Jump in bookings of male escorts

Six agency managers say they have seen an increase of about 20 to 25 per cent in bookings for their male social escorts during Chinese New Year in recent years.

Most declined to give exact figures.

This is almost equivalent to what they get during Christmas.

Mr Ernest Ting, who runs MS Promotions, which provides both male and female social escort services, said: "It used to be just Christmas, and that is because single women feel lonely and crave companionship. But now, they have decided to extend the play-acting to Chinese New Year too."

There is a fee hike of about 40 to 50 per cent as the agencies have to engage Singaporean Chinese men.

Mr Ting said: "The women clients are mostly Singaporeans, and of course, they'd rather not take home non-Singaporeans.

"It's different from other forms of social escort services."

But the phenomenon is not new in other parts of the world.

In China, many men even place advertisements for their services without going through an agency, while the women have no qualms about hiring a fake boyfriend.

And in Japan, gigolo bars are highly popular with unmarried women who are not shy about flashing their cash to buy companionship during Christmas, Valentine's Day and other occasions.

ESCORT CRITERIA

One escort agency manager, who wanted to be known only as Ms Glenda, claimed her agency's bookings for male escorts for the first three days of Chinese New Year are almost full. She declined to provide exact numbers, citing competition as a reason.

Mr Ting said his agency has 50 bookings for the first two weeks of this festive period, and that many of them are for four-hour sessions.

He charges between $1,000 and $1,500 for each session, depending on the complexity and the escort criteria of the customer.

He said: "We have requests like having our escorts dress in a certain fashion or wear accessories such as a couple ring. There are also details like no coloured hair and the ability to converse in a certain dialect."

Another agency owner, who did not want to be named, said his female clients are mostly "successful, career women with a fat wallet".

Psychologist Richard Lim, who has provided relationship counselling for nearly 20 years, said: "While most women may now share equal footing with men on a professional level, they are generally still 'softer' in the emotional aspect.

"As such, they often prefer to avoid having to deal with family members and relatives whom they know are concerned about them and are not just being busy bodies."

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