It was a fine Saturday morning, I was getting ready to go to work when an uncle about 60 years of age came to my doors and asked (pardon his bad Chinese): “你们这边有没有给人家推的蛤？” (Do you provide tuina services here?)
Yao mo gao chor ah? Have they invaded our heartlands already?
On Dec 15 and 16 2017, The Sunday Times visited 7 clinics offering traditional Chinese medicine treatments to investigate if the services were legitimate. The ST pointed out that six of them, located in Chinatown, Tanjong Pagar, Jalan Besar and North Bridge Road, were registered to the same man – a licensed TCM practitioner. Exactly what was it that aroused enough suspicion to warrant an “investigation”? ST made no mention of that. They probably got a tip off from private investigators who have followed their clients’ husbands to these places. Or they could have just decided to pick a safe yet juicy topic to do a bit of investigative journalism.
The reporter wrote that he visited one of those clinics at North Bridge Road on the pretext of needing a shoulder massage for an old motorcycle injury. He mentioned that no more than 10 minutes into the massage, the therapist offered sex for money which was immediately declined. This made me laugh out loud. Why must the reporter stress that he declined the offer immediately? Anyway, you can read their rather lame report here.
Now, let’s get a bit deeper into these sleazy places. To be brutally honest, there is plenty of leads out there on the internet and if your social circle is wide enough, you are bound to have friends who have entered the dark inner sanctum of these places and found out a lot more about them by not immediately declining anything.
First, let’s talk about the leads. How do these places make themselves known to the horny men out there? Well, they use the internet, of course. Below are a couple of pictures posted just a few days ago. I managed to pull these out from their online postings.
They go into shocking detail so that potential customers don’t have to ask them unnecessary questions over the phone. The posters stress that they are freelance masseuses and even included their local phone numbers. Some of the details include.
Q: How much?
A: 💰SGD100 / 60mins Body Massage with Happy Ending / inclusive of room
This is the lowest nett rate possible as I have overheads to cover so there is no further discounts or negotiations. 💰Tips are appreciated if you like my service.
Enticing enough? Well, anybody who harbours an iota of cynicism （especially those who have already read my other posts on sex scams) would not believe that these are real pictures. Girls like them can probably make a comfortable living just modelling. There’s no need to get intimate with some fat and ugly uncle. But wait, there’s a powerful assurance.
Q: Am I a real girl? Are the photos real? Can send me any more sexy/naked photos?
A: I am definitely 100% 👧 female. Photos shown here are real & taken recently. Photos are masked as I am residing in Singapore and do not wish to be identified by my friends or relatives. Will not entertain requests for more photos as the therapy about YOU getting total relaxation and not about how I look. I am not a model and do not have the figure or look of one. I consider myself attractive with high vibrating and nurturing energy.
Is this a scam? Does that sound like it’s written by someone from China? You may be tempted to believe that she’s a real Singaporean girl, but if you search deeper, you’ll find that this is actually a template used by a dozen of posters with names ranging from Amara to Zara. If you contact them on WhatsApp (which I don’t use), they will reply with their location. Are they serious? What if the interested party is a policeman? The next question that comes to mind is, how are they able to operate this way in spite of all the raids in the past? There was a big one in August 2017. And another one as recent as January 2018. It has been estimated that the industry is worth over $113M annually! What a dent in the Singapore economy and I suspect the figure is higher than that estimated as even the “legitimate” places have masseuses who offer “extras” to be delivered later over 2 hours in budget hotel rooms. Consider the legitimate massage parlour as a front to whom you pay the “bar fine”.
The posting on the economics of dodgy massage parlours also mentioned that most of the message sessions in these dodgy places don’t end up with actual sex and the men don’t consider themselves cheating on their wives. I have a different explanation. These guys are probably too old, tired and unfit for all out sexual intercourse. That’s a more likely explanation for why they let the woman do all the work.
Let’s now take a closer look at some of the surviving spas. From the outside, they all look like perfectly legitimate wellness establishments, with the usual glass wall stickers of stock photos used in the wellness industry. I know those that “died” must have looked really dodgy. As for the survivors, I don’t want to post their photos here as I neither want to sabotage nor promote them.
Inside, the “dodgy” massage parlour may actually look like a well-furnished TCM clinic with acupuncture charts on the walls and even a lady in white overalls seated behind the counter. However, there is no hint of any sweet and sexy young lady lurking on the premises. If the online postings were honest about providing “extra” services, then it’s clear that these survivors of police raids must have taken extra precautions to look legitimate after the spate of raids in 2017 and early 2018. Yes, the photos of young, beautiful and shapely girls you see online are all fake. The “ladies-in-waiting” are uniformly 30-40 year old aunties from China. The assurance and the pictures that you see above (and the two below who claim to be Singaporeans) are a total scam and a bait.
From the waiting area, an electronically-locked glass door leads the way into a dark corridor where the massage rooms are. Frankly, that is probably the only suspicious part of the whole setup. They may even ask you whether you wish to consult the physician or have a massage. The price list is a laminated cardboard showing none of the “extra” services mentioned online. The one who received the message from the number listed online and made the booking for a session full of “extras” may be wondering if this is some kind of a joke and what the joker stands to gain from all this.
And to push the joke even further, the price for a 1 hour massage, is ridiculously low at only $50. Other than that, there’s absolutely nothing to suggest that they are dodgy. One informant said that the management adopts a completely hands-off approach that is similar to some of the pubs that always have the same female “guests” hanging around. They are not on the payroll and in the event of a raid, the management will claim that they are all “freelancers” who have absolutely nothing to do with their perfectly legitimate business of serving drinks and playing music. The same goes for these spas. The management will claim that the masseuses are not their employees but freelancers renting the premises from them. As far as they know or claim to know, only legitimate massage is going on in the rooms. When raided, they must not have a single condom on the premises. I have a feeling that very soon, the law may change to prosecute people for acting blur.
Now, what goes on inside after you’ve paid $50 for your 1 hour massage? Many first-timers giving their confessions, are surprised to learn that the aunties massaging them are often genuine masseuses. But make no mistake, these are dodgy places. Once they’ve established that you’re a genuine customer, they will try to entice you with “extra” services. The way to escape from this situation is not to refuse the “extras” and insist on enjoying your 1 hour massage for only $50 (like a anal-retentive Singaporean).
What may be surprising to people who only read newsPAPer articles, is that if you offer these women $100 for a proper, genuine massage, they will gladly do it without any hanky panky. The ladies are as human as we are and there is absolutely no reason for them to endure the indignity of providing “extra” services if they can earn close to that amount by applying legitimate skills. But would business be as good if they didn’t offer extra services? Certainly not.
That’s why instead of shutting these places down, we should probably get the wives of all these “cheating” men to visit these places for a proper massage and let the ladies earn so much that they will not even consider providing extra services. Who knows, the wives may even pick up some “dodgy” skills and practise them on their husbands instead of disparaging them all the time.
How’s that for a happy ending?
© Chan Joon Yee