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'Tissue paper sellers' offer massages at hawker centre

'Tissue paper sellers' offer massages at Chinatown hawker centre

RUBDOWN: Each massage session lasts about 10 to 15 minutes.

At a Chinatown hawker centre, some women are selling packets of tissue paper as a cover for earning money from on-the-spot massages on beer drinkers.

They walk around the food centre on the pretext of selling tissue paper, reported Shin Min Daily News.

Hawkers and customers at the People's Park Food Centre said that earlier this year, these women could be seen almost every night, going around the tables asking men if they would like a massage.

They usually targeted those drinking beer, said a drinks stall worker who wanted to be known only as Madam Chen.

Shown pictures of the masseuses, the 43-year-old, who is originally from China, told The New Paper she used to see the women approach her customers every night.

"I recognised one of the women very well, she is from Vietnam," said Madam Chen.

"Sometimes she got quite aggressive and kept pestering the men. They would usually agree after having a few beers."

The women would knead the men's back and shoulders over their shirts, but Madam Chen had seen a number of men take off their shirts, sitting bare bodied on the hawker centre chairs during the massage.

She added that some of the women would even sit down with their customers for drinks after the massage.

Asked if she knew how much each 10- to 15-minute session cost, Madam Chen shook her head.

"We try to mind our own business so there won't be any conflict," she said.

When TNP visited the food centre on Tuesday night, the massage women did not show up.

ROUNDS

But cleaners and diners said it is only a matter of time before they start making their rounds again. Mr Wong Ah Keng, a 71-year-old cleaner, said the women had been plying their trade at the food centre for nearly half a year.

"A few months ago, there were a lot of people talking about the tissue sellers, so the inspectors from National Environment Agency kept coming to check and the masseuses disappeared," he said in Mandarin.

"But last week, I saw them come back again."

Shin Min reported that the women made their reappearance on Christmas Eve.

Retiree Mary Tang, who regularly eats at the food centre, told TNP it was a very disconcerting sight.

She said: "Can you imagine eating here and next to you, someone has his shirt off and is getting a massage?

"This is a hawker centre, not a massage parlour."

I recognised one of the women very well, she is from Vietnam. Sometimes she got quite aggressive and kept pestering the men. They would usually agree after having a few beers.

- Madam Chen, drinks stall worker

Can you imagine eating here and next to you, someone has his shirt off and is getting a massage? This is a hawker centre, not a massage parlour.

- Retiree Mary Tang

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Santas in Brazil end Christmas with a shave

A graduate of the Brazil's School of Santa Claus gets his beard trimmed by students in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
A graduate of the Brazil's School of Santa Claus gets his beard trimmed by students in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

After more than a month sweating in the tropical heat, dozens of Brazilian Santa Clauses celebrated the end of the season on Monday (Dec 28) by shaving or trimming their thick white beards.

Dressed in T-shirts and drinking beers and Cokes, the exhausted men gathered at an Italian restaurant in Rio de Janeiro to ditch their beards after a hard season of temporary work at shopping malls and hospitals.

The 30-odd men were graduates of the Rio Santa Claus School, which trains aspiring Saint Nicks looking to make some extra cash as Brazil struggles through a deep recession.


PHOTO: AFP

Scarfing down plates of spaghetti, the Santas sang some final Christmas carols as bemused passers-by looked on.

"They’re getting their strength up by eating some pasta before heading back to the North Pole," joked the school’s director Limachen Cherem.


PHOTO: AFP

The academy, which Cherem founded 22 years ago, has trained 400 Santas with free classes in singing, theatre, diction, body language, gymnastics and make-up.

The Santas, who can earn upwards of US$3,500 (S$4,954) in 40 days, then give a percentage of their earnings back to the school.


PHOTO: AFP

There are no fake beards or pillows stuffed down the shirtfront here: Cherem’s Santas look the part, bushy white beard and all – though in multi-racial Brazil, they come in all kinds of colors.

“It’s beautiful working with children from different races and classes. What’s great about kids is that race is never an issue. They ask me why I’m black, and I tell them it’s from going down so many chimneys,” laughed Aylton Lafayette Grimaldi, 68, who has been finding jobs through the Santa school for 11 years.

— AFP

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