Sunday, February 8, 2015

A Man Spa in China

Yesterday while walking down Honghuang Road in Chongqing, I saw a "Man Spa".

Sign for a "Man Spa" on a building in Chongqing

The cartoon character on the left side of the sign is a special touch. I did not visit this establishment nor can I say for sure what occurs there. Nonetheless, it brought to mind a recent article by James Palmer on ChinaFile:
Perhaps the spa in the small-town Shandong hotel where I was dining with a cluster of businessmen and officials was an entirely legitimate establishment, and I was misreading the nature of the invitation. But the neon sign outside advertising the “Health Body Center” (康体中心) had replaced the upper strokes in the character 心 with flashing red hearts.

“Health Body” is an approximation; I was sloshed on baijiu, the near-undrinkable spirit ubiquitous at social events, and my memory of the evening is dubious. I had been doing the rounds of provincial cities as my boss’ token foreigner for the whole summer, though, pitching training courses to the dim children of the rich so that they could study at foreign universities, and the routine of hard drinking followed by a group excursion to a brothel was becoming a familiar one. My status as a foreigner was enough to excuse me from the sex itself after only a light barrage of gay jokes from the others, but not from the social obligations around it.
For much more, read "The Bro Code — Booze, Sex, and the Dark Art of Dealmaking in China". It captures a very real side of China.

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