Draped in Gucci, Prada and LV from head-to-toe, an attractive thin woman in her early 20’s walks arm-in-arm with a suited gentleman wearing a wedding ring. Her ring finger is bare. They sit down to have dinner with his business partners in a busy, trendy restaurant. After dinner, he has his driver take her home. He catches a cab back to his wife and kids.
In recent years, the concept of a 2nd wife, or “Ernai,” has become more prominent than ever in midst of China’s booming economy. It is now quite common for rich businessmen in China to take on a modern day concubine, where he’ll pay her, house her and clothe her all while living the day-to-day with his legal wife. There are several tiers of an ernai: purely gifts = casual ernai, gifts + cash = part-time ernai, gifts + cash + house + car = full time ernai. Obviously, you get what you pay for, so the more you give your ernai, the more you can demand from her. Most of the time, a “salaried” ernai is there to be arm candy and to provide hot sex. She has to be showered with high-end luxury brands, because after all, she’s groomed for you to show off in public.
I personally know a professional ernai who has been supported by the same married man for over 20 years. We’ll call her Lily. He pays her enough so she doesn’t have to work full time. Their arrangement is that he comes over every Thursday to have sex, then dinner, then more sex. Lily is now 45 and never been married. Her pay decreases every year she gets older. But, she considers herself lucky because just like models, it is rare to find women over 30 who are still desirable as an ernai.
Women who become an ernai early in life (some start as young as 19) become stuck because after they’re no longer desirable, they have no education or job skills to fall back on. The one thing they do have is power, if they’re smart enough to exercise it. Some women can get guys to support them forever just from blackmail. “I’ll tell your wife/go to the press if you cut me off.” Since many of these men are important foreign diplomats or political figures, they’d rather support these women than deal with the public backlash. What did I tell you about women being intelligently manipulative?
So, here’s a business idea. Let’s start an ernai training academy where we teach these women how to dress, how to put on makeup, how to recognize fake brands, and high-class etiquette. We churn out these high-end ernais and charge a shitload for men who want access to this exclusive group of girls. We negotiate a contract and a confidentiality agreement. This way, the women can’t use blackmail but are guaranteed a certain number of years under contract. Win-win for both parties! Who’s in?
(If you’d like to read more about this topic, pick up the book Foreign Babes in Beijing: Behind the Scenes of a New China, by Rachel DeWoskin)