More pretty girls, including students, who drink well now earn quite a lot from waiting on and sharing a table and drinks with their male customers.
The main difference between these ‘beer attendants’ and ‘bia om’ (beer hug) girls is that these ‘beer attendants’ usually don’t offer sexual services to customers. However, the difference blurs sometimes.
A Tuoi Tre undercover reporter recently disguised herself as a beer attendant to penetrate this world.
She got to know Ha, a seasoned beer attendant, who agreed to let her tend to one of her patrons after the reporter boasted that she can drink up to 10 beer bottles in one go.
“The more you can drink and the prettier and sexier you are, the more tips you receive from your clients,” Ha shared with the reporter.
As soon as they arrived, Ha quickly gave one of the male clients an intimate hug before introducing the reporter to Sau, another of her patrons.
After a while, Sau hugged the reporter and insisted that she down her drink. She had no choice but to obey amidst the clients’ laughter.
Sau quickly put a VND200,000 (US$10) note into her hand.
During the drinking session, the men kept discussing business while forcing the beer attendants to gulp beer amidst laughter, chatter and applause.
Sau then asked Ha to sing a song before complimenting her on her performance with a kiss on her cheek and a VND500,000 (US$25) note.
“You shouldn’t drink any amounts of beer that clients request, but should refuse tactfully instead. If choosy clients insist, just ask to share their glasses,” Ha advised the reporter after the drinking session ended.
Who are beer attendants?
Beer attendants in Ho Chi Minh City come in three types. The first type is professional beer attendants who work at bars as PR staff.
The second is ‘call’ beer attendants, who offer their services only after receiving phone calls from their clients or bar managers.
The last is amateur beer attendants, who are rather well-educated, pretty and serve clients who give generous tips.
Bartenders and waitresses from bars and cafés also switch to this occupation for higher pay. College students and workers sometimes take this job for extra income.
The girls, who are usually aged between 15 and 30, survive solely on their clients’ tips, which typically fluctuate between VND200,000 and VND1 million (US$50), depending on their physical attractiveness, drinking, singing and communication abilities, and the clients’ ranks. Girls with good social knowledge and education usually earn more as they can converse and debate with clients on various issues.
Over four weeks of working as a beer attendant at bars in HCMC, the Tuoi Tre undercover reporter got to know several young ‘colleagues’.
Many girls who are under 16 years old are precocious and professional in the way they dress, communicate and tend to clients.
“No one looks down on us for our job. We do nothing wrong, we just earn money at the risk of doing harm to our health from overdrinking,” shared Ut Hong, 21, from southern Tien Giang province, a beer attendant at L. bar on Phan Dang Luu street in Binh Thanh district.
Hong confided that during her three years in the business, she has sent all her income to her parents back home to pay off their debt and build a house.
She plans to do this job for several more years before getting married and settling down.
Hong, who is living with her boyfriend in a rented room, said her boyfriend has learned to come to terms with her job.
Hong pointed to Phuong, 19, from Ben Tre province, saying that Phuong’s husband, whose monthly salary as a construction worker is lower than her weekly income, now brings her to ‘work’ every day, though initially he was often green with jealousy.
(to be continued)