From ‘Risque ads pulled from LTA signboard’, 5 Jan 2010, article by Jeremy Au Yong in Home, ST
Among the offers for rooms and tuition classes on the community notice board (run by a LTA appointed vendor) outside Ang Mo Kio MRT station, two notices stood out.
One sought ‘young, pretty, attractive, open-minded’ female masseuses or escorts, while the other had an eye-opening $10 ‘shower package’ among the highlights of services provided.
…’Our hot, sexy and pretty masseuse or handsome, charming and dashing masseurs will shower 4 u before or after a massage’ read the ad.
…Yesterday, passers by who spotted them found the adverts inappropriate, and questioned why they were not screened.
(Chew Kok Kiong): ‘They’re so neatly done, and it’s paid for, so someone must have gone through them before they were put up. They should be more stringent and stop such advertisements from being put up.’
…LTA..had reminded the vendor to ‘tighten the screening process to sieve out such offensive advertisements’. These paid community notice boards are a relatively recent addition to the neighbourhoods. They were put up last year in a bid to stop having to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars a year to clean up handbills pasted around bus and train stations.
…(Kurt Tay, escort agency owner): ‘I’m saying one thing and people are thinking something else. I’m just offering escort and massage services. I used to work at a massage centre and I’m just following the words and services used in their ads.’
Either it’s genuinely bad English or ingenious word play. At first glance the ‘shower package’ just means that your masseuses are scrubbed fresh and clean with soap before they even lay their hands on you. So even if it sounds silly and we all know what it really means, the double entendre, if taken literally without the sexual context, is actually quite harmless and may be argued to the agency’s defence that the shower package in fact attests to the company’s commitment to good hygienic practice in delivering quality customer service. LTA being the LTA, of course are not amused.
Everyone knows escort and massage services are euphemisms for work that involves transactions of sexual favours, just like how chat hotline ads are presented in magazines for ‘teenagers’ to ‘make friends’. We all know what goes on here but accept the smoke and mirrors marketing because such industries exist whether we like it or not, and being sleazy sounding is no grounds for cracking down on them if they’re genuinely doing what they purport to do i.e massage and escort. How one interprets these verbs is entirely subjective, and prohibition of any sort will only serve to drive the industry and their clientele into shady territory, where they’ll boldly offer services way beyond the limited imaginings of a ‘shower package’. The history of shaky legislation over handbills, by the way, goes all the way back to the early 1900′s, as seen in this letter dated 19 Oct 1908, ST.