While mainland China has made international headlines with crackdowns on the sex industry both the sale and the purchase of sexual services remain legal in the Special Administrative Region of Hong Kong. The “one country, two systems” deal isn’t only about the economy.
Hong Kong regulations apparently do prohibit things like pimping which in practice means that most legal prostitution is done through outcall escorting or women working one to a room. The latter setups are known as “walk ups” and typically consist of small apartments which single women use to host clients. The one woman brothels are sometimes scattered around but more often than not they are concentrated in particular areas of even buildings. Some of the women who work in isolated apartments require customers to book appointments through online portals such as the 141 website. Women who work in areas with lots of brothel apartments grouped together typically accept walk in clients.
The Fuji Building on Hong Kong island’s Lockhart Road is home to one of the largest and most well known concentration of walk up one-woman brothels in Hong Kong though you wouldn’t necessarily be able to know that by simply passing by. Unlike the brightly lit streets of Wan Chai the Fuji Building is an unassuming tower that masterfully blends in with all of the other commercial and residential buildings that surround it.
The Fuji Building is easy to find by its address even though it doesn’t look anything like a redlight district from the inside. Customers pass through a small entrance door before entering a lobby lined with white marble. Next they walk up a small flight of stairs which lead to two elevators. The building looks fairly typical except for the small signs on the wall which warn that filming the inside of the building and uploading the video to Youtube is unethical.
The elevators are small and more often than not crowded. The discomfort of traveling in these little lifts is exasperated by the incredibly loud music that is played inside of them. Thankfully the boxes move up and down at fairly fast speeds except when people are boarding or disembarking on every other floor.
The Fuji Building has 22 floors. The top 18 are used by working women. Some customers use experience or online reviews to guide them to a particular room but others who are just browsing ride up to the 22nd floor and then take the stairs down until they find a woman to their liking.
Most rooms in the upper floors house working women. Each room has a unique number and these are used by guys who compare notes online. When women are busy with customers or other things they usually hang a small wooden sign on their door that indicates that they are busy. The doors are often decorated with something like Christmas lights or other signage. When the Christmas lights are illuminated that usually means the woman inside is available but it’s not a sure thing. Guys are expected to ring the bells next to the doors. Knocking is considered to be rude.
Some women in the Fuji Building look at screens connected to cameras to see who is outside when they hear the door bell ring. If for whatever reason they don’t like what they see they don’t open the door. Others slightly open then quickly close the door to indicate disinterest. Most of the women will however open up for most guys if they are available.
When women do open up they quickly invite guys in to get things rolling. Most are from China and speak little English because most of the clients are local and frankly not very interested in conversation in any event. Typical prices are 500 HKD ($65 USD) for a quick session that includes uncovered oral followed by condom covered intercourse. Some charge a little more or less. Payment is discussed up front but usually delivered after services are rendered.
Guys are expected to shower in the room before the fun starts. Then they head to the bed for the service. The women can be mechanical in their ways which makes sense considering the venue but most are surprisingly eager and willing to do different things. After guys finish they can either get dressed and leave or take another shower before packing up. The women deliver what they promise and aren’t exactly clock watchers but it is clear that they want to maximize their time.
The majority of women are from China. Some are from Hong Kong. A few are from places like the Philippines, Thailand and even Russia. Most of the women are in their twenties and range from attractive to very attractive. Many wear sexy lingerie or even costumes that resemble French maids and such. Some women are older and those women tend to be among the most adventurous. Some of these older gals are even skilled in all sorts of fetish work and games but it would difficult for someone who didn’t speak their language to get involved in that.
Most women start working around 3:00 PM and close up shop around 1:00 AM. There can be some variation. Women come and go all day long as do guys looking for fun. The place never gets uncomfortably crowded but it can get busy at times.
The Fuji Building has a totally mainstream and natural feel to it despite the activities that go on in its walls. This shows that sex work does not have to be relegated to the shadows where it can be burdened with all sorts of dishonesty and even outright danger.
Hong Kong has a fairly sensible policy in place that allows areas like the Fuji Building to thrive though of course it could be improved. Laws requiring women to work alone are meant to combat organized rings but could theoretically also put women in danger.
At least sex work isn’t forbidden outright in Hong Kong. Meanwhile supposedly democratic countries with legally enshrined rights of all sorts continue to lock up adults for consensual activities which is coincidentally the same thing that happens under some of the most authoritarian regimes on earth.
Fuji Bldg, 381-383 Lockhart Rd, Bowrington, Hong Kong. Click here for a map.