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

Thursday, April 16, 2015 - 02:21

In China's online hostessing world, men find virtual company and the women can find riches. Sharon Reich reports.

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21-year-old student Xue Yueyue (SHWEH - YUEHYUEH) spends about four hours a day chatting online with fans who shower her with virtual gifts, that can be worth as much as thousands of yuan. Xiao's specialty is a type of Chinese flirting characterized by the woman acting in a cutesy childlike manner and speaking in a whiny voice. She is one of more than 10,000 hostesses on the Internet site bobo.com, a live broadcasting web platform where anyone can record themselves singing, dancing or chatting. Acting cute is okay, but anything explicitly sexual is not. SOUNDBITE: Xue Yueyue hostess and student, saying (Mandarin): "It's the Internet, which gives people a virtual feeling ... but we don't know each other. As time goes on there's this indescribable feeling, like they really support you, and their support improves your self-esteem." The hostesses are predominantly singers, playing to an audience that is 90 percent male, and mostly between the ages of 20 and 35. For Zhu Peihua (JU PAYWAH), who says he doesn't have enough money to get a girlfriend, it's all about companionship. SOUNDBITE: Zhu Peihua, bobo.com user, saying (Mandarin): "This is a real person. You can interact with them. I have some one who will talk to me." For some, the companionship can lead to infatuation. 32-year-old Wang Dong, began watching the broadcasts when he started working for bobo as a graphic designer. He soon found himself so infatuated with one hostess, he designed personalized virtual gifts for her. SOUNDBITE: Wang Dong, bobo.com user, saying (Mandarin): "I felt she was quite youthful, and she had such a sweet smile, it was just, every now and again she had this kind of feeling of sincerity ... so I watched her broadcasts every day." There are about 50 Internet companies in China running video chat services. The platforms typically take a cut of the money donated by users.

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

Thursday, April 16, 2015 - 02:21