredom or maybe with ulterior motive.
This Taiwanese lounge hostess (as shown and likely of Eurasian ancestry with possibly breast-enhancement surgery) seems in her early 20s and confessed with a scripted, tear-jerking outpouring as original as microwaving TV dinner to quell hunger, that she is from impoverished background and hence has to work in the skin trade to make ends meet, without trading her shapely body for money of course to elevate herself above mere prostitutes.
Her time-honored profession has been reported in Taiwanese media more than once, with one report that focused on the racket in central Taiwan that had a stable of dozens of gorgeous women who were organized and lived like troops. The skin trade in Taiwan is often seen in the public eye (and often proven) to be linked to gangsters who are in cahoots with the law (of course never openly documented or published in media), with some forms of the trade allowed to thrive with the permission of the government, which categorizes such enterprise under the moniker “Special Business.”
There also has been reports on Taiwanese TV exposing scams using callers in boiler rooms in China conspiring with lounge operators in Taiwan to snare gullible hearts of men, who are egged on to visit bars where hostesses slowly befriend them to gain their trust and then ask for money to bail them out of various problems, as relatives in need of medical treatment or debts due to poor investment. These unwitting knights with chivalrous tendency sometimes end up being fleeced of their golden armor as well as life savings.
Amusingly when the law actually clamps down on the skin trade in Taipei, where hookers are regular patrons of taxis, hair salons and dry cleaners, a whole segment along the food chain feels the pinch.
The following is the translation from Chinese this bargirl’s one-sided conversation over a couple days on one of the chat apps. She casually gives out her ID to anyone willing to take the bait on a dating site so as to begin a monologue that likely duplicates the following. This self-professed unfortunate soul deserves certain admiration for being patient enough to key in Chinese characters dripping with syrupy and insipid content.
But is she as innocent, naïve as she portrays herself in the monologue? The answer lies in the italicized, bold line near the bottom.
It’s safe to assume that patrons as the one who probably drooled upon seeing the bargirl’s provocative stunt using her décolletage are not looking for intellectual stimulating distraction that would inspire one to apply to a world-renowned PhD program to devise means to eradicate global poverty. And could the noggins of said patrons be actually as vapid as the monologue and this bargirl? After all, birds of a feather stick together.
I’m all dressed up.
OK. I’m off to work…muah…
If you don’t send me a thumbs-up sticker, then you don’t miss me.
Hey there. I just arrived at the company.
I tell you…my mobile phone has a “read masking” software that hides that I’ve read a message, which works unless I turn it off…so I’m sometimes blamed by people of being impolite because they think I’ve not read their messages.
I’m going for supper.
Actually you’ve not really looked at my pictures closely.
You’ve not said that my room looks creepy when it looks that way.
I’m going outside for a while now.
Just now I had customers next to me so I could not use my mobile phone.
I’ll talk to you later ok?
Got up too late today…that’s why I am just texting you now.
Work gets busier Friday so you behave yourself.
I’ll send you some hot pictures later.
Chu…chu…(a seemingly Taiwanese expression of endearment)
It’s thundering out…scary…
I must get on with work…think of me.
I’m finally getting a breather now.
Hey…I was really proud of myself just now…I had to bring something into the booth but could not hold it with my small hand.
So I simply squeezed the champagne glass in my cleavage instead.
You should have seen the customer pick up his jaw off the floor.
Wait…got to get back to the booth…that customer is probably still straightening his slack jaw.
You have to think of me…I’ll miss you.
Let me set my phone down or I’ll get reprimanded again.
Do you also talk to other girls like you do me?
I think I drank too much today.
I just woke up today…
Gosh it’s boiling hot today.
I am dying for a Popsicle.
My air conditioner is down so I slept over at a coworker’s place. Where did you sleep?
Hey. Listen. I am the jealous type…so you’re dead if I catch you in bed with someone.
Time to make up.
You’ve not said you miss me…you’re on my mind.
You’re the first one that I text as soon as I wake up.
I’ve already put on my makeup.
It’s Saturday so I’m going to have to work like a dog.
Actually it’s that that I don’t chat with you from my heart…but this is my life…for you to be a bit more understanding would make me think you’re so considerate.
You must behave today and miss me…muah.
Time to go to work.
Arrived at the office…so hot.
My friends say darkening the brows with makeup helps to keep off the sun…so you know I hate to tan.
You’re allowed to visit me at work today…free Popsicles!
OK…got to get busy now.
Don’t forget to have supper…I’ve got to go to work now.
Incidentally, as is typically the case, seemingly frivolous tales grown out of the so-called Special Business in Taipei have a dark underbelly rarely seen by outsiders and patrons willing to squander cash for juvenile instant gratification, a shady side that would repel, rattle feminists, religious groups and most charitable organizations.
Only a day after this bargirl complaint of not looking forward to a Friday that will swamp her in work, she continued her monologue on the chat app to say that she was checked into a clinic one night after work. Her words for the incident roughly translates into “malfunction.”
One can easily speculate her illness to be some mild form of alcohol poisoning, for her job description probably could be summed as thus: “Bend over backwards (sometimes literally) to please a patron as he commands.”
One can safely assume that operators of lounges would not think twice to buy liquor of unknown, questionable origin to minimize cost that could prove to be dangerous to bargirls.
One can also assume that many bargirls, due to being lowly-educated, don’t pay much attention to health and would drink booze on half-empty stomachs, which would also be filled with food of poor nutrition.
And it would not be stretching the truth to assume that some of the customers who patronize this lounge hostess are not of sound mind and could easily be abusive, misogynistic and sadistic as they don the “Customer is King” hat to cajole, force her into binge drinking. (read isn’t it fun to drop cash to force an impoverished bargirl to drink and entertain till she drops?)
But it takes two to tango right?
Some news reports in Taiwan have said that lounges tempt cash-strapped women to work as bargirls with easy upfront loans (a sign-on bonus of sorts) that they may repay in installments.
The want ads typically bait these potential bargirls with promises of 6-figure monthly paychecks (maybe US$3,000-plus versus US$1,230 for an engineer or US$770 for typical desk jocks with college degree), which are, say news reports, whittled down to pittances by pimps (aka public relations persons).
This bargirl may be making so-called easy money but her shelf life will likely be very short.