Tianjin, China, November 2009.
One evening Maverick my class room assistant called and said he wanted to show me something. I didn’t have anything else to do so I met him near my apartment, and we got a taxi.
“Where are we going?”
“The place men go to get away from their wives.”
This mythical location turned out to be a public spa and sauna. It was a beautiful place, tastefully done out in marble and red velvet. We had to sign in, get changed, then go to the steam rooms. After we finished in the sauna, one of the workers took us aside and asked, via Maverick who was translating, whether we would like any extras. I thought the guy was talking about towels, bath salts and stuff.
“He means girls,” said Maverick. “He’s asking if you want one. Or two.”
“Like a prostitute?”
“What’s that? He means a sex girl. They are waiting upstairs.”
Apparently, the upper levels of the spa and sauna housed a brothel. For 200 rmb, about £20, you could choose any one of about a dozen resident ‘sex girls’ and have your wicked way with her.
I’d done a little research into prostitution in China. It’s technically illegal, but much more common than you would think. Girls simply move to a city nobody knows them, sign up with a brothel, and tell their families they work in an office or something. They can earn much more money selling sex than they can working a conventional job. Most do it for a year or two to make some capital, then they start a business, go to university, or use the money to buy a house. Some students even do it during the holidays to help pay their tuition fees.
Different cities have different ways of shielding the practice. In Beijing they slide business cards with a phone number under your door, down south they masquerade as hairdressing salons, and in Tianjin, evidently, they use public baths as fronts. Apparently, a lot of brothels are owned by ex-policemen and soldiers, who use their connections, relationships and influence (known as ‘guanxi’) to keep the places open and avoid being shut-down. That’s how things work in China. If a competing brothel was opened by someone who didn’t have the right connections, it wouldn’t last five minutes. The same can be said for any kind of business.
I was curious, but nervous. I’d recently heard of yet another scam where dumb foreigners are led into a room under the pretence of meeting a prostitute, only to be fake-arrested by a couple of goons pretending to be policemen. Of course, they offer to drop all the charges against you if you paid them a large sum of money. I wasn’t falling for that. Maverick assured me this place was legit. Or as legit as a Chinese brothel can be, I suppose, and I eventually agreed to go upstairs to take a look.
I was expecting a smoky little den full of ropey, middle-aged women, but what we encountered was something quite different. Maverick and I sat on a plush sofa in a little room with complimentary beer and cigarettes, whilst a procession of beautiful young girls came in, each better looking than the last. I suppose, even considering the difference in perceived beauty between east and west, in those situations unattractive girls would tend to get overlooked in favour of hotter ones and soon drifted out of the profession. Even poorly-paid factory or office work is better than no work at all.
Maverick had never had sex before. That was a tragedy. The guy was in his mid-twenties. Where I’m from the average age for a guy to lose his virginity is around seventeen, often a lot younger. I had been fifteen. So I told him to choose a girl and I would pay. I knew he couldn’t afford it, and I still felt bad about making so much more money than he did for doing what was essentially the same job.
Maverick made his choice and disappeared into a side room, looking absolutely petrified. I gave him a thumb’s up and stuck around on the sofa for a few minutes while the girls kept coming. Eventually one caught my eye. Most of them were hot, but this one blew my mind. She was absolutely stunning. I would have happily paid 200 rmb just to look into her big gorgeous eyes for a while. She had more southern features than northern. Petite, slim, long hair. Late teens or early-twenties.
We went into another dimly-lit room containing only a big double bed and another plush sofa. I was wearing nothing but a bath robe. The moment the door closed behind us, the girl got on her knees and started expertly licking the end of my cock. Minutes later, she was deep throating me. Confession time: I have a complex when it comes to blow jobs. I can’t jizz in a girl’s mouth. I don’t know why. Some kind of mental block. It’s something that’s always driven girlfriend’s crazy. Which is a blessing, because they all want to be The First and put a hell of a lot of effort into it. Don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy a good blow job. I just can’t get over the finish line. For me, it’s more of a foreplay thing. It gets me hard. I think the closest I ever came, pun intended, was right then.
But I didn’t want to waste my climax. And if I was paying for it, I at least wanted to penetrate the girl. So I took off her dress, lay her on the bed, stuck it in, and climaxed almost instantly. She was so damn beautiful. I wasn’t having that. I knew I might never see her again, so I paid double. The second time, I paced myself and lasted over an hour. Whatever your opinion of prostitution, that still stands as some of the best sex I’ve ever had.
Extracted from Yellow Fever: Love & Sex in China by Alex Coverdale, available now on paperback and ebook.