Readers' Submissions

Private Dancer



Black Pagoda Patpong Bangkok



I have never employed the services of a bargirl. Some question the honesty of that statement due to the amount of time that I have spent in Thailand. You can choose to believe it or not; it is of no consequence to me. I do, however, count bargirls among my friends. While some become hardened and jaded, for the most part, they are no different than you or me. They have hopes, dreams and aspirations. And they have their problems, too. Usually, it is one of those problems that has driven them to work in the bars. Some say they choose to be there. I won’t dismiss that completely but, as with anything in life, there is no one-size-fits-all answer. It’s never an easy thing, selling your dignity. Make no mistake; they are well aware of how society views them. The shame and stigma may subside with time but, in the beginning, it is an uphill climb.

All the men come in these places
And the men are all the same
You don’t look at their faces
And you don’t ask their names

If it is so distasteful, why do they do it? Everyone’s reason will be different but, in the end, it usually comes down to feeling they have no other choice. In a recent discussion on www.schoocher.com, I mentioned someone who had gone to work in a bar to support her child after her British husband deserted her and the baby. After I asked “Who am I to judge?”, someone challenged me and said that, in fact, it was my place to judge and that we, as a society, have become afraid to judge others. I’m not a religious person. I’ve never claimed to be. But one tenet that I can accept is “judge not lest ye be judged.” Prostitution is not something I’d ever want a daughter of mine to engage in but, while not condoning the practice, I choose not to think unkindly of those who feel that it is the only avenue available to them. Not everyone has the same opportunities or the same forces exerting pressure on them. I can see how circumstances could conspire to make someone think this would be the only way out.

You don’t think of them as human
You don’t think of them at all
You keep your mind on the money
Keeping your eyes on the wall

The first, let’s say, entertainer that I was familiar with was a headliner. She owned whatever stage she was on. Was it the long, flowing black hair? Maybe it was the perky, bouncing breasts. It surely didn’t hurt that she had a lithe, taut body and a firm, round ass. Of course, it could have just been the way she made you feel. She had a way of making you feel as if no one else existed. It came at a high price, though. She lived her life in a bottle. There were days when I had to put her to bed because she was so out of it. But when she got up on that stage, you would have been hard pressed to tell that anything was wrong. Maybe you had too much to drink. Maybe you were too busy ogling her body to notice the emptiness in her eyes. Maybe you just didn’t care.

I’m your private dancer, a dancer for money
I’ll do what you want me to do
I’m your private dancer, a dancer for money
Any old music will do

Naturally, her personal life was a wreck. Men came and went, as the seasons. There was one stormy relationship after another and not a rainbow in sight. It turned out to be too hard, for both her and the men, to distinguish between her personal and professional lives. She was in a downward spiral, deadening the pain through substance abuse. She kept going because she needed the money but then she had to use the money to kill the pain of what she was doing. It was an endless cycle of violence and abuse and, if she ever saw the futility of her situation, she was not able to escape it.

I want to make a million dollars
I wanna live out by the sea
Have a husband and some children
Yeah, I guess I want a family

She eventually managed to get a husband and a family. Several husbands, in fact. Three divorces followed three marriages. The results, of which, were six children, all two years apart. On paper, at least, they were fathered by four different men. In reality, none of the six has a father in common. Of the four men listed as the fathers, three definitely were the father of one child. The fourth may, or may not, be. The jury is still out on that one.

All the men come in these places
And the men are all the same
You don’t look at their faces
And you don’t ask their names

The oldest two lived with yai. The other four she raised alone. Fathers long gone, support checks minimal, the life on the stage still beckoned. After all this time, nothing much had changed. One summer night she never returned home. That wasn’t unusual, though, so not much thought was given to it. The next day was a beautiful, sunny day. The four children were out playing. On the horizon, the skies grew dark. A fast moving storm was approaching. Over their morning paper, the neighbors saw the news. That’s when they learned that their mother would never be coming home again.

I’m your private dancer, a dancer for money
I’ll do what you want me to do
I’m your private dancer, a dancer for money
Any old music will do

The youngest was just 7 years old. The four all went to stay with yai but that didn’t last long. Like a pinball bouncing around in a machine, they went from one relative to another. Finally, they were split up and went to orphanages and foster homes. How is it that I came to possess such intimate knowledge of the life of this woman? Simple, I was only 9 that day that we got the news.

Stickman's thoughts:

Wonderfully crafted submission!