Kidnapping Anderson Cooper
• Rosedale Hotel & Suites Beijing
• Shi Hua Hotel
• Twenty First Century Hotel
• U Dragon Hotel
Some people can be dense. In last week's submission I made a statement that basically said when you live here full time as an expat your life isn’t all about going to the bars, drinking, and chasing the ladies. That for the most part your life is just like it is in your home country, save for the fact that when you do have the time and feel like going out you have some great choices. It didn’t take long for someone to respond not only in a way that led me to believe they never read what I wrote, but that they took great exception that I should even insinuate that life goes on like normal. I suppose this person is a wild party animal who takes advantage of every non-working hour to play hard. Good for him, but not wanting to burn out before I hit 50 I think I’ll pace myself. More, regular readers have probably noticed that the women in my life haven’t been found in bars and my “adventures” happen in pretty ordinary ways though every once in a while something out of the ordinary happens to me anyway and this is what I’m going to talk about today, the kidnapping of Anderson Cooper.
Anderson Cooper is quite the interesting guy. He flies around the world where within hours of landing he’s learned all about some pretty serious issues and there he is on CNN telling the world all about it. Sometimes he hits the nail on the head and sometimes he’s way off base. Why? In the case of the mainstream media (MSM), certain subjects sell. For instance when it comes to Bangkok the MSM much rather run a story about 12 year old girls forced into prostitution than about the widespread and organized P4P scene where the working girls are university students out to make a few extra bucks to buy the latest clothes or are perhaps 35 year old women making an easier living than what they could normally be doing here in the Kingdom. It doesn’t matter that any western country has just as many 12 year old girls illegally forced into prostitution or that their numbers are relatively few, because such stories sell big and when put against the bright lights and life of the legitimate P4P scene where the cameras can easily find middle and older aged tourists walking hand in hand with much younger working girls it becomes rather easy to let the viewer make their own inaccurate observations. It doesn’t take long for the viewers to get the impression that instead of the occasional 12 year old girl being forced into prostitution like in their own county, that all of Bangkok is full of 12 year girls and the plane loads of western tourists are here to take advantage of them and of course to show that the Thai government promotes such activities. We all know this is far from the case because we have more than a passing knowledge of Thailand and the bar scene, but the millions of viewers being treated to a 10 minute dog and pony show don’t know this and it makes for great ratings which is all news channels really care about anyway. Not long ago Anderson Cooper was here in Bangkok doing his dog and pony shows and me and a couple friends where sitting around on a warm afternoon trying to figure out how to make some extra bucks when…
Me: “Let’s nab Anderson Cooper!”
Both Marcel and Luke give me blank looks and a “huh?”
Me: “Yeah, lets nab the guy and do something like take pictures with him and a hooker or something like that, make him do an honest story about Thailand.”
Marcel: “Sure, but how can we find him and how will we do it?” Luke: “Cool, the guys an azzhole.”
So we discuss this and soon beers are getting passed around to help lubricate our minds and form our plans, after all this could be fun if we do it right. The first order of business is finding where the guy is which really wasn’t that hard because while Luke might not look like Einstein he’s pretty sharp: “All tourists with money stay at the Marriott on Sukhumvit” which makes perfect sense if you consider all the factors like we did being the sharp guys we are. How do we confirm he’s there? It was easier than you might think. My mai-noi was sitting right there so I queried the phone number for the Marriott and soon my mobile phone is ringing and I get the helpful desk clerk at the Marriott. “Hello, Marriott?” “Mr. Cooper’s room please?” A few minutes goes by and she says there’s no Mr. Cooper staying there so I thought I’d just try the obvious. “Mr. Cooper is with the CNN party, Mr. Anderson Cooper?” “Oh, yes.. we have the CNN crew in the spa on the 6th floor can I connect you?” Surprised I hang up to think about this through further now that we knew exactly where he was at the moment..
Luke: “What exactly are we going to do with him when we get him?” Marcel: “Does he have money?” You could almost hear the light bulb going off in our minds as I ask Luke who was pulling duty on the computer to Google Anderson Cooper and Marcel passes out the second round of beers. This might be a good time to mention these were fairly large bottles of Thai beer, the kind with a high alcohol content. Soon Luke works his magic and Anderson Coopers bio is on the screen and we take a look at the pictures and profile and two things pop into our minds at the same time. He’s gay and his mother was loaded. Why did we think he’s gay? Several pictures show him in cashmere sweaters posed with his legs crossed like a secretary with nice long legs. Ok, that’s not proof positive and it really doesn’t matter these days but it was interesting all three of us were shaking our heads in agreement after just a few minutes of reading and saying “yeah, gay for sure.” We figured he was loaded not because of his mega-million contract with CNN but because his mom is Gloria Vanderbilt who has had quite the interesting life. By now more beers were being passed around as we put together a few pieces we knew for sure, he was here in Bangkok, he was in the spa at the Marriott, rich, and maybe gay but being the open minded guys we are we just kept it in mind in case the hooker needed to be a guy or perhaps a ladyboy. Details are very important when making kidnapping plans. By now it was time to put our heads together and figure out exactly how we were going to do this, some of the ideas included..
1. Rent a room on the same floor and pull him in when he walks by, tie him up with the phone cord, and take pictures with some hookers.
2. Take the guy on a road trip to Chiang Mai and show him the real Thailand through an expats eyes and hope he learns quick.
3. Tie him up in the closet for ransom.
4. A trip to Eden’s just might loosen the guy up and we all agreed they could probably service any bents he might have.
5. We noted that it was too bad a Stickman writers meeting was scheduled and figured we couldn’t pull one off on short notice.
6. Include him in Foster’s wedding activities which really wasn’t a bad idea considering all the “culture” he’d experience.
7. Video tape him reading the odd numbered “Thai Thoughts and Anecdotes” 77-132 backwards and blackmail him with the footage.
8. Dress him up incognito and spend the evening visiting the bars on Walking Street.
9. Find where Sylvester Stallone is filming Rambo and get them both together for some fun times.
There were other ideas but by then they were coming pretty fast and stupid as we considered all the possibilities and of course we talked about using a tazer, mace, paying some local thugs, but finally we settled on our personal charm and winning personalities. We had great ideas and stupid ideas but mostly we were having a lot of fun and during the course of discussion I couldn’t help but notice that Luke was taking this a bit seriously and thinking we were really going to nab Anderson Cooper. Of course it’s fun to talk about such things and even fun to do a bit of research and discuss the “what if’s” but when push comes to shove we’re harmless and we realized the guy was just doing his job, but still the emergence of thoughts about how the “news” would really change if only “we” could show him around and introduce him to Thailand through our eyes. This is when the conversation really changed and more beers were passed around.
What if we could get this guy's attention and somehow cram all of our years of experience in Thailand into him in just a few days, and what if somehow a major news organization like CNN was really interested in the truth about the P4P scene and not the sensational morsels that make great 3 second sound bites? What would we show him and how would we explain it? Most of us already realize most expats don’t see the P4P scene the same or have the same opinions about all things. It’s complicated and personal experiences color what we think and believe and how we feel. Even though this is true we can all agree most of the pieces of “journalism” we’ve witnessed concerning Thailand and the P4P scene are wildly off base and only contain the information required to support sensational accusations . In truth the P4P scene has both good and bad elements and many types of people are involved at many levels of involvement. Sure, there are some really horrific stories to be told but I think we’d find that the majority of stories revolve around fairly normal people doing fairly normal things in a fairly decent manner the best they know how.
I’ve heard people say that if we visit Isaan and see a nice house chances are it was purchased by a farang for a lady who was in the P4P scene at some point. We’ve heard of the ladies with multiple sponsors and big bank accounts, the major investors in the clubs and bars who make a killing or lose everything, the corruption, HIV/AIDS, ending of marriages, beginnings of new relationships, and so much more. The P4P scene is extremely complex and multi-layered and if there’s anything I can say for sure about it, is that no single person knows everything there is to know no matter how ‘vast’ their experience.
Even though prostitution is mostly illegal in Thailand I’m sure many realize it’s illegal so a degree of control can be kept on things without them running amok and real damage being done. In most western countries prostitution is illegal and changing this is perhaps decades or more away, yet most reasonable people will agree that certain types of prostitution properly regulated can be a positive thing. I’ve lived in several Asian countries and witnessed the P4P scene in each one and IMO Thailand in its own unique way has found a recipe for success much more than anywhere else. It certainly isn’t perfect, but there is a lot to learn from and instead of some of the totally useless studies we see, it would certainly be nice if some of these resources were put into a non-political and non-moralist study and identify the parts that work well and the parts that are still a work in progress. Think of the things we could learn about human sexuality, transmission of diseases, economics, family values, tolerance, and the list goes on and on. Why don’t we? Because of forces who don’t want to see their country legalize prostitution for their own selfish reasons be it religious or even criminal because once you legalize something it often can be produced by honest businessmen a lot cheaper. Yes, the last paragraphs are just my views and I won’t pretend anyone else is going to agree 100%, though I think most would agree there’s a lot we could learn from some real research and honest documentation.
Marcel and Luke and I by now had acknowledged we wouldn’t be kidnapping Anderson Cooper as the beers were helping us think straight but it didn’t stop us from thinking of the possibilities of having this guy's attention for even a few hours. How nice it would be to turn on the television and see a “Talk Asia” or “World 360” special discussing the ‘real’ Thailand as most of us know it. Perhaps then some real discussion and progress could be made not only in Thailand, but in our own countries as well. We ended this particular meeting with me agreeing to simply leave a note at the front desk asking Anderson Cooper to call me and if he did I’d offer to give him some time in the company of three fairly experienced expats and let him determine what he’d do with the experience. The note was left but as you’d expect nothing came of it. If Anderson Cooper or any other reporter coming to Thailand reads this submission perhaps you should expect to see a note to call BKKSW left on your email, voicemail, or even hotel mailbox. We promise you a good time and all the knowledge and experience that three long term expats can provide.
Until next time..
I loved your first paragraph. How dare you suggest that every Western in Thailand isn't here to go crazy in the bars every night! Hehehe, as the saying goes, if I could have a dollar for everyone who said that….
Excellent article this, a good read.