The Chinese word for gigolo is 鸭子 which means duck. The other day in Shanghai my friends and I went to a duck KTV just for fun. We’d been invited by a mutual friend and had nothing better to do on a Friday night. Slow business in summer means it’s time to play.
As soon as I entered the room, a group of tall, handsome, cream-of-the-crop Chinese men offered me a seat and a drink. They called me beautiful, played dice games with me, and clapped every time I sang a song. I felt uncomfortable. It was like working in reverse. Going to a KTV as a customer when you work as a KTV girl is like seeing another medical professional if you’re a doctor. Rather than enjoying your time, you evaluate their work ethic, clothing, posture, smile, and charm. You listen to the intonation of their voice when they slather on compliments like sunscreen in summer. And yet, there’s something oddly erotic about it. We, both essentially cheaply-paid actors, can succumb to a night of fantasy beyond the mere ordinary trappings of the commoners.
I asked my two KTV girl friends what they thought about the ducks. Chloe, the quiet nerdy one with a gambling addiction, really hates the feeling. Amy, the outgoing one, thinks it’s a great way to spend a night off. I’m somewhere in the middle. I still keep in touch with my duck, if for nothing else, just to know where the best party spots are in Shanghai.