Raised in Hong Kong but now based in New York,…
In a world of innocence, KTV simply means an establishment where you can sing karaoke. In our real world, the term KTV can mean more than that, especially for guys. To briefly put, a guy’s version of KTV is an establishment where you can sing karaoke, but with female “accompaniment” that you can choose.
But for this post, I’m actually not going to focus on guy’s version of KTV, I’m going to talk about the much lesser known girl’s version of KTV. Fortunately enough, I managed to get Geo (not real name), an ex-employee of a KTV establishment, to do an interview with me on this topic.
Please note: I am not encouraging anyone to go to these KTVs. As said by Geo, it’s one of those things that aren’t technically “legal” but these establishments still exist anyway. Rather, my aim is to share with you an experience from a lesser-known world.
How was it like working as a KTV host?
It was a hell of an experience. I actually didn’t start off as a host, but instead as one of the guys who were accompaniments for the ladies. There’s this HBO show called Cathouse that I watched when I was a teenager, and it’s this show about a brothel in Las Vegas. So when I first got lined up, it kind of felt like the show.
Line up? What’s that?
The first time I got lined up, all the male accompaniments were standing at the hallway, and the customers would then come and pick us out by letting the manager know. Ever since, the procedure was a bit different. The clients would be assigned a room and we would come in waves. So about 6-10 guys would go into the room, the host will “advertise” these accompaniments and the clients would pick whom they’d prefer. If a client couldn’t choose anyone, the next wave then comes in until each client has an accompaniment.
Were there any uniform guidelines?
You were expected to wear gentleman or fashionable clothing. Actually, the Chinese guys wore very outrageous clothing, very metrosexual, like I was wondering whether these guys were gay or not. They wore like tight pants, skinny shoes, and dress shirts. Some guys might wear t-shirts or v-necks. I try to wear v-necks. We weren’t expected to “strip down” or anything. In fact, I would say the guys who were more fashionable were more likely to get chosen. Some guys even wore suit jackets.
If you didn’t wear something good, my manager will tell us to wear better clothes, especially for the Chinese guys. Foreigners would get more leeway from him.
Why did you choose to do this job?
Well, I saw an ad in gochengdu.com and was curious about it, so I responded. The ad actually stated “No Blacks”, and my friend was like, “Dude, that’s fucking racist.” He was pissed. But later on, I found out that the reason why they don’t want blacks is because they get chosen less frequently.
And how did you transition from being from a male accompaniment to being the host?
The host that used to manage the foreign male accompaniments was from Switzerland, and due to visa reasons, he had to leave the country. So I asked my manager whether I could take the job, and my manager agreed.
What’s the process like?
The clients would sit in a room, and like mentioned above, the male accompaniments would come in waves. After each client has a chosen accompaniment, the guys would sit next to them and will immediately warm them up by talking to them and making her feel like she’s got a gentleman boyfriend. They may start drinking a little bit as well. Sometimes it may be difficult to have a conversation with the clients since the accompaniments I managed were foreign, so they may not speak Chinese, and so the guys will start singing instead.
How do the guys react? Are they really aggressive or do they dance or what?
Actually, my guys are pretty conservative, like my guys wouldn’t be acting horny or trying to get laid. If anything, sometimes it’s the clients that are really aggressive. There’s a Canadian guy that worked for me, and he told me that one time a girl showed him her panties.
Give us some background information on the guys you managed.
Like I mentioned previously, I managed the foreigners. Most of them try once and leave. For the ones that worked longer, 80% were white and 20% were black. Probably 75% of the whites would be European and 25% would be North American. One was Canadian. I’ve only had 2 Americans ever.
Age wise, 50% of these guys were around 18 – 21 years old. 40% would be 22 – 27 years old. 10% of my guys were older than that. Most of the clients prefer younger guys, even the older ladies. So basically, the demand wasn’t there for older guys.
And your clients? Who were they?
30% of them would be 18 – 25 years old, 50% of them would be anywhere from 25 to 35, and 15% of them would be above 35 years old. 95% of the clientele were women, and 5% were men. All the girls that came were Chinese.
Usually, the younger girls would pick the foreigners whereas those older than 35 rarely pick the foreign guys. I don’t know the exact reason for this, but I believe the language barrier prevents them from having a conversation. However, with the younger girls, I guess they were more adventurous.
I would even say a third of the clientele were actually attractive girls as well.
These clients always come together with friends, never alone.
Any interesting stories to share with us that you’ve encountered or heard of?
I managed a French guy who was extremely good looking, tall, and spoke also great English and Chinese. All the ladies loved him. He got picked often, and would make out with these girls, sometimes for very long sessions. One time, a client tried putting his hand down to her panties. These were all verbal accounts from him though. Funnily enough, he only got attractive customers.
Some other guys I managed were Eastern European, and you know their culture’s / countries’ acceptance to homosexuality is extremely low, in fact not even legal, so usually they were unwilling to accompany guys. So for me, when they told me that they were considering venturing out to gay guys, I thought that was pretty interesting.
I remembered one time a girl client came with her gay friend, and when the gay guy tried to touch my guy, he freaked out.
How do you think the girls’ version of KTV is different from the guys?
I’ve actually never been to a KTV before. But from what I heard, the process is similar. But of course, in a KTV tailored for guys, the girls know they are going to be touched and know it’s part of their job, but at the same time they earn a shit ton of money because they are “expected” to put out.
Whereas for us, when the female clients pick the boys, the KTV guys need to initialize the touching. It sounds aggressive, but actually these female clients want to be touched. They want you to put your arm around them and caress their legs.
So what happens in the rooms?
Some clients just want someone to sing with them, sit with them, and talk with them. Then there are some customers who want cuddling, caressing, kissing, and petting. Nothing extremely sexual happens in the rooms, especially since we have staff that continuously comes into these rooms to provide water and food, and usually they are just right outside the doors.
So sex doesn’t happen?
No, and we strictly forbid it and discourage it due to prostitution being illegal and the severity of the punishment. But of course, sometimes the client and the accompaniment may have their own personal arrangement.
Why do you think your target audiences go to these places?
Our clients are usually girls with too much money and don’t know what to do with it. No middle income persons will come to these places. The people that do come are those that are like, “I can go buy a car tomorrow, and I’ll go get a boy toy next month.”
Anyone famous or someone we may know that attended these?
What’s the rate?
The minimum to hire a KTV guy is around RMB 500 – 600, and of course this doesn’t include tip. Foreigners often cost more, usually about RMB 800 and more. The most ridiculous tip I’ve ever heard anyone getting was a regular client treated her guy by buying him a SUV.
And people make a living out of this job?
The manager expects all of us to treat it as full time, since he sees it as a business. The Chinese guys that work there do treat it as a full time job, so that’s why the manager is very strict in terms of their professionalism and timeliness. Even though clients do not start coming until 10pm, the manager expects them to come in by 8:30pm.
Whereas for foreigners, a lot of us see this as hilarious and none of us treats it as a full time job. It’s more like getting paid to have fun. I try to get my guys to come in as late as possible since it’s a waste of time for my guys to just stand there and do nothing.
It’s not always easy to get picked. Even the really good looking French guy I was talking about only gets picked 50% of the time. If our guys don’t get picked say around 11pm, sometimes we will just bolt and go drink or something.
As the host of the foreigners, I pocket RMB 100 for every guy chosen, and my manager pockets RMB 120. For Chinese guys, they don’t really have a host, so the manager pockets RMB 120 directly.
The guys get paid only if they are picked.
What are the hours? Days?
Our KTV closes at 6am, so technically speaking from 8:30pm to 6am. Usually our guys only do one shift per night, very few two shifts, but no more than two. What could happen is that an early client comes in at 8:30pm and the guy stays with her until 3am. Once she leaves, he can choose to go for a second round, that is if he gets chosen of course.
Where are these KTVs usually located?
To be honest, I don’t even know. But I think these KTVs are really, really rare, especially ones with foreigners.
Do you think this industry will keep growing?
Like I said before, most of our clientele are super rich people who don’t know what to do with their money. For example, a husband brought his wife to this place as a birthday present.
In fact, most of our clientele are those that got super rich all of a sudden without much education. I think there are a lot of these clients, and so I think within the next 10 years the industry will probably grow.
And thank you very much Geo for sharing this unique experience.
*Image courtesy from windhorsetour.com