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There have been a number of people who made a mark on the naughty nightlife industry but after a while they have seemingly disappeared off the planet, somehow managing to avoid the radar altogether. Below are a few people who made a mark a few years ago, but all seem to have totally disappeared. What ever happens to these people? Where do they go?
Truth be told, Midnite Bar was just another dull and boring Soi Cowboy bar in the late '90s that probably barely made enough money to remain open. But then along came a fellow whose background was as a chauffeur with Arsenal Football Club. He somehow scored the job as bar manager and began turning it all around. He not only took on the role of bar manager but also did a lot of the building renovation and electrical wiring himself, all for a measly 25,000 baht a month. The result of all of his hard work was that Midnite Bar was probably the most popular bar in Soi Cowboy in 2001, the period when he was in charge.
Mike was well known to many who partied and played at night in Bangkok and was very close to the main Nanapong guys when the dance contests were all the rage. Indeed it was upstairs in Midnite where the Nanapong private parties were held, and frankly "dance contests with extras" as they were referred to at the time didn't even come close.
He was a nice guy was Mike, but he always seemed to have bad luck. While he enjoyed working at Midnite, the salary he received was barely enough to live on (he may have had free accommodation included from memory) and he had plans to open his own bar on Sukhumvit Soi 23. So he got himself a small shophouse and was in the process of converting that into a small gogo bar. It got close to being completed when poor old Mike ran out of money. From memory, he needed about another 200,000 baht to finish it but he never quite got there. Mike ran out of money.
With his tail between his legs, he returned to the bar industry at the Dollhouse Clinton and then on to Cowboy – but his exit from there was clouded in mystery.
Next step was to go into business with a fellow Brit, and the two worked together in a sort of business listings company. However, that didn't work out and some time after that Mike seemed to fall off the planet.
In addition to being bar manager, Mike was also the guy behind San-uk.com but that faded and the URL disappeared. And as it turns out, Mystery Man Mike has been spending a lot of time developing other websites….it would seem the fellow we all thought was on the straight and narrows has been developing katoey websites! Different strokes for different folks and all that. But one thing is for sure with katoey websites, while you may not find hard dicks, you do tend to make hard cash. There is big money in katoey websites and it would seem that Mike has chosen that as his career path. Good on him. It's profitable for sure and hell, he might even like it!
Mike will always be known for, and remembered for the amazing parties he organised upstairs in Midnite Bar, the sort of thing that has not been seen since.
I gather that her nickname was Noi. This little Isaan princess shot to fame on all of the Thailand nightlife online discussion forums back in 2000 and 2001 due to her enormous breasts. Truth be told, she was nothing special to look at, but everyone was talking about her and the management of the Dollhouse would likely give an arm or a leg to get that sort of publicity these days. I'd say hundreds of guys visited that bar to see this little Thai vixen with the enormous knockers and she was perhaps the first Thailand internet queen. Guys were flying into Thailand from all over the world with her name on their to do list. She disappeared well before Dollhouse in Clinton Plaza breathed its last breath and no doubt she found a farang to take care of her.
Just the other week I was out at Ramkhaemhaeng and spotted a girl I recognised as a freelancer from Thermae. She had worked there for many years and she was there doing the shopping early on a Sunday morning with what must have been her boyfriend until I spotted that they both had rings on their fingers, indicating that they were married. So I guess #33 is now probably married off with a farang as is what seems to happen to most of the girls, eventually.
Addendum 31 January: Since putting this week's column online, I have since been informed that Miss #33 is still employed at the Dollhouse though these days she has a different number.
It was in the big Hollywood bar in Nana Plaza where myself and a Canadian pal were and we had heard that that bar was charging what they termed a long term barfine, an amount of money one had to pay to the bar if one wanted to take one of the girls away from there forever. As a principled fellow, I found this a little tough to deal with and thus asked one of the girls to call over the manager. She brought over Cat. In a somewhat antagonistic mood that night, I asked the guy if he liked working as a pimp – because that is what I claimed he was doing by charging this outrageous fee. He then called over the other, more senior bar manager who was much more realistic about it. Cat and I didn't get off to a good start – and we never really recovered from that.
Like Midnite Mike before him, Cat floated around a few of the bars. He was in charge at Dollhouse for a while – they have sure been through a few managers – and at one of the other Clinton bars.
With his bleached blonde hair, he was a winner with the dancing girls and rumour has it that the reason he was given the boot from at least one of his jobs was because he bedded great numbers of his own staff! He never did seem to click with the customers though and didn't last very long at any bar. His last bar management role was in Phuket but even that didn't last. Fishing off the company wharf has never been a good idea for anyone.
The last I heard the poor fellow had to go back to Australia in pursuit of a new job, no, not another katoey website, but to be a nurse of all things.
The Singaporean bar manager was a fixture at some of the Clinton Plaza bars although the first few times I saw him I simply assumed he was Thai because, well, Thais and Singaporeans are not always easy to differentiate in the looks department. But then one day we got chatting and it became obvious that he was not Thai.
I used to enjoy sitting with Casey up in the office of what is now known as Cocktail Club in Soi Cowboy, talking about the industry, his bar and our respective lives. He was a picture of Singaporean efficiency. He had set up fancy Excel spreadsheets dealing with just about everything in the bar and there was an audit trail for everything. He could tell you exactly what had been bought, at what time, how much alcohol there should have been on the premises, the number of barfines for each girl, how many days she had not come in to work and so on. In terms of the books, he was a true professional. I always wondered if Casey was an accountant before a bar manager, but no, it appears not.
Cocktail Club was the last bar Casey managed and he was eventually asked to leave despite all that he had done to turn but around from a nothing sort of bar to one well worth visiting.
Even though he has long since left the bar industry, Casey and I still chat from time to time and I am pleased to say that he seems to be doing ok for himself. He took possibly the nicest girl off Soi Cowboy to be his girlfriend and the last I heard he was looking at getting into the Chinese restaurant game. His days in the bars are but a memory and he has no intention of returning to the industry.
I have always wondered why people in such a prosperous country in the heart of Europe only speak English to an, on average, mediocre level, and Dr Joker was a classic example of the Swiss in this respect.
The eccentric Dr Joker ran a bizarre Thailand nightlife website. It had all he usual information about naughty nightlife in Thailand but amongst other stuff, it had some really profound admissions on there, including an MP3 file where he recorded his own voice for a 2 minute piece and described how he was a virgin before he came to Thailand and how he lost his virginity with one of Thailand's ladies of the night!
We actually met up, some time back in 2000 and went for a few drinks around the bars. He was an odd character and wore a cap and dark glasses at night to try and conceal his identity. He was absolutely paranoid about his website and it wasn't that long after that that he decided to take it down. We talked about this at the time and he had asked me what I thought about it. His site was straight to the point with pictures that left little to the imagination so in retrospect, his decision to take it down before the social order crusade began the middle of 2001 was probably a wise one. He had a severe case of yellow fever so I would think it likely he still comes to Thailand for his twice annual trips.
Like this site in the early days, he never had his own .com address, but the site remained popular and even though parts of it were a bit of an embarrassment, it was probably the most well known and most popular Thailand nightlife website for a while, with perhaps the exception of Nanaplaza.com which was in its hey day back then.
There are many people who have come and gone through Bangkok's bar scene and it is always interesting to know what happened to them. More importantly what ever happened to frog woman? Or the kung fu man?
WHERE IS THIS PICTURE?
It was Louis Vuitton at Gaysorn.
Not on the tourist circuit…
Last week's pic was taken outside Gaysorn Plaza. There was a Louis Vuitton sign on the side of the building which I blurred out but many people still got it. This week's picture was taken somewhere you are not supposed to take pictures, but I was too fast for the security guard… Each week the first reader to correctly state where the pic is by email to me wins a 500 baht credit from Tony's Bar in Soi Cowboy. Please note that the credit MUST be claimed within two weeks and you MUST state in the email that you are Bangkok based. So, to claim that prize, you must be in Bangkok at some time in the next two weeks.
FROM STICKMAN'S EMAIL INBOX
Smile, you’re on candid camera.
Been noticing the cameras mounted on the signal lights around Pattaya. Not sure what the purpose is. Maybe they are fake and are being used as a deterrent for red light violators? Wrong way drivers? Speeders? Hookers? But what really has my attention is these micro cameras I have been noticing in the gogos and in the beer bars in Pattaya. They are about half the size of a cigarette lighter and positioned way up in the corners or rafters where you don’t notice them unless you really are looking for them. WTF! I can understand a camera in plain view focused on the cash box or register but these are NOT on the cashier. They are on the customers. So these pathetic owners want to watch me drink and act a fool in their bar? They won’t be seeing my face in their bar again…ever.
Ageism hits Pattaya!
I note you say Pattaya is chock full, and so it is, including many American Air Force guys handling the tsunami relief from U-Tapao airport, and young couples redirected from Phuket, but one thing really strikes me. When I came here in 1990 I was 31 years old and I palled up with an older guy who was 55 years old, at that point with very few exceptions I was the youngest guy around town. My friend still comes out twice a year and he is now seventy years old, and quite frankly it is difficult for him to find company at this time of year as Pattaya has over the years become a young man’s playground and some areas of Pattaya like Soi 8 or Pattayaland Soi 2 are now quite intimidating, almost no go places for a man of more advanced years. While I am sure that the girls in the bars are much happier ‘entertaining’ younger men, I wonder what the future holds for guys of advanced years if this trend continues. One place, and I place where my friend has just gone for a five day trip, is Cambodia, not because of the fact that the girls are allegedly younger there, but purely to get some female attention as the girls of Pattaya are disinterested in older guys these days. Will this happen to me when I reach the autumn of my years here in Pattaya?
Fear of heights.
I was glad to read your reader's comment about the quake and high buildings. At least, I'm not feeling alone! I live in Teuk Chang (Elephant Building), near Lad Prao. 26 storey. And that bloody Sunday morning, we felt pretty bad the quake. Same as your reader : awful "cracks" sounds and a damn shake. Full panic. Everybody went down on the street. But, strangely, the Supalai Tower (3 buildings, on the other side of the road), looked pretty quiet. So I was wondering, am I crazy? And same situation: the manager of the building has no information. Everything is sabai sabai for him "no problem". Teuk Chang is a pretty "old" building. Very nice one, but old. And with a strange structure (very narrow, but very long). So, I've decided to move. Bangkok is not Tokyo. There is no "quake proof" building here. And since it happened once…
BTS ripoff, again!
I have just returned from my 4 week holiday in Thailand. This year a friend came on his first trip and booked in at the Asia Hotel. He got short changed at the BTS when he changed 100 baht note for coins, 8 coins at the Rachatewi Station and he asked me is there a commission of 20 baht. The next day I went to visit him at the Asia Hotel and we decided to go down to Soi Cowboy so I changed 100 baht for coins at Rachatewi BTS and the young Thai boy tried the same trick on me, and when he saw me counting the coins the next thing a 20 baht note got slipped to me.
Movies better in the West?
Movie-goers should be aware that the Western movies they see in the theatre here do not always look the same as they do in the West. Take, for instance, "Closer." It's made Top 10 lists in the US, but I haven't bothered to see it here, because from what I've read, there is so much sex and nudity that I figured the censors MUST hack it up. It received an R rating (no one in the US under 17 allowed to see it without a parent or guardian), and from what I've read, it must have come close to the dreaded NC-17 rating (which is the modern-day X). Sure enough, I see here it's advertised as rated PG-13 (anyone allowed in, but 13 and below should have at least asked their folks if it was okay). Must have been watered down. I'll catch it on DVD instead, thanks.
I wanted to take the sleeper car train to Phuket. According to one agent, cost was 730 baht and would leave evening and arrive in Surat Thani (sp?), and then from Surat Thani would have to take a 5 hour bus ride at 200 – 300 baht. This did not bother me; however, what did bother me was she did not know when the bus left: I mean, the next bus could leave at noon! So, I went to a few travel agencies at the larger hotels and all quoted me 2,700 baht for airfare. Eventually, one of the smaller agencies quoted me 2,010 baht. However, the last one I went to was only 1,275 baht. I really pays to shop around.
Japan same same.
Just read your report on the incident with your friend at work and it made me smile. Having worked in Japan for four years the incident sounded very familiar to me. You see the Japanese have this concept of Omiyage, which translates as an obligatory gift from a trip or excursion. The gift is given to work mates and bosses and helps the working relationship in that it shows a concern for ones peers and facilitates a sense of group belonging or harmony. The fact that every one knows the cookies or sweets are mass produced for the sole purpose of Omiyage makes no difference what so ever! You can even order them on the internet and not even buy, say your Scottish short bread, from Scotland. All good airports have a Japanese Omiyage section which the Japanese can buy at the end of a trip. See, same same but not different. Your friend got heated up over nothing, just Asian culture.
One of the worst kept secrets is out and it is all now official. Big Dogs, Lucky Luke's, Boss Hogg's and Temptations are all up for sale. Boss Hogg has decided to move back to the States. Any interested parties may contact Greg Lange at Sunbelt Asia.
The second branch of the ultra successful Morning Night has opened on the main Sukhumvit Road, very close to soi 1. Morning Night II and has several Thai style pavilions housing the bar with pool tables, all in the same style as the original bar. The music is not too loud, the food ok and drinks are reasonable by Sukhumvit standards with local beers at 80 baht each.
Due to huge competition amongst the gogo bars in Walking Street, Club Electric Blue is changing its theme and will be known as Club Electric Blue Disco. Yep, it is going to be a disco. They plan on having top guest DJs, playing hip hop and house and all the latest sounds. There will be lady's night every Monday and Wednesday where single ladies can drink free from 9 PM to 11 PM. Fun is the motto of the new club. Under the same management, Hooty's Show Girls located right next door stays as is and there are no changes planned at present. One of the main reasons behind the change is there are more and more gogo bars opening weekly in Pattaya and everybody is fighting for the same girls. As top Bangkok bar manager Dave The Rave has been saying for a long time, all of these Pattaya bars offering high salaries and selling cheap drinks is just plain crazy. The profit margin keeps getting smaller and smaller and eventually the point is reached where it is not worth the time to put all the effort into it. Also, changing the theme should result in a lot less hassle from the powers that be. All of the Club Electric Blue girls will move to Hooty's Show Bar.
Private Dancer, the on-line cult novel chronicling the disastrous relationship between a travel writer and a Bangkok bargirl, is finally available in print. The on-line version of the novel, written by best-selling thriller writer Stephen Leather, has been downloaded more than sixty thousand times over the past five years from his website, stephenleather.com. Now Leather has decided to publish the book in Thailand, through his own publishing company. The novel is set in Thailand in 1996. Pete, a young travel writer, wanders into a Bangkok bar and meets the love of his life. Pete thinks that Joy is the girl of his dreams: young, stunningly pretty, and one of the top-earning gogo dancers in Nana Plaza. What follows is a roller-coaster ride of sex, drugs, lies and murder, as Pete discovers that his very own private dancer is not all that she claims to be. And that far from being the girl of his dreams, Joy is his own personal nightmare. Without a doubt in my mind, this is the best book ever written about the Bangkok bar scene. Leather will be holding a book signing in Hollywood Strip, on the third floor of Nana Plaza, on Friday February 4 between 7.30 PM and 9.30 PM. It will be a chance to meet the author and buy a signed first edition copy of the book. There'll be free food and happy hour prices. The striking cover photograph, of a naked girl holding a cut-throat razor behind her back, was taken in Angelwitch Bar in Nana Plaza and features one of the bar’s top showgirls. Private Dancer is priced at 350 baht and is available at all good book stores in Thailand, including Bookazine and Asia Books, and is available for sale on-line at dcothai.com.
Quite frankly I am amazed that so many farangs like Rainbow 2 bar in Nana. Apart from the fact that there are a number of pretty girls in there, I really do not see any other attraction in that bar. But the fact that they are pretty is largely irrelevant as they simply aren't interested in most Westerners. I thought the name badges that the girls wear were a little difficult to make out, until I realised that most of them are in Japanese! The music in there is a weird mix of popular songs, but they all seem to be these strange versions sung by chipmunks, or a group with similarly high pitched voices. At least half of the girls in there are dollied up in a style that only a Japanese man could find attractive and frankly, if they had sake available and tripled the prices you'd think you were in downtown Tokyo. And given that you can't get mobile phone coverage in there, I'd just about have to say that Rainbow 2 is the most over-rated bar in Nana. I wonder when the time will come when farangs are barred from entry?
Construction continues unabated on the new night spot being made from the old building across Patpong 2 from The Crown Royal. If you are still wandering around in the wee hours after the bars close you will see workers busy as bees inside the old building
hurrying to get construction finished.
Club Electric Blue in Patpong is featuring some, shall we say, interesting entertainment that is worth taking a look at.
And still in Patpong, Pussy Connection has a new mamasan who moved over from Club Electric Blue. She has brought in some new dancers too.
So the local promoters are saying, "at last a quality ale is available for discerning drinkers in Thailand. Pale, insipid, gassy beers are a thing of the past. Wrap yourself in the rich, strong taste of Old Speckled Hen – a most gratifying ale." Cripes, I could have used that product endorsement for a lesson with my students on adjective order. This new ale will be launched at The Barbican on Thursday, 3rd February or The Bull's Head on Friday, 4th February from 7 PM onwards, so you can now enjoy what has been described as one of England's finest ales for only 100 baht a pint. Frankly, I'd rather go for a lager in this climate.
Panthip Plaza really is a bit of a hole and it seems to be going downhill rapidly. It is a horribly stressful place to wander round and actually, software there is, while much cheaper than the West, more expensive than most other places in Asia. Philippines and Malaysia both have far cheaper stuff.
And while we are on the subject of shopping, Bangkok might not be as cheap as Hong Kong or Singapore, but prices here seem to be getting closer and closer to those of the known Asia electronics bargain centres. But dare you buy your expensive electronics in Bangkok after you hear the following story? A friend was in the market for a new lens for his camera, a professional SLR lens with the retail cost of this lens going for over 50,000 baht. He went into one camera shop and they had the lens that he wanted but it was second hand. It was mint condition and even the box and instruction manual looked brand new. The lens had been owned though and the owner had returned it because he found it to be a little bit heavy. My friend tested it and found that there was a problem with it, something not immediately obvious and something which you would only find if you knew how to look for it. He asked at the shop if they were expecting to get any new stock of the lens to which he was told that no, neither this branch nor the main branch expected to have any for a month or two. He left. The next day, I was in the branch that he had been in. I knew he wanted this particular lens and when I saw that they had one available, I called him and told him that they had one in. He asked me to check with the shop assistant if it was brand new to which they replied that yes, it was. My friend then asked me to check on the second hand shelf and see if they had one in stock. I checked and they didn't. It would seem that due to the condition of the lens they decided to sell it as new, when in fact it had already had one owner…AND was faulty! This was at one of the best known camera stores in Bangkok and the fact that this sort of thing goes on sure puts one off buying such high end electronic equipment here.
Western Union seems to be the choice of many to send money from Farangland to their teeruks still domiciled in the Land of Smiles. Western Union works well and they have a huge network of agents, however, the fees they charge are steep and the exchange rate they offer is lousy. There is an alternative. Moneygram which can be found online at moneygram.com work very well and are worth considering. In Western Union's defence, they have drastically lowered their fees for transfers to Thailand at this time, it being one of the countries hit by the tsunami.
The king of promotions, Big John, is offering a number of upcoming special promotions. On Wed 9th February he'll celebrate Chinese New Year and The Year of the Chicken with FREE BBQ'd chicken from 6 – 8 PM & free draft Chang beer from 8 – 9 PM. He'd better get ready for an invasion of English teachers that night… On Monday 14th February, that is Valentines Day if you had forgotten, they are offering FREE DRINKS for LADIES. That's right – free gin, vodka, rum, and whisky with mixers as well as draft beer & soft drinks, all for ladies from 5 PM – 9 PM. New nightly & weekly promotions: every night – buy one get 2 FREE drinks for ladies – free gin, vodka, rum, and whisky with mixers as well as draft beer & soft drinks for ladies from 5 PM – 7 PM. Every FRIDAY night they have FREE DRINKS for LADIES. That's right, absolutely free gin, vodka, rum, and whisky with mixers as well as draft beer & soft drinks for ladies from 5 PM – 9 PM. The big question now is when doesn't he have a promotion?!
If you're a cheap Charlie and want to infringe upon an initiative that I believe was set up for Thai students then you could go and use the new Thai government education centre on the top floor of Central World Plaza. High speed internet is available for just 10 baht an hour. All you have do is register, take your registration number to the counter and leave your passport or other personal ID card there whilst you browse the net. The only catch is that you must pre-pay because they give you a card to slot into the PC itself to activate it. It's a great facility, over 100 PCs with a cafe. And if you use it during the week when kids should be at school, you do not have to worry yourself about infringing upon a poor Thai student's subsidised internet use!
Why do so many of the restaurants in Bangkok who specifically target farangs always jack up their prices as much as they can when it's time for a price increase? I remember a few years back when Woodstock in Nana Plaza was good value but in a short space of time they put their prices up about three times, and each time it was more than a few baht, to reach the levels where it is now where it is a little pricey – at least for what you get. But Woodstock is not the only offender. The Londoner, which admittedly I am a fan of, did the same, as did Pasta'n'Noodles on Sukhumvit near soi 11 and also La Boulange, the French bakery on Soi Convent with the great breakfasts. The latter even had the cheek to not only put prices up, but also make portions smaller! No matter how good a place is, when you go and jack up the prices by 25%, or God forbid more, don't expect your existing customers to like it.
There is a note on Bernard Trink's website stating the following: From 28th Jan 2005, new issues of Bernard Trink's Nite Owl & Movie Reviews will be offered at no subscription cost, enjoy! For anyone who doesn't know Trink, the man is a Bangkok legend and has been writing a weekly column that initially focused on nightlife but covers issues relating to Westerners in Thailand, for oh, about 40 odd years! You can find his column online at: Idontgiveahoot. I never did subscribe to his column online but its return is in many ways like the return of an old friend.
Ask the Sticks
Mrs. Stick is here to answer questions surrounding anything that confuses you in Thailand, particularly issues of the heart. Please note that for general bargirl related questions, Mr. Stick might answer them. It has to be said that Mrs. Stick is not your stereotypical Thai woman. She is not Buddhist and she is not shy to criticise things about her own country and culture, although having said that, she remains proud to be Thai. Mr. Stick will try and answer the questions which Mrs. Stick is not so sure about.
Question 1: I met a woman. She is waitress in a pub (not a bargirl), 30 years younger than me, she has not studied. We don't know each other much, just a few days and friendship, but something strong seems to be between us. I also have friends in Bangkok of higher level, studies and incomes. I know class frontiers are very strong in Thailand. When I come back, if I take her with me when meeting them, how will they react? Will they accept her (and me) or reject?
Mrs. Stick says: I think you know the answer to this question already before you asked. Why don't you give it some time and get to know her better and get to know her well enough to potentially sacrifice your reputation amongst your friends. That way, you will know if it is worth presenting her to them or not.
Question 2: The books all say that sanuk is fundamental to Thai culture. Any activity must be sanuk for it to be worthwhile. We see this in the workplace all the time; Thais joking, smiling, and generally having fun. At one hotel I stayed at, the cleaning staff seemed to be having the best party ever as they moved along the hall, and every day, too. But, it seems to be different when Thais are actually supposed to be having fun. Many times I have been to all-Thai bars or to restaurants where a large gathering of Thais is spread across several tables or to karaoke places and most people do not seem to be having much fun at all. Most rarely smile and sit fairly stoically hour after hour. There does not even seem to be a lot of talking going on. Karaoke seems to be the favored activity of many Thais but even then only the person singing seems to be having a lot of fun. The question is; does sanuk really apply to every activity or just to drudgery? Or, are the Thais in bars and so on really having a ball but just not showing it very much?
Mrs. Stick says: Thai people like to do things in groups, be it either work, or something socially. However, that doesn't mean that everyone in the groups enjoys it but in many ways they have to be there, in the same place at the same time. Thai people tend to be less serious than westerners and they like their lifestyle a lit bit loose, at times. Sanuk is a big part of Thai culture but it is not everything. There are other issues too, and money will always play a part in things. Thai people tend to be more playful than Westerners from what I have seen. If comparing Westerners with farangs, Thai people are less serious and more playful and they like to joke, even in the workplace. I don't like to classify people like this, but those in lower positions tend to have joke around and have more fun than people in higher positions. I'm sorry, but this is a hard question to answer!
I would love to hear from bar owners about just how well, or otherwise, your bars are doing this high season. It is said every year, but this year I truly believe it, that the naughty bars – in Bangkok at least – are far less popular than they were in the past. Dare any bar owners actually say how January 2005 has compared with previous years? From my eyes, I'd say many bars are at least 20% down. Of course Pattaya is another story altogether where things are, from all accounts, booming.
Your Bangkok commentator,