Move over Channing Tatum. Hong Kong has its own Magic Mike. A whole coterie of them, in fact. Founded by Edmund Rolston and Matt Lamming, Valley Butlers are a group of 15 handsome men from different backgrounds and professions, self-described as the city’s ‘hottest topless waitering and events entertainment company’. Introducing the concept to Hong Kong, where there remains much conservatism, wasn’t easy and Rolston laughs when he admits, with some understatement: “You do have to put yourself out there.”
While such services are usually associated with brides-to-be and hen dos, the Butlers are strictly professional. Although not uptight and prissy, the co-founders insist that having a strict code of conduct is necessary to maintain their company’s image. “Ultimately, this is a service that we’re providing, so we’re trying our very best to not cheapen the service,” says Rolston. Other than being polite, maintaining a certain distance from their customers is at the very top of the behavioural code. Since partying can sometimes get a little out of hand, it’s something the Butlers have to learn how to handle, and quickly. “It’s just politely saying ‘thank you very much, I appreciate that but its not what we do’,” explains Alex Pychtin, another of the Butler boys.
Pychtin is confident, cheeky and carries around a ‘life-loving’ vibe with him at all times. Cool and collected, he laughs as he talks about the valuable experiences he has amassed on the job. But although the job may seem an envious one, Pychtin’s life is not all play and no work. With a schedule packed with back-to-back model bookings, tanning beach sessions and butler duties, his life is hectic and non-stop. Beneath the glitz and glamour of his profession exists significant stress and long workdays.
Although constantly topless and ogled, Pychtin is adamant that he doesn’t feel as if he’s being objectified. “I feel like I’m just a member of the party,” he remarks. “My job is to entertain, so it’s natural to me to give energy ’cause I want to maintain the party vibe.” He continues to advise that being a Butler is not for the faint-hearted: “If you don’t enjoy being the centre of attention or being the life of the party, then obviously you’re not going to feel comfortable with everyone going ‘wow!’ when you enter a room.” Pychtin stresses that feeling positive is imperative. “When I’m enjoying myself, the people will enjoy themselves,” he notes. “The guys are creating a scene and that’s the important thing,” adds Lamming, “because it gets people through the doors. It’s fun and exciting and that’s what it’s meant to be.”
It may sound a simple profession, but becoming a Butler is no easy task. Unsurprisingly, there’s a long list of requirements to meet and a selective interview process. Diversity is something Rolston and Lamming strive for, so that they can cater to different demands. To that end, there are professional dancers and trained mixologists on the books. And being a Butler is not just about good looks. “What’s just as important is that they’ve got the personality for it,” insists Rolston. “A Butler’s gotta be outgoing, sociable, friendly, funny and charismatic.”
Business is bulking up for the Valley Butlers, as their name gains increasing recognition within the party scene. “We’ve built a good customer base and have a lot of repeat customers,” says Rolston. Already popular in Hong Kong and slowly spreading the Valley Butler brand to Macau, the co-founders are continuing to look for ways to expand. “We’re always looking to keep it fresh with new ideas,” Lamming tells us. Recently, they’ve expanded their business with with the acquisition of a boat, in order to provide Butler junk parties and spa days. “These are parties on the water where a group can just go out and relax,” explains Rolston animatedly.
Industries that recruit based on looks are notoriously fickle. Asked how long he plans to stay in this profession, Pychtin chuckles when he replies: “I’ll go until I can’t take it any more. Until the ladies give me that disgusted ‘ugh!’.” Lorria Sahmet
For more information visit valleybutlers.com and check them out on Instagram.