Stickman's Weekly Column February 9th, 2020

Sweet Or Sexy?

The natural femininity of Thai women and their inherent sweetness is what sets them apart. It’s hard to imagine a place with sweeter women. But increasingly these days it seems that the Thai women plying their trade in the naughty bars are suppressing their sweetness. Rather than being their sweet selves to win customers over – something that comes naturally to them – they try to charm punters by being sexy. I’m not sure that works.

Ask any man what he most likes about Thai women and you’ll get comments like they’re feminine, slim and approachable. That’s all part of it, but I think the lure for many is that they are sweet. Genuinelysweet. Most aren’t acting, and the sweetness is their actual nature.

Even in the bar industry, many managed to retain their sweetness – and that endeared them to men. But in recent years much of their sweetness seems to have gone by the wayside.

Looking at photos I have taken in the bars over the years, what struck me in recent photos is just how hard so many gogo girls try to be sexy. Not just sexy, but overtly sexy – sexy in an aggressive way, if that makes sense. And they have to make the effort to be sexy because to most of them it does not come naturally.

In photos taken in 2013 or earlier, many of the girls aren’t trying to be sexy at all. They are just themselves, looking sweet and in some cases almost looking innocent. And they look so much better like that!

butterflies bangkok

This doing everything to be overtly sexy is a modern gogo bar thing. The way many bars promote the girls is very different to the way escort services promote themselves, notwithstanding that they all come from the same background.

Most escort services use photographers who capture the ladies looking feminine, innocent…and dare I say it, sweet. The ladies aren’t trying too hard. They just look at the camera and smile. Sweet and demure works so well with Thai women. The escort services get it.

The lovely Bonnie from

The lovely Bonnie from

The photo above of popular escort Bonnie from which I took several years ago sent her popularity sky-high, yet there’s nothing sexy about it. So many readers emailed me about her that in the end I wrote a form email and copied and pasted it in reply. I would frequently bump in to Bonnie at Terminal 21, each time with a different guy in tow. I always wondered if they were Stickman readers.

I just don’t think Thai women are naturally sexy in the way women from some parts of the world are. Can Thai women really compete with Latinos for sexiness?


Saying that Thai women are not inherently sexy does not mean that they are not fun in the bedroom, but at the same time, in my eyes at least, a Thai woman with an upsized chest, tattoos and a come fxxx me look does nothing for me. Sometimes they just look silly.

Roll out the old clichés about the girl next door, that butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth etc, but it is my experience that photos of sweet-looking Thai ladies go down best.

If I was the creative director for a gogo bar marketing team, I’d have the photographer work with the girls to capture them looking sweet. Dress them in streetwear, tell them to smile and leave it at that. Kill the pouting and cover up the bolt-ons and tats.

From the good ol’ days at Club Electric Blue.

From the good ol’ days at Club Electric Blue.

Westerners visiting Thailand to partake in the bar industry did so because of the promise of the girlfriend experience. I always felt many weren’t your stereotypical John. They had little or no history with prostitutes in their homeland. They were just looking for a bit of tenderness and (the illusion of) love. Sweet, demure ladies appealed.

But today most dalliances are short-time. Perhaps the Thai ladies of the night think customers want someone who looks like she is a sex machine?

Today, many gogo dancers present themselves as bad girls. Do they think that’s what Western men want? Or is it that perhaps how they see themselves?

Being sweet really does seem to come naturally to Thai women. Being sexy? I’m not so sure. Give me sweet over sexy any day.


Mystery Photo


Last week’s photo was taken of some of the buildings which make up Siriraj Hospital. What about this week’s shot? Flash looking place…is it the lobby of a 5-star hotel? You tell me!



Stick’s Inbox – the best emails from the past week.

What’s all the fuss about?

Dunno what all the fuss is about with the coronavirus. We already have a chronic annual worldwide issue with the flu, and that doesn’t send people running to put on masks and get an annual jab. I suppose the problem is that leaders and businesses have to be seen to be doing something. Inaction, or action deemed to be ineffective, leads to lost jobs at the top. And as they don’t pick up the tab, at least in public companies and government, the decision is easy. Err on the side of precaution. I have never been to China, but after this episode passes and the human race has once again survived the apocalypse, I hope there will be some extra cheap flights and a free visa on arrival. Meanwhile, Thailand continues to be on the world leader board for road deaths, 62 on average per day.

Coronavirus won’t stop me.

I’m a SARS survivor. I have a medicate certificate to prove it. It says I had a “suspected case of SARS”. Back in 2003, I got a mild fever on the 10th day (of 10) of my compulsory home quarantine after a trip to China. I went to a hospital, they put me in a corner and said “wait here”. I was admitted 30 minutes later, put in isolation, with medical staff approaching me in hazmat suits every 2 hours to take my temperature. It’s quite unnerving to have no visitors and only be approached by people wearing hazmat suits. I was never in danger. I hadn’t interacted with anyone who had symptoms. In reality I just got a temperature at the wrong time. It doesn’t make me an expert on coronavirus but I suspect there’s a lot of the same happening right now. Unless you’re in Wuhan or interacting with someone who’s been there recently, I doubt there’s much of a risk. I have a trip booked to Bangkok in March. Am I going? Hell yes! I want to spend time with my partner and look forward to doing all the things I enjoy when I visit. Worst case is I’ll hit the jackpot and get another medical certificate – suspected case of coronavirus. OK, the real worst case is I’ll die but the chances of that are so small I don’t even think it’s a possibility.

The masked airport.

Last night I departed Bangkok for Sydney via Singapore. I would say 95% – 98% of staff at the airport were wearing a mask. All cabin crew on the flight were wearing a mask. About 60% of passengers wearing masks. In Singapore, maybe 75% of airport staff were wearing masks. I’m having a quick trip and I did consider carrying a mask to wear on the plane if I heard coughing….but I forgot!

Change of approach needed?

Maybe if bar owners want to boost customers they should think about a return to the days of the closed, dimly lit, touchy feely bars with a few girls dancing and others sliding around with customers. The long running Tahitian Queen in Pattaya is an example. Soi Cowboy used to have bars like that too. The huge bar areas in Pattaya, where everything is open and the girls and customers can be observed from far and wide just don’t lead to more intimate groping, which arouses a man’s interest and sets him on the inevitable course to the hotel with a girl. Perched on a bar stool playing Connect 4 or Jenga just doesn’t work for me. It was always the leg, back, and arm massage and closeness of a long-haired lady that sealed the deal for me.

High prices underground.

I ventured into Thermae and wow – it was full of pretty women, and mostly Asian customers. I overheard one young guy trying to negotiate a lady down from 6,000 baht to which she responded, “You must think I am ugly, why do you not like me?” She wouldn’t budge – and he was a decent-looking 30-something. An older guy next to me complained of his attempt at securing a lady being met with a demand for 10,000 baht. Is this the new norm?

Down in Krabi.

I am in Krabi right now, and just finished enjoying a cocktail on the go. When I finished my drink I couldn’t see a trashcan anywhere to dispose of the plastic cup. Meanwhile, I see a cop eating his mango and disposing of the skin on the sidewalk! Had he seen me throw away my cup on the sidewalk I bet you he would have given me a ticket. That is Thailand for you.

Freedoms and being an asshole.

Some fellow Americans tell me that they only feel free here in The Philippines. Is it really freedom, or is it having the opportunity to be selfish? Want to stop at a shop but there is no parking; sure just stop in the street and create a traffic jam for everyone else. Want to hear the roar of your motorcycle? Remove the muffler and treat your neighbors to a deafening roar at 2 AM. Grrrrrrr!

The danger for expats who fall on hard times.

How many of those who scoff off at folks in a financially awkward predicament may find themselves in a similar situation in years to come? I’ve noticed many a once wealthy person humbled and in many cases it was failure to prepare for various eventualities which caused their downfall. For many it is the principal of boiling a frog – the future crept up and they had become trapped without a method of escape. I see this in a few expats in Thailand. What will they do in the future without a state pension from their home country or funds to continue their lives in Thailand. (35 years of National Insurance contributions is now required for the full UK state pension.)


The mainstream media has reported that visitor numbers have fallen off a cliff in the wake of the coronavirus. But what the mainstream media says and what is actually happening aren’t always the same thing. From a friend who spends more time in Soi Nana and around the plaza than most comes the following observation, “I notice a distinct lack of Asian tourists in Soi Nana and it all felt a bit tame.” In the Bangkok bar areas popular with Westerners, things aren’t too bad. Asian visitor numbers are down, however – which is to be expected. There are still white guys around.

What about down the road in Sin City? I didn’t get anything from Pattaya this week but a friend who knows Jomtien well sent the following a couple of days ago, “In October, many Jomtien restaurants had little trade. But last night they were busy. Lots of retirees, Russians and large groups of Europeans here in Jomtien.” Again, there was no mention of Asian visitors. So for the time-being, it seems Westerners are still heading to Thailand while the number of Asian visitors is down massively – which is pretty much what you’d expect.

Following on from last week’s column where I reported that Geisha in Nana Plaza was closed, the Korean-run bar reopened this week, having been closed for 6 days. One of the staff said it had been closed as they were working on the lights / sound / computer system. Maybe they were working on that, but I heard a different reason for the closure.

And on the subject of bars in Nana Plaza that are closed, the upstairs part of Mandarin is still closed with word that it will open “in 2 months”. That’s a lot of rent being paid while it remains closed.

A reader was in Enter in Nana Plaza around midnight on Thursday and his bill showed he was just the 21st customer (or at least the 21st bill) that night. With an average bill of, what, perhaps 500 baht, you have to wonder about the viability of bars with so few customers.

A power cut hit Nana Plaza on Monday night causing the lights to go out and the music to stop. Technical issues were cited. Very soon after, the power came back on, the fun continued and the night was saved.

Over on Patpong soi 2, Glamour – a bar I really like – will celebrate its 3rd anniversary this coming Saturday, February 15th.

The new buy-1-get-1-free offer from The Old English Pub in Thonglor is picking up pace with the bar’s outside terrace filling up fast most days.

It’s game over for good at Queen’s Park Plaza in Sukhumvit soi 22. What were bars are now rubble. Rumours was the last bar to sign out with a final goodbye party this past Tuesday night.


What was Moonshine Pub, Sukhumvit soi 22… now rubble.

Yesterday was a Buddhist holiday and all 3 Bangkok gogo bar areas were closed, even Patpong. It’s traditionally been the case that bars in Patpong would open and mugs of ummm, errr, coffee and tea would be sold. Not last night, even Patpong was closed.

Spanky’s is consistently busy night after night – and has been this way for as long as anyone can remember. It has been buzzing pretty much since it first opened its doors. Spanky’s will celebrate its 11th anniversary this coming Tuesday, February 11, with what it is calling “Lucky #11”. Few bars can claim to have been so popular for so long.

Speaking of the number 11, the new outdoor restaurant I have mentioned in Sukhumvit soi 11 under the stars is in fact an area made up with a number of different vendors operating on the same patch. Feedback continues to be very good and like Spanky’s, it’s busy every night. It’s near the top of the list of places I want to check out when I’m next in town.

Something I’d really like to see some bar owners and managers clamp down on is wait staff who grab a customer’s beer bottle and lift it to see whether there’s much beer left. Asking someone whether they’d like another beer is fine, but lifting the bottle and then pulling a sulking face when the customer says their drink isn’t finished and they’re not ready to order another one doesn’t go down well with anyone, especially when it happens again and again. This happens in even the best gogo bars and I find it bloody annoying. I am not talking about the situation of a customer nursing a cheap draft beer for an hour or more and being told to buy another – that’s an entirely different situation.

Valentine’s Day is heaps of fun in Thailand and Thais really get in to it. It can be a lot of fun in the bars too. Many bars throw some sort of Valentine’s Day party. In some it will mean a few Valentine’s Day decorations while others do much more. Amongst the bars celebrating Valentine’s Day this year are Billboard and Butterflies on the top floor of Nana Plaza, and Demonia, the fetish bar on Sukhumvit soi 33. More details of what they have planned on the posters below.




Anxiety and worry from the coronavirus is manifesting itself in many ways. Some business owners have found it a real headache to deal with as staff have said that they would prefer not to deal with Chinese customers out of fear they could contract the virus. One business owner has come up with a novel way of keeping the virus away. Well-known club The Pimp, owned by the American who was behind The Bank, and who also ran a Nana Plaza gogo bar for a while, has put in place a policy whereby all foreign customers MUST take their passport with them to the club. The passport will be checked by security and if there is any record that the customer has been in China at any time in the last 30 days (yes – 30 days, not 14), they will not be allowed inside. I’m all for businesses looking after their staff and putting safety first, but I wonder if this is perhaps a little over the top.

A friend and fellow fan of Scala cinema dropped by to catch a movie this week. When he was handed his ticket, he was also given a free face mask. A nice sentiment but at the same time I would not want to feel like I was compelled to don a face mask.

Pharmacies up and down Sukhumvit Road have signs posted saying they have no face masks available while there are people selling face masks from boxes on the street. What usually goes for 10 baht or so is being sold by some vendors for over 100 baht on the street. Many Thais are wearing masks.


The face masks sold out sign is up at pharmacies all over Bangkok. Thanks, Jack, for the photo.

A furore broke out on Friday after news broke that the minister of health had said that any farangs who don’t wear masks handed out to them should be kicked out of the country. If it was mandatory to wear a mask, I would not visit. It would seriously detract from your enjoyment. That’s not to say anyone will be kicked out – and the minister later apologised for making those comments. I guess it is just more proof how worried Thais are about this virus.

Observing from afar, the overwhelming impression is that anxiety over the coronavirus ratcheted up this week. Many Thais are wearing face masks while few farangs are. For me, the worry is not so much catching the virus, but the unexpected consequences of getting caught up in something related. Imagine that some extended travel ban was ordered, borders closed and you found yourself trapped in Bangkok, or isolated somewhere, all because you were in the wrong place at the wrong time. This is happening already. It has been reported in the local news here in New Zealand about the hundreds of Chinese visitors who are unable to get home. Air New Zealand has cancelled all flights between New Zealand and China, and flights on other airlines serving the route are all full. Chinese stranded in New Zealand are desperately searching for routes home flying via other countries but it’s the same story. They cannot fly home via Australia because QANTAS has cancelled flights between Australia and China and besides, if they have been in China in the last two weeks they’re not allowed to enter Australia. What a nightmare it could be to get caught up in something like that. And given that anything that happens now would in all likelihood not be considered “unforeseen”, the odds are that your travel insurance wouldn’t cover you so you could be up for big $$. All in all, it hardly encourages you to venture too far, lest you get stuck somewhere.



In last week’s column I mentioned how a friend who left Thailand some years ago and headed for the Philippines complains about pretty much all the same things that expats in Thailand complain about. So forget the Philippines, and head for Vietnam instead! Many Thailand expats are talking about Vietnam and a number have headed that way already. Two of the main reasons for leaving Thailand are visa hassles and the increasing cost of living. Vietnam might be cheaper but don’t go counting on an easy ride when it comes to visas. New visa rules are coming to Vietnam in July and there is real concern amongst expats in Vietnam. 3 month visas for the masses and 1 year (Americans only) tourist and business visas will be issued, but starting from July, the holder will be required to leave the country every month. Apparently the reason is to keep foreign criminals out. The only way to get a 2-3 year Temporary Residence Card (TRC) is to set up a business which is said to be easy to do and can be 100% in a foreigner’s name, unlike Thailand. That way you get a work permit and Temporary Residence Permit through your company. Alternatively, you can get married. There is a work-around with some agencies offering long-term Temporary Resident Permits through questionable means, but it comes with a caveat. If the company goes bust – as has happened in some cases – the expat may find themselves blacklisted from Vietnam – and it could cost big dollars to be allowed back in. There is conjecture that these visa rules will not be enforced and in Vietnam visa rules change frequently. If the new rules do come in to effect and are enforced, one would expect some expats in Vietnam will be looking for new pastures. Monthly visa runs would be expensive and very inconvenient. It should be noted that Vietnam does NOT have a retirement visa per se, as Thailand does. Info for would-be Vietnam expats can be found at:

Why do Thais say “Terminal twenty-one” and not “Terminal yee-sip-et”? i.e. why do they say the number 21 using English words, and not Thai?

Quote of the week comes from the gogo guru talking about coronavirus, “I went to Fortune Town and it was deserted – it’s a shame the Thais take this virus more seriously than they do road safety!

The readers’ submissions section picked up this week and in what just might be a first there are two readers’ stories of the week. The first is from Anonymous, “Out Of The Blue” and the second is from WE, “These Are The Good Ol’ Days“.

3,000 Chinese-speaking tour guides on Phuket are said to be out of work in the wake of the coronavirus.

The Health Minister has been slammed online for saying farangs who don’t wear masks should be thrown out of Thailand! (He did later apologise for saying this.)

A Thai soldier goes on a killing spree, mowing down 20 and injuring dozens more.

Vendors at Pratunam Market are doing it tough with few foreign visitors and Thais reluctant to go out.

An Austrian is the latest in a very long line of white guys to fall to his death from a Thai high-rise.

A policeman involved with a married lady is murdered and his body mutilated.

Summer in Kiwiland….no coronavirus detected here, so far.

Summer in Kiwiland….no coronavirus detected here, so far.

I’m looking forward to getting back to Thailand, but at the same time I have to admit that all the crap with the coronavirus has put a little doubt in my mind. We find ourselves watching things more closely than we were a week ago. It’s not that we have any worry about coming down with the virus, more the worry about the unexpected, and unintended consequences. The last thing I want is to be caught up in some situation where there is a virus outbreak and extreme actions are taken such as the borders are closed and you’re stuck in Thailand, or cannot get back home or something like that. It’s wishful thinking that they’re going to get on top of this thing quickly, but here’s hoping the effects don’t linger for too long.


Your Bangkok commentator,


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