In Taiwan They Have Strippers at Funerals
Not that it really matters, because I'll be dead, emotionless and unable to see anything that's happening above ground, but my dream funeral checklist consists of loads of cute stuff, like white horses, cheesecake and glitter. After the service bit, I'd either like to be cremated and turned into a pink diamond, or have my body donated to Gunther Von Hagen, that German doctor with the funny hat, so he can plastinate me and whack my corpse in his Body Worlds exhibition, on show for the rest of the world to point at for eternity.
Maybe that's just a cultural thing, though. For example, in Taiwan, a traditional Buddhist burial ritual involves an open casket, the sacrifice of pigs, a 49-day-long ceremony with a procession of hired mourners and a cavalcade of strippers taking their clothes off in front of your relatives.
Those last two points derive from the fact that the quality of the deceased's afterlife is supposedly determined by the attendance at their funeral, so having five people mourn by your grave means nobody loved you, resulting in a rebirth into something hideous to punish you for having no friends. If you've got 5,000 people in attendance, however, your chance of reaching Nirvana goes through the roof. Considering strippers are a time-tested, scientifically-proven way of drawing a crowd, the trend of hiring some to dance at your funeral is getting increasingly popular in Taiwan.
Girls gyrate on electric flower cars, converted trucks that act as roaming, neon-lit stages for any funeral that requires their services. The fact that they're already on wheels also provides a pretty handy escape mechanism in case the police show up and decide to kill the funeral's buzz by arresting all the strippers.
The tradition started 20 years ago, when the Taiwanese mafia took hold of a huge chunk of the island's mortuary game. Combining business interests, they offered strippers from some of the clubs they owned for a cut rate to anyone who booked a funeral through one of their companies. Monopolising death and sex – that's the thug life. Their original explanation was that, besides attracting extra mourners, the strippers would act as gifts to lower gods who still enjoyed womanising.
The media got a hold of the story in 2006, when five female strippers were arrested at a funeral because their electric flower car couldn't get away in time.
The girls mostly come from a long line of graveside strippers and see their performances as nothing more than a means to a decent lifestyle, but are, to a degree, also flaunting their tradition to the Chinese government. China's traditionalists are concerned that the practice will dent the country's public morality, hence the crackdown at more and more funerals and the "funeral misdeeds" hotline recently set up by the authorities.
Why the authorities feel like they have to get involved is beyond me. As long as the deceased's family don't mind a bunch of naked women writhing around in memory of their son, daughter, husand, wife, father, or whatever, surely it's absolutely fine? It's not like anyone's forcing strippers on to these funerals – what a confusing practice that would be. If Hunter S. Thompson can be fired out of a cannon and Tupac's friends can smoke his ashes, why can't Taiwanese Buddhists have a light bit of T and A to gather a crowd?