Category Archives: Singapore

Sex tourism

Screen Shot 2015-10-01 at 23.29.24It is not clear how much whoring Burgess did in La Línea de la Concepción while he was stationed during the Second World War in Gibraltar, but he certainly drank deeply of the wine of the country while on the Malay Peninsula and in Borneo.

On his very first night in Singapore he picked up a Chinese lady of pleasure on Bugis Street and took her to

a filthy hôtel de passe full of the noise of hoicking and spitting, termed by the cynical the call of the East. I entered her and entered the territory.

He found the whole experience ‘enchanting’.

Elsewhere in his writings, however, he indicates a preference for Malay prostitutes over Chinese ones. Take, for instance, this extract from the 1959 novel Beds in the East:

And now Crabbe [engaging in a night of harlotry] had his own feather-light chattering burden [a Chinese prostitute]. Desire for a Chinese woman did not come easily: even at their lowest social level they were works of art, engendering a hardly kinetic emotion.

In his Confessions, Burgess writes:

I had better say a little about love-making in the East.

His readers breathed a sigh of relief. It would have been a dereliction had he omitted so say a little about this subject. He says:

With Malays there were certain restrictions on the amatory forms, laid down by Islam, so that only the posture of Venus observed was officially permitted. Islamic women were supposed to be passive houris. The demands of Islamic wives for frequent sexual congress did not indicate true sensual appetite: they were a test of the fidelity of their husbands.

A Malay female body,

musky, shapely, golden-brown, was always a delight. Malay women rarely ran to fat, which was reserved to the wives of the Chinese towkays and was an index of prosperity. Malay women kept their figures after childbirth through a kind of ritual roasting over an open fire, tightly wrapped in greased winding-sheets. They walked proudly in sarongs and bajus, their glossy hair permanently waved, their heels high. They were seductive as few white women are. Lying with Rahimah I regretted my own whiteness: a white skin was an eccentricity and looked like a disease.

He says of copulation in the country:

Simple though Malay sex was, it had an abundant vocabulary. To copulate was jamah or berjima or juma’at or bersatu (literally to become one), or sa-tuboh, asmara, betanchok (this term was peculiar to Perak), ayut, ayok and much much more. There was even a special term for sexual congress after the forty-day birth taboo — pechah kepala barut — and there were two for the boy’s initiation after circumcision — menyepoh tua, with someone older, menyepoh muda, with someone younger.

The orgasm

was dignified with an Arabic loanword, shahuat, or colloquially called rumah sudah ratip — literally, ‘the structure has gone into an ecstatic trance’, ratip or ratib being properly the term for the transport produced by the constant repetition of the holy name Allah. Where the Western term for experiencing orgasm is, in whatever language, ‘to come’, the Malay mind, using keluar, thinks of going out, leaving the body, floating on air.

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