What a send-off: China’s funeral strippers told to cover up

Posted at 4:20 PM, Apr 24, 2015
and last updated 2015-04-24 16:20:47-04

(CNN) — If you were mourning the loss of a loved one in China, at least the entertainment might have cheered you up. Until now.

In rural China, hiring exotic dancers to perform at wakes is an increasingly common practice, but is now the latest focus of the country’s crackdown on vice.

Strippers are invited to perform at funerals, often at great expense, to attract more mourners, China’s official Xinhua news agency said.

Another report suggested another motivation: that the performances “add to the fun.”

Photos obtained by CNN from an attendee at a village funeral in Cheng’an County in Hebei Province show mourners of all ages, including children, watching the performance.

The attendee, who asked not to be identified, said he was visiting family during the Lunar New Year holiday. While he was there, one of the elderly villagers died so he went to the funeral.

“I felt something wasn’t right,” he told CNN. “The performance crossed the line. I had heard about hiring strippers to dance at funerals but had never seen it myself. I was shocked when I saw the strippers.”

He said the villagers said this kind of performance had been practiced for a while.

“They didn’t find it shocking or strange. They were used to it.

“They told me, ‘what if we can’t watch (this kind of) performance after it gets exposed by the media?'”

Strippers investigated

In some areas of China, the hiring of professional mourners, known as “kusangren” is commonplace. These can include performances, although in recent times the dance acts have increasingly tended towards the erotic.

China’s Ministry of Culture issued a statement Thursday announcing a crackdown on these funeral stripteases.

It said that the ministry had investigated two separate incidents, one in Handan City, Hebei Province, and the other in Suqian City, Jiangsu Province. Both involved multiple-participant “burlesque” and “striptease” shows as mourners looked on.

“Uncivilized acts”

The Ministry’s report said that stripteases undermined “the cultural value of the entertainment business,” and asserted that “such acts were uncivilized.”

The practice has been going on for some time, the report said. Exotic dancing and other forms of pornography are illegal in China. The dancers in the two cases were held in “administrative detention” following the two investigations, the report added.

The Ministry of Culture did not respond to CNN requests for comment.

Last year, the Chinese Ministry of Public Security ordered police across China to step up efforts to tackle the “three vices” — prostitution, gambling and drug trafficking — warning officials they would be held accountable for illegal activities.

In February 2014, a massive crackdown on prostitution in the southern manufacturing city of Dongguan, dubbed “Sin City” for its huge vice industry, raided 2,000 establishments and detained more than 900 people.