Cambodian hostess bars are mostly limited to the capital city of Phnom Penh with a few exceptions. I have written http://query.nytimes.com/search/sitesearch/?action=click&contentCollection®ion=TopBar&WT.nav=searchWidget&module=SearchSubmit&pgtype=Homepage#/free chat about these bars in the past though new bars are appearing all the time even as old standbys disappear from the scene.
the filling station bar in cambodiathe filling station bar in cambodia
In between covering venues such as the aforementioned hostess bars I have also published dozens of interviews with people in the sex industry over the years. As of yet I have no interviewed any of the many women in Cambodia. I rectify that now with this interview of a Phnom Penh hostess bar worker. I trust that you will find it entertaining at the very least.
This interview does not appear in my four part “Sex Talk” book series of interviews with people in the sex industry but many others do.
How old are you and where are you from?
I am 22. I am from Kampot Province.
How long have you been in Phnom Penh?
I used to go to school here. I lived with my auntie. Then I went back to the province. I came back here two years ago.
Did you come alone?
I came with my young sister.
Were you scared to move to Phnom Penh at that age?
No. I am not scared. I told my sister not to be scared too. But now she is too brave.
So you came to Phnom Penh to work in the bars?
No! I came here to work. And I don’t want to stay with my mom any more. She fights with me too much. She doesn’t fight my sister or my brother. She only fights me.
How did you end up working in a bar?
I worked at a restaurant with my sister. But the boss was crazy. She always yelled to the staff. We all hated her. Her husband was no good also. He had sex with many of the girls. He called me to his office many times but I never went. I asked one guy who worked with me to go. He understood me and he always went for me.
So you didn’t stay there long?
I worked there about three months.
Then you went to work in the bars?
My sister wanted to find another job. We walked around. I saw that one bar had a sign outside looking for staff. So we went inside. We met the manager. She asked me if I knew anything about bars. I told her I didn’t know anything. She said we sell alcohol to the customers. She told me and my sister to come the next day to work.
Did you go back?
Yes. We went the next day. But we didn’t know anything. We wore t shirts and we didn’t have any makeup. Haha. I think we looked so bad.
Did you like it?
No. We worked one day. We didn’t get any money. So I didn’t go back. But the manager called me and told me to please come back. So I went back. But my sister never went back. She works in another restaurant now.
Do you like it now?
How much money can you make?
I can make about 500 dollars every month.
That’s not bad. How much is your salary?
My salary is $150 every month. I get $1.50 for a lady drink. And I get tips.
So you get a lot of lady drinks?
We have to get about one hundred lady drinks every month. If we don’t get enough they cut the salary. But I always get one hundred.
Do you go out with customers?
Never! Other girls go out with customers. I never sleep with customers. I don’t care. One or two times I went to the casino or a club with some customers and some girls. But I never have sex for money.
But you have sex right? You’re not a virgin?
It’s a bad question. I am not a virgin. I had a boyfriend.
Sorry. How much did you make when you worked in the restaurant?
My salary was 110 dollars every month. But they always cut the money. If you dropped a dish or use more than 5 minutes to eat they cut the salary.
How much do you pay for your room?
My room is fifty dollars. I have to share it with three girls. All together it is one hundred and fifty dollars every month.
What else do you do with your money?
I send money to mom. And I have to go to the market every day to do make up and hair.
How long do you think you will work in this bar?
I want to stop soon. Getting drunk every day isn’t good. It’s not good for my body. I see already.