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Whispers and Moans: Interviews with the men and women of Hong Kong’s sex industry

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Hong Kong has a bewildering range of sex businesses offering services to suit all imaginable tastes: from the glitzy nightclubs of Tsim Sha Tsui East, through the saunas, karaoke lounges and one-woman brothels of Mong Kok, to the streets and short-time hotels of Sham Shui Po.

Chinese-language sex magazines print reviews of individual prostitutes, and promote an ever-widening array of bizarre sexual practices. Even mainstream newspapers engage pimps as columnists. Business appears to be booming – but there are hungry newcomers to this underground economy. How do local prostitutes deal with the ruthless competition posed by an endless supply of girls from mainland China?

To find out, Yeeshan Yang spent a year gaining the trust of the city’s sex workers, interviewing 50 hookers, hostesses, toy boys, transsexual prostitutes, mama-sans and brothel owners. The result is an eye-opening book which shows the human side of sex for sale. Whispers and Moans contains tales of easy money, financial ruin and hopeless love affairs – and rare first-hand insights into Hong Kong’s huge but hidden sex industry.

Film adaptations: Director Herman Yau has brought this book to the big screen in two movies: Whispers and Moans, which had its premiere at the Hong Kong International Film Festival, and True Women For Sale, for which Prudence Liew won Best Actress at the Golden Horse Film Awards.

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Click on the link below to view sample pages from Whispers and Moans. You will need a pdf reader to view this excerpt. 

A rose by any other name

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Description

Hong Kong has a bewildering range of sex businesses offering services to suit all imaginable tastes: from the glitzy nightclubs of Tsim Sha Tsui East, through the saunas, karaoke lounges and one-woman brothels of Mong Kok, to the streets and short-time hotels of Sham Shui Po. Chinese-language sex magazines print reviews of individual prostitutes, and promote an ever-widening array of bizarre sexual practices. Even mainstream newspapers engage pimps as columnists. Business appears to be booming – but there are hungry newcomers to this underground economy. How do local prostitutes deal with the ruthless competition posed by an endless supply of girls from mainland China?

To find out, Yeeshan Yang spent a year gaining the trust of the city’s sex workers, interviewing 50 hookers, hostesses, toy boys, transsexual prostitutes, mama-sans and brothel owners. The result is an eye-opening book which shows the human side of sex for sale.

MEDIA ATTENTION

“By focusing on people, not salacious activities, Yeeshan Yang presents an informative, outsider-peeks-in view of the sex trade in Whispers and Moans. Hong Kong sex workers may be less famous than those in Bangkok, but they probably face even greater potential rewards, hazards and prejudices. … Yang’s research called for befriending many of the “professionals” working in nightclubs or karaoke lounges, lingering in hotel lobbies or on sidewalks. She interviewed hookers, toy boys, trans-sexuals, pimps, mama-sans, brothel operators and others. Only after building trust did she accept their stories as truth, not the usual tales spun for the media.” Cairns Media Magazine

Whispers and Moans is a collection of ‘interviews with the men and women of Hong Kong’s sex industry’ in essence, but amounts to much more. It is a well thought-out, colloquially written, all-encompassing non-fiction account of the problems of the sex industry, and possible solutions. Yeeshan Yang exhibits a remarkable ability to summarize as well as editorialize, keeping these functions separate and evident. She posits opinions and colors stories abruptly, with little disguising description so that we know her stance on the subject matter before we read any objectivity into the stories. That said, she includes facts and quotes from a multitude of officials and sex-workers, alluding to the informed nature of her opinion. … What’s really striking about Whispers and Moans is its breadth. There are chapters on pimps, the Northern girls who come over from the China mainland, the gangst