Monday, 30 April 2012

China's More Liberated Than You Think

I just got back from an amazing kaiseki dinner at a high-end Japanese restaurant in Kowloon.

While the meal was fabulous, the manager was highly entertaining.

Throughout the meal we drank the house sake and it was a very large bottle the two of us couldn't finish.

So towards the end we invited the manager to have a cup with us and after we clinked glasses, he drained his cup very fast. And then we invited him to have another.

And soon fueled by alcohol on an empty stomach, he started telling us his story.

After working in an Italian restaurant in a hotel in Tsim Sha Tsui East, this Hong Kong Chinese manager began opening restaurants. And perhaps because he got a buzz from doing intense hard work of starting something new, he started helping other eateries open too.

Not only did he do this in Hong Kong, but also Macau and many places in China including Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen and other places in Southern China.

"But Zhongshan was the most interesting," he said.

Turns out he helped an entrepreneur who made his money in sex toys -- yes you read right -- to open a sex toy-themed bar.

"At the entrance you had to walk a long hallway and then go through the sex toy shop before entering the bar," he explained. We were already giggling with laughter.

My friend asked if this was illegal.

"It was all legal," he said. "We got all the proper licenses including one for hygiene.

"You know in the villages, most of the men have to go away for work, so the women are lonely," he explained. "And in the end people are animals. We need it. And this was a way to introduce them to sex toys. Because if they go to sex shops they are not comfortable, but at this bar they could see these sex toys."

We were now laughing hysterically, but he was serious.

"You know those blow-up dolls called Mary?" he asked. "They cost HK$1,400, more than if you find a girl in a nightclub. But like my boss says, sometimes a guy may be too shy, but with a blow-up doll, you can do it anytime, any place. And you can even carry it around with you," he said.

Now we were almost rolling on the floor.

"And you know those bar tables, the tall tables with a high chairs? We had specially made tables so in the middle there was a dildo sticking out of it and had a sign that said 'Try me! Try me!'"

It was too much. Tears started coming out of my eyes. We couldn't believe we were having this conversation.

He explained the entrepreneur opened several of these bars in many places in China and they were successful. Apparently the sex-toy industry in China is the second-biggest in the world.

"So why don't you open one in Hong Kong?" I asked.

"If we have the conversation that we are having now, people here would be very uncomfortable," he replied.

Afterwards my friend remarked it was so interesting to see him sexually liberated after his experience in mainland China of all places.

I explained to her that sex shops were on practically every corner. Granted most of the items in there were of low quality, but there wasn't much shame into going into one of these closet-sized places to grab condoms or a toy for a quick fix.

But really Hong Kong should have one of these bars -- if only to get people to open up and talk more about sex. Heaven knows teenagers need to have more sex education. So why not start at a sex toy-themed bar?

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