On A Mission
I have written twice before about my ups and downs with Shorts, but won’t bother adding links here because the details contained in those are no longer of any real relevance. I’ll merely summarise what happened then in this update.
I have been on a mission for the last year and more to turn around the life of a former dancer who worked in Soi Cowboy. When I first met her it was because I was attracted to the miniscule shorts she wore as she walked past me on the way back to her bar after downing some Thai rocket fuel outside Country Road. When I followed her into the bar, she told me later, she was already drunk enough at 8.30 to have struggled to find the bar she worked in. That might have been an exaggeration, but you get the idea.
Now and then I like to try a walk on the wild side, and she was it. I was quite impressed with her willingness to strip off all but her tiny shorts, and even those ‘opened up’ to me and were often reduced to fabric just a couple of inches wide. I enjoyed her company and willingness to ‘put out’ and we had many good evenings together. However, I was of course just one of many who enjoyed her attention, and later she told me she was barfined every night. I’m not surprised. This generated some jealousy in the bar, as you might imagine. I also knew she was too drunk to return home some nights and she had to sleep upstairs at the bar.
She wore a stud in her nose, jewellery in her navel, huge earrings, and she had a tattoo saying Dave, the name of a former customer, above her left breast. She rowed with her mother and moved out of the family home. When I tried to help her by assisting in setting her up in a room, she betrayed me by saying she was going to work as a waitress but then working as a freelance at the Liquid Nana nightclub. She was, in short, a train wreck. We rowed over the deception, and I didn’t contact her for a few months.
But there was something I saw in her before we split. After she left her mother she stayed with a fellow dancer from Soi Cowboy and I visited. The place was little more than an entrance hall the size of a one-car garage, but staying there with her for a few days was her daughter, then aged seven. She’d had the kid at about 16 and the boyfriend had, in typical Thai fashion, vanished and left her to cope. The kid was being raised by Short’s grandparents, and she didn’t even know then that Shorts was her mother (she does now, and they are very close). And the kid was so delightful and I saw the way this drunken whore was devoted to her, and I saw that she wasn’t all bad after all.
Knowing this, I eventually got in touch with Shorts again, really just to clear the air over how we had parted – my slapping her round the face, something I had never done to anyone in my life. We met for coffee, and she told me how her life had gone downhill since we parted (if that was possible!!) and she now realised how good I had been to her. So we started meeting again. She was still freelancing, and that’s the way it had to stay because I have a wife I have no intention of leaving and my ability to help her financially was limited.
However, money is not the only thing many of these girls need. They are often amazingly insecure about how they look, and their job hardly inspires a feeling of self-respect either. Some love it, of course, being paid to party and have sex – wouldn’t you? – but deep down most of them would rather be doing something else. They work as prostitutes because that is where the money is, and they need that money to support their parents and kid. If Thai boys could be disciplined into taking responsibility for the kids they help produce the nightlife scene would be decimated.
And I gave Shorts self-respect. I treated her as an equal and offered encouragement, and that gave her confidence and the determination to turn her life around. The nose stud, the navel jewellery, the huge earrings all vanished. The Dave tattoo could not be removed of course and she had it covered over with a butterfly. Some of you might have been her customer and will recognise who I am writing about. That distinctive tattoo is a problem if she wants to belong in better society, and she does, but there is nothing that can be done about it now. Maybe it serves as a reminder to her of past mistakes.
As I said at the beginning, I set myself a mission to turn her life around. There have been one or two ups and downs, but now things have worked out better than I could ever have expected. We have become very close. Along the way she decided she did not want to have sex with me as that made me just one of her customers. That was okay with me, and it didn’t mean we couldn’t go off to a hotel or her room for a naked romp. Instead, she said she saw me as her father, which in Thai society is the highest compliment you can get.
I subconsciously set three stages to work on with her. One was to stop her looking like a whore. She was an embarrassment to be seen with, but now she looks great and could hold her own at a five-star hotel. To assist in that transformation I have bought her many of the clothes that she needed to look good. Nothing expensive. You would not believe how good a 300 baht dress can look. Now she looks tastefully sexy. People look. Hotel doormen smile.
Two was to stop her drinking to excess. That was more difficult, as she freely admitted that once she had a few drinks she wanted to drink all night. The problem with that was she would become argumentative and she often had no idea what went on around her when she was drunk. Someone then showed her photos of herself on the internet, and she asked me to help getting them removed. I believe, by the way, you can be prosecuted for posting photos without permission, at least in the Thai courts, and there are very heavy sentences. Is it worth it, lads? Now, with my persuasion over quite a long period, she hardly drinks at all and hasn't been drunk for months. She looks and feels much better for it, too.
The third mission was for her to get a proper job, and she is about to do so. The catalyst for that recently came about when she went with a customer to a short-time hotel, they did the business and then he left without paying her while she was in the shower. That shattered her, and made her reconsider the kind of people she was sometimes having to mix with. Incidentally, a few days after that happened and while we stood outside Tilac discussing her job plans she spotted the non-paying customer slipping into Cactus. We went over there as he came back to sit outside and he looked shocked and was speechless when I challenged him. Small world, huh, you bastard. But Shorts didn’t want any trouble for me and decided to say she wasn’t sure it was him, later telling me she knew that it was. If he reads this, and he knows who he is, I’d advise him that he was lucky I wasn’t a Thai boyfriend with six mates around the corner.
Anyway, now she is ready to take a dip in wages to work a proper job in a factory or, I suggested as her English is good, a department store. She knows it will be hard and we agreed she will try it for two months and see how she copes financially, mentally and physically. She suggested she might still work the occasional night to boost her income but I have persuaded her not to do that over the two months. I told her if she stops, she stops. She has promised, and will tell me if things get too tight financially. I trust her. She has also, for some weeks now, been studying on Sundays at a university. Seen her in the uniform. She looks great.
She recently spent a week with a customer around Bangkok. She said she felt guilty and even talked about me to him, telling how I help her. I have been paying her 10,000 a month, which pays for her room and for her to send something to her grandparents and daughter. Knowing she doesn’t have to worry about that has been a huge boost for her, as she has sometimes had to leave where she was living because she had no money to pay for it. When we meet, usually once a week, I’ve slipped her a modest 1000 so she didn’t have to look for another customer later that night.
The customer thought I was crazy, but the result of my time, patience, encouragement and money has made it all worthwhile. She knows there is little in it for me, but to see the change in her is all I need. If I was single I would marry her and take care of her and her daughter properly in a heartbeat. She is now a respectable young lady, far better behaved and looking infinitely better than in the past, with an ambition to continue improving her life. All she needed was love and support, instead of feeling she was shit.
If she can get a job and stick with it, that will be a big step on the way to putting the industry behind her once and for all.