By Kash Cheong and Look Woon Wei
The Straits Times, Singapore / Asia News Network.
As many as eight glasses a day.
That is how much hard liquor KTV hostesses say they may end up drinking in a night to keep customers happy and, for many, to earn more money.
“Nobody forces you to drink,” said Ching, a svelte 24-year-old hostess from China.
“But customers who are drunk are likely to give you bigger tips,” added the Hubei native.
Hostesses who spoke on condition of anonymity told The Sunday Times they can earn about S$5,000 (US$3,742) a month chatting, singing and playing drinking games with customers.
Tips can sometimes balloon to S$800 on a good night.
Questions have been raised on how much nightlife workers drink on the job after the recent death of 27-year-old Kim Seoa.
The Sunday Times understands that the South Korean was an agent who brought hostesses to Singapore. She had accepted a challenge to drink as much liquor as possible after a customer offered to pay her $50 a glass.
On May 13, after drinking 18 glasses which would have earned her S$900, she collapsed.
She later died in hospital.
Her family soon arrived from Seoul to claim her body, according to Chinese evening newspaper Shin Min Daily News. Police are investigating the case.
For most who work in KTV lounges, the pressure to drink is real. Mamasans and managers are keen to promote cognac or whisky, which they sell for more than $200 a bottle at a fat profit margin.
Some girls get a cut on the sale of liquor, while others supplement their pay through tips.
For some hostesses, sex is part of the mix. They told The Sunday Times that some mamasans take a cut of the sex money as a “fee” for hooking them up.