Basic Thai Bargirl Economics
To run a website that presents itself as a helpful information and advice source (with excellent photos) for foreign men that come and enjoy the gogo bar scene, this week's column is quite a stab in the back. A betrayal. It's not enough that the value of dollars, Euros and Pounds have dropped, that prices everywhere are high, that airline tickets this year are rough, that hotels would rather have empty rooms than offer a discount but now you have leaped out of the role of commentator (and a mighty damn good one) to being an advocate for bargirls getting a big pay boost (don't accept one baht less than 3,000 for a short time, you say) and you seem perfectly happy if the standard rate should eventually go right up to 5,000. Hey, why stop there! And I read with a bit of disbelief (is this another April 1st piece) that if Westerners find these prices too high and stop coming to Thailand then maybe the bars would all close down and Thailand can join the more advanced (or at least more wealthy) countries of the world and, I presume, you feel that might not be a bad thing. I think you do your loyal and grateful readers a big disservice. And the bargirls too.
First of all, unlike you, I see something that I've never yet seen you mention. There is sex, yes, but so many of these middle aged men, or men considered "over the hill" in their own countries, (or in Pattaya: "Over the hill and over the next hill) are badly banged up survivors of bad marriages and legal "train wrecks" in divorce courts where the former wife has crucified them roasted them alive and maybe these men that arrive in Thailand have spent years in severe loneliness. Then they come to Thailand and attractive women (for some money, yes) give them smiles, hugs, laughter and touch which they may not have had in a decade. Just the human need to be touched to be validated as a person I think is extraordinary therapy, I have no doubt it has saved lives and it certainly has saved some men from suicide by alcoholism. Why? Because they feel so much better about themselves and life because of these encounters. It renews the spirit. It is so much more then merely dipping the dick in. <If the value of what these women do for you is so great, why not pay them accordingly? – Stick> Most men need women and if this answer is not perfect it sure is a lot better than TV and vodka every night.
Okay, to my point. Patpong women have been asking more than Nana and Soi Cowboy for years. In Patpong there is the sport of asking some wild price and hoping the guy just stepped off a plane and doesn't know any better. As you know there are all those vicious sex show bars up on the second floor that scam men with extortionist drink prices. I would suggest that some of that rip-off mentality circulates with girls working in the Patpong area. It's a shame you are now coaching girls to spike their prices because at least for Patpong, customers will just go elsewhere. You'll have the "empty room" syndrome again. Not more money, no money! Friday nights are active and good. The top "dancers" can get two or three customers. You think 2,000 is the old price and too little. Oh really. Let's do some numbers. A girl working at 7-Eleven or McDonalds or as hotel maid or in some shop in one of the many Bangkok malls is typically going to earn maybe 300 baht for the day (which is too low). A bar girl goes with a customer for one hour and earns basically the same as that long suffering 7-Eleven worker earns in a full week. And the bar girl can have more than one and can add to her night's earnings with lady drinks. She has some young Thai as bar DJ that plays perfectly horrible head pounding music that many old Western men loath but she loves. (Can't play that stuff at 7-Eleven). So as you pointed out and I think I wasn't the only reader a bit shocked, top girls can have as many as the girl at Angelwitch that had 75 bar fines in one month. With no tips and no "long time" that is 150,000 for the month not including lady drinks. But I'm sure she did get tips and may have and a "long time" or so. You don't think that enough money? Top women can get all the business they can handle and of course that is why they get so rude. The Rainbow bars in Nana Plaza, Baccara it's just one customer after another for the top women. With Japanese customers they can easily get more than 2,000. So the dancers that least need the pay increase you advocate boosting their "take away" price. Meanwhile the more ordinary dancers or the older ones or those with kind of nasty stretch marks that have had a difficult time getting bar fined are going to be screwed by a hefty price hike. Night after night they stand there and some I have never seen get a bar fine. Not one. They must but it's not like the foreign men are picking the bones clean. It's not like a sell out every night and prices must go up. So one of these less in demand women come to work and the mamasan says: "New rules. No girl in the bar will accept less than 3,000. I read it on a web site. That's the new normal, girls. Stickman says". One size does not fit all. To beat the drums for a new big boost in prices doesn't help customers or dancers. Sure, sure, let's all get more money and lots of it. Tell all your advertisers that as of March 1st there will be a 50% increase and in future expect more. Put the shoe on your customer's feet. I think your position unfortunate and mistaken. These women that work in the bars and offer lonely, older, discarded men so much deserve respect and grateful heart felt thanks for the work they do. They certainly have restored a lot of lives and saved lives with the touch and physical affirmation they do. Getting seven days pay for what other jobs would offer them for working for one hour seems fair to me. And any customer is always free to tip, or generously tip if they are especially happy. Which they should. And of course there is the problem of poor women arriving to Bangkok, joining girlfriends and working in a bar and suddenly having such a flood of quick money it gets them right into drugs, gambling, bad boyfriends and the inability to ever consider doing a "regular" job. Money corrupts. Remember what happened to XXX up in the old Las Vegas bar. Dead. Drug overdose. There are others. You could have written a column arguing that bar fines should never be over 200 baht and bar girls never paid over 500 for one hour of service. That will be the day. Problem is; some are worth 5,000 but some 500. I'm sure you like me and many others there are some that we wouldn't go with if they paid us. Maybe there is a good answer out there somewhere. 3,000 minimum is not it.
– an "Over the hill" Thailand visitor
This week's column was deliberately provocative and the range of responses have been about 40 : 60 in terms of those who liked it and those who did not. It *really* struck a nerve with some!
I have witnessed how the industry changes these women and how so many exit it in much worse shape than we they entered. Sure, some do well but many become badly damaged goods. They come to see sex as nothing more than a way of making money and they end up scarred, sometimes physically, often mentally, and unable to have a truly fulfilling and loving relationship.
I think the point that seems to be missed is that it is basic economic forces pushing prices up. Even I was surprised recently when I learned that in a popular bar that is often mentioned in the column that the girls insist on 3,000 baht short-time – and few will do long-time. They do that because they can. The demand is there. Guys are paying it. There has been a shift in the type of men going to bars over time and there are more guys with money, and more high-earners in Bangkok who think nothing of spending thousands of baht for some private time.
Again, it's basic economics. There are fewer women in the bars in Bangkok these days – something which has been mentioned over and over in the column. And with the present hiccup in tourist numbers excluded, there are more guys visiting Bangkok – and many have money and are prepared to pay whatever price is asked. Where once Bangkok received a lot of budget travellers and retirees who chose Thailand because their pension went further, now you have a much larger and wealthier expat populace and more high-end visitors.
If the service these girls provide is so good, and that being with them may ward off depression or stop a guy from "jumping", then surely she ought to be rewarded accordingly?We are all keen to maximise our earning capacity. I understand many who have been around for a while are not be willing to pay 3,000, 4000 or 5,000 baht, but plenty of guys are!
Remember, for guys who aren't willing to pay so much, Pattaya is still significantly cheaper and it's just a short taxi 124 baht bus ride away!