…continued from “Sex in Mongolia: Part 2”.
When people say, “Strip Club,” I think about a place where a woman comes onto the stage in some kind of provocative outfit, dancing to some seductive music; and then she proceeds to disrobe, until there is no clothing left on her body. Well, that is not what Mongolian strip clubs are all about. Candidly, I wouldn’t even call them strip clubs, because there is hardly any stripping going on…..usually. Usually, the women come out in their lingerie and go back in wearing the same lingerie. Yes, occasionally, a dancer might flash her mammary glands to her “client.” Moreover, if one is a regular customer and good tipper, he might get to fondle them too. However, the Mongolian strip clubs are hardly strip clubs; and yet, the label pervades.
There are several so-called strip clubs in Ulaanbaatar. The most famous is named Marco Polo, just above the vaguely Italian-style restaurant by the same name. It’s no secret. Every adult Mongolian knows that it is there.
Marco Polo calls itself a “Night Club,” and in a sense it is. Patrons are allowed to dance on the dance floor either with the exotic dancers, or with their mates (something that is strictly forbidden at the other so-called “strip clubs”). Many women go to Marco Polo either by themselves or accompanied by “male friends.” I’ve seen all kinds: hookers with their ‘johns’; lovers; and female hosts (possibly escorts) either wining and dining their foreign clients or letting their ‘john’ just have a good time before going back to the hotel.
Speaking of escorts, there must be some kind of high-end escort service here, because I see foreign businessmen, who come into town for a short visit, with extremely young and outstandingly gorgeous Mongolian women by their side, who speak absolutely no English. If there is such an agency, it not advertised in English, so I wouldn’t know about it. Clearly the Mongolian businessmen set up the arrangement for their foreign counterparts, probably expecting the same treatment when they visit the other country. When I ask the men about their partners, they always say, “Oh, she’s my girlfriend!” Yeah, right. A forty-sixty year old, grey-haired, possibly balding guy with a gorgeous twenty-something who speaks absolutely zero English….What do you take me for, guy? I wasn’t born yesterday. Still, I secretly envied every single one of them. It’s hard not to, even though I know I’m not supposed to covet.
One time at a veritible night club (not a strip club), I walked up to one of those fifty-year-old, gray-haired, foreign guys with a gorgeous twenty-year-old Asian. She was dancing while he was sitting down enjoying his drink and watching her dance. I asked, “What’s the number for the agency that you use?”
He was confused. “What do you mean?” he asked.
“For the girl,” I responded.
Without any anger, he calmly replied, “Oh! She’s my wife….from Thailand. We have a two-year-old child together.”
I felt so stupid and embarrassed. I apologized profusely and took my leave.
It may be true that a fifty-year-old, grey-haired, foreigner can get a gorgeous twenty-year-old wife in Thailand. I’ve heard of it happening quite a lot, actually. But, in Mongolia, it’s very rare. Usually, in Mongolia, the older Mongolian women/dancers marry the foreign guys, only because they haven’t found a descent Mongolian man yet.
Take for instance, the 27-year-old Mongolian dancer at Marco Polo, named “Rose.” (That’s not her real name, by the way). She met a foreigner at her work about two years ago. They hooked up. After about a year, he went back to Australia, with promises of coming back for her. A year later, he still hasn’t come back for her, and she has been getting worried. So, recently she bought an airline ticket with her own money and she leaves this coming Thursday for Australia with hopes of a baby and marriage. I asked, “In that order?” She said, “Yes, in that order; because it is easier to get the visa if we have a baby, and it is easier to get married.” It was her last day at work yesterday, and I am glad I went. I did not know that it was her last day, I would have been sad if I hadn’t had the chance to say, “Goodbye.”
“I’m happy for you,” I said.
“Really?” she countered.
“Yes, really! If you are happy, then I am happy.”
She was happy that I was happy for her.
She and some of her friends had been drinking (alcoholic beverages) secretly in the changing room, which they are not supposed to do normally, but given that it was her last day, I guess the manager turned a blind eye. I like it when the dancers drink, because they become so much friendlier (if you know what I mean). One of her friends (a fellow dancer) came up to me and gave me a big kiss—on the lips! (That never happened before).
At around 12 midnight, Marco Polo features a contortion artist show. You can tell when the show is about to begin, because lights go down, the music gets slower. Two huge, male, Mongolian bouncers carry the table which doubles as the stage to the front of the club. On top of the table is a huge carpet. They lay the carpet down and set up the table on top. Then, two young ladies in brightly coloured body suits come out and contort their bodies into various amazing configurations. Sometimes one is on top of the other. Sometimes they support their whole bodies with their mouths biting hard onto some pole stuck into a hole on the portable table. It’s a nice show.
When the contortionists are done, the two bouncers come. They remove the table from the carpet. They remove the poles and set them gently on the table. They fold up the carpet, top inside, bottom out. Then, they put the bottom side of the carpet onto of the mouth pieces that the girls bite into. They do this routinely every night, and I never see the mouthpieces being cleaned or sterilized.
That’s something that really gets me about Mongolia: the lack of hygiene. I have even seen cleaning ladies (obviously from the lower class of society, probably making 200,000 Tugriks a month, which is about 150 USD) using the same rag that they use to mop the floors, to clean tables. It’s no wonder why so many people get sick in this country, including myself! I mean don’t they teach hygienics in Mongolian public schools? You’d think that everyone would know that you don’t use the same rag for the floor and the table you eat off of.
After the show, I met another foreign man in the club. He was alone, sitting at the bar. He struck up the conversation. After the usual: “Where are from?” “What do you do?” etc., the topic changed to sex. I don’t know how that happened. (Just kidding).
“Do you ever take any of the girls out after work?” he asked.
“No,” I replied, because the verb tense of his question implied a habit. I don’t make a habit of taking the girls out. However, the truth is that I did once. And if I may digress, it is an interesting story that I’d like to recount.
It was my very first visit to Marco Polo about four years ago. In fact, it was my very first visit to any kind of “strip club.” I was in heaven. I mean gorgeous, mostly naked ladies walking up to me and giving unsolicited lap dances.
“You’ve got to tip them five thousand tugriks,” said my friend who brought me there. (5,000 Tugriks was about 5 USD at the time, now about 3 USD). Then, my eye caught this one particular dancer sitting across from me at the bar. She was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. Her features were not the typical (but I later found out that atypical is typical in Mongolia, Mongolia having been a crossroads of the East, there is such genetic diversity here). She looked more like an Amerind (American Indian) than a Mongolian. She had a headband on, like an Amerind, which only accentuated her Amerind-like features. I couldn’t really see the rest of her body because it was hidden behind the bar. I fell in love at first sight.
I told my friend that I was interested in her. He said, “You can invite her to be your ‘table girl’ for 15,000 Tugriks for one hour.” (Since then, it has gone to 15,000 Tugriks per 30 minutes). I asked my friend to do it for me, which he did. She came over to sit next to me. She was quite short for a Mongolian, and a little bit on the chubby side, but that face was absolutely stunning. I was enchanted by her beauty. We chatted in broken English for an hour. Let’s call her “Peace”. That was her work name in Mongolian language, not English. She asked for my phone number. I asked for hers. We exchanged phone numbers.
Parenthetically, the girls are not supposed to date the customers. They can get into trouble and lose their jobs if they do. So, Peace was discrete about it. But, then again, one thing that one learns about Mongolians is that rules are meant to be broken. Just don’t get caught. If one does get caught, money solves a lot of problems here, either by fines or graft.
So, Peace called me after work and said, “You hungry?” Her English was very limited.
So, we met up and had some Korean food at a 24-hour Korean restaurant.
Then, we went our separate ways. I did not invite her back to my place, because as I mentioned in my first article of this series, I made a promise to God that I wouldn’t do any more one-night stands; I would only make love to a woman that I truly loved and whom I thought loved me back.
As time passed, we dated whenever she had a day off of work; but then one day it all ended. Peace stopped receiving my calls or answering my test messages. I made some inquiries and found out that she was living with “Jack”. Jack was some sixty-year-old, fat, ugly, rich foreigner that used to frequent Marco Polo almost every night and knew all the girls by name. Rumour had it that one day, he invited all the girls from Marco Polo to his place after work for a party and many accepted his invitation.
I was devastated. I was falling in love with the woman, even though communication was very, very limited.
Later, “Jack” told my friend (the guy who had introduced me to Marco Polo) that he had dumped Peace, because she had Herpes. Peace blamed me for giving her Herpes. Of course, when that information got back to me, I was shocked. I said, “Not only do I not have herpes, but I never had sex with the woman. I didn’t even kiss her.”
Anyways, she had left Marco Polo, because she had been living with “Jack” and didn’t need to work anymore. A year passed before I saw her again. She was working at another “strip club” in town. She had really gotten fat. I mean really fat. I counted my blessings that it didn’t work out between me and the fat woman with herpes.
So, back to yesterday’s escapade at Marco Polo:
The guy next to me, another foreigner, had asked me, “Do you ever take the girls out after work?”
I replied, “No.”
I added, “I gave up trying a long time ago.”
Many of the foreign men I meet ask similar questions, like, “Can we take any of these girls home?” My answer is always the same, “I don’t know. Why don’t you ask them?”
Then, we talked about places to pick up hookers. I said, “I only know of one place,” and I mentioned the name. He said that there were others. He mentioned some names of some places, but I knew none of them.
The funny thing is that he and I had been in Mongolia for the same amount of time, yet we had never met until last night.
It was late, and I was drunk, so I went home.
Now, I’d like to discuss another so-called “strip club” in Ulaanbaatar. It is called “Orange.” It used to be a nice place to go to. The lap dances were longer for the same price. The dancers were hotter, too. The dancers are still hotter, but something happened this past weekend; the lap dance time was cut in half. Clearly there was some edict from management regarding the time spent on a client’s lap. Previously, it had been the girl’s choice about how long she wanted to spend on the guy’s lap and it really depended a lot upon how much she was tipped and how much she liked the guy. Not so any more. All lap dances were curt and cold, same style, same exact routine, same exact time. All of the individual expression of the dancers was gone. It seemed so cold and mechanical, like the male version of the thrusting dildo machine.
And as strange as it may seem, I didn’t care all that much, because I was there for one reason and one reason only: to confront the dancer who had previously been so forceful and asking so many questions. I had suspected her of being an under-cover agent in the fight against human-trafficking in Mongolia.
I walked in and asked management, “Is Lily here?” (“Lily” is not her real name, nor her work name). The manager thought for a moment (perhaps wondering who I was talking about, because I used her English work name, not her Mongolian work name, which were two completely different names: one for the Mongolian clients and one for the foreign clients); then, she said, “She will come.”
It was already late. The place had been open for several hours already. I wondered why she was so late to work. An hour passed of mechanical lap dances that really began to disappoint me. Then, I asked management again, “Is Lily coming?” “Yes,” came the reply.
I sat back down. Moments later, Lily walked in the door. She looked immediately and directly at me and smiled, as if she knew I’d be there, almost as if she was expecting to see me. I began to wonder if management didn’t call her and say, “Get your arse down here, there’s a client asking for you.”
As Lily was getting changed, I asked management if I could have Lily as my table girl. When, Lily came out of the changing room, she sauntered straight up to me and sat on my lap. That was extremely unusual. Usually the dancers must dance on the floor and around the poles first before they start pining for tips. She was so happy to see me. Something was up, because she was never happy to see me before, although she did want to sit on my lap a lot and ask a lot of personal questions.
Her lap dance was unusually spirited as well. Usually, she just sat there and asked questions, the kind that made me uncomfortable, so I rarely let her sit on my lap. That day was an exception. I welcomed her to my lap. I politely asked, (and I never did this before), “Will you be my table girl?” She said, “Yes.” And, she was happy.
Maybe I was wrong about Lily, I thought to myself. Maybe she’s not a government spy after all. Maybe she’s just one of the girls, trying to make her way in this cruel world.
Eventually, she finished her dance time and she came over to sit next to me as my table girl. I was quite drunk by that time, and as alcohol tends to do, it made me see her as very attractive. I became very amorous. I was also getting very tired. I held her hand in silence. She spoke first.
“You are a teacher, yes?”
“From Canada, yes?”
I have dual citizenship with Australia and Canada, but I tell people that I’m from Canada, because that’s where my parents are now.
“Can you teach me IELTS?”
“I want to study IELTS.”
Was that what this was all about? The forced lap dances… The incessant questions… She just wanted someone to teach her IELTS?
If only she knew my fees! Maybe then, she wouldn’t be asking.
I put my head on her shoulder, because I was drunk and tired.
Maybe I was wrong about her. She’s no government agent.
But, why had the other dancer, who had been so eager to be my table girl, suddenly become so cold to me, last time? What had made her change her mind about me? There were so many questions, but I was too drunk and too tired to ruminate upon them.
Eventually, Lily excused herself to go dance again.
And that’s when the other dancer came over. You know: the one who was so cold to me, ignoring me, after she had been so warm to me. Let’s call her, “Gem.” Gem came toward me. I fully expected her to flaunt her stuff and then turn around and walk away. Instead she came to my table. I had been hurt by her and I didn’t want to have anything to do with her. I stood up and went outside for a cigarette. Gem called after me, but I ignored her, as she had ignored me.
Was it vengeance? Probably a little bit of that, but mostly I was hurting. She had hurt me and gave me no reason for her betrayal. I had assumed that it might have something to do with Lily being an undercover agent, and Lily telling her to be careful of me. At that point, I wasn’t so sure. It could have been because she had found another sugar daddy and she didn’t need me any more. The thought drove the knife even deeper into my heart. Was that all I was to her, a sugar daddy, one that could be dropped like a hot potato as soon as another, richer sugar daddy came along?
I don’t know.
It would seem that given my curious nature, I would like to go back and get answers to all those questions, but it seems that the more answers I get, the more questions I get. It never ends. I could go there until the cows come home and still not have all my questions answers, because there will always be more questions.
Someone commented on my first article of this series, “Looking for love in all the wrong places.”
I didn’t go there looking for love.
I first went there out of curiosity.
Then, I went back because of all the beautiful women, maybe I had favourites.
After that, I went there because I had developed relationships (friendships) with some of the women.
Finally, it became an obsession.
I need to stop.
I need to take inventory of my life.
Yesterday, I said, “Goodbye” to a good friend. I will probably never see her again, as she is going to Australia to have a baby and get married.
One by one, all the women that were my friends leave that place for one reason or another. I never hear from or see them again.
New women take their places. I develop new friendships, but mostly they just pretend to be my friends so as to empty my wallet into their g-strings.
Then, there is the politics: the Mongolian men who object to a foreigner being there, the management who baby-sits everyone and micromanages every thing so as to take the fun out of the entire experience, the ever increasing greed of management and the dancers, who seem to want more and more and more from the clients, while giving less and less to the clients. I’m just sick and tired of it all.
Maybe I will become a hermit.
This is my last piece in this series. Don’t expect any more from me on this subject. Look for my next article about the ups and downs of being a hermit in the 21st century Mongolia.
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