No sex please, just cutesy flirting and strawberries for China's online hostesses

Thu Apr 16, 2015 5:10pm EDT
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By Natalie Thomas

BEIJING (Reuters) - In China's online hostessing world, men find virtual company and the women can find riches.

Student Xiao Yue, 21, spends four hours most days chatting online with fans who shower her with virtual roses and other presents.

She is one of more than 10,000 hostesses on the internet site, a live broadcasting web platform where anyone can record themselves singing, playing piano, dancing or just chatting.

The hostesses are predominantly singers, playing to an audience that is 90 percent male, and mostly between the ages of 20 and 35. Acting cute is okay. Anything explicitly sexual is not.

Xiao Yue’s specialty is to sajiao – a very Chinese type of flirting characterized by the woman acting in a cutesy childlike manner and speaking in a whiny voice. She puts on little dance mime routines one minute, seductively eats strawberries the next.

In return, users show their appreciation by sending her virtual gifts, which can be worth as much as thousands of yuan.

She admits many who have not used the service may find it hard to understand.

"We don’t know each other but as time goes on, there's this indescribable feeling. They really support you, and their support improves your self-esteem... Perhaps people who don’t normally use this service won’t be able to understand the feeling."   Continued...

Online hostess Xianggong checks her mobile phone as she sits on her bed after a live broadcast in Beijing, February 10, 2015. REUTERS/Jason Lee