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Wednesday, October 25, 2006 

Callgirl Confessionals: Uncovering the real business in Asia

I met her at the food street vendor outside of the Beach Café in Bintang district of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on the evening of 10/22-23. I was in a 12 hour layover between Bali & the Philippines, so I decided to go out into the city to kill the time.

(The view from outside the Beach Club)

I was intrigued by this particular vendor. For $1 USD, I had a choice of boiling or frying the raw meat of my choice with as much sweet & sour sauce as my stomach desired. During my meal, I caught a conversation amongst a group of Filipina females speaking in Tagalog which was very odd given that we all were in Malaysia. At that point I decided to open a dialogue with them in English. This is where I met Charlie, a young 24 year old female, dressed in a white top and short pink mini skirt. She was happy to speak with me.

Charlie was very pretty with long black hair and no makeup. She spoke with a Filipino accent, but she could speak English fluently. If there was one flaw it was her front tooth that had a small hint of decay on it. We first exchanged basic information – names, city of origin, age and then occupation. My occupation of a “businessman” came out without any confusion. Hers, however, was a little vague when she mentioned she worked “here” and pointing to the dance club district with her finger. As vague as it may be, I let it be and decided to continue in our friendly banter. We spoke about the great places in the Philippines (Boracay & Cebu). She then went into her complex world of where she had been in the last 5 months.

Charlie came from a home in the greater Metro Manila city of the Philippines where she lived with her older brother and mother. Both of whom had no idea what she has been up to lately. For the last 5 months she has lived between Singapore & Kuala Lumpur, but her most recent stint had been in Malyasia for the last 3 days. After careful prodding, I found out that she had left the Philippines in May 2006 to live in Singapore. She wasn’t an ex-pat based on a work visa in a traditional sense, but a roving person on a tourist visa. Singapore’s tourist visa allows for visitation of up to 14 days in their country. Malaysia allows a tourist to stay within the country for up to 90 days. Given these two constraints, Charlie would travel back and forth between Singapore and Kuala Lumpur to stay within these time limits.

She explained she worked for a Singapore-based man who had 5 Filipina employees, 3 of whom were in Kuala Lumpur that night. His job was a simple - collect a pre-set amount of money from the girls at the beginning of every night via the local area manager. This amount was due regardless if the girls had made any money the night before. From what I gathered, she was an indentured servant willing to trade a high risk occupation for a better life whether that be through expensive clothes, fast-paced lifestyle or trying to escape abuse or just getting out of the ghetto. I want to believe it was more of the former than the latter, but it was had to understand it from speaking with Charlie that night.

I found it odd that she was outside of the club rather than inside mingling with potential customers. After I realized that the cover charge of $8 USD was fairly steep given her potential income. She said that once the customers start leaving the clubs she can probably get one on the way out. Charlie explained that about $100 USD can “hire” her for a night, but they tend to negotiate a price that is below ½ of that.

At that point I felt sorry that she was trying to work that evening from outside the club, so I offered to pay for her cover charge just to see what would happen. Once inside she was able to find her other 3 friends who were brought into the club by a middle-aged man of Middle Eastern descent. Charlie mentioned that she liked “Englishmen”. She didn’t care too much for anybody else because the non-white men tend to “not be clean”, they smelled bad and they disrespect the girls. She said that the white men were the complete opposite.

(Alice & Charlie inside the club)

I also asked Charlie about the physical dangers involved. She told me that was apart of the job. “What can I do?” She said she would try to get out of the danger, but you could tell that she had been apart of many physical situations in previous nights; none of which have deterred from going out on this rainy evening.

(The potential customers)

As the night progressed she hung around me. Often times dancing, but I made it clear that I was not going to be a customer that night. I observed many guys (aka Johns) speaking with her. After each guy I asked what they said, and I found out they were doing harmless flirting. None of the men made any propositions. However, about 2am there was this one young guy from Europe that made multiple attempts to speak with her. You could tell there was a point where it went from flirtation to business negotiations.

(The original Middle Eastern man who offered to pay for 3 girls club cover charge. He probably had a good night that evening)

As my flight time came closer, I decided to interrupt her deal and tell her that I was leaving for the airport. She gave me a hug and I disappeared. Looking back she continued her deal with the European male. I left not knowing whether or not she made money that night.

(One last look at Charlie with her newest client)

Assuming that she went back to the guy’s room that night Charlie probably made anywhere from $50-100USD, enough to pay her fees for the next day and enough for food and clothing. Based on my calculations of one guy per day over the last 5 months, his client # was between 140-150.

(The manyworking girls & the potential guys that evening in the Beach Cafe)

I’ve read about this stuff in books and watched the situations go wrong in those serial killer stories, but it wasn’t until this evening that I was able to get a first-hand account of it. These girls live interesting lives. They live day-to-day. They live on the edge. You have to wonder what life they had to leave to realize that this was the better option for them.