Big Buddha and the KTV Hustle

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Like any job, this one has it’s good days and bad days. However, lately, I’ve noticed that about 10 percent of my days are good, 40 percent are bad, and 50 percent make me wanna kill myself.

At this point, I’ve stopped telling customers I’m American as Chinese people are particularly susceptible to propaganda and view US citizens in a rather unflattering light at the moment. While at another KTV, I spotted several girls from Brazil which led me to the brilliant conclusion: tell these motherf*ckers I’m Brazilian. Most Chinese can’t even speak English, let alone Portuguese, so there’d be no way for them to verify. On the first day back to work, I only needed to try three rooms before I got invited to sit beside an old, cigar-smoking, fluffy-eyebrow-having, rich Chinese guy. Seriously, the dude’s eyebrows looked like little koala tails.

He asked me some simple questions about Brazil that even a dumb American like me could answer without hesitation. After a while, it came time for the all important question: can you do a Brazilian dance? I started sweating. Despite having a black sperm donor from Chicago, I can’t dance to save my life. If someone shot bullets at my feet and asked me to do the Harlem shuffle, there’d be nothing left of my legs. I can sing Adele covers and write poetry that’ll bring tears to the eyes of even the most hardened of New Yorkers. But dance? Ha ha! What is dance?

Finally, I made a joke about being the only Brazilian you’d ever meet with two left feet. He didn’t buy it at first, asking repeatedly, but I continued to refuse. One, because I legitimately have no skills and can’t stand the embarrassment of people watching me flop around like a trout. Two, because I knew the sort of dance this dude wanted involved stripping. Three, because I didn’t think he’d pay extra for the performance. Lastly, after trying that kind of dance before in Chengdu, only to have a Chinese guy literally try to rape me in front of an entire room full of people, I vowed never to strip again; especially not in China. At least in the U.S., bouncers will protect you from bad customers. Here, you’re completely on your own. If something happens to you, others will simply blame you for it. They’re so afraid of offending the customer that the customer could probably stab someone and no one would call the police. I’ve seen a lot of messed up stuff get swept under the rug here. It’s a lose-lose situation.

Getting asked repeatedly to strip, and then to watch another girl strip and suck a guy’s c*ck in front of everyone is what I’d consider a good day. At the end of it, the customers stayed a fair four hours, they drank light beer, and they didn’t try to do anything too shady.

Enter Big Buddha, a manager who’d switched from my old KTV to my new one; a portly, bald guy from the snowy wonderland of Harbin. Having this dude on your side is like having an Egyptian God card if you’re playing Yu Gi Oh. He’s been in the district for 10 years. Over the course of that time, he’s amassed tons of connections with customers, bosses, and other managers alike. He’s the one who got me the room yesterday.

Yesterday was one of 50 percent of days that had me contemplate suicide. That customer was every type of bad: drunk before coming in, slurring words, handsy, arguing with everyone, holding my tip hostage until I agreed to go out with him, talking too much and too fast like a coke head, etc. I told the Big Buddha never to arrange another customer like that for me again. He was by far the very worst I’d ever had at Venus; a supposedly high-end establishment.

Big Buddha nodded then told me if I wanted to become a Mommy — a female manager at a KTV — he’d teach me. He said it’s hard work and I’d need a large customer base of my own, but it’s stable money, unlike what I’m doing now. I also don’t need to spend the entire evening in the room with rowdy customers. Having a few drinks with them and checking in now and then is sufficient. However, I’d be responsible for my girls. If they screw up, it’s on me. I raised a glass of Budweiser to toast Big Buddha. Then I rubbed his belly for a little extra good luck.

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