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Tai-tai: I visit club because I can't resist temptation
by Maureen Koh and Tan Kee Yun

IN her own words, she's happily married to a businessman who lavishes her with expensive gifts and dotes on their sons.

Her two teenage boys are 'good kids, obedient and respectful'.

But all that is not stopping the 42-year-old tai-tai from seeking - and paying for - the company of toyboys at karaoke clubs.

Yes, she said she knows that her nights out could easily tear the family apart, as her husband thinks she's out playing mahjong with her tai-tai friends.

Yet, said Madam Wang, who agreed to be interviewed on condition we did not use her full name: 'The temptation is just too irresistible.

'I'd feel something was missing if I had to skip one of my regular visits to the club.'

Her regular haunt is one of several KTV-like clubs catering to women that have sprouted across Singapore.

There are at least 11 such clubs, all of which opened in the past year.

Young, good-looking men sing, dance and cuddle up with women like Madam Wang at these places.

The New Paper on Sunday team spent four nights over three weeks at seven clubs in areas such as Tanjong Pagar, Katong, Jalan Besar and Shenton Way.

Women easily made up 95 per cent of the clubs' clientele - and they were treated like queens.

Whether it was raucous sleaze or discreet fun, everyone got a chance with the male hosts.

When we first spotted Madam Wang at a club in Jalan Besar around 7pm on a weekday, she was on a high chair, leaning across the glass-top table, smiling at a Thai host.

He held a slice of watermelon, teasing her. Each time she was about to nibble at the watermelon, he'd move his hand away and her lips would nearly meet his.

The routine, repeated several times in the four hours that Madam Wang was at the club, left her giggling.

She said later: 'It may sound silly to you, but he made me feel young all over again. That's one feeling I don't get from my husband any more.'

That 'youthful feeling' comes at a price. The bill for about three hours of chatting, entertainment, a plate of fruits and three jugs of beer for our team at the club came to nearly $500.

Madam Wang said she spends about $1,500 each night. If she takes a male host out to supper, it can set her back by another $150 an hour.

'Selling dreams'
Such clubs are successful because they 'sell dreams' - as it says in the club's tag line. At such places, said psychologist Richard Lim, women can 'indulge in the thrill of an alpha-female relationship' and 'fulfil their needs to be desired'.

The club's black, wooden doors appear intimidating. But the door bitch (or bouncer) was far less intimidating than those you're likely to encounter at some other clubs.

She is likely to usher you into the dimly-lit club without much fuss - even if you have not made a reservation.

With a friendly smile, she settled her guests into the sofas, couch seats or bar stools - all arranged in a mix-and-match fashion.

There is no dress code. Women customers were dressed mostly in office attire or simple black dresses.

At two-hour intervals, about 30 male entertainers from Thailand, China, Malaysia, the Philippines, South Korea - and even Singapore - took turns to strut on the stage.

They were geared up to dazzle in smart, fashionable attire.

Some wore body-hugging shirts or tight tees that showed off their toned muscular arms. Others were suited up in sleek leather jackets and black pants.

And almost all of them sported immaculately waxed and tousled hair, like trendy pop celebrities.

After the emcee called out their numbers - no names - they stepped up and mumbled into the mike. Most times, we couldn't really hear what they said, except the names of their countries.

What followed was like what goes on in Thai discos where customers can buy flowers for their favourite entertainers, with the two floor managers approaching customers to stake their claim on their choice for the night.

Garlands of plastic flowers were priced at $30, $50 and $80, while sashes started from $100 and went up to $1,000.

There was no live band. The men sang karaoke-style and performed with much gusto and improvised dance moves.

Results varied drastically, ranging from some who could do a nifty imitation of professional singers to those who seemed to be tone-deaf.

But singing appeared to be secondary. Most of the men were young and hunky, with some sporting model looks.


PEEK:The hosts introduce themselves one by one

PICK: The women buy flowers for their favourites, and a staff member hangs the garlands on the men

Making their rounds
The men went from table to table between their sets to chat or play dice games over drinks.

They flirted and teased, sometimes with a hand on the lap, or an arm across the shoulder, a whisper or just holding hands.

Think simple 'boyfriend touches' - an effect that is probably lacking in the women's lives.

There were no vulgar moves in the club, except for the occasional over-indulgent woman. One was locked in a tight embrace with a Chinese entertainer - despite the presence of her eight women friends.

The Chinese host seemed to be the most popular, getting about $1,800 worth of garlands and sashes whenever he sang.

While the owner of the club declined to be interviewed, he insisted that the club was 'like any other normal karaoke club'.

What takes place after closing hours is beyond his control, he added.

That is when the story becomes murky, with some women and the men singing different tunes, as we discovered during our stake-out.

This article was first published in The New Paper.

readers' comments
This is long awaited...Japan and HK have had these kinda services for years even decades. Singapore will become grimier when th casinos open.
Posted by BulliedWorker on Wed, 15 Apr 2009 at 00:20 AM
Well, women can be much naughtier than the men. This is so call equal rights between men and women in this capitalism world.
Posted by cujay69 on Tue, 14 Apr 2009 at 20:26 PM
happiness is but a moment's bliss...

women behaving badly? sigh...i sure do not wanna see my mother or mother-in-law in one of these u?
Posted by on Tue, 14 Apr 2009 at 10:27 AM
I don't understand how come this so called tai tai are so stupid.Bullshit if you are happily married and sincerly love your husband you will not use your husband money to play with toyboys.
Women that frequent this clubs are either somebody mistress (kept by old man that cannot perform) or they are not happily married(husband having mistress or affair).These group of neglected woman are very pathetic they only buy few hours of happiness but when they reach home they are empty shell again.So sad.Sigh
Posted by electric127 on Tue, 14 Apr 2009 at 10:02 AM
GOD is always right and fair....

When the business husbands are donating their sperm to other Chabo,.....
someone will mend the garden of their wifes lah.....

Those out of jobs can apply as Gardener for these Tai Tai.....just remember not to over-run the holes......tend it slowly ....
Posted by Little_GreenDOT on Tue, 14 Apr 2009 at 09:40 AM
Sodom and Gommorah coming to town.
Watch out you rich business men.
Laurence Lim
Posted by ausheaven on Tue, 14 Apr 2009 at 09:31 AM

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