In China, people attending funerals may have to do without a special form of entertainment: strippers. The Chinese government plans to work closely with the police to eliminate such performances, which are held with the goal of drawing more mourners.
Pictures of a funeral in the city of Handan in northern Hebei province last month showed a dancer removing her bra as assembled parents and children watched. They were widelycirculated online, prompting much opprobrium. In its Thursday statement, the Ministry of Culture cited “obscene” performances in the eastern Chinese province of Jiangsu, as well as in Handan, and pledged to crack down on such lascivious last rites.
In the Handan incident earlier this year, the ministry said, six performers had arrived to offer an erotic dance at the funeral of an elderly resident. Investigators were dispatched and the performance was found to have violated public security regulations, with the person responsible for the performing troupe in question detained administratively for 15 days and fined 70,000 yuan (about $11,300), the statement said. The government condemned such performances for corrupting the social atmosphere.
The government has been trying to fight the country’s funereal stripper scourge for some time now. In 2006, the state-run broadcaster China Central Television’s leading investigative news show Jiaodian Fangtan aired an exposé on the practice of scantily clad women making appearances at memorial services in Donghai in eastern China’s Jiangsu province.
The point of inviting strippers, some of whom performed with snakes, was to attract large crowds to the deceased’s funeral – seen as a harbinger of good fortune in the afterlife. “It’s to give them face,” one villager explained. “Otherwise no one would come.
CCTV found about a dozen funeral performance troupes offering such services in every village in the county, putting on as many as 20 shows a month at a rate of 2,000 yuan ($322) a pop.
“This has severely polluted the local cultural life,” CCTV intoned at the time, marveling at the sight of one women gyrating out of her clothes mere steps from a photo of the deceased. “These troupes only care about money. As for whether it’s legal, or proper, or what effect it has on local customs, they don’t think much about it.”
The mainland isn’t alone in its preference for the practice: similar ensemble performances are also popular in Taiwan – as National Geographic documented in 2012, with stilettoed, short-skirted women dancing graveside. The practice there dates back decades.