The Old Days In Patpong
I worked in Bangkok from 1975 to 1980. Patpong Road was the nightlife hub for Farangs. My favorite go-go bars were: Safari, Butterfly, Grand Prix, Mike’s Place, Flying Machine, King’s Castle (a small cozy place), and Spot On. There was no “showing”. You could drive into Patpong Road and park near one of your bars.
The Vietnam War was over, but there were still about 50,000 American forces in-country. Under pressure from the Thai government, that number was rapidly decreasing. They were often in the bars, seemed awfully young, were good-natured, and eager to go home. The girls liked them, said they were fun, but complained that they were a little kheenio and talked dirty. I was drinking one night at Superstar with a group of Army guys. When I told one I was a math teacher, he screwed up his face in mock agony, and replied, “I could do that Algebra, but I never could get that Fuckinometry!”
The Forces were out in the bars a lot as they neared PCOD, two weeks before departure home (“Pussy Cut-Off Date”). Condoms weren’t used much in those days. Some guys faced the wrenching decision whether to marry their teeraks or leave them behind. A lot of lovely, lively girls were left behind…
As for prices (1$US = 21 baht), a bottle of Singha or Amarit was 30-, a Lady Drink was 25- (the girl got 10-), Bar fine = 100-, Short-time = 200-, and all night was 300-. I lived near Soi Ekamai and could bargain a taxi to Patpong or back for 25-. My regular girl at Safari could always get us a taxi at the Silom corner at closing time for 20-.
I didn’t pay bar fines much. Closing times were midnight on weeknights, 1 AM on Friday and Saturday nights. You could wait until closing and walk out with your girl without paying the bar fine. And take her to TipTop for Phat Thai or Hoi Thawt.
Because of the earlier closing times, I think the girls stayed healthier and happier longer. I retired back to Thailand in 2000. Nowadays the girls seem to wear down faster, drink more, and maybe take Yaa Baa more.
After the American servicemen left, tourists started coming from Europe, mainly Germany. By around 1980 prices had crept up a little: Bar fines went to 140-, Short-time to about 260-, and all night to 400-.
Since then the cost of living in Thailand has about tripled. So what should the prices be now? I’m talking about the better go-go bars at NEP and in South Pattaya. A bottle of beer should be 90-, a Lady Drink 75-, Bar fine should be 400-, Short-time 800-, and all night for 1,200-.
Go-go monthly salaries actually have tripled: 2,500- to 3,000- in the old days; now about 7,500- to 9,000-. The minimum wage for factory workers has also tripled from about 55-per day to about 165- per day.
Overall the bar girls seem to be doing a lot better now, when you look at those prices I extrapolated above. Because of increased tourism and the new exchange rates? Or am I being too generous?
I said that there was no “showing” in Patpong in the old days. Actually there were several “Show Bars” up on the 2nd floor, mostly for tourists and mostly rip-off places. Touts in the street whispered “Lite Show” to passers by. We regulars gave them a miss. (They meant “Live Show”, but there is no “V” sound in Thai, except in the sentence, “I love you too much!”)
There were some fun little show bars around the area, mostly down towards New Road. You had to know where they were. You went into an empty shophouse, and a guy would lead you up the back stairs, knock on a locked door, and suddenly you were in a room full of guys watching girls doing things with ping pong balls, candle wax, cucumbers, etc. One night I went to a place that was actually a house. Several hotel taxis were parked in the yard. A stunning Burmese girl and her male partner put on an unbelievably erotic show. The British gentleman sitting behind me exclaimed, “By Jove, I’ve never seen anything quite like this!”
Around 1978, Bunny House opened, up a stairs near Mississippi Queen. Now that little place was great! Dao was the chubby, cheerful Mamasan, and the girls were friendly and fun. And they had special shows. The doorman rang a buzzer if the Fuzz came too close. One night I laid on my back in the middle of the floor, and caught banana chunks in my mouth as they dropped from “Heaven”. One girl had a talent for writing with a magic-marker in a most amazing way. She wrote a special message for me: “Teacher Rex, Doctor of Love.” That cherished document is in my archives.
The old days in Patpong provide many wonderful memories: drinking with pals, doing silly things, and searching for and sometimes finding the girl of my dreams. And if I hadn’t found her as closing time approached, I could go to Bobby’s Hotdog Stand for a Sunnyburger (hamburger with an egg). Greasy, but great! 15 baht.
Looking at the bar scene in the past, I wonder how it will be in the future?