Sunday, February 7, 2010

A Long, Pointless, Kinkless Story (or) Time for the Fucky-Fucky?

That’s a great title for a story…if you want to make sure no one reads it!

So I have been in Beijing all week. At dinner the other night my host informs me he was a professional singer in a former life, having sang Chinese opera and even performing for the President of North Korea. He asked if I enjoyed Karaoke. I told him, having been a singer myself in a former life, I did take to Karoake once in a while, just to goof off. My host asked if I liked Asian Karaoke, emphasis on “Asian.” Well, pretty much all my Karaoke experiences were Asian, having taken place in Japan, Korea, Taiwan and Singapore. “Yes,” I said, “I like Asian Karaoke.”

A few hours later we were pulling to the Karaoke bar, a large, five-story structure off a main street near the Olympic Stadium, nicknamed “The Bird’s Nest.” On the outside of the building were 30-foot tall backlit images of sexy women and the name of the building above in glowing, shimmering letters read, “Men’s Club.” Uh-oh, I thought. What have I gotten myself into? What is ‘Asian Karaoke’? A euphemism?

Allow me to pause in my story for a moment: I travel on business. A lot. I’ve been all over Europe, Asia, Southeast Asia, the Middle East and the Americas and Australia. I’ve been invited to brothels, “barber shops,” “massage parlors,” “men’s spas” and any other euphemism you can think of for sex den. If I’ve gone, I sit in the corner sipping a drink. I’m not one for cheating or, for that matter, casual, pointless sex with diseased sex workers. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, other than the usual exploitation, etc.

So we go in, get our Karaoke parlor, grab a seat and are served drinks. Everything is looking pretty karaoke to me, with microphones and a TV screen displaying the titles of Asian tunes I can’t read the name of as well as Western hits raning from Lady Gaga to Elvis. But we’re just sitting around sipping drinks. I’m guessing it’s so we can allow the liquor to take affect, reducing our inhibitions, so we can sing unabashedly.

Instead, a few minutes later, a woman in street clothes in her early 40s comes in to talk to my host. My Korean friend, sitting next to me, mutters under his breath to me, “The madame.” Uh-oh. Madame??? What have I gotten myself into? My mind races with the implications. A few minutes later a line-up of 10-12 girls come in, plastic heels clacking on the floor like Clydesdales. They line up in front of the Karaoke equipment and stand there. What the…? Each have a number pinned to them. I realize my host and Korean friend are looking at me, expectantly. I’m the guest, so I’m supposed to pick.

I point. “Her,” I say to one that looks strikingly like Tia Carrera. What have I done? No one else picks. Then they all leave. What’s going on? “Why didn’t you pick?” I whisper to my Korean friend. “I have a regular,” he tells me. Soon, my host has a girl sitting next to him, pouring him his drink and demurely touching his arm. My friend has another young beauty, also at his side. Strangely, I’m feeling a bit hurt now. Where’s my girl? I wonder, while simultaneously thinking to myself, What? NOW you’re competitive? Butt hurt? But before long, Tia came in and plopped herself down next to me, pressing up against my side. She spoke not a word of English.

Eventually, the singing began. My host was an amazing singer, doing both formal Chinese opera to perfection as well as love ballads. He was a pro. My Korean friend sang Korean hits—even a rap!—and did okay, but he was no pro. I started off with a Garth Brooks tune (Friends in Low Places) to the surprise of everyone and then went onto a classic Karaoke standard, Suspicious Minds. That Tsing Tao beer had gone right through me. I need the toilet. I asked the server to point the way. Immediately, Tia jumped up like she’d been shocked with a cattle prod, grabbed my hand and dragged me out the door.

Oh shit! I thought. She thinks I’m ready for a little fucky-fucky. What am I going to do? I can’t insult my host, who’s obviously paid for this girl based on my acknolwedgement that I was familiar with Asian Karaoke, but I wasn’t about to be taken upstairs for a rubdown…or more.

Instead, she led me to the bathroom door and left me there. Ah. She’s just doing her job. She won’t leave my side. As I turned in my beer rental at the urinal, an overeager bathroom attendant began polishing my shoes underneath me—while I pissed! I really had to go, so it was a loooong one, and soon he had a hot towel on the back of my neck and was giving me a back rub—at the urinal! “Enough!” I said, but he didn’t speak a word of English. He pumped liquid soap into my hand at the sink and offered yet another hot towel. Flummoxed, I pulled an RMB $100 note from my wallet, leaving it in his tip tray. (Later it dawned on me I’d tipped the guy about USD $15! That was one expensive piss!)

Tia was waiting for me in the hall and took me back to our parlor, where we sang a while longer. The evening was getting late and my host disappeared with his girl. Uh-oh. This is where it all goes down. Soon, my friend and his little girl will leave and I’ll be left to awkwardly try to communicate with Tia that I’d like nothing more than an actual backrub, no happy ending please. Instead, my host came back. It must’ve been just a bathroom break.

Finally, host and friend stand up to indicate it’s time to go. Are we going upstairs? Is it make fucky-fucky time? Will I have to embarrass myself by informing my host I really don’t know what real Asian Karaoke is all about? Instead, we head for the door, the girls in hot pursuit. Oh shit! They’re following us to the car! It’s not a brothel! They’re going back to our hotel rooms!

We reached the door and they gave us polite hugs and waved goodbye. Whew! We got into my host’s car and headed back for the hotel. It was nothing more than a hostess bar, where girls are paid to sidle up to you, tell you how young and handsome you are, how strong you must be, and what a good singer you are. I’d been to a few over the years in Korea and Singapore. Not dens of sex, just places for men to feel better about themselves, I guess.

In America we call that Hooters.


  1. You get yourself in the funniest predicaments, Craig.

  2. I love this story! You must have tons of "trying to figure out the culture" tales. -- Erica

  3. I do, I truly do. Most of them not as entertaining as this one, but a few are.


  4. Wow! Now I know where to go if my career doesn't work out! karaoke companionship here I come!

    hehehe, thanks for the story Craig, I really do have to get out more! I've never left the country, except for Mexico and the Carribean but never to experience their cultures!


  5. Well, glad I could entertain and provide you with some worldly insight.


  6. That was hysterical. I bet the tension for you was palpable! LOL

    So what is the female counterpart to your 'I feel good about myself at Hooters'? Is there a Chippendale Restaurant somewhere in the southeast that I don't know about? LOL


  7. I always thought there should be a male version of Hooters called Swingin' Dingdongs, Dick's (but there is a place already called Dick's Last Resort), or Schlong's.

  8. There's a place in Atlanta called "Swinging Richards" but it's a gay bar and I've not had the nerve to check it out so can't report on just what it's like there...


  9. One of my co-workers is gay and has told me of Swinging Richard's. Don't think that's the right kind of name, but you're on the right track, Sass.

  10. When I was but a youngster, we had lessons in Improv from Second City at a theatre event. I still remember to this day what they said the most important lesson was. Know when to end the scene!

    If you're not sure where I'm going with this comment, there's no point in elaborating further. So I will now be quiet. :D

  11. Ha! Right! And thanks for digging and reading old blog posts, young lady!