I'm glad this discussion picked up again after so many years. I remember seeing Chris there when I went to check this place out after hearing about it from a local newspaper back in 2009. I felt just as ogled as the performers, but at least they were getting paid for it. When I first showed up I was appalled, but after hanging out for a little while I felt a strong sense of excitement, playfulness, and community between the participants that developed by bringing these marginalized people together. They seemed indifferent to the sea of gawkers that came and went during the day and it looked like they were performing more for each other than for us. I'm sure quite a few romantic relationships culminated in that place because the flirting and showing off seemed to be constant. If I was in the same situation then I probably would have gone there too.
I have to mention the best and most blatant reverse exploitation setting I have seen here in China. I booked an incredibly cheap Chinese tour to Hainan in 2005 to check it out and see if I wanted to move there. Normally I am not the kind of person that would ever be herded around in a tour group but I thought it would be a novelty in itself, it happened to be 200 kuai less than a plane ticket alone, and it also covered food and lodging for a week! So at one point in the tour we go to this tourist trap minority village where as soon as we walked in all the Chinese men were grabbed and held in a vice like grip by the minority girls until someone would take a picture of them together and then they were aggressively browbeaten into handing over cash before the girls would let go. Then we were all herded into an actual human corral where we were not one person besides myself was let out before they handed over some more cash. And besides a crappy gift shop that was it. They took it easy on me because I was a foreigner, but you could see in their demeanor that they all took great pleasure in bullying the Chinese who were just trying their best to avoid individual embarrassment in this group setting. Anyways, sorry to go on like that but I've been waiting years to share that anecdote with people that get the context. Great discussion guys.