Max Lim was Singapore's first impresario and entrepreneur to be known by a wide swathe of LGBT Singaporeans for organising large-scale events and setting up entertainment venues for their community.
Gay disco nights
Lim intially gained recognition in the late 1980s for organising Sunday disco nights for the gay community at roving venues, one of which was 'Dancers - the Club' at Clarke Quay. This disco is no longer extant. It was located in the same building as the present 'Hooters', on the second level. Lim liked to dance and was quite good at it, occasionally gyrating energetically on an elevated podium at the periphery of the dance floor.
He was also the first entrepreneur to hold gay disco nights on other days of the week apart from Sunday. One such event was sporadically held on Thursdays at a relatively unknown disco at Far East Shopping Centre along Orchard Road. In the age of the nascent Internet, he used computer technology for publicity, even inviting a visiting programming expert from America to grace the function.
Gay outdoor parties
Lim realised that the demand for gay parties was tremendous, so he capitalised on his status to organise large-scale outdoor gay parties in the mid-1980s at such venues as the East Coast Lagoon and Big Splash.
The party at the East Coast Lagoon, just like the other large events Lim organised, was advertised via leaflets handed out several months before the event took place, especially during the Sunday disco nights. Sometimes there was competition from another gay entrepreneur whose recruits were also distributing leaflets for competing events, so there was some friction.
The East Coast Lagoon party was an outdoor gay event on a scale never before experienced in Singapore. He took advantage of the huge open-air space and divided the activities into various stations which the partygoer could enjoy, one after the other. Many gay men living in neighbouring Johor Baru also joined in.
The whole of Big Splash was booked by Lim to hold a 'Loy Krathong' or Thai water festival for the gay community. Partygoers could swim in one of the pools, throw their friends into the water or squirt water at each other, just as the festival is celebrated in Thailand, all in good fun.
Themed gay parties
He was the first entrepreneur to organise themed parties for the gay community. One was held at the Forbidden City at Clarke Quay. Its theme revolved around the Hong Kong hit movie, 'A Chinese Ghost Story'. Transwoman personality Abigail Chay was roped in to host the event. At that time, she had not achieved widespread fame in Singapore yet, bolstered by her role in the TV sitcom 'Under One Roof'. There was a contest for the best-dressed Chinese ghoul during the event.
Lim noticed that Singaporeans were going in greater numbers during the weekends to Johor Baru's gay saunas, and also those in Bangkok. To fulfill the pent-up demand locally, he opened Spartacus in 1997, Singapore's first gay sauna. It was located coincidentally and amusingly, but not intentionally at 69, South Bridge Road. For the venture, he not only secured funding from banks but also introduced a creative move never done before - offering the gay patrons to his sauna the option of buying shares in the business. He employed an attractive male beauty pageant contestant as the manager of the sauna.
Other innovations at Spartacus were a restaurant offering buffets to sauna patrons, a daily disco on the ground floor which held lesbian nights on Thursdays, male striptease shows (but only down to underwear) and a gym with expensive equipment.
He opened Stroke along Ann Siang Hill. Soon after this, more gay entrepreneurs started to set up gay saunas to compete and he no longer enjoyed a monopoly on the market. His competitive strategy was then to cut prices. Initially membership costs were high, but with the emergent competition, these were slashed dramatically, as were the entry charges.
He later closed down Stroke and opened Raw, further up the road. It stayed open for 6 years from the early 2003 to 2009. In these premises, he experimented with a transgender cabaret which initially saw good attendance but interest in it gradually waned. Lim also occasionally hosted or performed in the transwoman shows in drag. He would interject the performances sporadically with safe-sex messages. He also opened a 24-hour restaurant on the ground floor but demand for the food was lukewarm, so it closed down after a few months. The ground floor space was replaced by hot and cold pools, a sauna and showers, replicating some of the amenities found on the other storeys.
Interview with Pluto magazine
Lim was interviewed by Pluto magazine, which acknowledged him as a pioneering spa entrepreneur, in 2009.
There are quite a lot of criticisms and rumors of you in the gay community in Singapore, what do you have to say?
I have done a lot to make life more meaningful for gays in Singapore and tourists. But you can't please everyone, criticism is always there. There are quite a lot of rumors about me out there, I can't stop people from saying anything bad about me, I will just ignore these rumors, that is me. Just as long as I know what I'm doing.
Is Raw the first sauna in Singapore?
No, Spartacus is Singapore's first sauna. I set if up in South Bridge Road more than 10 years ago. After that I opened Stroke. Subsequently all the other saunas start to open. Then I opened Raw for 6 years. But there was limited space to expand so I found a new and bigger space.
As you have the longest experience in the gay sauna business in Singapore, how do you see this business?
We are the pioneers in the gay sauna business. The market in Singapore is not big because of the population. We are very cosmopolitan, catering to everyone. People of all ages, races and from all over the world visit us. There's free membership for foreigners working in Singapore.
Your location is near to the main road so quite a lot people walk by. Will it be inconvenient for your customers?
We are next to Outram Park MRT interchange where there are 2 lines, the North East Line and East West Line.
So it's very convenient for everybody who wants to come to this place. Yes, it is near the main road but we're located at the corner of the junction, beside an open field. Behind us there is a park which is quite a nice place. Downstairs is a coffee shop which is quite popular as the food is very good. It only opens in the evening until the next morning and there are a lot of people coming to eat here. But we see it in a different way, the food is very nice and is available throughout the night, making it advantageous as the guests staying here or customers after sauna can have access to good food anytime in the night.
Your crowd is targeted more to locals or foreigners?
Our crowd is targeted more to foreigners that is why we give a special promotion of free membership registration to foreigners who work in Singapore. Our crowd also comprises of Singaporeans and tourists.
What do you expect in the future for your business ?
Now we are operational in the 2nd, 3rd and the 4th level which is the Queen Resident. We are opening the 5th level in 2 months' time to expand our Queen Residents rooms. We are not a hotel; we are a private residence for people like us to stay. We do not go against the law but we operate actually quite like a hotel.
Do you have any final words for our readers?
When you come here, you will definitely be pleased and will feel that you are in Bangkok. Please come over to experience Heater Room.
我做了很多對新加坡同志非常有意義的事情，但是我• 可能滿足所有人的，批評一定是有的。外頭也有不少譯| 於我的傳言，我無法阻止別人在背後説我的壞話，S二; 會選擇不去理會這些傳言，我就是這樣的，我知道我三 做什麼就夠了。
Reception area 接待處
不是的，Spa「tacus才是新加坡第一家桑拿，是我在十多 年前成立的，在橋南路一帶。後來我開了Stroke桑拿， 隨後其它人的桑拿才陸續的開。Stroke後我才開了Raw， 營業6年後發現地方已經無法再擴充了，所以我才找到現 在更新更大的地方繼續營業，而且把名字改成Heater Room °
我們的確是新加坡同志桑拿的開荒者。新加坡同志生意 的市場不大主要是人口不夠多的問題。這裡是環球大都 會.什麼人都有，各年齡層、不同種族、來自世界各個 國籍都會成為我們的顧客。我們甚至讓在本地工作的外 國人享有免費會員登記的優惠。
203 new lockers in blue, black, orange and red 203個全新衣物存儲格分為藍、黑’
New and complete gym equipment 薪新和設備齊全
Barracks are single or double beds with padlocks and cupboards 房間分為單人床和a人床，附加衣物涵子和鲴頭
Steam room 蒸汽房
北線和東西線，所以任何人想要來這裡是非常的方便。 是，我們是靠近大路但是在交叉口的角頭，旁邊是空曠 的草場後面是公園，是個還好的地點。樓下是咖啡店， 食物好吃挺出名的，它傍晚才開始營業到隔天早晨，很 多人會前來這裡用餐。不過我們是這樣看，食物好吃而 且通宵營業，讓我們更加能夠吸引住客或者桑拿顧客。
我們的顧客群多數是外地人，這也是為什麼我們會給在 本地工作的外地人免费會員登記嘛。除此，我們顧客是 本地人和遊客了。
現在我們在2, 3和4層樓營業，第4層樓也是Queen Resident (王后民宿），我們會在兩個月後把 Queen Resident 擴充到第5層樓，到時我們將擁有更多的客房了。我們不 是酒店，只是私人地方給顧客住，就好像民宿類似。我 們不想觸犯法條但是我們的營業方式就跟一般酒店沒兩 樣。
當您們來到這裡，您一定舍覺得開心滿意而且會感覺您 是身在曼谷。請來 Heater Room 親身體驗吧。