Friday, November 26, 2010

Work Abroad: Pierre and his KTV gigolo job in Taipei I

A long time ago i started to tell the tale of Pierre’s most off the rail moment (, but i stopped because my blog wasn’t just about sex in Taiwan and i didn’t want to give the wrong impression. Hopefully, now i have built myself a little credit and it is ok to finish the tale.
If not, never mind, because it is a damn funny story and the deuce bigalow comments can come later.
As i have mentioned before Pierre was determined to prove he wasn’t just another teacher overseas like everyone else, he could find any work abroad he wanted. Still: laziness, refusing to take the gift horse of teaching overseas, the effects of watching too many gangster movies, and a chance encounter combined to make him very broke and willing to try anything, ie. a Friday club or KTV gigolo club.
BTW - This is all a while ago now so i have no idea if these gigolo KTVs still exist – Back then we didn’t all have beer bellies.
We take up the story a few months after he started work. Below is what he told us it was like.
The gigolos sat at one end of the KTV behind a glass screen, up straight on their chairs waiting to be picked. When the women came they could select a guy or behave embarrassed, sit in one of the high-back sofa booths that surrounded the dance floor and wait to see who was sent. The first night he had at once been repulsed and excited by what he was going to do - And scared; scared mainly because he had a bad temper and he knew that if he met someone rude he was likely to be fired first night for retaliation. He knew the substance of the job was to entertain and charm, and of course he could do that. He had charmed girls, friends and family before to get his own way, but he could walk off or shout if they were rude, now he was very aware that he was supposed to smile and blame himself. If they didn’t want him to sit at the table he couldn't say, ‘Fuck you then bitch.’
He said he had got all competitive about being chosen at first, until he realized he was the only foreigner at the club and therefore only really competing with himself – Taiwanese generally have an opinion on race so they were not considering whether they wanted the tall, fair-skinned, blonde guy on the left or the yellow-skinned dark-haired guy on the right.
He had also had to make many adjustments to his style.
As a man he had spent his whole life trying to get his grubby hands on women - theirs on him - and then drag them back to his cave at the earliest opportunity - Words spoken in lead up to sex were inversely proportion to excitement of the event as far as he was concerned.
“You will come to my house tonight?” asked a client.
“Of course!” he answered the first time he was asked, only for his colleague to pull him over.
Colleague: “Pierre come here. How many times have you seen her?”
“That is not the way it is done,” he replied, explaining that you were supposed to say no to keep them coming back, spending money in the place, and the more you said , no, the more presents and money you would get.
“But she wants it,” replied Pierre. “What about feeling her up? She just asked me to touch her boob?”
“Any promises of a watch?” said his colleague.
“No,” said Pierre. “I mean. I will enjoy...Really. I am happy to do for free – Ok. I understand…Jesus, this is no fun.”
“You are not here for fun,” said the colleague.
“I seem to be learning that,” replied Pierre.
On the first evening he had rushed back home to change his boxers because he expected to be taking his clothes off in the club. His image of these kind of bars had been set by his one visit to the male equivalent - Girls came in g-strings and bras, which they removed extremely quickly on pain of being thrown out of the room, while the guys helped themselves to a grope of any body part they wanted. He had been looked forward to that, later disappointed to find out he was not going to have a bunch of women groping him up and down and ripping off his shirt. His new suit had stayed firmly on.
Two main motivations brought women to the club: loneliness and desire to be given respect. It could be just one of these emotions; usually was both, and each woman had their own unique ratio. About half the women who came to the club were young hostesses, who after a week of waiting on men, now wanted to get a little attention themselves. Pierre hadn't got the hang of demanding watches yet or the fact that this was supposed to be a job, so he preferred to spend his time with these hostesses, because he didn’t feel have to feel sorry for them. They destroyed the myth that all women in this profession were victims: If they had been born boys they would now be gangsters, and there would be no debate about them being bad people. They were rude, crude, hard but fun; they were not here to complain and moan about their unhappy lives for two hours, like the older ones, and having spent the week aware of its financial value, they were not interested in sex. They were interested in drinking a lot of whiskey though and he was paid commission on how much alcohol he got them to buy. And the only way you got them to buy more alcohol was to keep toasting them, and downing drinks yourself. The blinder drunk you were by the end of the evening, the more you had earned. Good for Pierre but really bad for us, as it meant we had to put up with himre at his obnoxiously worst, staggering and tottering around the disco at five or six in the morning.
“You can’t stand up you twat! Go home,” yelled John over the music. “You are going to fuck up your suit and then I’ll have to lend you more money.”
Pierre's capacity for the melodramatic was 24/7. He never went off air, took a break for adverts, or went on strike for better pay. And, he could bring attention to himself in a fifty-thousand strong stampeding crowd.
“Do you think people guess what I am up to? Pretty fucking obvious I suppose,” said Pierre. It was not obvious, at all. Yes, he was in a disco that was ninety-nine percent populated by people in jeans and t-shirts, but this was Taiwan and so nobody cared too much what you were wearing. If they did notice, they assumed you were just one of those businessmen who occasionally turned up, sweating in the corner looking bewildered.
“If you say so,” I said trying to limit the conversation. Before I had said no and he had gone on for hours talking about how other people weren't as naieve as me.
Unfortunately, it wasn't the end. “Fuck. Really,” he replied. “I heard some guys were thrown out for doing similar. I guess they are not as smart as me about it, but still you have to be careful. If anyone asks you, you deny it don't you?”
Of course I couldn't bring myself to answer. To lower myself.
“Dan,” he said. “You are a friend. I trust you. I know you are a nice guy and I know you like your stories but this is serious stuff...”
I started to fume. “Look behind you,” I said. “There is an older woman waving at you.”
He looked. I disappeared to the other side of the disco. Fortunately, our paths didn't cross again that evening.
Apparently, he made Eric spend half an hour searching the disco looking for the older Taiwan lady.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Mothers, old people and their scooters

Taiwanese mothers and scooters
“I saw the kid go into the air and hit the car window,” said the wife after finishing throwing up. We had just witnessed a motorcycle accident in which a father was missing a daughter and a wife.
The woman in question had of course not been looking when she came out of the lane at speed assuming there would be no traffic on the 10-lane road. It wasn't the first time. Mothers on scooters are one of the most tragic thing you will ever see - Sat bolt upright, one or two children riding pillion, they never look anywhere but straight ahead, ignoring completely the inconvenient presence of other traffic on the road. Perversely the more children they have on the scooter the more dangerously they drive: usually one or two; three means they are unlikely to get through that day. Under constant time pressure - after finishing work, they rush desperately to get their kids to evening class – hence two kids, means two schools and more danger – then get home in time to cook the parents-in-laws' dinner, while deep down the stress is stirring feelings of unfairness: if my husband can’t afford to get me a car, then he is not working hard enough; if his children die on the road, it is his fault and with that she declares defeat in the daily battle to manage everything. She decides the consequences for her of not getting the mother-in-laws dinner are more painful than not looking at the other traffic on the road and she ploughs on ahead.
School gates are the worse place in the world to be stuck around school finishing time as thousands of like-minded mothers: dragged kids onto scooters, let them down again when they realized they were not theirs, picked them up again after they fell off the back, and then picked everyone up when the scooter in front of them, that appeared not to be in the way was. All this, like baby turtles rushing to the sea, just to get into the traffic and be the first statistic of the day.
“Hao dao mei. (So unlucky),” sighed the wife. As usual luck dealt someone a cruel blow, forcing them to plow across the road blind past a parked van.
Old people
Old people are really different when they are driving: they actually do look first, but still pull out - which kind of makes you begrudgingly respect their absolute selfishness and lack of respect for anyone else on the road. Case in point (almost everyday). An old man was coming down the wrong side of the road slowly in my direction so I applied my horn in a manner that would get me the 10 years for disturbing the peace in the west. The old man looks up reluctantly because he knows he is driving down the wrong side of the road in my direction, and is selfish not stupid; he stares blankly, sees he is not going to be hurt just inconvenience me and the whole road. He then slows down even more and eases himself across my path into the parking space that he was going to park in whether the rest of the world existed or not. I duly applied my brakes hard and hoped the car behind didn't run over me.