Stickman's Weekly Column August 14th, 2016

Cock A Doodle Doo!


There is a bar in Soi Cowboy where every visitor is welcomed by all of the pretty ladies who surround customers when they sit down in the bar. There is a bar in Soi Cowboy where most of the ladies actually dance and put energy in to it yet they are all barfineable and there is not a coyote amongst them. And there is a bar in Soi Cowboy where not one of the ladies will refuse to, ahem….smoke! Welcome to Cockatoo, the one and only ladyboy bar in Soi Cowboy!





Thai ladyboy


Cockatoo was the first and is still the only ladyboy bar in Soi Cowboy, something it doesn't eschew with large neon signs proudly stating exactly what the bar is about.

Sitting at the eastern end of Soi Cowboy, nestled between Rio and the out of place restaurant whose name escapes me, Cockatoo is a single shophouse bar with a narrow stage and dance floor.



Thai ladyboy


My good pal Floyd of Wellington loves to remind me about the time he was on a bus somewhere in Thailand and sat right next to him was a fellow Kiwi. The two Kiwis get chatting and so the story goes, Floyd mentions that not only does he read Stickman, but that he and Stickman are mates, to which the other Kiwi says, Stickman likes ladyboys and StickmanBangkok.com is a ladyboy website. I guess that's what happens when the banner at the top of the main index page for years was for a ladyboy escort agency.



Thai ladyboy


To put the records straight, I don't have a thing for ladyboys; neither do I have a problem with them. Many fans of the nightlife get all bent out of shape over ladyboys but I don't see an issue. Ladyboys are amusing in moderation. That doesn't mean I visit ladyboy bars – I don't – nor do I especially want to be around them, but that doesn't mean that being around them is something to be avoided; on the contrary, being in the company of ladyboys can be a riot!



Thai ladyboy


When it was announced some years back that Tony's Bar had been sold and it was going to reopen as an all-ladyboy bar, something Soi Cowboy had never had before (it has had ladyboys but never an all-ladyboy bar), howls of protests were heard from Soi Cowboy regulars. Amongst them was The Grinch AKA Mr. Grumpy, who ranted even more than he usually does about how ladyboys would mean an increase in crime (it hasn't) and how they would bring various social problems to Soi Cowboy and it would never be the same. If anything, the arrival of Cockatoo Bar has given the soi a more balanced vibe and it's not all one-way traffic.



Thai ladyboy


Like most ladyboy bars, the owners of Cockatoo rub their hands together every month; the bar is a goldmine! One of two ladyboy bars in the Stumble inn Group (the other being Temptations in Nana Plaza), Cockatoo makes more money per square-metre than any other bar in the group.

Seriously, if you're keen to enter the bar business and create a viable and profitable business – as opposed to creating your own private bar which you allow the public to attend – start a ladyboy bar. Ladyboy bars are where the money is at!



Thai ladyboy


I am told that one of the great things about operating ladyboy bars is that there is never any problem recruiting them. Apparently there is no shortage of ladyboys keen to enter the industry. Where do they all come from?!



Thai ladyboy


Some ladyboys are feminine, easy on the eye and may be genuinely mistaken for a lady born a lady whereas some, well, you just have to smile :)



Thai ladyboy


Some really are quite masculine which may well be a look that some guys go for…



Thai ladyboy


Not all ladyboys have husky voices, are 190+ cm tall or are ultra aggressive. A couple of the ladyboys in Cockatoo are as feminine as any girl on Soi Cowboy.

Most females – Thai and foreign – readily acknowledge some Thai ladyboys are striking to look at, yet many foreign bar hounds get all bent out of shape over the fact that there are ladyboys and ladyboy bars in the nightlife areas. There seems to be this mistaken idea that nobody likes ladyboys and if the ladyboy bars weren't there, there would be more ladies around. It doesn't work like that. As I already said, ladyboy bars do very well!



Thai ladyboy


Finding ladyboys attractive doesn't mean you're gay and doesn't mean you have a thing for ladyboys. There is no reason why you can't acknowledge that some are attractive.



Thai ladyboy


I notice far fewer tattoos on the ladyboys. Plastic surgery is another matter – most have had their boobs done and a few have butt implants. I didn't enquire but I understand that few (perhaps none) in Cockatoo have had the cruelest cut of all.



Thai ladyboy


Customers entering Cockatoo are welcomed in much the same way as the girls welcome customers in the hostess bars of Phnom Penh. When a customer enters the bar, most of the ladies surround them and try to get them to choose them to sit down with them. In Cockatoo the ladyboys make sweet faces, wave, and compete with one another to get the guy's attention. It's tastefully done and anyone who wants to be left alone will be.



Thai ladyboy


Cockatoo is relaxed and there is no pressure at all. If you are not interested in company (or they work out that you're straight and ladyboys are not your thing and you're just there to people watch), you are still very welcome and won't be hassled. Of course, if you misbehave and /or make sly or vulgar comments, you might find yourself unwelcome (or worse). While I have no issue with ladyboys, I'll be the first to acknowledge that they are much more volatile than your average female.



Thai ladyboy


My visits to Cockatoo have not been limited to taking photos. Twice I have visited Cockatoo with friends, taking folks from out of town in so they could see what a ladyboy bar is all about. That said, I wouldn't visit Cockatoo alone.



Thai ladyboy


The Cockatoo crew is chilled. Obviously a lot of ladyboys are taking pills and may be on hormone treatment which must play havoc with their mood and emotions, so what's the deal in Cockatoo? Why are they so laid back? Management must be doing something right.








Thai ladyboy


The attitude of the ladyboys in Cockatoo is not how I expect a ladyboy bar would be. Forget what happens in Nana Plaza where straight guys are groped and generally hassled just walking past ladyboy bars…..I hate to think what happens inside. That is a Nana Plaza management issue, something the management of the plaza could so something about but appear to have put in the too hard basket. That sort of carry on doesn't happen at Patpong – where there are a number of ladyboy bars – nor does it happen at Cockatoo in Soi Cowboy.








Thai ladyboy


Cockatoo is most popular with the Japanese but that doesn't mean the ladyboys of Cockatoo go overboard with bleached hair or a look the Japanese go for. The profile of customers at Cockatoo is predominately young Japanese guys i.e. aged under 40 – and often aged under 30. Is sex with a ladyboy a rite of passage for Japanese in Bangkok? Ok, so I jest, but a disproportionately high number of Japanese frequent some ladyboy bars – True Obsessions in Nana is also a hot spot for the Japanese.








Thai ladyboy


The lady pictured here is one of those rare Thais who doesn't look nearly as good in pixels as she does in the flesh, ooops, perhaps it would better if I rephrased that as in a bikini!



Thai ladyboy


Preening herself just as the ladies in the rest of Soi Cowboy do.








Thai ladyboy


I do wonder how many punters over the years have unwittingly ended up with a ladyboy. There have been plenty of stories over the years of how a guy ended up in a room only to discover at the last minute that she was in fact born a he. Heavy alcohol consumption has to be a factor and there is no shortage of stories from those who discovered that she was not what he thought she was and decided to hell with it, let's give it a go anyway!








Thai ladyboy


They tell me that Nana's True Obsessions has some of the best looking ladyboys and definitely Nana Plaza is the place for ladyboy lovers with several all-ladyboy bars and a few more with token ladyboys sprinkled amongst those born female, some less obvious than others. There are much larger ladyboy bars and probably the ladyboy aficionados will tell me all that is wrong with Cockatoo; admittedly I am out of my depth in this sector of the industry. But the fact that Cockatoo welcomes those who don't wish to do anything more than watch or show visitors from out of town what it's all about sets it apart.








Thai ladyboy


I get it that the average guy doesn't care for ladyboys. At the same time, ladyboys are not going to be the downfall of the industry as some bar hounds would tell you. Cockatoo is not like an opium den – you don't need to partake to enjoy yourself!










Where was this photo taken?





Last week's photo was taken of Sawasdee House in the backpacker lane of Soi Rambuttri, just a stone's throw from Khao San Road.



Pure Bangkok Escorts



FROM STICK'S INBOX (These are emails from readers and what is written here was not written by Stick.) Preference may be given to emails which refer to the previous week's column.


What happened to the unique irresistible draw.

I think the reason that Thailand is less attractive than it used to be is mainly due to decline of cheap nightlife and easy girlfriend experience options. It's still a nice place to visit, relax a bit and have some fun, but there is no longer an irresistibly compelling draw to move here full-time. I visited Thailand for the first time in 2003 and gave up a top-notch job in my field to come to live here 3 years later, the allure was so strong. I don't regret the decision at all, and still enjoy Bangkok. However, had I arrived here for the first time after 2010, no way would I have made the decision to move. The girl scene is not nearly as compelling any more, and it's not so much about higher prices, but the changing nature of the scene. Sure, there are still plenty of hookers offering their services for a pop or two, or even overnight, but the thrill of an open-ended, wide field of possibilities is gone. In Thailand, the girlfriend experience used to mean you could choose to go on a vacation with a girl, and have an extended relationship all the way up to marriage (non-exclusive as it might be), but now it means she accepts French kissing during your hour together. Even if you mostly did short times, the possibility was thrilling and made all the difference. Every Farang used to be rock star, but now is just another penis on the conveyor belt. As for regular girls, 10 years ago it was common to see unimpressive old Farangs with much younger, good looking Thai girlfriends or wives. These days such a heart-warming sight is exceedingly rare. For an under-40 expat, below-average Thai women are still a lot easier than their Western counterparts, but they are getting picky and effort is required. Moreover, they do not offer all that much in terms of conversation, understanding or loyalty. Thailand has gotten better in many ways, certainly better for most Thais. It's still a great place to live and has a lot to offer…but it no longer has that unique irresistible draw.

Booming Bangkok!

We are in Bangkok for a few days. Talk about busy – our hotel, Centrepoint, is packed! Sometimes we have to queue for the hotel tuktuk and I think winning the lottery would be easier than getting a table at breakfast time. Bangkok seems busier than it has ever been. Just goes to show how wrong all those predicting Bangkok's demise just because of the changing bar scene and lack of girls were. I reckon you could eliminate every bar area in Thailand, and 5 minutes later the tourist numbers will be up again.

Bangkok vs. Pattaya.

I'd like to put forward one possible theory as to why some parts of the Bangkok gogo scene seems to be buzzing at the moment whereas most of the equivalents down in Pattaya are in dire straits this low season. As an old Thai gogo fan, my recent experience in both locations reveals totally different experiences. It's a bit of a generalisation, but in recent years in Pattaya, many gogo bar owners have worked on a model of paying ridiculously high salaries to the girls and charging daft barfines with 1,500 baht being very common. This is, in my view, a short-sighted policy based on greed and results in far fewer girls feeling the need to get barfined and far fewer punters feeling it is value to do so. And in many bars, especially in Walking Street, drinks prices are often higher than in many Bangkok bars. This model may attract one-off visits from tourists to have a glimpse but is unattractive to hardcore gogo fans who spend large amounts, either as expats or regular visitors year and year after year. In total contrast and against the general perception of many people regarding this sector, many Bangkok gogo bars now offer a far better customer experience. Lower salaries for the dancers, far more sensibly priced barfines, a real fun atmosphere in many bars where many girls actively encourage customers to have fun in the bar and then to barfine them rather than just trying to keep them in the bar to milk them for lady drinks. Just my thoughts, others may not agree.






Thaiconomics in Nana.

I witnessed another classic Thaiconomics situation in Nana Plaza. I ducked in to London Calling to see if there'd been any improvement to one of the worst managed bars in Bangkok. They still have the mix of girls and ladyboys (which is never going to work) and now try to mimic Long Gun by taking their shows in a half-assed kind of way. They had one pudgy girl doing the callisthenic slide-down-the-pole and gyrate suggestively show, rather than the 3 or 4 Long Gun has, followed by the girl shooting darts out of her private parts toward balloons. She was alarmingly inaccurate, so my suggestion to any punters is to move well away from her target zone! To me, these kind of shows are about as arousing as a gynaecological examination, but to top it off, after each section of the show the service staff walk around the bar with a basket labelled 'Show' and ask for money, delivering a dirty look to any customer who dare not pay a tax for this 'entertainment'. This from a bar with the highest drink prices in Nana Plaza, a dire lack of customers and possibly the worst music of all bars – though there's some worthy competition for that title.

Turned off by bargirls.

The 10 Things I Find The Most Unattractive About Bar Girls:

1. They are a bar girl (do the math before diving in. Seriously, do the math, Conrad.)

2. Drug Use (Instantly in a much higher STD risk bracket not to mention violence and other illegal activity.)

3. Tobacco Use (If you smoke this means nothing, if you don't it means everything.)

4. Braces (There is something sick about women trying to look like an illegal age teenager because she thinks it will attract men. Consider what the cheese graters can do to your watzit!)

5. Piercings (Anything past earrings makes them look like they belong in the Africa edition of National Geographic, nose piercings, lip piercings, tongues, cheeks, eyebrows, nipples and woohoos. I don't want to worry if I need a tetanus shot!)

6. Hideous Dark Make-Up (Typically applied by envious ladyboys who are secretly trying to make them less attractive than themselves.)

7. Tattoos (Historically, tats are worn to express culture or life events. At 19, these girls haven't lived life, they get tats only because of how they look, not what they say or stand for. “Oh, look at that pretty picture!” Lady, you put pics on your grossly expensive iPhone, not your boobs!)

8. Stretch Marks (Not only do they mar otherwise nice skin, but now you know there's a kid waiting for mom to come home, or to call, or to make a lot of money for. And then there's the change in geography you're paying for.)

9. Fake Eyelashes (Seriously, half of these ladies have the equine eyelashes. Maybe that's where the stores get them. Somewhere out there is a farm of eyelash-less horses with severe image complexes.)

10. Fake Boobs (Not only are they seriously out of place on Thai women, but eventually you'll get around to touching them and be disappointed they feel like…well…enema bags.)

A Bonus Thought: As I neared #7 & #8 I realized I could list another 10, 20, 30 distasteful attributes from their clown-sized heels to the iPhone shape where there used to be a camel toe shape. Where there are the 10 most unattractive things, there are certainly the 10 most attractive things…stay tuned.





Girl of the Week

Saya, escort from NewBangkokEscort

Saya is described as cold on the outside but warm on the inside.
Saya says, a person without thoughts is walking dead.











Girls entering Nana Plaza this week had to offer up their bags to be searched.



Girls entering Nana Plaza this week had to hand bags over to the security crew manning the desk at the entrance so their belongings could be searched. Only girls entering had to hand over their bags – not customers – although having said that, I guess few customers carry bags in to the plaza. This happened at the start of the week, well before the bombings in Hua Hin and elsewhere in the south which understandably might have caused security to increase. And after the bombings anyone carrying any bags in to the plaza were asked to open them and the three security guards shone their MagLite in to the bag and peered inside.

Following on from last week's column where it was mentioned that the word "plaza" was not illuminated comes words that the large sign at the entrance to Nana Plaza is going to be replaced with an all-new LED version. The change is imminent and rather than waste money on an expensive neon repair, the decision was made to wait for the new sign to be installed. I wonder if the new version will feature the slogan on the current sign, "The World's Largest Adult Playground".

The luxuriously decorated but ultimately ill-fated freelancer bar The Den on Sukhumvit soi 12 may have been the most decadent bar of its type on Sukhumvit Road but the location meant that it was never going to become the next Thermae or Biergarten. The Den never really took off and was hampered by reports in the early days that it was a hangout for farang criminals. Once the initial excitement of a new freelancer bar subsided, it was quickly forgotten about. The Den was finally put out of its misery when the current owner decided the latest rent increase from an already whopping 350,000 baht / month to a positively eye-watering 450,000 baht / month meant he'd essentially be working for the landlord. I'm amazed The Den lasted as long as it did in a soi – long-running Darling Massage Parlour aside – that is not known for naughty nightlife venues.





Also in the soi 12 area, the acrimonious dispute between the operators of Insanity and V8 Diner and the landlord of those two properties ratcheted up a level this week with workmen bashing in to submission those buildings which are adjacent to the structures which house Insanity and V8 Diner. They have demolished much of what is left of what was once known as The New York Gardens. How long will it be before these 2 venues close? Each party refuses to give an inch.

Gogos were open on Friday which was a public holiday with no noticeable drop in dancer numbers. I guess it was a Friday night and the girls wanted to make money. The Thermae was one of few venues which closed in respect of HM Queen's birthday, but that didn't stop the regulars with 30 – 40 girls milling around outside in much the same fashion as you see ladies milling outside the local hotel / brothel in small-town Thailand. Japanese men walking past them were told closed but many Japanese speak so little English that that word is lost on them and they proceeded down the stairs only to find the lights out and the door locked.

The dust has settled on Sukhumvit soi 7/1 after the authorities got all hot and bothered a few weeks ago when info reached someone important about just what goes on inside Dr BJ's outlets. The Dr BJs venues were all closed which was followed by some redecorating and now they have reopened with the names Wood Bar and Chrome Bar. While the names have been changed the service standards haven't and exactly the same services are offered as before.

I am told there is a Pokestop in Nana Plaza and another on Soi Cowboy, although quite what that means I am not 100% sure. What I do know is that this relates to the Pokémon Go smartphone game what was first launched in New Zealand (along with Australia and the USA) a few weeks ago and more recently made it to Thailand. Now Pokémon Go fans are said to be running around Bangkok's nightlife areas and the game has quickly become popular in bar areas. Apparently the girls set off lures to attract wild Pokémon to their closest Pokestop. Talk about fantasy mirroring reality! One reader said that the newest way to pick up both good and bad girls in Bangkok is on Pokémon Go but I have no idea how that works. * If any of this doesn't make sense, my apologies – I really don't know much about Pokémon Go at all!



Dollhouse



Fitting with the theme of today's opening piece, several years ago in Jomtien soi 5 was a famous – some would say infamous – ladyboy bar called Sally's, so named after the owner's wife. A few years ago they split and the bar was sold. Now Sally is back and she has re-opened a smaller bar just 20 metres further up soi 5 from the old bar called, obviously, Sally's. It is well stocked with girls and ladyboys for those who prefer alternative company.

It is not just the bars that have seen a drop in trade. While some bars report record turnover, most bars are down on last year which in turn was down on the previous year. What I find interesting is that after five years of huge growth and many new brand names entering the market, the Bangkok escort industry is also in retreat with a number of agencies reporting that trade is down significantly from this time last year. Month on month, some escort services are down on last year in the region of 20 to 30% and some have even gone out of business completely. 2016 is the year the worm turned for Bangkok escort services after years of record growth. Is it that the market became saturated or are there other reasons?

There seems to be an acceptance that long-time is becoming a thing of the past, and the so-called girlfriend experience increasingly rare. What I am surprised about is that more people don't comment on is how short-time has become really short. What was once generally a couple of hours (mirroring the service standard in Thai-style massage parlours), these days is more like 30 minutes. A bit of naughty nooky in Bangkok is hardly a bargain these days, is it?

A reminder that the best bar manager in the biz (so say I), Captain Hornbag, will celebrate his birthday this coming Saturday, August 20th at Dollhouse in Pattaya with a Nanapong-style dance contest. Details on the poster below.





bad-ass cowgirls



What is the average age of the dancers in Tilac these days? If ever there was a bar that could call itself MILFs, the 2016 version of Tilac is it.

I find it most amusing that the vast majority of Thai women who say they would never get involved with a Thai man are from the lower echelons of society, while the vast majority of Thai women who say they would never get involved with a foreign man come from the upper echelons of society. Read in to that what you will.

BarSu at the Sheraton Grande Sukhumvit has a fantastic deal of five cocktails for 500 baht (which is the net price with no annoying ++) from 6 PM to 9 PM, weekday evenings. "The Fab Five" deal involves proper cocktails mixed by professional bartenders, not the lottery you get with mixed drinks served in the nightlife areas. Customers are given five vouchers and one or two can be exchanged for bar snacks if you do not feel up to downing five cocktails. Naughty boys who enjoy decent drinks could start the evening at BarSu before staggering over to Soi Cowboy just a few hundred metres away.

And at Sam's 2000 next to Tilac in Soi Cowboy, cocktails are included in the happy hour and just 90 baht until 9 PM. The Long Island Iced Tea at Sam's 2000 is well made and gets the thumbs up. Sam's 2000 is one of those hidden Bangkok secrets, and at the same time is right slap in the middle of Soi Cowboy. Sam's 2000 has an extensive food menu and you can get a decent Thai meal (or a decent burger) while perching in the middle of Soi Cowboy watching the show.





Chicken and cashew nuts with rice washed down with a strong Long Island Iced Tea, all for just 260 baht.



Quote of the week, "Visa issues are the bane of expat life in Asia."

A young British girl slips at a waterfall in Northern Thailand and breaks half the bones in her body.

Thailand really does seem to be serious about tracking the whereabouts of visitors to the country.

A friend of an Aussie who fell to his death from a balcony in Bangkok questions the circumstances of his death.

The bombings in Thailand this week have been getting a lot of press in Australia.





Ask Sunbelt Asia Legal



Sunbelt Asia's legal department is here to answer your questions relating to legal issues and the law in Thailand. Send any legal questions you may have to me and I will pass them on to Sunbelt Legal and their response will run in a future column. You can contact Sunbelt's legal department directly for all of your legal needs.



Question 1: Is it true that motorbikes are legally allowed to ride on the footpath in Bangkok? I have been told that they are allowed to if the road is blocked. Is this really true?

Sunbelt Legal responds: It is not legal to ride a motorbike, motorcycle or bicycle on the footpaths, and those found in violation can be fined up to 1,000 baht according to the Land Act BE 2522 (1979). Sunbelt Asia Legal Advisors recommends that all foreign drivers living in Thailand study the traffic laws and obtain a legal Thai driver's license.





Bangkok escort

What do you make of braces on the teeth of adult Thai females?



Last week's girl of the week, Bovi, has braces on her teeth. Like so many Thai women in the bar /escort industry, Bovi chooses to wear braces, presumably because she thinks it makes her look more attractive. The manager of NewBangkokEscort.com, the agency Bovi works with, tells me that customers regularly turn girls away because they turned up for their date with braces (and presumably the lady in question's photos featured on the website did not…tut tut). This begs the question, what do you make of braces on an adult woman? Personally, I'd find braces rather off-putting. I'd love to hear your thoughts.



Your Bangkok commentator,

Stick