Adeline, aged twenty-three, and her two co-workers exit the main entrance of Springflower Nightclub. She walks to her Honda City in the building’s basement carpark. In her duffel bag, which she carries strapped over her shoulder, she carries her evening dress, lipstick, a powder compact, house keys, a bottle of 21st Century Hang Over Shake and her purse. Her purse contains a photo of herself and her boyfriend. Her stomach carries seven litres of alcoholic beverage. She gets a cut from the ‘ladies’ drinks’ bought for her by her clients. At work, she carries an air of exclusivity, as she does not sell sex. She carries her father’s advice of not going out with any clients, lest she gets raped and murdered. Her heart carries the hope that he will recover from his stroke and be able to walk again. Her five foot-three-frame carries 120 lbs and she diligently carries weights in the gym twice a week. In her head, she carries a dream of starting up a florist’s or a boutique.
Honey (short for ‘Rohani’), aged twenty-eight, waves goodbye to Adeline. She carries a lonely heart with her. In her Polo tote bag, she carries her house keys, a neatly folded bareback halter top, a bottle of alcohol-free fragrance, a wallet containing a photo of her two-year-old son. Her face carries two gold needles inside each cheek, implanted by a bomoh [sorcerer] a year ago. This magical charm is purported to attract men to her. Her glove compartment carries a copy of Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus, Malay edition. Divorced, she carries hopes of re-marrying so she can quit her job. She starts her car engine and drives into the near-empty road, her heart carrying the anticipation of seeing her son, who by now is already tucked in bed by her Indonesian maid, and sleeping. While lying in bed, she is weighed down by the apprehension of her lover’s first wife not agreeing to their marriage, and she carries the burden of insomnia with her.
Breaking away from Adeline and Honey is Ling, aged twenty-six, whose hometown is Johor Bahru. She presses the remote control, enters her Kia Spectra and flings her leather hobo bag on the floor of the passenger seat. It carries a bottle of Pro Care mouthwash, a packet of 003 Romantic Deluxe Condoms, a bottle of sweet almond aromatherapy oil, two cell phones, and a leather purse. Her purse carries an appointment card with a S.T.D. clinic and she faithfully goes for a medical check-up every month. Her side-door pocket carries a learn-Japanese CD. Her heart carries a desire to work in Roppongi in Tokyo. Her mind carries a plan of saving enough for plastic surgery so she can become beautiful enough to marry a rich man.
Janice, twenty-seven years old, strides to her car alone. She is carrying a Louis Vuitton leather bag on her shoulder and a hot pepper spray in her left hand.
Perched on a bar stool and taking a deep drag from a cigarette, Stanley Tang, a business entrepreneur and a veteran night-clubber, says, ‘When you visit nightclubs, sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. Hostesses are human too, and sometimes they’re unhappy. If you’re unlucky, you may book a girl who’s just had a bitter argument with someone, so she may not be in the hospitable mood to give friendly service. Also, understand there’re all kinds of women in this world – aggressive girls who’ll try to force you to drink as much as possible and gentle girls who’re not pushy. I can’t say whether nightclub women are good or bad. I’ve been to nightclubs countless times and I don’t feel bitter if a hostess does not live up to my expectations.’
I grab a handful of salted nuts and pop them one by one into my mouth. ‘Are there any techniques to win the affection of a hostess?’
He blows a few smoke rings and lays his cigarette on a Remy Martin Cognac ashtray. ‘It’s best to visit a nightclub on a weekday when the patrons are fewer and no big spenders are around. After several visits, if you like a particular girl, tell the mamasan you like one of her hostesses and thank her for the excellent hospitality training given to that hostess. The mamasan will be grateful for the respect shown to her. She’ll probably tell the hostess to be nicer to you on your next visit. Then you must prove your sincerity by frequently hiring the hostess and courting her by giving her presents and generous tips and inviting her to meals. If you’re afraid of rejection, request the mamasan to suggest to the hostess that she buys you lunch to show her appreciation of your business. Prefer lunch to dinner as you can talk with the hostess on a more personal basis. Hopefully, this’ll lead to a closer relationship. Later, when the time is right, you should be upfront. Tell her something like this: “Can you be my girlfriend or mistress? I’ll give you a monthly allowance. I just want to see you frequently. Any time you meet a better man, and want to be with him, we can split.” An unattached hostess is likely to seriously consider such an attractive proposition.’
‘What about a one-night stand?’
‘It’s best to be honest instead of giving hints or being indirect.’ He lifts his cigarette and taps ash into the ashtray. ‘If you’re too shy to use the word sex, say something like this: “I’d like to invite you to supper and later to a hotel. Would you like to come?” If she says no, ask her to recommend someone else. Don’t be afraid she’ll be offended by such an invitation. If you ask her to go out with you, and only later you mention sex, it smacks of manipulation, which she may not like.’
I book a table at Orchid Niteclub in Ampang Road and ask Charles Chow to join me but, he says it’s his squash night and declines; however, his younger brother, Ivan, whom I’ve met before, will be happy to come along. Ivan, aged thirty, is not as wild as his brother Charles, so I am unsure if he is the right companion for such a fling. Nevertheless, I’ll have someone to split the bill with.
We arrive at Orchid at 10 pm and the valet parks my car. Inside the hall, the receptionist takes us to a semicircular sofa with a coffee table in its mid-gap. A pair of floor-standing lamps in romantic shades of pink complements the cream-coloured settee. The air smells of rose tainted with a lingering trace of cigarette smoke.
A waiter, wearing a black bow-tie and a brown vest, passes two menus to us. ‘Please order your drinks and food first. Mummy will come soon.’
In the menu are the prices for hostess time (RM60 per hour), ladies’ non-alcoholic drinks and bar grub. The items listed are nothing earth-shattering except for the prices, so we order two big bottles of Sapporo Premium Beer, fried mozzarella sticks, tortilla chips and deep-fried chicken wings.
A woman, wearing her hair in a shag with face-framing layers and an empire-waisted watermelon-red dress, strides to us across the plum-coloured carpet. Three hostesses pad along behind her.
‘Good evening, I’m Mummy Lulu,’ she says, extending her hand. ‘I’ve three very pretty GROs for you. All of them are very friendly. Who do you want?’
I can’t say whether nightclub women are good or bad. I’ve been to nightclubs countless times and I don’t feel bitter if a hostess does not live up to my expectations.
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