Men hide your women. Women hide yourselves.
A screenshot of the Tantric handjob business that is terrifying the consciousness of Vietnamese people everywhere. The site, which provided numbers and an address, offers sexual satisfaction to paying female customers for the small price of $25.
According to a story published on November 29 by Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper, sinister perverts are stalking though the city peddling bottles of perfume capable of destroying all of your sexual inhibitions.
The paper's recent reporting on female sexual trends here in Ho Chi Minh City seem widely divergent and confusing. Nearly everything about the stories either doesn't make sense or seems like a pure fabrication.
The top half of the story entitled Vietnamese women concerned over aphrodisiac perfume introduces us to a series of concerned citizens without actual names. The first is a university student who cannot sleep when she learns that the universe contains a drug "that can arouse powerful sensual feelings."
Then the story explores a series of "rumors" including one about a businesswoman who woke up naked next to her boss after accepting a bottle of "luxury perfume" during a trip abroad. The final (rumor? myth? Urban legend?) describes a student who gets dosed by her boyfriend in a movie theater and is then lured to a hotel.
"As a result she got pregnant and decided to have an abortion," the story says before identifying the "perfume" as Amyl Nitrate or "poppers" - a designer drug popularized in the 1970's by GIs and gay club-goers looking for a cheap, dizzying head rush.
While advertisements for the product promise seductive properties hitherto unknown to science - more objective information suggests that they make you dizzy and relax your sphincters.
To Tuoi Tre's credit, the story concludes by quoting a doctor who assures us that poppers do not, in fact, have a magical ability to seduce fair young maidens. What made it notable however, is that it came out two days after a translation of a trend piece about how Vietnamese women in Ho Chi Minh City are now paying US$25 for Tantric hand jobs.
That's right, Tantric hand jobs.
The article, titled Vagina massage services freely advertised in Vietnam purports to be a translation of an "investigation" conducted by the Law and Society newspaper and relies heavily on sources identified by amputated names or initials, including a husband who "took [his wife to a massage parlor] to look for some strange feelings."
These strange feelings are allegedly created by massaging the yoni - a sanskrit word that translates to "sacred temple" - with one's hands or penis.
While we're all left to wonder if any of these people actually exists, the story seems to suggest that Vietnamese women are not all locked up in their respective homes tossing and turning at the thought that they'll fall victim to some sinister pervert perfume. Some of them are out in the world paying for sex while getting high-fived by their husbands.
If that's true, why is every source in these stories treated as if they're discussing delicate state secrets rather than their feelings about aphrodisiac perfumes and female hand jobs?
Outsiders typically attribute the use (or, more often, abuse) of anonymous sourcing as a result of the restrictions placed on press freedoms. In most cases, I can honestly say, it has more to do with social awkwardness. Even allowing for this, a story constructed entirely out of anonymous sources (particularly one about something as politically innocuous about hand jobs) smacks of make-believe.
To confirm that yoni massages actually exist, I tracked down one of the businesses ostensibly alluded to: masssageyoni.mov.mn - a site featuring an ad hoc stock photo explanation of their procedure. The site also promises that all of the masseurs are between 160 and 180 cm tall.
The two cell numbers listed on the website - connecting to a Mr. Lam and Mr. Gia Bao, respectively - didn't pick up. So I decided to head to 590 Cach Mang Thang Tam Street - a cavernous residential zone where seemingly hundreds of people share the same address.
A hotpot vendor and two female school secretaries volunteered to spend nearly an hour knocking on doors and asking neighbors if such a place actually existed. No one in the area had ever heard of a yoni massage or the Massage Yoni Parlor for that matter.
As the search petered out, my deputies lost interest. It began to seem as though this was another Nigerian Giggolo yarn.
When I finally stumbled upon a more traditional massage parlor in the next alley - the kind that caters exclusively to male clients - the teenage touts out front tried to hustle me inside.
"We have women in here," they kept hollering.
When I finally made it understood that I was looking for a massage parlor that catered only for women, they folded their arms in exasperation. Attempts to explain the new "sacred temple" trend were met with upturned eyebrows until the two school secretaries circled back to talk to me again.
They haggled with the touts out front and then threw up their hands.
"That place [The Massage Yoni Parlor] has been closed down," said Be, who works at the Australian International School. "Once the papers write about something like that, the police come out and shut it down."
Sadly, it seems Ho Chi Minh City's desperate housewives still have nowhere to turn.