Saturday, September 24, 2005
More Easy Money
When I told my friend Shane the story of the Easy Money, he stared at me incredulously. After several OMGs, he asked me two questions:
First, "what did you do that gave them access to your phone number? I didn't get a message on my phone. They couldn't possibly spam everyone to invite the sniffing cops in. Sure you did something..."
I swore to god that my memory of all my sober moments didn't include any indiscretion that would invite pimps to knock on my door.
Second, "would you do it?" I said you are crazy, I'd never slept with a woman in my life. His voice agitated a bit, "I think you should try at least once, to see what it's like. Would you?"
Being a writer, Shane was probably itching as well for a peek at the deep pit filled with darkness and disgust which yet mysteriously stimulate the curious mind in a twisted way. I said I guess I could always pretend I couldn't get it up; but I worried the pimps would lock me in a dungeon for making them no money, like in those Hollywood B movies.
My boyfriend was resolute, "no, you can't do it. That could bring trouble into our lives. Did you call them from your regular phone? You did? Oh my god, you didn't buy a temporary SIM card and call them back with that? How can you always brag about being smart if you don't even know how to protect yourself? They could track you down, you know."
This morning I went to meet a show biz friend from Los Angeles in an upscale villa compound. By upscale I mean the villa resembled a townhouse complex in any of the suburb neighborhoods in America's west, with swans and deer and villa staff meandering in and about the artificial pond. I got a text message while having breakfast with him. It read:
"Five-star hotel (Beijing) urgently seeking: several male and female PR personnel (sexual service), part-time ok. Can start work immediately after passing the interview. Monthly income could reach over RMB 30,000 (note: about US$2750). Consult 139xxxxxxxx Manager Yu. Text message won't be replied."
This one went a step further and used the word "sex" in the message in place of euphemisms like "three-company".
I called Manager Yu right after the breakfast. Could my number be on a list of the morally loose and passed from one pimp to another?
I reprised my no-experience yet curious could-be first-timer role. Manager Yu was more direct than Manager Liu. He let me in on some details without subjecting me to a Hitchcockish interview - the hotel is a wellknown foreign five-star hotel; the clients would all be male (male??? I faked a world-weary surprise which he ignored); the pay would be RMB 3000 from which the "management" would take a third.
I told him I would call him to arrange an interview in two weeks after my business trip, and asked how he got my number to begin with. His reply was peppered with annoyance:
"You think I sent you the message myself? Ours is the time of technology. The message you received was just one of the many tens of thousands sent over the Internet."
Four hours later while my friend at the Apple store declared the death of my iBook's hard drive, Manager Liu called me.
"Aren't you coming today to meet with us?" Her voice was almost friendly.
"I'm so sorry. I'm swamped with work today before going on a business trip tomorrow for two weeks. I will call you once I get back, would that be ok?"
"Oh," she sounded disappointed, "are you sure you can't come today?"
I'd really like to but I'm cringing in my seat and peeking through my fingers at the velvet curtain gloomily closing in as in a good thriller movie; instead I asked her, "how did you get my number?"
"That's easy. Hi-tech. We tapped into the computers of the telecom system and got all the numbers we wanted. Are you sure you can't come? You can start work today." Her tone made me feel stupid of my ignorance.
But at least it's comforting to know that I wasn't specifically chosen. I wonder how many are out there who, like me, were both repulsed and intrigued by the weird message, and now by what's behind that dark velvet curtain.