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Private Dancer Comments

I've just finished reading Stephen Leather's on-line version of "Private Dancer" – the sad down-loadable book version of a farang falling in love with a bar girl from Soi Nana [Plaza] in Bangkok. The subject's name was "Joy".

It made good reading and I liked the lay out and matter-of-fact way it was written giving you each participant's viewpoint of the others predicament or views and was more revealing written like that about farang and Thai bar girls' viewpoints. I commend that, and anyone visiting Thailand or has been involved should perhaps make it necessary reading material!!

I was quite shocked too to be able to recognise one of the characters, and that I know the very same ex-pat British bar near soi Nana in Soi 4 and it's South African owner come proprietor.

No doubt, names have been changed [I know for a fact] to protect the naive and the cynics, but we'll refer to them by their pen names.

The victim of the story, "Pete" was a sad case, completely and utterly besotted from the start and shows all the hallmarks of the jealous-farang symptoms even I have seen from time to time. All the constant warnings from his friends and work colleagues couldn't sway him from that fact he was being totally used and strung along.

He was, as is mostly the case, a victim of his own naivety, and desperately wanting to be in love, or with the idea of being in love, who knows….

Some of the remarks by case-hardened Bangkok vets were extremely hard-bitten but maybe some of them have a point, and maybe with "Pete" the truth often lies somewhere in the middle. Maybe there are men who have found love, or the Thai's interpretation of it at least, which is long-term 'support' in literal terms.

I've often heard the likes of "Big Ron" (I know him by his real name! – but won't spill) lambasting his staff and his diatribes about Thai women and just smiled quietly into my beer and not saying anything, for fear of being lambasted myself! Hard as he is, he'll never be ripped off or suffer the same fate.

He and some of his regulars were the hard bitten cynics I often used to listen to wondering who'd hurt them so badly they had to be like that. I got a very 'negative' view of Thailand from in that bar. The British food was great, but often the conversation was much harder to digest, and there was a barrier between 'you the tourist' and the regulars that made me feel oddly 'unwelcome' sometimes. In spite of the good food and cheerful barmaids, I 'gave up' going there after a few visits as I just didn't feel part of the 'club' and maybe shunned because I actually looked as though I liked Thailand and the Thais. Maybe after all, I was just a better judge of character, (??) and Thailand had "always been so unremittingly kind to me" whenever I visited. I simply couldn't relate to the contempt and apparent 'hatred' I saw in the faces I saw around that bar, and "Big Ron"'s own apparent anger….

Far from hating the girls I've dated or 'hired' for a period of time, I still feel some of them have more courage and backbone than any equivalent decent girl back home in my country of their age. Thai women are far more objective about money, future planning and yes, a little ruthless when it comes to finances, but they're forced to be for economic reasons. I never expected anything from these girls, yet I treated them with respect and gave money generously but with restraint, and was respected in turn for it. They knew I wasn't a first-timer and spoke a modicum of Thai, and that helped me a lot. When you make out like a little boy lost, boy you're in for a real game, – so act confidently even if you don't know how things work, – but not arrogantly, leave that behavior at the airport.

Seeing, observing and listening to these bar room customers always gave me an eavesdropper's eye view of what 'could be' if you treat people so badly, after all, you reap what you sew, right? It often reminded me of that line from Roger Beaumont's hilarious parody on Bangkok's funnier side entitled "What's your name? I'm fine thank you" He quotes: "The bars of Bangkok are full of loud bellicose men who know the price of everything, but the value of nothing". This may have been more than a nod and prod at the cynical ex-pats that often line particular ex-pat bars….

I personally didn't like Soi Nana, the gogo bars I thought were seedier than the glitzy ones in Patpong which for some reason I liked better. The dim lighting in Nana Plaza's bars made it hard to see anything at all, and I didn't feel it necessary to see naked girls, as some look better and sexier with some clothes on. Much like the upper level sex shows, I'm not keen to see girls degrading themselves on my account, and wasn't turned on by that. A sexy cossie and a broad smile with personality were enough to turn me on, with a modicum of spoken English.

Also, the cossies in King's Group bars didn't leave much to the imagination, but were nicer to look at, AND you could read your damn bar chit in the light, or see the girl next to you!

I often used to drink at the ex-pat's bar featured in the book "Private Dancer" but often used to skip Nana and taxi it to Patpong or Spasso's, or CM2 at Novotel.

Going back to the book, I'd guess not one of "Pete's" friends or colleagues really imagined he'd turn killer for one minute, but reading between the lines you can visibly see the deterioration and him sinking lower and lower. A desperately lonely man by all accounts, throwing his last chances on a bar girl, and losing out big time. He must have had an empty life back in England, poor guy.

It's sad that the relationship went on unchecked and that "Pete's" loneliness eventually 'imploded' in anger and that the outcome destroyed not one, but two lives…. You can't really blame Joy, she was doing what is almost natural to her, or a great deal of her kind anyway. This doesn't necessarily go only for bar girls or gogo dancers, a fair portion of other females you may meet, will do the same in more expensive and salubrious venues around Thailand. One thing I found was that the more money the women have, the more they want seemingly…. This goes in Western culture too, it's seemingly a 'genetic' thing.

Any man waiting to meet and marry a rich girl to support them will probably die very lonely, and very poor…. If you meet a so-called high society girl in Thailand, she'll expect you to pay for literally everything the same as any humble 'poor' bar girl. It's simply not in a [Thai] woman's genetic makeup to 'pay for a man', especially in such a male dominated society and culture. If she does pay for you, then she's got plans in store for you and you'd better watch out, as she's 'sweetening you up' for the sting later, usually speaking…. Damn, there goes that cynicism of mine again! – must be rubbing off eh??

Watch out for Thai women bearing gifts or with a bloody big Mercedes and credit cards, they're lethal with them and run up huge debts usually, and then look to you to "pay them off". Some men might argue that the true 'slot' swipe for a credit card lies between a woman's legs…. Now there's a thought…. There's also no more a rude and uncooperative driver than a Thai behind the wheel of a big Mercedes or BMW, just you wait and see…

On the flip-side: I once heard an unconfirmed story about Patpong, and that a bar girl there had shot her [German?] boyfriend to death when she saw him emerging from her bar, with another girl, a colleague. Apparently she'd become obsessed with him and couldn't handle seeing him with another girl. Do you have any recollection of this story? I can't even remember who even told me, but approximate dates would date this 'incident' in the early to mid '90s…. She apparently shot the other girl wounding her but was apprehended by passers by and touts before she got another chance to kill her…. True or false? Of course, bare in mind 'Chinese whispers' may have distorted this story somewhat and my account above my be incorrect….

Stickman's thoughts:

Steve Leather's fantastic "Private Dancer", while fiction, is probably the best thing ever written about the farang oriented sector of the Thailand's naughty nightlife industry. If you have not read it, you must, you really must. Click on the link here for it:

Private Dancer download