Penetrating sex shops in HCMC
  • | Tuoi Tre | July 24, 2012 11:04 AM
Most sex shops in Ho Chi Minh City are only allowed to sell condoms, but many have crossed the limit to provide illegal sex toys and fake or unregistered aphrodisiacs.
 A sex shop on Ha Huy Giap Street in District 12 in Ho Chi Minh City
They are illegally imported into Vietnam by magnates who then spread them to shops in the city and other provinces.

A magnate named Ngoc said, “It costs an owner 20-30 million dong [US$960 – 1,440] to run a sex shop in the city, and he can make back millions of dong from only two customers.”

He added he could even supply anesthetic drugs to trap girls, but warned of great care to avoid overdose.

All kinds of sex toys in the shops

Sex shops have recently sprung up around Ho Chi Minh City, especially on streets like Phan Dang Luu, Quang Trung and Cach Mang Thang Tam, which have dozens such shops.

Announcements of staff recruitment for the sex shops have flooded online websites, leaflets and newspapers. Not only do they get salary, but staff members also earn commissions from the products they sell.

In the role of an employee of a sex shop on Pham The Hien Street in District 8, a Tuoi Tre journalist was required by Tuan, the owner, open the door of the shop halfway so that clients wouldn’t feel shy while standing inside.

And all staffers have to introduce the products right after a client enters so that they may not be shy about asking for something. A typical greeting must be, ‘Hello, here we have condoms, lubricant gel, dildos and other sex toys. What do you want?’

Immediately after the greeting a customers, the owner asks his staff to take the products out from a drawer to show to clients.

Tuan also gives his staff an A4 sheet listing different names of products the shop carries, such as aphrodisiacs for men and women with boastful advertisements of their effects as ‘it’s colorless, odorless and can be mixed into water, beer, wine, or coffee for quick effect.’

Clients usually visit the shop at night, between 8 pm and 11 pm daily, while just a couple of customers pass by during the day. They differ in age from young people to middle-aged men and elderly people in their 60s or 70s.

Once, a man who is a construction contractor and a regular client of the shop, asked bluntly if the shop has any special goods.

Holding in hand a dildo with a tip in the shape of a dragon head with battery-charged vibration, he gave a nod for its price of VND1.2 million ($58) and took out a bank note of 100 US dollars.

At another sex shop, HT on Ten Lua Street in Binh Tan District, hundreds of kinds of condoms were displayed on shelves publicly, while sex toys and drugs for external and internal use were kept in a cabinet. The price and effect of each product is listed on sheets of paper.

The magnate Ngoc advised sex shops that drugs for external use can also be on public display, as owners don’t get punished as heavily as they would if illegal drugs for internal use were shown.

The HT owner asked his staff to learn by heart the lists and taught from his experience on receiving customers.

“They are mainly in one of three categories – those coming out of curiosity, those in need of products and information, and finally those who are ‘professionals’ with hands-on experience,” the owner said.

Most clients visiting sex shops are seeking lubricant gel and sex toys, not condoms, he admitted.

“If sex shops were open only for the sale of condoms, we would suffer great losses. We have to cover other products for profit,” HT’s owner said.

Big profit

Research by Tuoi Tre journalists in the roles of sales staff concludes that owners reap huge profits from their shops. A shop may make several million dong per day after deducting other costs.

It’s normal for a sex shop to gain a profit of tens of millions of dong per month.

Usually sex shop owners earn a big profit thanks to the fact that they sell items at seven or eight times higher than the price of input.

A unit of four Viagra 100mg pills is priced at VND35,000 ($1.7), but is sold to clients at VND220,000 – over six times higher. A can of aphrodisiacs for women imported at a price of VND60,000 is sold at VND380,000. Another kind of aphrodisiac for men is sold at VND1.2 million, while its input price is only VND200,000.

A drug importer admitted they all come from China and Malaysia and have no certificates of origin.

A sex shop owner admitted that aphrodisiacs do little of what is advertised, but almost no one returns to complain thanks to shyness.

Pham Kim Binh, acting chief of the inspection unit of the Department of Health in Ho Chi Minh City, said the sale of aphrodisiacs and dildos violates the current law.

Aphrodisiacs are only supposed to be sold with a doctor’s prescription, while employees of the shops have no relevant certificates, he added.

Recently, police and relevant authorities in District 6 arrested a lorry and seized a large amount of aphrodisiacs and sex toys without origin certificates.

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