Chinese women seek boyfriends for hire

Societal and parental pressures on China's single women over the long holiday make companion rentals a big business.

By Jason Notte Feb 13, 2013 2:41PM
Image: Businessman in China ( Brooklyn Production/Corbis)Much like Joey Ramone, there are several gentlemen in China who wanna be your boyfriend. It's going to cost you, though, and their hourly rate starts at the price of a downloaded Ramones album.

With Chinese Lunar New Year and Valentine's Day so close on the calendar this year, ABC News is reporting that Chinese shopping site Taobao has seen an 884% spike in searches for the Chinese characters that translate to "rent-a-boyfriend."

The search results list payment plans that start at $8 an hour for a night at the movies, $16 if it's a horror movie and a sliding scale of fees for basic conversation, dinner parties, a night out for drinks or meeting the parents.

The Chinese aren't alone in the friend rental business, as such U.S. websites as lend out companions for sporting events, movies, city tours and even prom dates for a fee. The stakes are a bit higher in China, however, as ABC News notes the parental and societal pressure on women to find a companion and get married is much more intense than it is in the U.S. overall.

The state media refers to women over age 27 as "leftover" women. China's arbitrary societal cutoff for marriage at age 26 recalls the disparaging Japanese term for single women of that age and older: Christmas cake, an item nobody wants after Dec. 25. With single Chinese women heading home for weeks at a time to mark the New Year, the idea of having someone around to get the parents off their back is driving an entire industry.

One rent-a-boyfriend site cited by ABC charges $1.45 a day for wake-up calls and tacks on the cost of "boyfriend" mobile minutes as an extra charge. Want someone to go shopping with you in your hometown? That's $6.42 an hour. The cost of a party pal or drinking partner varies by the length of the party and what you're drinking, but an all-inclusive package goes for $128 a day. Handshakes, hugs and goodbye kisses on the cheeks or forehead are free.

If this seems a little too “Midnight Cowboy” for comfort, just know there are some big paperwork differences between boyfriend services and the escort industry. For one, there are "no sex" clauses in the contract that entitle customers to a full refund if there are unwelcome advances and result in jail time for a handsy boyfriend-for-hire once the cops get involved. If it works out, however, the matchmaking fee can get far more costly than a few dinners with mom and dad.

More on moneyNOW

Tags: Drama
Feb 13, 2013 4:47PM

Sounds pretty "liberal" to me.  Is it taxed?

China's answer to the american "escort industry"?

Don't tell Boxer or Palosi.

Feb 13, 2013 4:39PM
interesting because everything else you read is that there is a shortage of women in China and they pretty much wait  for the guy with the largest dowery offer to get married.
Feb 13, 2013 4:02PM
This is about the funniest thing I've read in quite sometime. "Leftover and Christmas Cake" used to describe women is fairly cruel but funny in a way. I wonder what they call men past the age of 27?
Feb 13, 2013 3:54PM
When is the next flight to China? I can't even give this little thing away here!!!
Feb 13, 2013 3:34PM
I would like to rent a tight Chinese woman for a night
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