Review: Red House Sauna — Shanghai, China
Since Rockit Reports went online years ago reporting on the commercial sex scene in China has been limited to the Special Administrative Regions of Macau and Hong Kong. In both of those place prostitution is legal at least to some degree.
While I have had some information on mainland China for years I have not reported on it here. One reason was that things can change from one day to the next and I am not well informed on the happenings there.
The main reason though was a fear that any reporting done on this website could contribute to repression against the women working in the industry since the sale of sex and related services remain illegal in China.
It’s difficult to know whether or not my fears were reasonable but the fact that the once vibrant and extensive sauna scene in southern China was decimated by raids not long ago shows what is possible. I don’t know know if the powers that be would be more likely to come down on a place reported on in the English language but it seems like a real possibility.
Another thing to consider is the possibility of a block being put on Rockit Reports from certain areas if someone with power doesn’t like what’s written here. Although the Rockit Reports site has been censored in South Korea it remains accessible in mainland China even though the world’s largest search engine is not.
In any event there are plenty of English language sources reporting on adult entertainment venues in China today. The most popular seem to be discussion forums including some based in places like Singapore and Hong Kong but there are even some full websites that not only list
Since these websites have been around for a while with plenty of interaction it seems that it would be okay to at least report on some of the more public places that openly advertise their services. Today I begin my reporting on China with a review of the Red House Sauna in Shanghai.
Showing that even large establishments with solid history must deal with the threat of repression customers are supposed to contact the manager of the place through the popular WeChat smartphone application to get directions to the place and instructions to enter.
The manager replies to requests over WeChat with information in English along with accompanying photographs though the information is also available online for those who care to search it out.
Red House Sauna is located inside of a large commercial building at 333 Zhaojiabing Road which is at the intersection with Xiaomuqiao Road. A small blue sign on the exterior wall marks the building which contains a bank on the side of Xiaomuqiao Road and a main entrance on the Zhaojiabing Road side.
The management at Red House seems to prefer that foreigners send a message before coming to schedule a loose appointment time though they do accept people who just show up as well. Asking for advance notice may seem strange but it makes sense for all parties involved as the club operates in the margins. In December it closed for a few days apparently after receiving a warning through the grapevine that it might receive a visit from some unwanted guests.
Whether or not customers send a message before showing up they must still seek out entrance when they arrive at the building. For foreigners this means approaching the plainly clothed security guard who hangs around in the lobby and saying “sauna” or “Jimmy” which is supposedly the name of an English speaking manager but more likely a sort of code word that all staff members understand.
Once the security guard is notified he will call to the management on a walkie talkie and say “Jimmy” along with some other things in Chinese. He will also point out the door which leads to the entrance of Red House Sauna.
Customers who pass through these doors are confronted with a white stairway that looks like something out of a horror movie with walls marked with what one hopes is smeared red paint. This stairway leads to a grey metal door with a very small sign. Next to the door is a bell but the management usually has the door open before the customer even arrives thanks to the notification given by the security guard in the lobby.
Foreign customers who enter are greeted by a manager who asks if the can speak Chinese. If the answer is no the managers rely on a translation application in their phone to communicate.
Entering the actual facilities requires following the manager through some halls into a locker room that looks a lot like a run down version of the changing rooms at Macau saunas. Customers put their clothes and other possessions other than a phone into a locker and given a pair of short shorts and a big shirt to wear that in my opinion is better than the robes given at better places since it doesn’t have to be tied. Customers are also given a pair of blue slippers and a wrist band that holds the key to their lockers and numbers that allow the sauna to track their purchases.
After putting on the sauna gear customers are asked if they have booked a specific lady before visiting. Red House maintains pictures and lists of women on staff so that customers can book appointments ahead. Some women are apparently so busy that customers who do not book them in advance will never even know they exist.
Customers who book ahead are taken to a private room where their lady of the hour will meet them. Other are led by a manager through a series of elaborately twisting hallways past countless young Chinese guys in black Adidas training jackets to a main display room where the various women working at the place assemble to great customers. Most customers at Red House are Chinese but surprisingly they seem to pay little attention to foreign customers. Additionally the hallway traffic is well managed so that customers rarely cross paths.
The display room at Red House Sauna looks like a miniature disco. The long room is lined with mirrors and has a slightly elevated floor. The women form a “U” shape around the walls of the room with very large signs pinned to their clothes indicating their identification numbers and classification.
The number of women working at Red House at any given time is pretty amazing even considering that Shanghai is such a large city. The line up usually consists of at least three dozen women and sometimes even more. The women who hail from all over China and in some cases the world are mostly attractive with a few extreme beauties and some who would be on the lower end of most scales. They wear sexy dresses or lingerie depending on their classification and all have their hair and makeup done up.
During any line up a few of the women will smile and a few will look indifferent but all seem open and willing even for foreign customers. Ultimately the name of the game is making money and all the ladies who work at Red House appear to be totally up for it.
The line up is so long that it can be difficult to customers to get a good look at all the women. While there are no binoculars on hand as is the case at Darling 1 in Macau customers are invited to enter the room and inspect the women up close though it’s easy to see how that could be a little awkward or uncomfortable even for a hardened veteran of the sex industry.
After a customer selects a lady by approaching her and asking for her hand she will lead him to one of many private rooms that look like worn down versions of the quarters at Emperor in Macau. Each room has a small bed covered in red pleather and a shower room with a similar bed. There are also small televisions in each room but these are rarely put to use.
Because the beds in the shower rooms have gathered some black mold spots with use they are covered with clear plastic sheeting which shows some concern for customer well being even though replacing the beds would obviously be a better choice.
The routines in the private rooms are pretty much as they are in any similar establishment in Asia though there is always some level of variation between individual providers. Typically the customer disrobes and relaxes on the bed while the lady prepares the room and shower. The customer then lays on the shower bed where he is washed from and back. That is followed by a body to body nuru style* massage with the woman sliding her soaped up nude body against the customer’s front and back. All parts of the body are cleaned including the most intimate of areas including the anus which is understandable considering the activities that follow.
After showering and sliding around the customer is rinsed and dried then sent to the bed again to wait while the provider cleans herself off. When the provider comes to the bed she performs a perfunctory massage on the customer then puts him on all fours and licks his crack before turning him over for some bare oral action followed by a covered full service finish.
While all women are different there do seem to be some trends at Red House that differ from other places. One example is that providers at the sauna tend to clean intimate areas of customers with a mix of soap and minty toothpaste. Another practice is to spray down the most intimate areas of customers with some sort of cleaner that is hopefully not Windex before giving them a little tongue service. Most also do the hot and cold water oral routine though that can also be found in other Chinese saunas throughout Asia.
There is always some degree of mechanical performance in any place where women see multiple customers and go through the same routine each time though the gals on staff at Red House seem to put in real effort. Some put on performances that could please the pickiest of guys. None seem to be miserable or unhappy with their work and most have a positive attitude and see their work as a stepping stone toward something else.
After finishing with full service customers can spend the remainder of their time hanging around with their provider. Lounging around or chatting at normal practices during that down time. Those who hope to rely on translation applications on their phones to facilitate communication may be out of luck since wireless reception is poor in the depths of the sauna where the real action takes place.
After the time period for a full service session is up a phone on the wall rings. The provider answers it and then hands the phone to the customer who will be asked if everything is okay. If he says yes the session will end and the provider will lead the customer by then hand back through the labyrinth of halls and back into the changing room.
Theoretically customers could stop off for other services like food or perhaps “real” massages but it might be tough for someone with no Chinese skills to navigate. Unlike the Macau and German sex saunas the atmosphere isn’t lounge-like at all.
A manager waits in the changing room and helps open lockers which require a customer key and a manager key to open. After customers get dressed they are led to a slightly disheveled lobby where they can settle their tab with cash or credit. All major currencies are accepted for cash payments though Chinese money gives the most value. UnionPay is the only credit card the establishment accepts.
The prices at Red House are reasonable considering the city and the circumstances the place operates under. Customers who contact the place by WeChat and ask for Jimmy are also given discounts.
Customers who arrange their sessions by getting in tough with Jimmy pay 750¥ ($114 USD) for a 70 minute session with a “normal” B girl. This includes multiple pops but no shower service. Shower service with a B girl is an additional 100¥.
The charge for an 80 minute session with a “model” A lady costs 998¥ ($152 USD) and includes shower service. For some reason customers are sometimes only charged 950¥ for this service. Any woman who has had plastic surgery and a small backside seems to be classified as an “A” model at Red House.
A 80 minute session including shower service with a “medium” M lady costs 1398¥ ($213 USD) and a 60 minute session with a “top model” T woman that includes two pops runs 1598¥ ($243 USD).
Sixty minute one shot no shower sessions with western “W” women are most expensive of all at 1698¥ ($259 USD) though western women are either rare at Red House or booked so often that they almost never appear in the display room.
As a medium range sauna with worn facilities but a large staff a place like Red House sauna wouldn’t stand out in a place like Macau or even Kuala Lumpur. But in Shanghai it does especially since it goes out of its way to accommodate foreigners even when they don’t know a single word in the local language. I give it an above average score of three-and-a-half stars.
Red House Sauna, 333 Zhaojiabing Road, Shanghai, China. Open seven days a week from 1:00 PM to 2:00 AM. Phone: (0086) 159-2173-8017. WeChat ID 15921738017.