When dusk sweeps across Kuala Lumpur’s skyline, and doves return to their nests to rest, women in a teeny sector of the entertainment industry are preparing for work. They are the hostesses employed in nightclubs who provide fun, romance, and companionship to the patrons. Of the more than a dozen nightclubs, half will leave your credit card crying in pain; therefore, they are not for the hoi polloi. Through my friend Stanley Tang, who entertains his clients at a nightclub I shall call Zimpaco, I get an appointment with its mamasan who is known as Maggie Mah.
In the marble lobby, the receptionist asks for my name, intercoms her and tells me to wait. My interviewee strides out, extends her hand and presents me her glossy card. It says Lounge Manageress. Maggie is wearing a notch-collared grey pantsuit and has short hair with uniform layers at the top. She looks like a corporate executive. We walk through a carpeted hall the size of a basketball court with a stage rising at one end, two feet high. Circular tables with glass tops stand before lavender sofas with low, wide arms, and upward-shining wall lighting combines with flowing burgundy, swag curtains with beads to create a romantic ambience. A curved stairway with brass railings leads to an upper level that houses karaoke rooms. Maggie later tells me they are fitted with state-of-the-art equipment containing 20,000 English, Chinese, Malay, Hindi, Japanese and Korean songs.
We enter a small, partitioned room furnished with a white, four-drawer file cabinet and a nyatoh desk. Atop the desk sits a gold figurine of a pot-bellied Laughing Buddha that serves as a paperweight and a bottle of Hennessy VSOP Reserve, resting tilted at an angle on a plastic cannon carriage. The obligatory conversation is brief and I segue to the real purpose.
‘Maggie, why do men come here? Or for that matter, go to any other nightclub?’ I slip my hand into the side pocket of my pants and pull out my memorandum pad and a ballpoint pen.
Maggie leans forward on her desk, exuding a hint of jasmine. ‘Only a few purposes – to entertain clients, have fun with women, drink liquor, dance, or sing karaoke. In short, to enjoy themselves with high-class women.’ Her unblinking eyes shine with candidness.
‘Can you elaborate on the fun part?’
‘Customers who come to play with our hostesses go home either happy or disappointed. Disappointed clients are the inexperienced ones who end up choosing the wrong type of hostess. They ask me to recommend them new hostesses and assume that they can seduce them. They think such girls are easier to persuade to bed or to take advantage of. Actually, when a recruit joins us, I make it a point to stress to her that customers come here for fun, not to look for a wife. I remind her, make your customers fall in love with you, but don’t get emotionally attached to them. Sell sensuality, not sex. I teach the new hostesses how to behave seductively with their eyes, body language and conversation. Your clients must adore you, I always tell them. Then they’ll return more frequently.’
I nod my head and write at a scorching pace. ‘What do you mean by choosing the wrong type of hostess?’
She leans back in her black swivel chair, and raises three fingers, displaying manicured nails varnished in copper. ‘In my experience, there are three types of hostesses.’ Her knee bumps into the underside of her desk with a soft thud as she crosses her legs. ‘They are the “playmate”, the “model” and the “girlfriend”. The “playmate” hostess is young and attractive. She’s cheerful, lively and accommodating but can be temperamental sometimes, like a brat who’s used to having her way and often throws a tantrum. She’s more suited for younger customers who want to have fun. She’s good at karaoke singing, dancing and card games. This type of girl likes to chit-chat about parties, movies, music and fashion. She’s not so suitable for more mature clients whose aims are to unwind over drinks, or forget their sorrows.
‘The “model” hostess is more intelligent, more witty and more sophisticated than the “playmate”. Often, she’s stunning, tall and elegant. She likes to wear expensive evening gowns with lots of costume jewellery. Sometimes, she may talk about the stock market and politics with her clients. She doesn’t like timid or scholarly customers, and prefers confident, successful businessmen and professionals with thick wallets. You know, the type where money is no object. To know her on a personal basis is difficult because she seldom mixes her professional and personal lives. You get the picture?’
Maggie pauses, and then goes on. ‘For the average man, the “girlfriend” hostess is the best. She cannot be compared to the “model” hostess in many ways. Her looks are average, her height is average, and her thinking is more simplistic and straightforward. Often, she behaves more like a caring girlfriend to the customer than an object of desire. If he gets tipsy, she may discourage him from drinking more. Once, one of my girls prepared a hot towel for her drunken client and, after she had wiped his face with it, she rubbed Kwan Loong Medicated Oil on his temples. You see? A “girlfriend” hostess will also listen to her client’s problems and discuss how to solve it with him. Many customers can become emotionally attached to her and the other way round.’
‘Which type of hostess is the most important?’ I flip to a new page in my notepad.
‘All three types of hostesses are important.’ She picks up a plastic letter-opener from a silver mesh pencil holder and toys with it absently. ‘The “girlfriend” hostesses lure in the average customer for repeat business; the “model” hostess is more compatible with upscale customers for business entertainment; and the “playmate” hostess is ideal for fun, jokes and laughter, she’s always a hit with younger clients.’
‘Why do some men want to date hostesses?’
‘Some want them as their girlfriends for whatever reasons. Others want to keep them as a mistress. Still others want sex outside working hours. As most hostesses are not prostitutes, the only way to sleep with them is to know them better. You know, develop a personal friendship with them.’
‘What advice would you give to a man who wants to court a hostess?’
‘Certain behaviour will help a customer succeed with a hostess. First, he must be honest about his job, marital status and financial standing. He must not brag about money unless he’s prepared to back it up with action. While chatting with a hostess, he should also never say bad things about his family. He should tell her how much he cares for them but he’s in a nightclub just to relax over a couple of drinks. Know what I mean?’ She wags a finger. ‘A bachelor shouldn’t boast about the number of girlfriends he has. A man who’s perceived as stable and reliable by the hostess stands a better chance of earning her respect and developing a long-term friendship. I’d also advise customers not to crack vulgar jokes.’
‘They are the “playmate”, the “model” and the “girlfriend”. The “playmate” hostess is young and attractive. She’s cheerful, lively and accommodating but can be temperamental sometimes, like a brat who’s used to having her way and often throws a tantrum. She’s more suited for younger customers who want to have fun.
SMS only: +60124460864
Address: 51-A, Changkat Road Bukit Bintang, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia