HER eyes gleam for a moment under her dark lashes and her voice hardens.
Valentane Huang says she doesn't care what people think, and it's difficult not to believe her.
While others may be more circumspect, the 25-year-old Miss Singapore World 2008 finalist coolly reveals that she has had 50 boyfriends.
She has been dating for just over 10 years, since she was 14.
|'I'm not saying I'm a virgin. I'm just saying I did not have sex with most of them.'
'That's just five in a year - about one every two months - not too much,' she added.
It is all part of growing up, she said. There is gossip. But she pays no attention, she said.
At first glance, hers seems the typical story of a spoilt little rich girl who played a bit too hard.
Valentane, or Val as she prefers to be called, said she works as a logistics manager in her father's company. And she wasn't hiding her wealth.
She looked immaculately groomed. A Yves St Laurent chain dangled from her Samsung handphone. Her car key unlocked a black Mercedes S300, which was her ride on Wednesday, when she met The New Paper on Sunday.
She pulled back her sweater to show this reporter a gold Rolex she said was worth $30,000. A gift from her father.
At home, she claimed she has two more Mercedes-Benz cars. She would have driven the convertible, but she had come from the office, and her father - the boss of a property company here - considers it 'inappropriate for work'.
TROUBLE AT HOME
Growing up, she had everything, materially. But her childhood wasn't exactly idyllic.
Her parents divorced when she was 9, having separated three years earlier. And she felt 'glad' at first.
When they were married, her parents were strict, the sort who would put her and her three siblings through lessons - ballet and piano in her case. (She dropped ballet because she was too chubby).
'Then, suddenly, freedom,' she said.
The family was big but each member lived his or her own life, she said.
Her older sister was taken care of by her grandparents. Her older brother by a nanny. Her parents divorced shortly after her younger sister's birth.
Only Valentane was looked after by both parents, at least for a while.
She has lived in two worlds. One is her father's Bukit Timah three-storey house; the other, her mother's Clementi four-room HDB flat.
Her mother had walked out on her father and the life of a rich tai-tai for reasons Valentane said she couldn't understand at first. (Valentane did not say what they were, but she said they did not include adultery.)
As a 12-year-old she said she chose and registered herself in secondary school and bought her own books.
She said she deliberately chose a secondary school which she thought had a poor reputation, as a cry for attention.
Her mum said go ahead. Her father simply rolled his eyes, she said.
Then there was the time she picked up a cigarette and smoked in front of her dad. His reaction?
He recommended a better brand.
'Dad tends to spoil us so long as we don't disgrace him or bring him a bad reputation in a major way,' she said.
Her father was aware of all her boyfriends. She said he didn't mind as long as she didn't get pregnant.
She said the vast majority of her relationships, many of which lasted three months to half a year, were non-sexual. Most of the men she didn't even allow a kiss on her cheek, she claimed.
'I'm not saying I'm a virgin. I'm just saying I did not have sex with most of them.'
One-night stands are definitely out. 'That's so degrading!' she yelped.
Her record is five boyfriends at the same time - but she said it was just 'dating' and all five were aware she was not 'exclusive'.
Not all her boyfriends liked that.
The craziest case was an architect. He was 27, and she was 17 or 18. He had asked her if he was the only one. She said no.
He wasn't even one of her favourites, she told him.
He snapped and started stalking her.
She claimed she had to call the police, and get a restraining order on him.
'I learnt that I cannot be too honest with guys,' she said.
She declined to put us in touch with any of her former boyfriends.
After we asked to speak to one of her family members, a woman, who said she was her mother, called us.
She identified herself as Madam Huang, 53, a manager at a Chinese restaurant, and said Valentane had taken her surname after the divorce.
About her daughter's many romances, she said in crisp Mandarin: 'I know she has had a number of boyfriends. She talks to me about them sometimes.
'But I know she's independent and strong-willed and she knows how to take care of herself. I have a lot of confidence with her.
'If she is not happy in a relationship, she'll leave.'
Valentane said most of her boyfriends were upper class, country-club types, children of rich parents, like her. Lawyers, architects, doctors and so on.
She said she keeps most of the presents she gets from boyfriends, including a gem-encrusted Rolex watch, but she claimed she returned an unlimited Amex credit card without spending a cent on it - and a Mercedes.
The three she has were bought with her own, or her father's money, she claimed.
She has also dated guys who are not as well-off. But it never works out, though she's not a 'typical pampered rich spoilt snob'.
She knows Spanish but the language she is most comfortable with is Hokkien. As a logistics manager, she spends a lot of time with drivers and that is their language.
She was wearing a $25 top and said she sometimes shops at This Fashion.
The problem is the men's egos. She remembered how poorer boyfriends would refuse to take her convertible, even when she offered to let them drive.
After one refusal, she remembered she told the guy she was not getting into his small car either.
So they took a taxi.
Valentane has been single for a year. 'No dating, no boyfriend, no side dating, nothing,' she said.
The reason? She just ended a relationship of four years, with a lawyer - her Number 50.
'He was my only exclusive boyfriend. For him I dumped all others,' she said.
She said they broke up because he cheated on her five times.
'What goes around comes around I suppose,' she said, almost wistfully, laughing.