The sleaze has scaled down due to a number of factors. One was the enforcement actions by the police vice squad. It was reported in the newspapers on June 24th 2011 exactly 2 years ago 20 naked Vietnamese hostesses were caught during a police raid at Joo Chiat Road on Wednesday night. They were found by policemen serving the customers naked in a lounge with some having sex. Another factor is the ecomonic restructuring in Joo Chiat. It was reported that the seedy establishment at its peak in 2004 had 44 karaoke bars and 38 massage parlours. According to the newspapers report there were about 15 such bars and 3 massage parlours left.
Joo Chiat Road KTV lounge
Police raided a karaoke lounge at Joo Chiat Road
Vices in Joo Chiat is not new. Before the war there was prostitution in the area. Hotels doubled up as brothels to provide accommodations for the flesh trade. Some were caught and convicted in courts as shown below.
In the 1950/60s there were more hotels/brothels in the area. Girly bars lined both sides of Joo Chiat Road and Joo Chiat Place. The bar girls were mostly from Malaysia. Cigarettes were very cheap then and almost everyone smoked inside the bar filling the room with thick white smoke. Above the bars were rooms for massage and other services from the bar girls.
Operators of the vice trade were very innovative. They opened up man's hair saloon shop usually opposite the girly bars. Services in the saloon were hair cut/wash and body massage. Beer and stout were also available though illegal. If a client wanted privacy there was a curtain to go round the barber chair for seclusion. Who knows what went on behind the curtain.
There were licensed massage parlours too. Each room door had a rectangle glass window as a requirement. It was to allow the licensing inspector to see inside the room from a distance to prevent hanky panky business.
Then music lounge was introduced in Joo Chiat. There was a little stage with 3 piece live band and singers. When karaoke came to Singapore, the bigger bars updated to karaoke lounge with bright neon lights at the shop front. That was when the sleaze was seen openly on the five foot ways, roadsides etc.
New businesses such as Art Galleries, Design Studios, High-end Fashion and Décor shops have moved into the area. All Joo Chiat residents wanted to have a peaceful environment. Hope the sleaze in the area will die a natural death..