Confessions of a KTV club hostess: Impending closure of Havelock nightclub will affect my income
Unless you are a hostess, you would not really understand the risky nature of the job.
So declares Miao Miao who works as a freelance nightclub hostess, flitting between three main KTV clubs on Havelock Road.
She is here on a long-term social visit pass and for this reason, she refuses to give us her contact number or name the individual clubs.
Miao Miao, 25, who is from Shanghai, China, says: "I just want to save myself from any potential trouble, be it with my clients or the authorities.
"Or even with the various club management."
Especially now that the leases for the remaining three clubs - Tiananmen KTV & Lounge, Golden Million and Club Infinitude - on Havelock Road are expected to cease by the end of this month.
Miao Miao says that is bad news for her. As it is, when Las Vegas De'Palace closed its doors last June, she saw her monthly income drop by "a drastic 30 per cent".
That is a loss of about $4,000 to $5,000 a month, which come from booking and liquor sale commissions, as well as liquor sale commission and tips from customers.
She says in a dramatic resigned tone: "How am I going to survive if the other three clubs do the same?"
Money is her biggest motivation, admits Miao Miao.
"Come on, anyone who tries to claim otherwise is definitely telling a lie," she says.
What she is quick to dispute though is that the job is easy.
"Try drinking all kinds of liquor non-stop for six hours, six nights, sometimes even seven nights, for just a week. Then tell me if that is easy for you," she challenges me.
She reveals that in the first month of working, "there wasn't a night when the toilet bowl in my home was clean of puke".
But that was eight years ago. She has been trained to hold her liquor well now. And she has grown to recognise the various drinks just from a sniff of the glass.
Horror stories of former hostesses who die from liver failure are widely shared by her peers.
Miao Miao says: "I guess my liver is likely going to be damaged by all the drinking."
Catfights among the hostesses do not happen that often.
"Most times, we are mindful of the different 'turfs' (the clients) and won't touch them unless there are specific requests," she says.
"Even then, the mamasans will be the ones who will negotiate first."
But fights breaking out over the women do happen, she points out.
"Sometimes, it can be customers fighting with each other for the same woman, or it can be a jealous boyfriend who is unhappy with the attention his girlfriend is getting," claims Miao Miao.
Like the incident early Monday morning. Five men were arrested after a fight over a pub hostess erupted into a violent confrontation in a private housing estate.
The clash involved parangs and ended with three of the men in hospital.
The incident erupted after the Filipino hostess cosied up to a man while they were at a pub on Orchard Road, and this is believed to have angered the hostess' boyfriend.
Miao Miao says: "That is why I don't have a boyfriend until now. Not many men like the idea of other men pawing their women, or even worse, having sex with them."
Ask her if she offers sexual services, and she returns the question with a look of scorn.
"What do you think? Are you really so naive to believe that everything is just clean singing and drinking?" she says.
Miao Miao concedes that there are the rare hostesses who adhere strictly to their self-imposed rule of not providing sexual services.
"But of course, tell it to 10 people and it is likely not one will believe that," she says.
SECRETS OF THE TRADE
1 Know how much you can drink. It is not wise to end up getting drunk on your customers, worse if you throw up on them.
2 Try to have a light meal before you start work. It helps to settle your stomach before drinking.
3 Have your mamasan's or bouncer's number on speed dial so that you can call for help should customers turn nasty.