On one Chinese website dedicated to boyfriend and girlfriend rental, most of the customers are bachelors looking for a decent, polished woman to play their girlfriend. Many customers, and fake partners for hire, specify that they only require or provide "green" services – meaning no sexual services are involved, not even kissing.
"I am renting out my time only, not my body," says a 27-year-old woman from Shenzhen on the website.
One man claims to be a professional actor and says he can not only pretend to be a temporary boyfriend or lover, but provide emotional support and even enter a fake marriage. Another one offering his services says he can provide cover to a client for an extended period of time by making regular phone calls to their parents – for an extra charge, of course.
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Users of this website are required to register, meaning they must state their occupation, marital status, educational background, weight and height. It is also mandatory they register their body shape (choosing from descriptions such as sexy, curvy, petite, standard and muscular).
Since most such websites function merely as chat rooms to connect two parties, rather than as middlemen, there is no way of ensuring the quality of the services a fake partner provides if hired, or that they match their profile pictures – or even whether they will show up.
However, some businesses have adopted a more sophisticated and lucrative model. One such website, Zuren77, uses the tagline "rent a person for one dollar" and calls itself a crowdfunding platform. Its interface looks very similar to that of online shopping apps; there are location filters to narrow down your search, recommendations of popular products and a shopping cart to which to add your desired items – in this case, girls.