Monday, May 08, 2006

The Return of Massage Boy!!!

And now for a human interest story...
...
including an alternative ranking system for Taiwan's daily English newspapers

The island's annual trade show for art galleries, Art Taipei, is surprisingly good this year and laudably international. Decent representation of Mainland artists + some Korea + some HK + 1 or 2 Sydney galleries and lots of great stuff from young Taiwanese artists.... okay, who cares. It's just fucking art.

But in media booth section, suddenly in front of me in a Von Dutch baseball cap over a bandana'd head was -- holy fuck I'm so glad to see you in a weird kind of way I'm not totally sure about and can't really describe -- Massage Boy!!!! The freelance male masseur/ prostitute now turned part-time transvestite and low-grade pimp!!!! Dumbstruck, I broke off a conversation, gave him an unsure hug, and couldn't manage more than a stunned: "[His real name], oh my God it's you!"

I hadn't seen Massage Boy in years, maybe six or seven, certainly five at least, and when thoughts of him and his disfigured yet cherubic smile did come to mind, I'd usually turn my eyes down to the sidewalk and with a small shrug of guilt - for neglecting a friend, or something like that - and imagine he was in an HIV/AIDS hospice somewhere, or dead. I mean, what other fate are you supposed to imagine for a guy who solicits sex with international hotel guests for money? Especially once he'd stopped hanging out in nightclubs.

It turns out he'd disappeared into a clutch of Tibetan Lamas, one of the several Tibetan Buddhism Centers in Taipei. "I was hanging around there from 8 in the morning till 5 or 6 at night. All day. Sometimes, every day. Yeah, I was chanting sutras, you know, meditating, lots of things."

Then a moment of hestitation, and a contemplative look gave way to a giggle: "Oh my God, what was I thinking! What a waste of time!"

Sweet relief! Same old Massage Boy. He hadn't changed a bit!

Now, now, now...Massage Boy represents something special for me. Not only an old friend, he was also my first big scoop, my first inside story, and the subject of my first freelance job for any Taiwan newspaper. It doesn't really matter which one, but those of you around Taiwan in the mid- to late-1990s may remember a weekend story, "The Stunning Confessions of Massage Boy" or whatever the hell that article was headlined. For research, I remember a night in Blackarm's apartment swilling booze and calling up all the massage ads in the back of all Taipei's English newspapers. Then I shared our findings with Massage Boy, who would call up the competition anyway just to see what they were up to, as they would him, sometimes with curses or threats. I copyedited his classified ads. And then once my story was printed, in gruesome detail, most of Massage Boy's friends figured out the article was about him, he was mildly pissed, and I learned my first minor lesson of journalistic ethics vis a vis anonymity.

But this is an update, not a nostalgia piec. So let me, however many years later, continue to milk my inside source for info on Taipei’s hotel prostitution scene. Cut to the Q&A, where I start off delicately:

Q: So what are you doing for money these days?

MB: Yeah, I’m still doing massage, like that. But now, I’m also a transvestite.

Q:
?!

MB: (He pulls out a photo of himself in drag, and it looks like a bad morning in Thailand...) I wasn’t getting enough business just doing massage and I was trying to figure out what to do. And I had one friend was a transvestite, and she showed me how to do it. So now I have another ad for that. It’s good, I get more business because some people want that. But sometimes with customers from the Middle East or India, their English not so good, you know, and when they try to touch my pussy, they’re like, ‘Oh my God!’ But I write it very clearly in the ad, you know, so I ask them ‘You don’t know what a transvestite is?’

Being a transvestite, you know, sometimes I think it’s changed my, you know, psychology. You start to act different to other people.

He fishes around in his bag for a folded green piece of paper on which he’s written his new classified ads. There are three, two for male massage services and one for transvestite massage. One of the male massage ads is crossed out, and he asks me which one is better while I borrow his pen and clean up the English.

Q: This one’s better. (I indicate the ad he’s X-ed out.)

MB: I just faxed it, but (giggles) they haven’t called me back yet.

Q: Which newspaper do you advertise in?

MB: Taiwan News. I used to use Taipei Times, but now they’re too expensive, and the response was not good. They used to give it to me for NT$4,500 a month, but now they want $9,000, and how can I pay that? Especially if I only get maybe a couple of calls in the month? I can’t even make back the NT$9,000. The Taipei Times, I don’t think they really get that in hotels very much. Plus I owe them a lot of money.

Q: Does Taiwan News get better response?

MB: About the same actually, but they’re cheaper.

Q: What about the China Post?

MB: Yeah, they’re definitely the best. But now they cost a lot! But the response is really – yeah. China Post is the best for sure.

Q: So how would you put them in order?

MB: China Post, then Taiwan News, then Taipei Times.

Q: How many cases do you get a month?

MB: Four or five, or six. Some for the male masseur, some for transvestite, like that….But now I also have some girls to send too!

Q: What? Girls?

MB: Yeah! Actually, they called me. They were doing this before for someone else, but they didn’t like the other agency. So one time I put an ad and they called me. Now I get some calls and I’ll send them.

Q: How much money do you get for that?

MB: You know, I did the same thing before, work for some agency, so I know how it works. It costs NT$4,000 and they get half. So that’s what I ask for, and they know everything, they’ve done it before, so it’s easy.

Q: How many girls?

MB: Two or three.

Q: Are they cute?

MB: (Waves his hand in front of his face in the ‘no-no-no-no-no’ motion and laughs) What, are you kidding me?

Q: Are they young? How old are they?

MB: No. Like 32, 30, 35. They’re office girls. But when people call, of course we say, ‘Yeah, 26, very cute!’ Like that. But they’re very plain, you know.

Q: They’re office girls?

MB: Yeah. They work in an office in the daytime. They just do this – I don’t know, for whatever. But they don’t do sex. Only, you know, hand job.

Q: NT$4,000, that’s a pretty expensive handjob.

MB: You’re telling me.

Q: What about you? After I hadn’t seen you around for a while I’d sometimes worry whether you had AIDS or something. Do you worry about that?

MB: Of course, but the thing is, you know, I don’t do anal sex. I don’t get fucked, at least for that.

~~finis~~

1 Comments:

Anonymous Chris said...

That was an insight!!

5:48 AM  

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