THEY are usually attired in skin-tight dresses with a bit of cleavage and a lot of leg showing. Made-up faces lit up by smiles, they totter on high heels around customers who enter a karaoke lounge.
It does not take long for the introductions to be made between the hostesses and the men who have come in for an evening of wine, women and song.
From big nightclubs with live bands to small karaoke lounges, these women and their mamasans play an essential part in the success of a business. So much so that there is now a struggle to secure the services of mamasans who command the loyalty of accomplished hostesses.
Some clubs poach them from rivals, while others place ads in the papers seeking them. One former mamasan is even setting up an agency to supply hostesses to clubs.
What do these mamasans and their charges do?
When the merry-making gets under way, the hostesses make the men feel at ease. Songs are picked and everybody's favourite “poison” served. The women compliment the customers on their singing prowess and also croon along with them. They also make sure that glasses do not dry up.
Inevitably, hands start to roam as the night wears on. The tipsy men, who could be businessmen in suits or retirees with thinning hair, try taking a few liberties, but the women are adept at not letting matters get out of hand.
When the customers decide to call it a day, the women sometimes accompany them for supper, but more often for some tender loving care at a hotel. According to mamasans, nine out of 10 men ask for sex.
The women get a few hundred dollars more if they agree. This would be on top of their monthly commission, which adds up to between S$600 (RM1,320) and S$800 (RM1,760).
Competition is stiff and business has dipped by as much as 50% over the last two years, say club operators.
Overheads are high. A small 2,000 sq ft KTV lounge needs to make S$50,000 (RM110,000), and a huge 10,000 sq ft nightclub, about S$500,000 (RM1.1mil), just to break even each month.
To top it all, strict government regulations against employing foreign workers, including club hostesses, without work permits send the clubs scrambling for the best among the limited number of women in the market.
Cheap liquor and other promotions just do not do the trick, say club operators. Sexy women are what gives a club an edge over others.
So even clubs such as Up-Town KTV Lounge on Geylang Road, which never used to have hostesses, have begun recruiting them. – The Straits Times/ Asia News Network
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