Types of Sex Work

Types of Sex Work

In Hong Kong, sex work can be divided into several categories by types of services provided:

Provision of mainly sexual services:

  • One-sex worker apartment

    Sex workers who work in an apartment alone to provide sexual services (some also provide massage services). You will usually find them in old tenement buildings or composite (residential-commercial) buildings. Due to the high rent in Hong Kong, and the fact that they can operate with just a bed, a bathroom, and simple furnishings, these apartments are usually located in subdivided apartments. Sometimes, sex workers may lease one of the rooms in their apartment to another sex worker when they have extra space. However, having two sex workers working in the same premises violates sex work related law and is thus rare. In such case sex workers have to work alone and deal with the risks all by themselves.
  • Call-girl centre

    This was a popular form of "illegal brothels" in the 80s and 90s. Its popularity diminished beginning from the 2000s. Call-girl centres are usually situated inside tenement buildings. The apartment consists of several rooms. As soon as a client enters the door, he would be greeted by the receptionist. The receptionist then ask the pimp to bring sex workers to the "Call-girl centre" or sometimes sex workers are already waiting inside the rooms. The act of choosing a sex worker and closing a deal with her is termed "entering the gate". If the client does not like the sex workers available at the scene, he can also ask the receptionist to ask the "pimp" to bring more sex workers from other places. "Pimp" and receptionist both act as the "middle persons" between the clients and sex workers. Their primary roles are to assist the operation of sexual services and transactions. If a disagreement arises between the sex workers and clients, they could act as the mediators.
  • Street-based sex worker

    Some sex workers would attract their clients by being on the street. Usually, they would communicate with the potential clients through dressing provocatively, by making eye contacts or using body languages. When a deal is reached, the sex workers would then bring the client back to their small subdivided rooms (motels/villas were more popular in the past) where the transaction would be performed. Under the law, initiation and discussion of a sexual service transaction between a sex worker and a client in a public place is prohibited. Both parties can be charged with "soliciting for an immoral purpose".

Provision of sexual services in tandem with other entertainment services:

  • Karaoke and nightclub

    Theoretically, sex workers would only provide legal entertainment services inside the premises, e.g., chat, drinking, playing janken, singing, and dancing. Due to the limitation by law (business owners or operators could be charged with "keeping a vice establishment"), sexual transactions would not be performed within the premises. With agreement by both parties, customers can bring the sex workers to the nearby hourly hotel as "outcalls". Sex workers who work in these establishments are equipped with a level of social and interpersonal skills that are above and beyond simple sexual services.
  • Topless bar

    In the past, people could find some topless bars in Tsim Sha Tsui. In the last decade, they are mostly concentrated in the bar district at Lockhart Road, Wanchai, but they are now rarities. In the past, sex workers inside would be topless. However, it was banned in the 1980s. Today, sex workers working inside these bars are usually non-Chinese, and so are their customers. They could be sailors from ships that are briefly docking there, or athletes who are in town for international competitions, or just regular tourists. Customers can watch the dance performance, drink, or have sex workers accompanying them. If both parties agree, the customers can also bring the sex workers back to their hotels for sexual transactions. They may even have the sex workers as escorts for a few days, accompanying them as they tour locally. It is also common for some independent sex workers to frequent other kinds of bars and scout for potential customers.

Provision of sexual services in tandem with massage services:

  • Sauna/Foot massage parlour

    Customers visit the sauna for massage services. Some masseuse (or masseur) may provide sexual services with customers within the premises. On the other hand, foot massage parlours or other small massage parlours may provide "half" services (only hand jobs or oral sex). However, with the agreement of both parties, they may also meet in nearby places for other sexual transactions service. According to Hong Kong law, a license is required to provide full-body massage for the opposite sex. Usually, saunas are licensed under the Massage Establishment Ordinance, but small massage parlours are usually not eligible. When providing massage services other than face, scalp, neck, shoulder, hand, arm or foot (up to knee) to guests of the opposite sex, they may violate the Massage Establishment Ordinance.
  • Shiatsu massage/Shiatsu massage with karaoke

    Sex workers would provide massages and sexual services within the premises. Since these premises usually house more than one sex worker, it is thus considered as "illegal brothels" or "unlicensed massage parlours" under the law. Shiatsu massage with karaoke combines both karaoke and massage services. They usually operate similarly to karaoke where sex workers would sing with their customers in a room. Later, they would go elsewhere to perform the massage and sexual services. On the internet, it is said that shiatsu massage with karaoke is a unique mode of operation originally created in Hong Kong.

Sexual services that do not operate in fixed premises:

  • Trade girl/ High-end trade girl

    "Trade girls" usually do not work in a fixed premises or company. They work on a part-time basis. They would also be able to keep all their income without splitting their "hours" with the nightclub owners or other people, hence the name "private hour girls" in Cantonese. Among "trade girls", there are also "high-end trade girls" who are generally considered to be of better quality. As time goes on, "trade girls" are also known as "CC", which can be broadly used to describe girls who engage in online compensated dating.
  • Online compensated dating

    Sex workers would promote themselves online through online forums, discussion boards, and instant messaging tools by listing their measurements, selling points, services, prices, and contact information. Customers can contact them directly and meet at hotels for sexual service transactions. These sex workers are usually younger and are familiar with online messaging tools. However, not all of them provide sexual services. Most of the time, they are referred to as CC, PTGF, part-time girlfriends, etc. In addition, some sex workers are also actively seeking "sugar daddy" online. The communication and interaction between this type of sex workers and their clients can be extremely private and they are therefore exposed to an even higher level of risks.