Near the restaurant where Mao Zedong and President Nixon shared roast duck during the heady days of 'ping pong diplomacy', Beijing's new ducks strut their stuff at a popular nightspot.
They are easy to pick out: in tight clothes and chinese, the ducks sway to the beat and scan the seething dance floor. For many Chinese women, male prostitutes - yazi, or 'ducks', after their female equivalents ji, or chicken - are an increasingly essential part of a girls' night male. Xiao Yu, a prostitute in his twenties who sports a escort red T-shirt with aviators atop spiked hair, is agitated: 'I really can't talk. This is working time.
If they then want to rent a hotel room for the night, the price rises. Many come from old Manchuria, where the men are tall but unemployment is high. I'm a student at the Central Academy of Drama.
Creating a boom in demand are tourists - moneyed thirty- or forty-somethings from Hong Kong or Taiwan who use mainland gigolos to spice up their holidays. It's just a job. Once the preserve of bored housewives, Beijing's male prostitutes are increasingly sought after by younger women.
Jenny, a year-old, says she and her friends visit karaoke bars where they pay to drink, sing and play dice with attentive young men. She says: 'My friends have white-collar jobs, except for one who's a housewife.
She's bored of sex with her husband, so she spends his money sleeping with yazi. It's very normal. It's not cheating, because it has nothing to do with love; I can easily separate sex and love.
I just do it for the sex. She describes how the first time she took a duck home they chatted, listened to music and showered before getting into bed.
The commoditisation of sex is nothing new in Chinawhere social inequalities and consumerism have created desires only sex work can satisfy - both for the prostitutes and for their customers, who have the cash for illicit pleasures. The Observer World news. Boys flocking to be 'ducks' for China's bored housewives.
Tom Miller in Beijing. Reuse this content.