Who'd have thunk it?
No lawsuits here, yet!
Hooters is not the only major Western restaurant brand with an eye on a Chinese market already well-served by a range of independent imitators, all hoping to offer homesick expats and aspiring white-collar locals a taste of US-style sports bar culture. "Locally our major competitors include TGI Fridays, Malone's and the Hard Rock Cafe," Misia told Asia Times Online (although the Shanghai Hard Rock is temporarily closed during relocation). Friday's and Hard Rock can be found in most international cities; Malone's, on the other hand is a Shanghai one-off - now 11 years old, the foreign-owned sports bar was one of the earliest major venues to appear outside of a five star hotel, and is the only one of that first generation still going strong today.
What distinguishes Hooters from the rest, of course, is the small matter of 70 Chinese girls dressed as Daisy Duke. "Hooters girls are special," says Misia. "They are university students who speak good English - fun, open-minded girls. The guests won't get bored."
Hooters China, at least, one year after opening, claims that it has yet to receive a single complaint. This could well be true. Attitudes to commercial sex in China are ambiguous to say the least - while officially the public presentation of sex and sexuality remains strictly controlled (in the pages of state media, for example), the reality is that sex in China today is widely commercialized, sometimes with a surprising degree of official acquiescence. Hostessing, a largely East Asian phenomenon in which a woman drinks and flirts with a guest in return for a fee, is extremely widespread - provincial capitals invariably offer a wide variety of options, and far from the neon glow of Shanghai or Beijing even the smallest county town will support a dingy KTV lounge or two, offering an hour's privacy behind a dirty curtain in a secluded booth.