Kupu Kupu Malam, a prostitute in Bali talks about her life and work to Mark Ulyseas
The world’s oldest profession exists on the assumption that human beings need physical sustenance and tender loving care – for a price; the end justifying the means or vice versa. The professional gets paid for the services rendered and the customer leaves after having given into an urge or a fantasy or both, as the case may be.
The professional is a butterfly that exists precariously on the edge of humanity, shunned by a hypocritical society and used as a receptacle for the male/female libido. Often the lives of such individuals become easy targets for unscrupulous people, warped religious aficionados and perverts.
The prevalent apathetic society that feeds on the lasciviousness of life only fuels the urge in many of us to fall prey to carnal desires that exceed the boundaries of propriety and common sense (morals in this case being elastic).
This is an excerpt from the conversation that took place. Some details have been omitted – names/places have been changed to avoid embarrassment to known/unknown persons and to maintain a semblance of decorum.
Tell us your name and where do you come from?
I won’t tell you my real name. You can call me Tina, that’s the name one of my customer’s calls me. Actually it’s the name of his wife. He says he loves his wife. I am not from Bali. I came here about five years ago, leaving my six-month-old baby with my parents.
You are married?
I was married for little less than a year till I got pregnant. My husband was very angry and divorced me because he didn’t want children.
My parents who were very poor couldn’t support me so I began selling vegetables at the local bazaar. At that time we were surviving on US 50 cents a day. Tired of such a poor life I came to Bali thinking I could get a job for a lot of money. I guess I have. (Laughs).
How much money do you send home every month?
How many members in your family?
There are five of us – my father, mother, younger brother and my five-year-old daughter.
Do your parents know what you do?
Yes but they don’t say anything. Such things are never spoken about at home. My mother keeps telling me to leave this job and to return home to look after my daughter and maybe to start an honest business there. I think I will retire next year and return home if God wills it.
Have you saved enough for your retirement?
I have a house, car, ten Are of land, many motorcycles that are given out on hire and I hope to open a shop in my hometown to sell nice things from Bali.
How old are you?
I am 24 years old. Been in this job for nearly five years.
How did you become a Kupu Kupu Malam?
When I came to Bali I met this very kind taxi driver who patiently explained how I could become a working girl. In fact he got me my first customer, David, who paid me US$15/-. He too was very helpful and got me many rich customers. He loved me but I hated him. And you know why?
Because he took advantage of me, he threatened to report me to the police if I didn’t give him a freebie for every few customers he got me. But he never took money from me. Thankfully he died of cancer after about a year of dealing with me.
How old was the youngest and the oldest customer? And how many customers do you entertain a day?
The youngest was a sixteen year old from Frenchie (France). And the oldest was a seventy year old from England. The Englishman was very gentle and treated me like a lady. I would have married him if he were not already married. On a normal day I have two or three customers. But this number goes up during peak tourist season. Then I some times have around eight or nine of them. I don’t mind. Some are very scared; others give me presents and food.
Have you been sick with a disease you could have contracted from your customers?
Yes, twice I had to go to the doctor. Now I insist on using protection otherwise no happy ending.
Do you believe in God?
I believe in a God but I curse the world for making me a woman. Men just phone me, use me and then go back to their wives. Men are like Bali dogs. That’s why I like spending mental and physical time with women. They talk to me, listen to me when I am speaking to them and are always understanding when I sometimes mess things up. Above all they are very gentle in bed.
What is your favorite color?
Black because it covers all what I do and no one on the road can see through it.
Do you have a boyfriend?
I have many boyfriends – One at home and three (New Zealand, Spanish and Australia) here in Bali. My Australian friend wants to marry me and take me away. He knows what I do for a living but he truly loves me. I don’t trust men. They can’t stay with one woman for life. They have to try new ones all the time.
What goes through your mind when you are alone in your room?
I lie in bed and think about the men. How sad they really are. How stupid they are. And then I begin to feel happy because I know they will need me whenever my phone rings. So many men thinking about me, makes me feel good. I make them happy and then I take their money. I get angry when they take credit and don’t pay on time.
What was your wish when you were a little girl?
I wanted to be happily married and to live a decent life.
If you had one wish from God what would you ask for?
To be born a man.
© Mark Ulyseas. This was published in 2009, Bali, Indonesia.