Monday, January 31, 2011

S’poreans rent partners for CNY

MY PAPER, F R I D A Y J A N U A R Y 2 8 , 2 0 1 1, NEWS, PAGE A1, A4
Source Website:
By GWENDOLYN NG,, Sat Jan 29, 2011 8:04 am

PHOTO: Love Yourself, Even if No One Else Does

IT IS that dreaded time of the year again, when nosy family members question the singlehood status of relatives at Chinese New Year reunion dinners.

But now, instead of bracing themselves for interrogation, singles are taking matters into their own hands.

Their solution: Getting friends to pose as romantic partners, seeking help from dating agencies or even hiring social escorts to do the job.

A 29-year-old marketing executive, who wants to be known only as David, said he shuns long-term relationships, preferring to date casually. In fact, many of his dates often accompany him on Chinese New Year family visits.

He said: “I just take one of them along for these events to shut up my relatives. The next time I meet my relatives, I just tell them that we broke up.” Three out of four escort agencies told my paper that the demand for companions increases by 30 to 50 per cent during the festive season.

The owner of Singapore Model Escorts, who wants to be known only as William, said: “(Our male clients’) key concern is they don’t want girls to wear short skirts or look sexy. They should dress conservatively.

One of his social escorts, Kari, in her 20s, posed as a girlfriend of a working professional at his family reunion dinner last year. She met him only an hour before the gathering to corroborate details such as how they met and how long they had been dating. Kari, who works as a bank executive by day, said: “As we both worked at a bank, we told (his relatives) that we met at work.

In the end, she pulled off a convincing act in front of her client’s 30 relatives at a Chinese restaurant. The social escort of two years said: “They even told us that we look good together.” She was paid $1,600 for that job. Kari said: “I got paid a lot just to socialise and that’s the best I could’ve asked for. The guy wasn’t too bad looking, too.” She said she has received many professional requests to meet friends and family this festive season.

A spokesman for escort agency Vie Models said: “The booking fee is higher during this time because these escorts are mostly Chinese and would take on assignments only if the pay is very attractive.

The agency raises its rates by about 25 to 50 per cent per hour during this period. He declined to reveal actual figures.

Mr Jason Lim, owner of Metro Touch Escorts, said that a premium Singaporean social escort – typically defined as an attractive university graduate in her 20s – can earn anything from $5,000 to a whopping $20,000 for a three-hour reunion-dinner session. He added: “The cost depends on the girl, the location, the duration, how many people she has to meet at the dinner and whether she is required to drink.

There are also those who are motivated to seek help from dating agencies. At least two such agencies told my paper that they see a surge in demand at this time of the year.

Dating agency Lunch Actually sees a 15 to 20 per cent increase in demand for its services in the period leading up to Chinese New Year. Its chief executive, Ms Violet Lim, 30, said: “Chinese New Year is a time when they feel more pressured as they will be meeting family members who will probably ask them about their marital status. This makes them more open to finding out about dating opportunities and platforms.

Then, there are those who choose to skip town to avoid facing a grilling by relatives. A 24-year-old public-relations executive, who wants to be known only as Ashley, said she got a guy pal to pose as her boyfriend three years ago.

She said:“I don’t mind getting someone to pose as my boyfriend. I’ll probably have to find someone else next time but, this year, I’m getting out of town.

PHOTO: Love Yourself, Even if No One Else Does

我的字典: Wǒ de zì diǎn

Socialise: 应酬 - yìng chou
Reunion dinner: 团圆饭 - tuán yuán fàn
Marital status: 婚姻状况 - hūn yīn zhuàng kuàng
Grilling: 严厉盘问 - yán lì pán wèn