Selling 'smiles:' Inside the World of Shanghai's Male Sex Workers

Published: June 30, 2010

In a quiet apartment complex in Hongkou, a high-rise building, much like any other, stretches skyward. Inside is one of Shanghai’s 60 or so gay ‘massage’ parlors, a temporary home for some of Shanghai’s male sex workers.

This is one small part of China’s forgotten industry, a trade that many prefer did not exist, and so pretend it doesn’t. I am here with a team from Shanghai Leyi, an NGO that provides support to these sex workers plying their trade illegally and therefore with no recourse to official care, as it visits two such parlors.

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