Paramount is a hostess club in Kuala Lumpur, here in muslamic Malaysia. It’s a place where alcohol navigates your ship and the fuel is your money. With enough fuel, you can anchor in the harbour of whichever hostesses that work in the club. And like a true island-hopping holiday, where you get to will be surrounded by wetness, yet isolated and detached from all the worries you have accumulated in your dry landlocked days.
I went to Paramount on a Saturday.
As soon as I scanned the QR code at the door, what appeared on my Covid-19 monitoring app is “Paramount Café”. Café it is, I thought. What got me there had escaped me. I couldn’t justify my decision. But if I had to, I guess it was curiosity – the curiosity to find out what’s in the milkshake that brings all the boys to the yard. I don’t think you’d need a more noble reason than that.
The club is a hothouse of two levels, a long centre stage that is rubber-sheathed by tables of men who were steadying themselves on beer towers, cigarettes and skimpily clad pretty girls with tattoos, and dazzling nihilistic eyes. I don’t even know how that is possible, dazzling and nihilistic – to not give two fish about the stigma of being a hostess and walking into your job charming and unfazed. In another world, this is called professionalism.
There was a man who walked around in a suit and an arm full of sashes. What these are for, is that when you “order” a girl and like her chat, you could pay her by buying her a sash. The club then takes your money and pays a portion to the girl as commission.
Naturally, a girl was ordered to our table. She is cute, bubbly and has a face of a cherub like one that was carved onto a sex dungeon pillar themed the Garden of Eden. She poured everyone a round of drinks and started a gritty conversation like the sand that got into your pants – slightly uncomfortable at first, but quickly becomes prompting, arousing even and dirty. Every single sentence that came out of her mouth was salacious, pornographic, and ridiculously funny. She was clever, very clever, smooth and energetic. If I had her on LinkedIn, I would endorse her skills and write her a recommendation.
Some say this is sexual objectification of women. Some say the women are shameless enough to put themselves in a seemingly despicable situation and deserve no respect. But what is shame? Does working hard in an industry that is heavily penetrated by carnal desires make you any less worthy of love and respect? Then again, I understand, because if you have been to these places and see for yourself, the men who go there are in for the wrong reasons. The jobs are easy because it takes little to satisfy someone who already has a void to fill.
When I decided to go there, I thought I would be a snob because I have a good job, speak eloquently, believe in meritocracy and all that rubbish. There really was no room for snobbishness. No one has a name in this place. The law of attraction is codified in the smoke-stained air and you end up attracting what you like. And even if you were to argue the opposite, opposite attracts can only happen if you know the thing that you are going after is something which you lack and want in yourself. So, the topic of gender inequality in a place like this, where money flows from one pocket to another in return for temporary excitement and flattery, is irrelevant. Like it or not, it’s just another push on the wheel of economy. No shame at both ends, if not equally.
I didn’t feel sorry for the girls, nor did I see them as any less. In fact, I didn’t feel so for anyone who was there. Sure, the room may smell like desperation and failures, but everyone was trying their very best to attain happiness, even if it’s just for a night. The push factor may be an unfulfilling relationship, a stressful business or a self-esteem that hits rock bottom; the girls may be in universities, have great aspirations and are hopeful about their future. But not everyone is your mother.
What I feel sorry about is that our society is not fair.
What you do and how you spend your time determine your value as a person. You know that. You know that a simple question like this at a party or at a dinner with your in-laws will leave you crippling with anxiety when you know your actions don’t tally with your words.
The truth is, no matter how ambitious and righteous you are as a person, working at or frequenting a hostess club will ultimately leave you feeling seasick because you are decisively ignoring the fact that our society cares more about your status than your soul. And in all fairness, as much as sex sells, the buyers know they are in for a shortcut. No one like what is easy. Vice versa, you won’t be able to anchor your ship in the harbour if you don’t have enough fuel to get there. And in this instance, you are nothing but the readings of your flow meter.
Disappointingly, I did not step out of the club excited or shocked like one who has witnessed a niche porn. In hindsight, that might be a more impactful and eye-opening thing to watch on a Saturday night when Covid is looming. I went and left with an open mind and would give the girl a five star for being so good at her job. In another world, this would have garnered a lot of respect from the society. Unfortunately, just not in this world we live in.
With love x
If Gender Equality floats your boat, here’s another post that you should read: An Open Letter to My Future (hopefully not ex-) Husband. Have a good end to the week.