But fishballs aren’t all tasty treats…
The Cantonese phrase yu daan mui, “fishball girls,” refers to minors, usually schoolgirls, who allowed punters to grope their bodies in exchange for money in the 80s. Squeezing a yu daan mui’s barely-developed breasts was said to be similar to squeezing fishballs. These girls didn’t work at fish stalls, but in upstairs tearooms which were referred to as “recreation centers.” Just like compensated dating nowadays, sex was not in the package but was often implied.
The term came to light when David Lai’s 1982 film “Lonely Fifteen” blew our minds with its ruthlessly candid depiction of Hong Kong’s sex industry. Lead actress Becky Lam won Best Actress at the Hong Kong Film Awards for portraying a runaway who ended up as a fishball girl. This (supposedly) touch-only form of prostitution passed out of fashion when one-woman brothels became popular in the 90s.
Becky Lam taking a break in Lonely Fifteen