|Got wood? So do we!|
Yup, breasts. And penises, too. While living in Glasgow, I had heard many a tall tale of the quintessential ladyboy scene in Bangkok, or drag-queens in Amsterdam. There were a couple of post-ops at work but I had never properly been introduced to the gender-bending, smutty underbelly of the hermaphrodite sex-trade.
Last Saturday then, I found myself drinking at Orchard Towers, famously home to prostitutes and pimps and lonely men willing to pay for a good old time. I'm ashamed that I feel the need to justify being there but these things cannot be helped. I was at a bar downstairs, attending a gig by a fairly popular cover-band whose name mysteriously escapes me. They do a mean Bowie.
After the gig, I headed upstairs because when you're a depressed single man, closing time is never late enough. I knew fully well that there was no chance of meeting the kind of woman I could take home to my mother, but the drinks were not unreasonably priced and besides, the mother-ship (if you'll excuse the pun) had sailed a good many years ago.
I wasn't immediately swarmed by the many 'professional' women there as I expected, but was given time to settle down, get used to the surroundings and make my move. I didn't move. I had no intention of paying for sex; I was happy enough to watch, observe. This is easier said than done. After a while, especially in the throes of a drunken stupor, you start wondering if they just don't approach you because you're not attractive enough.
Still later, you convince yourself you can pick up a 'professional', riding on your charm and looks alone, that they will somehow give up income and working hours to nurse your inner Casanova. I offered to buy a girl a drink. Beautiful, from Laos, on a tourist visa, owns a penis. Different girl, same story. As with all her colleagues. They're fairly upfront with this information. And friendly; very friendly. I'm playing my usual card of being a 21-year old traveler (I can probably pull this off for another five years, given the nuclear lack of growth on my still-cherubic 27-year old face), awed and nervous in equal measure, and they're lapping it up.
I establish that I have no interest in doing a dude. This is taken stoically, without judgement. I buy another round of drinks. We sit and talk about life, about why we're in Singapore, who or what we've left behind, what we're looking for. As it turns out, we have plenty in common. We have all tucked our penises between our legs, checked in our self-respect at Immigration and strolled through looking for breasts.
I would like them against me, they would like theirs on them. Implants, enhancement, magic, the whole spectrum. They tell me a tourist visa lets them stay for three months, enough time to make money to pay for their new bodies. There are 'agencies' that specialize in this arrangement back home - they take care of everything from travel to accommodation for a cut, and put them in touch with a surgeon.
I wonder if they hope their new bodies will fail to recollect the atrocities that paid for them. They tell me their customers almost exclusively straight men. They tell me tales of being excreted on, of brutality and head-over-heels love, all in the space of one night and several indistinguishable faces. I can detect no sense of regret or shame. I decide there is no reason for any, if this is a choice they have made for themselves.
Some of them intend to pursue their studies, careers in accountancy and marketing and law after they're all-woman. I tell them I hope things work out. They laugh. They stroke my chin, tussle my hair. I'm not repulsed in the least. They tell me I have the haunted smile of one who has no hope at all, for himself.
*Image courtesy of Warrens Singapore
Life on Mars - David Bowie