Villages of heterosexual desires: practices, discourses, and customer demographics at Filipina hostess pubs in postcolonial Singapore

Kieran Edmond James*, Khrishnamurti Khrishnamurti, Rex John Walsh

*Corresponding author for this work

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Abstract

This article explores the author’s observations, over the 2010-2019 period, at a sample of eight (8) Singapore hostess bars/pubs. The research method is participant-observation of practices, discourses, pricing models and customer demographics, backed up by knowledge gained from conversations with hostesses, bar managers, customers and musicians. It explains how surplus-value is extracted in the production process via the high prices of ladies’ drinks, the hard work required because of the quota system (in relation to ladies’ drinks), the high prices of customers’ drinks (to a lesser extent) and long working hours. The article explains how alienation is involved in delivering heavily racialized and gendered services in an atmosphere where commissions and quotas on ladies’ drinks put pressures and constraints on hostess’s behaviour. Unruly and disrespectful customer conduct is another source of alienation, guilt and sadness for hostesses who are under pressure to act and talk in a (hetero)sexualized way.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages13
JournalAsian Journal of Social Science Studies
Volume8
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 11 Aug 2023

Keywords

  • Filipinas
  • gender
  • hostess bars
  • ladies' drinks
  • moral panic
  • race and class
  • Singapore

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