What Happens To All Of The Bargirls?
One night while I was pleasantly passing the time with my Thai girlfriend up in her village, I asked my teerak one too many questions about bargirls. I got an indignant response from her ”Why you always ask about bargirl?” This was a fair enough question from her. I am very curious about this subject and I do ask a lot of questions. We had just returned from the local night market where I noticed two girls that stood out from the crowd. Yes; they were quite pretty, but they were the only women there wearing make up and they were also better dressed and had the air of money about them. I also noted the absence of any male companions. On closer inspection I noticed the gold and a small visible tattoo. They were both wearing long fashionable clothing that may have hidden more tattoos. I asked my girlfriend if she knew them and she said she did not. I enquired further if they were local to the area to which she replied, “Yes, they were.” I then asked if she thought they were bargirls to which she replied “I dunno” and upon further reflection she added “Yes, maybe.”
Well back at the farm I applied some of that sneaky farang logic and came up with the figure of 20 girls who had grown up or lived within a 250 metre radius of where we were sitting that had, at some stage, worked bar. I’m sure that I am wrong about some of them but equally sure that other girls have been better at keeping the secret. This village was far to close to Pattaya for the “I work restaurant” story to fool anyone. I estimated very roughly that these 20 girls would equate to 20 – 25% of the local women in the appropriate age bracket.
”Why you always ask about bargirl?” A very good question that I felt the need to answer even if only for myself. My answer took the form of another question which has been in the back of my mind ever since I have been coming to Thailand: Why are so many Thai women prepared to engage in prostitution?
Well we all know that there are many answers to my question; economics, culture, opportunity etc. It is the oldest profession so they say. If anyone can answer my question in a single sentence or a single paragraph or even a page I would be very grateful. Oh…don’t think I’m complaining or criticizing. I enjoy the delights of LOS as much as the next monger.
Maybe my question will never be definitively answered so let me move on to another question.
What happens to all of the bargirls?
Now please indulge my assumption that the average BG has a “sell by” date. In other word she reaches an age where she can no longer make a living on her back. <Don't be so sure as there are some well into their 50s in Pattaya – Stick>
I intend to carry out a micro thesis on the circumstances in which these girls permanently leave the bar industry in Thailand. I don’t claim to be any kind of expert, far from it in fact. But I am going to put out a few scenarios in which a girl will leave the industry and give my estimate to the percentage of girls that “retire” for the listed reasons. I invite and encourage other readers to forward their percentage estimates or even to add another category if she don’t fit into one of mine.
I will include girls that have relocated to another country and subsequently split with their husbands and returned to the sex industry in the new country
Part timer 15%
In this category I include the freelance university students (means to an end) and the seasonal workers. I have encountered the seasonal girls who come down to Pattaya and do a short stint in the high season to top up their annual income because her husband only gives her a small allowance (the husband is not aware of what she is up to in most cases)
Girls that have made enough money to start a business or obtain further education that will allow them to gain other employment.
Did not like it 5%
Almost impossible to put a figure on this but I know of a few girls who were in the fortunate position of being able to take one look at the bar industry and then go running home to mum.
6 Remain close to the industry 10%
The mamasans and the massage ladies all started somewhere.
The unsuccessful 5%
The less attractive and/or older girls that returned to the farm within a short period of time because they did not make much money in bar
The missing 35%
I do not include sponsorship in any category as I believe IMHO, that sponsorship would result in marriage or a return to the industry and inclusion in another category. An ongoing permanent sponsorship should IMHO be categorized as “marriage” or “success”.
One of the main reasons for this post is my past relationship with my 19 year old Soi 6 Issan sweetie. She was proud of being the most popular girl in the bar and always getting the most barfines. She told me that she had been in industry since she was 17. She liked Pattaya and the big party and the sexy clothes and of course the money. She drank and smoked and said she could spend up to 2000 baht per day on YaaBaa. She also had a great big tattoo across her shoulders that she was proud of.
She did, however, posses one amazing ability for a girl who had run away from home and school at age 16, and that was her English. She could read a word once and then pronounce it perfectly the first time. She was a great girl to party with.
On my next trip to LOS I stayed with Miss Soi 6 and her family up in Issan. Miss Soi 6 was being sponsored by a guy from Germany by this stage; her idea of sponsorship was not the provision of a comfortable living but to be compensated for her lost income from working bar. Up in Issan; Miss Soi 6 still liked to drink and smoke and wear her Pattaya sexy clothes. No other woman in town dressed like she did or displayed large tattoos. All of her relations pretended to believe the “I work in restaurant” story while she was handing out the 1000 Baht notes. Oh! She threw her money about and lorded it over her family alright, meanwhile the family just held out their hands for the money with that blank Thai smile that we farang all know so well. She was naive enough to believe that they did not know what she really did for a job. The money did not matter, she still had a mouth and a pussy so there was plenty more where that came from. Anyway, she was bored up in Issan and wanted to get back to the lights of Sin City. Can a woman sell so much of herself for so long without any lasting effects? Maybe some girls can, but I personally doubt many will be unaffected by a lengthy time working in the bar industry.
The thing that really disturbs me is to think of what will become of girls like Miss Soi 6 and there are plenty of them. Immature, young and dumb. Can these ever so young girls think past their next barfine or their next bragging trip back to the village to show off their success? Maybe I would not feel the way I do if I knew that all these sweet young girls were saving their money to buy a future for themselves. The next time I pay bar for a young Thai sweetie I should ease my conscience by reminding myself that I am contributing to her “college fund”. Unfortunately I know that I will be bullshitting myself. At the peak of her earning capacity, on average, a career BG will be aged 21 to 26. She will have refined her technique, gets barfined 5 nights out of 7, learned some English, visits the beauty salon every day before starting work and does not even paint her own nails anymore. She probably has had, or still has, a sponsor or two and has slept in every hotel in Pattaya/Bangkok. These girls described above can be seen sitting around at the start of their shift; paying for their own drinks and discussing their next tattoo.
As surely as night follows day; when the looks fade so will the money. If I can spot a bargirl in a rural Thai night market I’m sure that the locals can also. Will they mature in time to see what is happening and manage to make/buy a future in the years they have left? Would any Thai man marry one of these girls for anything other than money? And that is assuming she has managed to save any money after her family has spent years leaching it out of her. I would like to think that any farang with half a brain would steer well clear of these heavily tattooed, hard bitten bar professionals. But we still keep hearing reports of half brained farang roaming the sois of the LOS. I’m sure anyone reading this submission would not be of the half brain type and I wish the best of luck and happiness to any man brave enough to marry a veteran bargirl – you are going to need it.
So what happens to the girl who finds herself with nothing but fading looks and tattoos on the outside and something cold and hard on the inside?
Is she one of my missing 35%?
So go ahead folks and tell me that I’m all BS, I don’t claim to be an expert.
Or better still give me your thoughts on “What happens to the bargirls”
If I get enough interest in this subject I will submit the results to Stick.
I'm curious as to what happens to them but even after 11 years in the country and 10 years writing about it all, I am don't think that is long enough. Maybe in another 10 years I will be able to write what I think happens.
As far as life in the village, everyone knows! It's just that no-one talks about it! Remember, in Thailand you do not do anything to cause another to lose face!