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Charyan Brothels

As said before, the Charyans regard sex as an important part of both their public and private life. When work is finished, colleagues go to a brothel together, to enjoy the wine, the food, and the hospitality. A married couple may go together, and invite one of the hosts or hostesses to join them - no doubt used to the idea of moresomes by the traditional Charyan marriage.

Being a whore is nothing to be ashamed of. Cheap whores are not esteemed, but neither are beggars or street sellers, and the best whores rank with the richest merchants and sometimes even with the highest civil servants. But prostitution should be your job; playing the whore is not accepted, earning a little bit extra by receiving paying guests is a sure way of losing whatever respect you have in the eyes of your neighbours - just like cheating your partner by bedding your neighbour.

Whores can come from all classes; the only important thing is their prowess in the ars amatoria, their personality, and, of course, their looks. Descent counts for nothing: perhaps there are people who think it exciting to make love to the bastard daughter of the Emperor, but if she weren't capable, she would soon drift down to from the Golden Bowl to the Blissful Cloud, near the harbour, where the girls are clumsy and none too clean, but cheap.

A whore should be capable of more than mere physical exercise on the bedmat: they can sing, play an instrument, tell thrilling stories or recite indecent poems, throw the dice around (but a good landlady or landlord will have special stones for his boys and girls): in short, entertain their patrons pleasantly. Of course, they should be accomplished in giving massage, the soaping and rinsing of clients, and so on. The very best whores can compose original, striking literature.

Of course, there are both male and female whores, who can take clients of either sex, or specialize in one sex only. Most brothels are mixed, both as to personnel and as to clients - but specialized houses do exist. The Pinewood is one of those: it specializes in providing capable men for discerning men. The Bird's Head caters for everyone, provided they are rich and have good taste - only the poorest whores take on every client they can get. For a good evening, there should be an understanding, a liking between client and patron.

Two whores on the street,wearing their
veilsTwo whores on the street, wearing caps and veils. One has a gauze maile, the other a small cape.

Whores should look their very best, of course, to please their customers. Women wear a short shirt or richly embroidered open jacket, about navel-length - an elaborate version of the common maile. Sometimes a small cape is worn instead. Their legs can be covered by long, loose, silken stockings, fastened to a small girdle which hangs around their hips. Male whores wear a small - sometimes very small - loincloth, often elaborately embroidered. They can also wear a long, sleeveless, open coat, again embroidered. Short boots of soft, supple leather of padded silk ensure that the patron can remain curious about the feet of his or her choice.

Men wear their hair in one or two long braids. Female whores have long hair, too, but they wear their hair loose, in a bun, in a pony tail, or several braids, or braided around their head in a complicated pattern. They all wear a kind of hat, a small square cap.

A whore who walks the streets - but those are the lowest of the lowest and very much to be pitied, but poverty is a very real feature of life in Charya - wears, when she is working, a small mask or a veil. Once inside, that mask or veil is dropped. Those masks are farmed out at a high rent by the Friendly Society, the largest criminal organisation in Broi, which is jointly headed by the Second Eunuch and the Second Empress.

As for the makeup and scent, as can be read in the Garalwüshir, a woman is free to choose whether she will eliminate all body-hair, or not, but whatever she does, it should fit in with her age and build. The remaining hair will be oiled with scented oils. The eyebrows are thick and long these days, black in the best places, but the cheaper the whore, the more colourful he or she gets. Eyelids can be coloured too, and a thin stripe of kohl around the wimpers is considered comely, too. The lips should be as red as unripe cherries (ripe cherries for the better class of girl), and on the cheeks a blush, as natural as possible or very artificial and exactly round, according to the status of the brothel.

Jewelry can be worn in ears, nose, lips or navel. Charyan girls paint their breasts, mostly a becoming classical ochre with a bright red for the nipples, but, again, colour (or lack of it) is a sign of class. Nails of fingers and toes are painted, handpalms and footsoles are coloured with henna. Going into the baths with a girl is an experience: very soon colourful clouds of paint will be whirling and twirling in the water, while the girl will be embellished by nothing but her golden brown skin and drops of water. Some sarcastic authors have likened going into a brothel to the catching of parrots.

Both men and women wear scent, but those are very light, mostly, and often contained in the oil and paint. A dab of scent behind the ears, the arm-pits and labia is enough, but not really required. In every brothel incense will be burning continuously, anyway.

A woman can be long or short, plump or slim, boyish or matronly, have a small or a wide mouth, according to the tastes of her clients, but all, men and women, prefer large eyes, a small nose and small ears and soft skin. Ever since the breakdown of the empire, a drug, werat, has been available which enhances in the eyes of some the physical attractions of men and women, giving the women very large breasts, like those of Tiscim, and milky, cloudy eyes. The stuff is very, very addictive and unhealthy...

Men and boys must be without beard and moustache to be considered attractive. A long braid is prized, as is a large amount of curly hair where it suits them best. The torso, arms and legs should be hairless, which is not difficult for Charyan men, who are not very hairy by nature. Men apply aromatic oil to their whole bodies. Lips, eyebrows and cheekbones can be painted, depending upon the wishes of the clientele. Tattoos are abhorred, but a small piercing ring here and there is considered beautiful. Werat gives men a more angelic feature, with round, plump buttocks and a chubby face.


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Text and illustration: © 1999 Boudewijn Rempt - Optimized for Lynx