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Barber shops


Demonic_Duck

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More precisely: late-night backstreet downmarket somewhat grubby-looking barber shops with female staff who wear fishnet tights and have long painted nails.

Are all of these fronts for prostitution or are some of them just legitimate businesses which happen to look a lot like fronts for prostitution? I ask because I just got my hair cut at one of said places (nothing else was open as I left it too late at night, and I have to get my hair cut for taking school photos tomorrow). The woman who cut my hair was very friendly (if more than a little bigoted towards the Japanese and... well, basically any non-Chinese Asians). When I left she asked if I wanted a massage, but no mention of 特殊服务 or anything, and she didn't push the point when I declined.

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I only have one data point to add, but perhaps it is of use: I read a short reportage some time ago about a young woman who came from the countryside to find a job as a hairdresser, of the kind that cuts hair and that's it. At one point she found a job at a salon, when she took the job she asked whether she was expected to provide additional... services, and was told no, it's just haircutting. Which she did. Until one day a customer asked her for additional services and the boss wanted her to perform them anyway. (She quit.)

So perhaps they're happy to just cut hair, but can provide other things if you ask? Where they may or may not hope for you to ask, because some of the women, or some of the time, they just really don't want to do that, and some other women, or at other times, they would like the extra money?

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As I remember the kind of massage that they normally offer at barber shops is just for head, neck, shoulder and hands. Also they would ask you before the haircut not after. Probably it wasn't 特殊服务 but usually anywhere outside of known tuina places there is a happy ending attached to the word massage.

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In Kunming, the sort of place you are describing, D_Duck, would not be my first choice for a haircut. They are a front for sexual services. Did they have pink lights? That's the clincher.

 

You must be pulling our leg.

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"nothing else was open as I left it too late at night, and I have to get my hair cut for taking school photos tomorrow"

Put your trousers on and we'll go tell it to the judge, sir...

 

Lets face it, if you're a sex worker and someone offers you money to cut hair, you're not going to say no. 

 

Probably told this story before, but back in my English teaching days I came into the office to find a colleague sporting a rather unflattering haircut. 

"I've figured out how to tell the difference between a barber shop and a brothel," he told me. 

"How's that then?" I asked. 

"Go in and get your hair cut. If it looks like it's been cut by a prostitute..."

 

I seem to remember he said he should have figured it out when she had to go out to borrow scissors, but I may have invented that bit. 

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Probably told this story before, but back in my English teaching days I came into the office to find a colleague sporting a rather unflattering haircut. 

"I've figured out how to tell the difference between a barber shop and a brothel," he told me. 

"How's that then?" I asked. 

"Go in and get your hair cut. If it looks like it's been cut by a prostitute..."

Nope, I was actually very happy with the result (any inferred meaning from the preceding sentence is the product of your own dirty mind...) It was quite possibly the best haircut I've had in China, although to be honest I don't really demand much style-wise. May well go back there due to the cheap price and the amusing-yet-mildly-racist banter.

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When I was at orientation they warned against women acknowledging that they worked in a barbershop back home, and this is more or less why. China has a lot of rules about what is and isn't proper, I suppose like anywhere else, but one of the jobs that you're best leaving off the resume is working at a barbershop. There's apparently a lot of innuendo about barbershop girls.

 

Personally, the place I was working gave me enough time off that I could usually afford to spend time during the day going to a proper shop. They always did a fine job and the price was good. The main downside is that me being a man, I've never bothered to learn any of the words necessary to choose a hairstyle in any language, so I'd get the cut the barber felt like giving. On the bright side, I now know that I can cut my mustache closer than I had thought without it looking silly.

 

@rezef, I think if I were interested in that, I'd probably get my massages at the places that give the "special" massages. You know the ones with those wonderful red lights out front.

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Just go to a normal barbershop with some hygiene standards. Skin health is more important than chatting with a barber in fishnet tights.

Skin health? You mean, like, headlice or something? Eh, I'll take my chances, just like I take my chances with all kinds of street food. My life would be poorer without taking the odd (generally fairly low-stakes) gamble with my health.

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Assuming that the place you went to was actually a low-end brothel I think it would be silly to think that the people, the instruments, the towels or the sheets they use don't have any exotic germs on the menu as long as any of those things touches your skin. Now I understand if someone accepts the risks for a special service (with some protection) and although the chance of infection is not high catching anything from a haircut is just lame when you know the place is probably for something else.

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But what is one supposed to catch from a brothel that one can't catch from other cheap barber shops? To my knowledge, sexual transmitted diseases are not transmitted by skin contact, and things like headlice can easily be transmitted without anyone taking their pants off. The instruments used for other services will usually be different ones from the instruments used to cut hair (I hope...), and you never know when the hairdressers have last washed their hands anyway, even if she doesn't provide any 'other' services.

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There are all kinds of fungal, bacterial and viral(like warts) skin diseases that can be transmitted by skin contact. I'm not saying the chances are high but if you are going to catch anything from a barbershop that kind of low-end brothel is probably your best choice.

You can imagine all kind of things for example what if the towel they use for you was used for cleaning someone's xiaodi and wasn't properly washed. Or what if their hair clippers was used for cutting their own pubic hair for shaving....

OK I know it's getting disgusting but the point is that they don't have hygiene standards and they have better access to annoying germs than other cheap barbershops.

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Man, you guys are all about rainin' on my parade up in here. Anyway, back to the original question: based on what people have said in this thread, I suspect that the place I went was not a brothel in any dedicated sense of the word, but that possibly extra services not listed on the 价目表 would be provided if a customer were to request them specifically. I remain satisfied with my new hairstyle, and appear not to have contracted herpes of the scalp.

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