Let face it, you need qualifications for everything in Singapore.
Looking at the course brochure in hand, I could not believe it has come to this.
At 29, I am neck deep in debt.
A combination of bad choices from maxing out 4 credit cards and dabbling in a failed ecommerce business put me on the road to financial ruins.
My parents have retired and moved to a relative’s place in Malaysia. They are surviving on their savings and the rental from their 3 room flat in Bedok.
I knew this was their dream, to live a simple live across the causeway where the cost of living is much lower.
To enable them to do that earlier, I volunteered to move out on my own the moment I got a job after graduating from polytechnic.
Only upon moving out did I realise how much I am leeching off my parents. Everything cost money and the expenses piled up.
I barely had any savings left from my $2500 salary after paying rent and daily expenses. Then there is the shopping. A girl has got to have nice clothes and shoes right ?
And how can I forget holidays ?
All my friends are posting nice shiny pictures of them having fun in exotic places all over the world.
I can’t possibly miss out on that.
So everything started to go on my cards.
From one card to two, to three and the fourth.
Then the banks stopped issuing me anymore.
I was barely getting by paying the minimum every month when I received news that the company I’m working for is folding.
My world came crashing down. What made it worse is that the company cannot even afford to pay me my wage that month.
I’m already late on rent, I have $800 left in my bank and my bestie offered to lend me another $1000 to tide through but these are not going to last very long.
I’ll have to find a way.
I started sending my resumes but with each passing day, my hopes of landing even an interview starts to fade.
I started my first job at 19, and within the course of 10 years, I changed 12 jobs.
Which employer will want to hire someone like me?
Desperation drove me to job fairs and when that didn’t work, I went to the skills upgrading institute. The organisation will assess what I’m good at and recommend me the necessary course to take.
However, after going through the aptitude test twice, the system generated the same result, recommending me to the same course.
‘Diploma in sex work’
This is Singapore.
You need qualifications for damm thing.
It started with a Diploma to teach people how to become hawkers.
Then the Diplomas for cab drivers, toilet cleaners, trash collection and then came the brick laying, plumbing.
And you cannot beat the Diploma in house management, a course thought up by the committee to teach married women how to be housewives.
Diploma in sex work soon followed.
The government realised it’s finally time to recognise that sex work is a profession. And a profession that has been lacking in standards all these while.
Singapore is more than fifty years old, if a fifty year old country is not ready to recognise that sex work is an honest living, then something is wrong.
Of course there’s the initial uproar by the conservatives but at the end of the day, the motion was passed just like my motion passed through my intestine this morning.
Sex work is now legal and considered a profession in Singapore.
However, to be considered qualified for sex work, you need to go through a course.
A training course taught by experienced sex workers.
Standing at the entrance of the school, I could see girls as young as 18 registering for the course. At 29, I’m considered to be quite old but I can see women in their fifties coming in.
I registered for the 1 month training and utilised my skills future credit to pay for the course.
Upon completion of the course, I will also automatically be able to intern at one of the legal whorehouses in Geylang.
Even if I don’t get any clients, the government will give me an allowance of $2000 a month. It’s not much but it’s enough for me to tide through.
Diploma in sex work
I took a seat in the middle row, trying to avoid eye contact with the people around me. A lady stood in front of the large auditorium.
She looked at her watch several times and when the clock struck 9am, she called for the door to be shut.
“ Punctuality is a virtue. Drill that into you girls. You want to make a living in sex work, you got to watch your time. “
The flamboyant lady looked to be in her late thirties and calls herself Jenny.
Jenny has spent the last 20 years in the sex trade.
“ I have fucked more men than all of you girls in this auditorium combined. I have sucked more dicks and I have earned millions.” She said confidently.
In the following month, I will whip all you ladies into shape. It doesn’t matter who are you, what race or what religion you belong to. As long as you are trained by me, I will make sure you will become one of the best sex worker this country has every known.
Before I begin the first lecture, does anyone have any questions regarding the program sheet you are holding.
No one dared to utter a word but I’m sure many of us have questions.
I slowly raised my hand and Jenny shot a look at me.
“ You, what is it ? “ She said as her voice echoed throughout the enclosed space.
All eyes were on me as someone handed me a microphone.
With trembling lips, I asked about a particular module.
“ It says, it says here, ‘practical applications of skills learnt’ , what does that mean ? “ I asked
The moment I was done, all eyes went back to Jenny, obviously I’m not the only one curious about this.
“In simple English my dear, you apply what you learn to a real man, I mean how else you intend to learn ? You think we can learn everything with a dildo ? Can a dildo speak to you ? can it give you feedback ? It can’t “
A wave of murmurs spread throughout the auditorium and Jenny silenced us all.
“You girls have a lot to learn. Not just in practical, but in theory. How to read a man, how to control a man, how to make your man happy, how to tease him, how to squeeze him and most importantly , how to make his money. “
“And Madam Jenny, will teach you. As long as you are willing to learn, I will impart the years of experience I have accumulated to you.”
Jenny point at me, asking me to stand up.
“you from earlier. Stand up. What’s your name and how old are you?” She asked.
I stood up and I was trying hard not to shake. I was praying inside my head that no one in that hall recognises me.
“My, My name is , is Juliette, and I’m 29. “ I replied.
“ wrong answer ! “ Jenny immediately corrected me.
“what ? “
Jenny immediately began the 1st lesson.
Age is everything. There is no 29. There is only 18, 23, 25 and 30.
“different numbers caters to the different category of men. 18 for those who filles their head with sweet young things. They craved the innocence of a girl, not so much for the looks. They want you to pretend you are inexperienced, helpless, that you need to depend on them for everything.”
“23 is for the group that digs tertiary student. 18 is too young for them, and they are not confident of dealing with women older than 23. These men loves their girls in FBT shorts, sports bra, sneakers and they like to pretend they are your boyfriend.”
“25 is the most sought after group by men. Think tight dresses, high heels, Raffles place and marina bay financial centres, think of class, poise, confidence, think of sexy lingerie that young 18 and 23 year olds cannot carry off. 25 is the age of a temptress, and mark my words, your pussy can start and end wars. If you need an example, just look at the city of Troy.”
“30 is the magical number for married men. All men eventually grow up and they soon craved for the maturity of a grown woman. One that is properly settled down in life. Think of the word MILF, marriage, young hot mums, sweet hot wives of neighbours, the very notion of you being unavailable, makes you desirable.”
Jenny rattled off so smoothly that she silenced the whole hall. Everyone was listening intently to her.
“ This is how you market yourself. This is how you price yourself. So tell me again Juliette, how old are you ? “ Jenny said as she looked at me.
“25…” I said as I swallowed a gulp of saliva.
“GOOD! you are now 25. Remember girls, it’s how you market and package yourself.” Jenny said with the charisma of a MLM marketeer “All chicken rice use the same chicken, the chicken comes from the same eggs, why are some chicken rice $2 while some can sell for $30?”
Someone shouted from the audience.
“ Michelin star chicken rice? “ Everyone burst out laughing.
“Correct ! “ Jenny said while gesturing for me to sit back down.
“So are we Michelin star sex workers? “ the same voice asked.
Jenny brushed her hair behind her head and looked confidently at all the girls in the hall before making eye contact with me.
“Not yet girls, not yet. “
Pointing a finger at me, she said ;
“ But for those who can graduate and get your Diploma, I assure you.” Jenny paused for effect before finishing her final statement with conviction.
“ you will be worth more than 3 Michelin stars.”