by JB (This writer can be contacted through Beijing Made Easy)
Prostitution is illegal in China, and yet it is everywhere. Prostitutes hang about in bars, karaoke halls, massage parlours and hairdressers, and call single men in their hotel rooms at night to offer sex. China is thought to be home to something like one million prostitutes. A high proportion of them are migrant workers who travel from the countryside to big cities in search of work.
Chinese people are generally more understanding of people involved in prostitution on either side than Westerners. Although there are undoubtedly cases of women being forced into marriage and prostitution in China, most women do so voluntarily.
Outside of the sex industry, some women find prostitution abhorrent, others believe that as they both grow older their husbands will inevitably sleep with other women, and prefer that they sleep with a prostitute than a lover for whom they may eventually leave them. Remember that in traditional China rich men would keep several concubines as well as a wife.
Whilst some men take a strong moral stance against prostitutes, others regard paid sex it as an acceptable form of entertainment.
Chinese brothels come in a surprising range of shapes and sizes.
At one end you have the hairdresser/massage/hand job shops which can be found just within the entrance of many a Beijing hutong. Actual sex is not usually on the menu at these places, but hand over your 100-200Y and you’ll get a cursory massage followed by a hand job, sometimes a blowjob. The precise technique varies with some establishments using massage oils or alternate hot and cold water.
The Chinese language doesn’t distinguish between masturbation and hand jobs, so to ask for a handjob you basically have to say ‘wank’, which is ‘dă fēijī – 打飞机’ – literally ‘beat aeroplanes’. However, it’s not usually necessary to ask.
The other, politer way to ask for a hand job is ‘tuīyóu – 推油’, literally to ‘push oil’, which refers to a specific kind of massage which is generally understood to include a hand job. Your masseuse might well appreciate your using this politer phraseology.
The shop front of these places generally looks like a very scruffy hairdressers, but with a slightly provocatively dressed woman sitting near the door. Unless you really just want a haircut you’ll be taken out of sight to a back room where there’s a bed or massage couch.
In other parts of the country, pseudo-hairdressers may offer other services, including sex.
You might notice a card by the telephone in your hotel room advertising ‘massage’ (ànmó – 按摩). There usually really are massage services available, but there are also prostitutes. They’ll come up to your room and you can expect to pay anything from 300-800Y for sex (expect prices to go up during the Olympics!).
Exactly what you get varies from place to place. Some hotels have a ‘standard prostitute service’ where they’ll give you a hot and cold water treatment and a blow job before sex, others just strip off, lie down and wait for you to finish. Anal is almost never on the menu and you might well find you know more positions than she does.
If you call the number wanting a prostitute you’ll need to say ‘wǒ yào xiăojiĕ – 我要小姐’ and tell them your room number. Payment is in cash up front.
Karaoke bars are usually full of women who’ll sit and chat to you for a fee. Some of them will also accompany you to bed. If the karaoke bar is in a hotel then you’ll be expected to retire to one of the hotel’s rooms, if not then you take her back to your hotel or appartment.
Single men will often be approached by prostitutes in bars. Sanlitun North Street is full of ‘brothel touts’ calling out to you across the street ‘You like Chinese girl?!’ ‘Massageee massageee’ or just plain old ‘Fuck, fuck!’ We advise very strongly that you do not go anywhere with the pimps on this street. You might get what you’re looking for, but you might also get beaten and robbed.There are also ‘independent’ prostitutes who hang around in this area. They’ll either take you back to your apartment or give you a blow job through a condom down some dark back alley.
Wonder at the Great Wall, be awed by the magnificent Forbidden City, drink in the scenery from a boat on the Summer Palace’s Kunming Lake.