Researching for a role in his next movie, local actor Mark Lee said he was amazed by the lives and inner-workings of pimps in Singapore, and some of the stories he was told.
After starring in the family-friendly Reunion Dinner released earlier this year, Lee’s next project is the gritty Geylang – directed by Boi Kwong – where he plays a foul-mouth pimp, or “manager of prostitution” as he terms it.
The action-thriller neo-noir is set in the infamous red-light district, and connects five seemingly unlinked stories – surrounding crime, sex and violence – that unfold in one action-packed night.
The movie also stars Sheila Sim, Shane Mardjuki and Taiwanese actress Patricia Lin.
In preparation for his role, the 53-year-old Lee spent hours chatting with a real-life pimp from Geylang, as well as a triad boss, to learn about the trade and the district.
In an interview with AsiaOne, he said: “After chatting with them about the lives of prostitutes and their own experiences, I realised how little we know – we are like frogs in a well.
“Their lives are so exciting, and some of their experiences will even bring you to tears.”
“For instance, the pimps really take care of the women under their charge and they even help the women find partners. There are also some women who marry their former customers, start a family and later bring their kids to visit their ex-managers.”
He added some “managers” would dote on their charges and advise them to stop their work after a period of time to look for a good man to marry.
Interestingly, famous people in Singapore, including celebrities, also visit a particular brothel in Geylang, Lee was told.
He said: “Some appear on TV and some in newspapers. He mentioned a few but he didn’t tell me their names – because there are still ethics in the industry.
“He told me the platforms that the famous customers are on. His customers go to his brothel because it’s the only one that has parking spaces at the back door.”
You can watch the full interview here.