Massage parlors in Hochiminh city – Diary of a “Massage” Girl – P3

massage parlor girls

Part 1: first day on the job

Part 2: Prisons in hell

Part 3: Hunting for masseuses

Part 4: Blood tips

Part 5: More than just money

 

Masseuses always stick to their make-up tools during their free time awaiting for clients

It was once a common practice for managers of first-class massage parlors to visit parlors of a lesser status to steal away their best masseuses with promises of better pay and a better life.
This, however, proved problematic and led to violent clashes among the thugs employed by many parlors to protect their masseuses.
Changing their tactics, massage parlor managers have now turned their attention to young, beautiful girls still living with family in rural areas where income averages around VND1 million(50$) a month during the harvesting season.
They have set up rings of recruitment to lure those young girls away from their family to work at their massage parlors in big cities.

Into the Traps of Recruiting Network

Following the recommendation of a masseuse, I made an appointment with Ms. Trang, who runs a business similar to that of a “talent agent” recruiting girls for massage parlors in Ho Chi Minh City.
In her house on Nguyen Huu Canh Street in Binh Thanh District and a room she rented next door, Trang was lodging and training some 20 masseuses-to-be.
They all have to call her “mom.”
After a brief introduction, she welcomed me warmly.
“How come you are so beautiful? What a waste if you just want to work for a cafeteria. Just stay here with me, I will train you, get you a massage certificate, and arrange a cosmetic surgery for you so you can work at well-paid places.”
“Your salary will be no less than VND30 million(1500$) a month.
“Our training fee is VND8 million(400$) if you pay upfront in cash. Otherwise, it is VND10 million(500$) on credit.
“If you decide to learn on credit, you have to move in here with me until you pay if off,” Trang added.
A cleaning maid named Ty at the massage parlor L on Su Van Hanh Street, admitted to me, “I am paid VND2 million(100$) for taking a girl to Ms. Trang. I introduced ten girls to her last year.”
Trang is apparently not the only one seeing huge profits to be made in this profitable recruiting and training business.
With Ty’s introduction, we contacted another owner, also a “recruiting agent” in the massage business, Mr. Thanh.
Talking to me on the phone, Thanh offered to train me for a price between VND10(500$) and 15 million(750$), depending on how much I need for cosmetic surgery.
He assured me that, “Just after a month’s work and you’ll be able to pay me.”
With no knowledge of life in the city and no marketable job skills, young girls from the countryside call at massage parlors to seek a job and are often accepted, as most parlors always want to have new faces and new skin to attract customers.
Considering that training costs almost nothing and a massage certificate costs only VND3-5 million(150-250$), Trang and Thanh pocket on average VND10 million(500$) each for every girl they successfully recruit.

Ugly Ducklings Turned into Swans

On accepted, a new girl is often advised, mainly forced, to go to a beauty salon which their employers have established special relations with to have cosmetic surgery, restyle their hair, and whiten and soften their skin, all with “generous” loans from their employers.
It is the loans and exorbitant interest rates that bind the girls to their work for long periods of time, much longer than they could possibly imagine.
Haunted by the prospect of not being able to pay their debts, many young masseuses have nothing on their mind but the thought of making money, buying cosmetics and paying debts.
At the massage parlor TP near Binh Trieu Bridge in Thu Duc District, the manager tried to persuade me to take a loan from her to buy some cosmetics for my skin.
“Your look seems OK but you need to whiten your skin and your hair should be longer to be attractive.
“All the girls here look fresh with skin as white as pomelo flower. And no man coming here likes a girl with short hair.”
Also, she recommended me to a beauty salon in district 3 to have breast implant at the price of VND50 million(2500$).
For every girl sent to the beauty shop, she charges a high interest rate on her loan and enjoys a discount from the spa shop to boot.
Almost all girls working at massage parlors are in a crazy rush towards spending to improve their appearance. It’s like an addiction no girl can resist.

Income from tips is mainly spent on beauty products. Their body is covered with these products all day and night, before receiving client and before going to sleep.
Stripping themselves off to almost nudity before going to bed, they rub on their skin a special lotion they have bought for its whitening effect.
Not having enough money for expensive beauty products, they purchase a variety of cheap skin-removing cream and mix them up in a big jar for use. For only VND100,000(5$), they can make this special home-made beauty lotion of theirs go for a month.
After two or three days using it, the outer skin layer peels off and after a week, the skin looks much lighter.
An employee named Ngoc Linh told me she has worked at the parlor for more than a year but has yet to pay off her debts.
“It’s my loans from the owner to buy cosmetics, have beauty surgery, and pay other costs that keep me chained to this place,” she said.
“Sometimes I feel like a moth rushing into a fire, or a prisoner being held here forever without trial. I don’t know when I can pay off my debts to return to my countryside to get married and have a family.”

Part 1: first day on the job

Part 2: Prisons in hell

Part 3: Hunting for masseuses

Part 4: Blood tips

Part 5: More than just money

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