Bali Gigolos: Why Aussie women are paying for sex
BALI'S Kuta beach is as unpretentious as a rubbish dump.
You can swim among native noodle packets and tropical-coloured plastic bags, you can get your toenails cut and your hair braided, and you can save a horse and ride a Kuta cowboy.
"Women come to us because they want to be respected, they want to be treated right" 'Brown Sugar' told me (that's what how he wanted me to name him in the story by the way).
Brown Sugar, 21, is one of Bali's many male gigolos. Often called Kuta beach-boys, these sex workers are young, handsome, lean, tanned Indonesian men who give their attentions to female tourists.
"Most of the time we really do find the women attractive … I prefer sex with caucasian women, they are wilder," Brown Sugar said, as he sat on a surfboard on the ground in front of me.
"The gift is usually just a bonus."
Brown Sugar = Artificial Sweetener? Possibly - I mean his comment did taste a little too sweet to be true.
That said, after several days of observing the Kuta Beach boys for this story, I noticed their admirers were not usually women who would struggle to get a date with a man back home - most were young, attractive and socially adept.
So what do these guys offer them that others don't?
"All we do is ask women what they want and then provide them with that," he said "We give them massages, we treat them right."
I met a young blonde Australian sitting with a group of tanned Indonesian surfer-boys.
"They are more attentive," she said. "I just find them more respectful, more affectionate than most Aussie men."
But it's not just Aussie women. The two most common nationalities by the Kuta Cowboys' side were young Japanese and Korean ladies. When I asked Brown Sugar why this was the case he introduced me to his friend, "The Korean Killer".
"We treat the Korean ladies as equal, we don't see them as any lesser or better than us," he told me.
Tellingly, South Korea is a place where young educated women come up against traditional values - like being expected to stay at home while men bringing in the cash.
Japan is another place where females are known to often struggle for independence and senior jobs. Both the Japanese and the Koreans seem to be finding a sense of empowerment, freedom and status on Bali's beaches they often struggle to find at home.
The Bali Gigolo phenomenon might be as unexpectedly informative as it is right on trend: A 2015 study from the University of Lancaster's Criminology Department suggested the British women who were paying for sex with male escorts were not desperate and dateless, but busy career professionals in their 30s and 40s - often too busy or not interested in conventional relationships.
The same study showed the market for male sex services online is rising a faster rate than those for adverts for women escorts. Indeed, Bali Gigolos are also, unsurprisingly, moving off the beaches and advertising online.
Through Facebook I found Steven - he started the Bali Boyfriend and Male Escort Service about four years ago.
Steven, 27, of Balinese-Japanese descent, told me he sees about four clients per month - most of them Australian, Korean, Japanese and Russian.
"Generally the age range is between 22 and 40," he explained. "Only about half of them want sex …. They usually want me to accompany them on some events and to treat them special. They want to be understood and to be treated properly."
I asked what other men might be able to learn from him, based on what women ask him for.
"Men should learn to understand what women need, and how to treat them properly with respect and mutual understanding ... It's more than just sex, it's the art of touching their hearts and souls," Steven told news.com.au.
"Most men just fall asleep after sex - I ask what they want." he added
And what is that?
"That want me to be gentle and they want to be given oral sex," he explained.
That's similar to what the next interviewee told me too, but not before sending this when I asked him how he wanted to be identified in the story:
I am Roy Gonzales: Bali - Indonesia
32 y old , 175cm, 65 Kg
To clarify, Roy does do massages with happy endings for women.
He told me all of his clients were women aged between 30 and 45, who almost always want "to be stimulated throughout the body ... They like a massage first. I will touch all over their bodies, and in the end I will have sex with them. The secret is must follow the will of the woman. The game should be long," he explained.
Being affectionate, paying more attention and asking women what they want sounds pretty simple really.
Dr Marie Tudor from Adelaide Sex Therapy told news.com.au that both her male and female clients complain their partners are not attentive enough.
"Some women say that they would like more lead up to sexual touching - for example, the massaging the Balinese gigolos provide," Dr. Tudor told news.com.au.
"In a relationship context, some women feel unable to get in the mood for sex when there have been domestic tensions and little warmth and appreciation from their partners."
But sex with gigolos in Bali doesn't come without modern realities, like the risk of HIV.
Emily Perry, an independent HIV and harm reduction consultant based in Denpasar, said HIV infection is a serious problem right across Indonesia and is concentrated among five key groups in Bali including male sex workers and their clients.
"People take risks that they don't take at home when they go on holiday - be it not wearing a helmet on a motorbike or having sex," Perry said.
"I do get western clients coming in to see me for a HIV test all the time - usually panicked after doing something they regretted the night before."
Play it safe - fair enough. But what about the issues of power, exploitation and money?
"In my experience women who do it are condemned in the same way as men - for objectifying and wielding power over men," says Dr Laura Agustín, an anthropologist and author of the book Sex at the Margins.
"They are accused of racism and sexualising blackness. Is this all the erotic side of imperialism? I guess so. But we are all caught up in it; there is no perfectly clean place to stand." Dr Agustin said.
What I can confirm, for very different reasons, is there isn't any perfectly clean place to stand on Kuta beach.
Yet, I did find somewhere pleasant to sit - under the shade and with the never-ending local sixpack stomachs on display.
Around the world, other common male escorts for tourists (the "Rent-a-Dreads" in Jamaica, "the Marlboro Men" in Jordan, "the Bumsters" in Gambia, the "Drummer Boys" in Senegal) are known for being quite tall.
But height wise - Indonesians are on average the smallest nationality in the world. And - ah, well, do you see where I am going with this?
I had to ask Brown Sugar: "I'm wondering ... everywhere else that is known for female sex tourism the guys are notorious for being well hung."
"Well hung don't make always make a girl happy," Brown Sugar retorted. "They want romance, they want company."
"So what do you think about the Kuta cowboys anyway?" he later asked.
"All this is news to me," I explained. "I like men."
"Do you have no genitals?" Brown Sugar asked, "Or did they get injured in accident. Does your dick not work anymore?"
"No, it still works - that's not the issue."
"So how much does it cost you to do that to a man?"
"Nothing, usually, many men are like this."
Brown Sugar gave a look of pensive confusion, then staring out to the ocean he said:
"Well y'know what man, if you like this and they like this, then I am very happy for you and I hope you find a nice Balinese guy."
A week on Kuta beach: A learning experience all-round apparently.