The book collects the accounts of a variety of sex workers, including poet and
former male escort Cyril Wong and dominatrix Empress Victoria. But by and
large, readers are left to draw their own conclusions regarding the relative
pathos of these sex workers' situations; Lim's focus is on the complexities of
the trade and the Singaporean society.
As he points out, there is a hierarchy to sex work in Singapore, with its own
set of rules and contradictions. It is, after all, the "Nanny State of Asia" -
while pornography and oral sex between consenting adults is illegal,
prostitution is legal and regulated.
Though this book hit number one on bestseller lists in Singapore, it's appeal
in the U.S. seems limited. With its narrow scope and just-the-facts approach,
Lim's exploration offers some insights into the sex trade, but not enough to
entice many readers on this side of the pond.
From the Publisher:
When an ambitious, adventurous gent named Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles
"discovered" the tiny Southeast Asian island of Singapore in 1819, claiming it
for the British Crown, he envisioned it as a geographical gateway between East
and West. Now an independent city-state, Singapore is considered an Asian
economic miracle, still a strategic crossroads, but its position on the map has
also garnered bluechip status in the international sex industry. Thanks to the
constant influx of business travelers, a floating world exists that few talk
about, where beautiful escorts from various countries offer discreet
companionship for a price, one not usually proffered in the bars and brothels
Writer Gerrie Lim investigated this phenomenon and gained access to the secret
world of high-priced sex workers. The result is a series of lucid portraits
offering insights into this remarkable area of modern commerce. His subjects
are women who are lavishly rewarded with money and gifts, some diverging from
the oft-trod path to perform kinky services that include whipping and spanking,
others being flown to exotic resorts in the company of men with money to burn.
He also enters the shadowy domain of gay male escorts and karaoke hostesses,
whose views challenge societal norms and question assumptions made about their
career choices. The result is a fascinating work of cultural observation, from
the vantage point of an eloquent literary voice.
About the Author
He graduated in 1987 from the University of Southern California with a Master
of Arts degree in Print Journalism, and has written for Billboard, Details,
Harper's Bazaar, Elle, Playboy, the San Diego Union-Tribune, the South China
Morning Post, The Wall Street Journal, and The Asian Wall Street Journal.
He spends his time in both Singapore and Los Angeles.
Invisible Trade: High-class sex for sale in Singapore, By Gerrie Lim;
Paperback: 208 pages; Publisher: Monsoon Books Pte. Ltd. (November 15, 2004);
Language: English; ISBN: 9810510330