By Seow Yun Rong,
The New Paper,
Sunday, Feb 7, 2016
Annoyed with aunties pestering you about your love life during reunions? Now, you can rent your ideal boyfriend online.
The practice of hiring a male escort to pose as a Chinese New Year date is not new, but the emergence of online agencies like Rent-a-Gent, Singapore Man and Real Men SG is making it more mainstream.
You can even use Paypal instead of making cash payments.
Previously, agency managers reported seeing an increase of between 20 and 25 per cent in bookings during Chinese New Year.
Online agencies such as Rent-a-Gent also report a spike.
A spokesman says they have seen "three times more interest" in hiring their male escorts, compared to last year.
He says that although most clients hire escorts to spend the holidays with, they also have clients who "specifically use our service to get their families to stop asking them about their boyfriend and marriage plans".
The hire-boyfriend or girlfriend gambit is quite popular.
In China, men place advertisements for their services.
In Japan, gigolo bars are popular with unmarried women who are not shy about flashing their cash to buy companionship during Christmas, Valentine's Day and other occasions.
Meanwhile in Hong Kong, the South China Morning Post recently reported that about 10 advertisements have appeared in Jobdoh, a smartphone application that connects casual workers and employers.
Fee: HK$250 (S$45) for an hour of acting.
The idea of getting paid and eating traditional Chinese pastries for free sounds like a dream job, but it is by no means an easy one.
"You will receive and memorise all the information on who you are, how we met (and) our future plans," says one of the job descriptions from a woman looking for a fake boyfriend so her family "won't be on my nerves".
"You will act like a gentleman - caring, attentive, no swear words nor smoking allowed."
The men are also expected to keep their hands and lips in check.
"Absolutely no kissing and beyond but hand-holding and a hug may be necessary to make it look real," says the job description.
"Ideal if you can play mahjong and can drink a lot."
Some were even looking for a fake partner to visit their relatives in mainland China.
Back in Singapore, a quick check of the three escort websites reveals that it will cost between $200 and $750 for an hour, or between $3,000 and $5,000 a day.
Offline social escort agencies generally charge $250 to $375 an hour.
The Rent-a-Gent spokesman said they recently introduced a new category of escorts - the Handy Randy - after feedback from their clients that some of them wanted a more "believable" range of guys.
Their premium category is called Beyond Brad Pitt.
Social escort Vince previously told The New Paper on Sunday:
"I make it a point to read widely, from entertainment magazines to serious stuff, like Forbes and Fortune.
"That's because the people who can afford our services are likely the ones who move about in high-society circles. You'd want to make the right impression," he says.
The spokesman for Rent-a-Gent says their escorts would "usually meet with the clients before the actual date to familiarise their back-story for the evening to ensure that things go smoothly".
This article was first published on February 7, 2016.
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