Stripping away the downturn

PUBLISHED : Monday, 26 August, 2002, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 26 August, 2002, 12:00am

Desperate times, weird choices. As the economic downturn deepens, many underemployed Westerners are finding a growing market for their one sure - if stereotyped - attribute: bare cheek.

'There is a stripper gap,' says 'Tyson', the manager of the Hotmale Dance Company. 'And as Western drifters and backpackers leave Hong Kong, the slack is being taken up by business professionals who need the extra income.'

We don't doubt it. Over the past 12 days, SAR has encountered the following:

? a top architect in a gorilla suit on a table in Alibi.

? a journalist stripping in a Happy Valley cigar club.

? a Web site developer dressed as a policeman at a Wan Chai hen party.

? a kindergarten teacher moonlighting in a Wonder Woman suit.

'It's hard to find people with the bottle to strip in front of a room of Asian businessmen,' continued Tyson. 'Fees have rocketed because the only people left in Hong Kong who have the visas and the nerve are business professionals.'

Strippers now earn between $800 and $3,000 for a few minutes' work. Meanwhile, demand has risen. 'Everyone wants Western strippers,' said Tyson. 'It's been like that since the handover. Big, buxom Western strippers - I don't know why - maybe it's the rarity value.'