Stickman's Weekly Column December 4th, 2022

Butterflies 6th Anniversary Party

 

 

 

A friend was lucky enough to make it to Butterflies’ 6-Year Anniversary party last weekend. What follows is his report of what sounds like it was a great night out.

Stick

 

 

 

Looking at it today, it’s hard to remember Butterflies as Jail Birdz or Lone Star before it. As this column said in July 2016: “Bars in that spot … have haemorrhaged money or been vacant. Under previous names, bars in that spot have been the problem child of Nana, pun absolutely intended.”

Before the current management took over Billboard and Jail Birdz, “many punters never (made) it to the top floor, and more than a few bar bosses who ran bars on the top floor … lost their shirt.” That has all changed. Now the majority of punters enter Nana Plaza, make an immediate hard left and head up the stairs or the lift to the top floor.

Jail Birdz, created by the current owner of Geisha and three other Nana bars, lasted less than a year after its sale. In the last days of November 2016, it was reborn as Butterflies.

 

 

Butterflies 6th anniversary party.

It’s now been six years since Butterflies’ opening and much like the insect, the go-go bar has metamorphosized into one of the Plaza’s best clubs; one that, despite its common ownership with Billboard, has developed its own style, personality and brand.

That style was on full display November 26 when Butterflies celebrated its sixth anniversary in grand style. There were balloons and flowers, free drink tumblers for hundreds of guests and free pizza for everyone. And, as Billboard did in September for its 7th Anniversary Party, Butterflies had its own Babe of the Year pageant, with the top prize being 25,000 baht for the No. 1 Babe.

 

 

Butterflies 6th anniversary party.

As noted, Butterflies is a very different club than Billboard, from its popularity to musical soundtrack to its ladies. It’s no secret that Billboard’s dancers are not only gorgeous, but quite “professional”. They’re there to make money and take events such as anniversary parties very seriously, showing up en masse before the doors open, ready with the shopping bags they eventually carted home full of 20-baht bills.

 

 

Butterflies 6th anniversary party.

Butterflies girls are, for better or worse, a lot more casual. There certainly are stunning ladies on stage at Butterflies, but they can’t stack up to their sisters across the way. On the other hand, the average age in Butterflies is years younger and they arguably are more fun. But prompt they are not. Whereas Billboard’s party was packed out with ladies at 8 p.m. sharp, one of Butterflies’ two stages remained empty until 9 p.m.. The lovely doorgirls were even later!

 

 

Butterflies 6th anniversary party.

With fewer ladies around, early customers also took a pass on the party. Billboard was full by 8:30 p.m. and the energy level was on 10. The vibe at Butterflies’ party took a bit longer to crank up.

But when it did, holy moly!

 

 

Butterflies 6th anniversary party.

After 9 p.m. both stages started pumping and the Jacuzzi was bubbling. There was no “showing” this night, as all the hot tub girls were dolled up in their elaborate “Babe of the Year” costumes. But no one seemed to mind. Once the VIPs floated in, the cash began flying.

 

 

Butterflies 6th anniversary party.

No less than 60,000 baht in 20-baht bills fluttered in the air that Saturday night. Saying it was madness would be an understatement. Butterflies owner, who handed out tens of thousands of baht for people to toss, said the money going out that night – including the 45,000 baht in pageant prize money – was “for the kids”, reminding people that the overwhelming majority of the working girls in the club that night were single mothers of one or multiple children.

 

 

Butterflies 6th anniversary party.

But this night was also a moment for ownership to look back on six often-tough years. Butterflies did not take off like one. Hampered for a long time by its cold prison-look interior, the club felt cold. The raised stage between the two main stages blocked the view. In the early years, a black sliding screen was installed between the stages to close off half the huge bar, making it feel more intimate for the few customers that came in.

 

 

Butterflies 6th anniversary party.

Gradually, Nana Plaza’s biggest bar was transformed and remodeled to look like a modern nightclub. Nearly 300 programmable LED lights were hung. Massive new subwoofers were placed inside the stages to fill out what has become the best sound system in any go-go bar in Thailand. While the equipment is similar in Billboard, Butterflies’ acoustics help it sound better. The latest upgrade came with the installation of seven huge screens for the World Cup and a flawless streaming setup.

In the middle of that, of course, was Covid. Butterflies was hit harder by the pandemic than Billboard. While Billboard reopened in February this year, Butterflies didn’t return until June 1. While Billboard dropped its 2-for-1 Drinks special months ago, it still goes on at Butterflies Mondays through Wednesdays. It may not continue much longer, though: Because Butterflies is booming again.

 

 

Butterflies 6th anniversary party.

The music has a lot to do with it. Billboard often has a harder edge to the music: More Latin trap, more hip-hop. Butterflies music often is clubbier, more pop, bouncier. The owner, who decides the playlists, insists both clubs play the same music, just at different times of the night. But, at least early, Butterflies has a lighter mood.

The other thing, of course, that sets Butterflies apart is the sofa seating. Loveseats and big armchairs make cozy spots to curl up with a Butterflies Babe or two… or three!

 

 

Butterflies 6th anniversary party.

And the Babes were out in force on Saturday. While they were tardy, eventually there were 70 women who competed in the Babe of the Year pageant. But the finalists were easy to spot early on: They had the most elaborate costumes.

 

 

Butterflies 6th anniversary party.

The winner was the Queen Butterfly herself, Beer, #233. She spent 500 baht online for a light-up cape that gave her butterfly wings, and 500 baht on some sexy, white, knee-high boots. With that and a killer body (and silicone additions that cost a lot more than 500 baht) she took home the 25,000-baht prize.

 

 

Butterflies 6th anniversary party.

The first runner-up was #28, a half-Spanish, half-Thai Amazon who once had a photography business in Spain. With her surgical improvements and Spanish-dancer attire, she cut a strong profile.

Third place went to Lilly, #18, with butterfly wings of her own. But they were smaller and didn’t light up, so she ended up with the runner-up prize of 5,000 baht.

 

 

Butterflies 6th anniversary party.

There were other Babes in the Top 10 that, in ages and pure looks, should have won, according to some in the crowd. But one beauty did herself in, drinking 40 lady drinks and passing out before she could be crowned!

In usual Billboard-Butterflies tradition, it was an amazing night and one both clubs will be doing again very soon. The annual Playmates double party is Saturday Dec. 10.

 

 

 

Mystery Photo

Where is it?

Last week’s photo was taken of the space which is now a construction zone where the old TOT Building on Ploenchit Road was located. Just 4 of you got it right. This week’s shouldn’t be too taxing.

 

 

Meet her at Angelwitch, Nana Plaza.

 

 

Stick’s Inbox – The Best Emails From The Past Week

Why less sex?

The question you asked about why punters aren’t having as much sex as guys used to have on the trips to Thailand got me thinking. I don’t think there is one answer to that question but, trying to put myself into the current environment in the Big Mango, my mind takes me to two answers. First, the girls aren’t as good-looking as I remember them. I’ve never seen a line-up that could come anywhere close to matching the girls at places like Monet’s 20 years ago. The girls now are heavier, more tatted-up, and much harder looking than I remember and paying them double what they used to ask for doesn’t feel very motivating. Admittedly it’s a small sample size I’m using. But the bigger reason (I think) is how the girls make a guy feel. Every time I’d ask a girl – beer bar, gogo, dead artist bar, massage parlor paramour – if she wanted to go short time or long time back in the day, I’d get a big smile and either the answer, “Long time” or “Up to you”! Sure, they’d make a little more going long time, but that really made me feel good to think they were enjoying my company. We went out to dinner sometimes. It was FUN! Even short time girls were trying to provide the girlfriend experience with their customers and what’s happening now seems like that isn’t the case at all. The idea that I’m on the clock with a girl that has to run back to the bar in less than an hour for her next date is a major buzz kill. That first year I visited (2000), a girl went short time with me. We went out for a drink first, gave each other a massage, did the deed for a nice long time and then SHE REFUSED PAYMENT! I’ll bet THAT never happens anymore. If I were young again, I could see doing the deed once a day MAYBE and enjoying the other attractions Bangkok has to offer with the rest of my time…and money. I’m glad I visited when I did.

Pot and sex.

The issue of sex tourists and their seemingly lessened activity brings to mind the old saying, “I’m not as good as I “once” was! But I’m as good “once” as I ever was! I feel like you hit on most of the reasons for the slowdown. What I can recall about pot use and sex was it intensified the sex act but didn’t necessarily promote more acts. So could pot use be an issue?

Food over sex.

I guess I am one of those who has less sex these days. I had my time in Bangkok and Pattaya. I think it’s both age and also because I have tried most stuff anyway. I sometimes plan on taking a girl, but if I end up in a gogo bar, they are invariably so busy trying to get drinks and forget that I came to have fun. I was not looking, but 3 days ago, I entered a gogo bar. Within 3 minutes, 3 girls had asked me for a drink. I just ended up paying for my – still full – beer and left. I explained to them that that seemed like the cheapest option if I wanted to have a fun night. In the past I had days where I’d spend 20,000 baht / night every night for a week and have 4 girls in a day etc. Now aged over 50, to be honest, I am more interested in food.

Football and chrome pole bars.

Your comments about the World Cup and matches being shown in the gogo bars speaks volumes. I remember when guys went there for the sex and TVs didn’t exist in the bars.

Patpong, the recovery is complete.

My friends went to Patpong this evening. Their reports make for depressing listening, although they do confirm exactly what I suspected. They said it was dead and a complete waste of time and they wouldn’t be going back. Nana has fully recovered from the pandemic and so has Soi Cowboy. So too have Khao San Road and Pattaya. I think the reports / photos you have been receiving from multiple sources confirm this. So if all the abovementioned areas have fully recovered, why hasn’t Patpong? My view is that Patpong HAS fully recovered. This is it. This is as good as it gets. Patpong was dying before the pandemic and nothing has changed since the pandemic has passed. Patpong has recovered from the pandemic as much as any other bar area has and the numbers now are the maximum they will get. I might be wrong but I see no logic in saying that every other area has fully recovered and yet Patpong will get an influx of visitors next week or next month or next year, I just can’t see it.

How does the Pong survive?

No idea how they are paying the bills at Patpong. Makes you wonder what chance you’d ever have in an economy where it seems many owners can remain open without any revenue. What version of capitalism is this? The place is totally on its arse. It needs to close down really and reinvent as something else. Sad really, but this is life.

Breakfast Story thumbs up.

Breakfast Story has two restaurants owned by a Canadian. The best breakfast in Thailand. Their menu is huge, their food is the highest quality, their coffee fantastic, service excellent. I was just walking up Sukhumvit (in a downpour!) and noticed they moved to Sukhumvit near Soi 20. I’m going there today. Highly recommended. If you ever make it here (the punters in Bangkok are giving 4-1 that you will), give yourself time as it takes a while to get through the menu.

Jomtien weed report.

One of the many shops selling weed in Jomtien was upgraded just 3 weeks ago. They put in a brand new vending machine and they had a table outside where people could sit and smoke. Today there is no wending machine and the curtains were closed at 7 PM. Has a single person in this country conducted an analysis on the demand for weed? Or do they just open a weed shop in every available empty shophouse and think the money will come pouring in? Here in Jomtien, I see many weed coffee shops and some have obviously cost quite a lot to build. I haven’t seen any of them full yet.

 

Party time at Billboard.

 

This Week’s News, Views & Gossip

The end of the year has always been party season on Nana Plaza’s top floor, beginning with Billboard’s anniversary party in September, Butterflies’ in November and, in early December, the Playmates theme double party at both bars. Held at the same time as the owner’s birthday, the Playmates party draws anyone and everyone to the top floor. Towers of pizza will be stacked at both bars and the girls will be putting on the Ritz, emulating the glamorous Playboy Bunnies and Penthouse Playmates of the past. Be there this coming Saturday, December 10th. The fun starts at 8 PM.

The return of natural born women at DC-10 was short-lived, as was DC-10 itself. The bar has been renamed B-52 and the crew aboard is all ladyboy again. With the elimination of all but two ladyboy bars in Nana, attractive women willing to work the pole were in much shorter-supply than out-of-work men in skirts.

The cheap brews continue to flow at Whiskey and Tycoon in Nana Plaza. The sister bars, both located along the main stairs, alternate which beers they feature for just 99 baht every night of the week. This month Whiskey, on the middle floor, has Leo for 99 baht. Tycoon, a few steps up toward the top floor, has Tiger for 99 throughout December.

 

Weed Hub, Soi Cowboy’s first weed store.

 

On Soi Cowboy, Weed Hub has indeed replaced East End. Is there more money in grass than skirts on the neon soi? Time will tell, but, currently, Weed Hub is drawing more shutterbugs than stoners.

This utter nonsense of ladies innocently bringing two drinks back to a customer along with a bill for two drinks has until now, been predominately been a Bangkok thing. Or to be more precise, a few small bars in Soi Cowboy thing. Sadly, it is now happening in at least a couple of Pattaya gogo bars too. It’s the same story: offer a lady a drink and she comes back with two glasses, one with local whiskey and the other with Coke. Two glasses means two items on the bill, often close to 400 baht. Vote with your feet.

Joe Delaney opened a new bar on Patpong this past week called Delaney’s. It’s in the spot where the old Tavern 2 used to be. Word is it’s an Irish bar and comedy club.. Joe knows a lot of people so expect it to have a decent following. The official grand opening is on Thursday, December 15th.

Christmas is coming and the Christmas Dinner menus are coming out. The Old English Bangkok at the Thong Lor BTS station has unveiled its traditional British-style dinner, with turkey, ham, pigs in blankets, Yorkshire pudding, mince pies and more. It’s available both Christmas Eve and Day for just 650 baht for one or 1,995 for two including a bottle of wine. Glasses of wine or beer can be added for 100 baht. Reservations can be made on The Old English’s website.

 

Christmas at The Old English.

 

Trader Vic’s at the Anantara Riverside (previously the Marriott Riverside) has long been a favourite spot for expats to lunch on Christmas Day. It has never been cheap per se, but it has always been good value, especially as I seem to recall that cocktails were included in the price. Anyway, with inflation raging these days, one expat friend has decided to break from tradition and try somewhere new this year after Trader Vic’s raised the price for their Xmas lunch to 4,000 baht per person. For a family of 4, that wouldn’t be cheap.

Tourists staying on lower Sukhumvit have a great new option for breakfast. Buddy’s Bar & Grill at Soi 8 is now open at 9 AM with a huge breakfast menu that includes standards like the Full English and American favourites like pancakes and French toast. Buddy’s is open all the way through to 2 AM and has some of the most affordable drinks prices in the area.

Popular Soi Nana hotel Dynasty Inn – just 60 metres further down the soi from the entrance to Nana Plaza – remains closed. Work is ongoing to get the hotel ready to reopen for the peak of the high season. Those walking by say there are signs of life inside and while a firm date has yet to be fixed, it is expected to reopen before the end of this month.

Despite Sukhumvit being described as “booming” and “pumping”, some previously popular hotels in the area closed. The Grand Sukhumvit on soi 6 is undergoing renovations. It will be rebranded and reopen as a Crowne Plaza. And in the same soi, Phachara Suites – across from the Dynasty Grande – has reopened under new branding and is now known as the Park Royal.

 

Meet them at Mandarin, Nana Plaza.

 

The rain is still falling in Bangkok! Amazing, it’s December and the rainy season is not letting Bangkokians get in to the festive mood just yet. As Arsenal Alex said in an email this week, “I can’t get a picture to show how heavy the rain is but I can tell you it’s as heavy as I’ve ever experienced and coming from London I have a LOT of experience with rain. Who would have thought I would be considering returning to London from Bangkok in December so I could enjoy the better weather?” Or as my other half loved to say at this time of year, “เอาฝุ่นหรือเอาฝน” (ow foon reu ow fon?) – which translates as do you want pollution or do you want rain? From November through until around April or so, the air quality and general pollution in Bangkok isn’t great – except when it rains and you get a temporary reprieve with cleaner air. Two shitty choices, she adds!

The days when a shophouse on Sukhumvit Road was acquired by a new leaseholder and fitted out with bright neon signs would get naughty boys all excited. What sort of bar was coming?, they would ask. Would it be a beer bar? A sports bar? Or a naughty bar with a dark corner where they could get intimate with farm-fresh ladies barely of legal age who would do anything on the premises for not a lot of baht. Between sois 15 and 17, a neon sign went up this week for Cloud Nine. Great name for a bar, but these days neon on Sukhumvit does not necessarily mean a new bar is coming. It is…..drum roll…..you guessed it, another dispensary. If the opening of Cloud Nine was anything to go by – photos showed a lot of people in the store – the Sukhumvit weed market is nowhere near saturated. You’re more likely to see new weed stores open on Sukhumvit these days than you are new bars. As a good friend on the ground in Bangkok said, “Thailand is going to pot.”

 

Cloud Nine, Sukhumvit’s newest weed shop.

 

While many foreigners pronounce Sukhumvit as Soo-koom-VIT, it should actually be Soo-koom-WIT – with a “w”. 99% of signs spell it with a “v”, but it should be a “w” because there is no “v” sound in the Thai language. I am told that with all the weed shops along the Farang Mile, some are now calling Sukhumvit Road, “Sukhumweed” Road – which is apt because that’s closer to the correct pronunciation!

The Cabinet has approved a new medical visa category for those coming to Thailand for treatment for such things as anti-ageing and regenerative medical treatment, coronary artery disease, cancer, dental care and cosmetic surgery. The fee for the visa will be 5,000 baht and will allow for multiple entries over one year. The holder will also be allowed to bring three family members on this visa. The visa is expected to come into effect on January 1. Immigration is working on the details, but those who stay longer than 90 days will be required to report to Immigration, must have 800,000 baht in the bank to cover medical expenses and hold accident and medical insurance coverage up to US$100,000.

Who makes up the biggest group of visitors to Phuket at this time? If I had taken a guess, I probably would have gone with the Australians or the Germans. But that wouldn’t be right. At this time, the single largest group of visitors to Phuket by nationality is the Russians. With what’s going on in the world, who would have believed that?

Lady Love in Soi LK Metro always has a great line-up of ladies. I’ve not heard much about it recently but knowing the owners, I’d imagine they have bucked the trend of many bars and maintained standards. If you happen to find yourself in Pattaya on the night of Saturday, December 17th, Lady Love would be worth stopping by. They’re throwing a party for their 10th anniversary and it should be a great night. But if you can’t make it that night, any night is fun in Lady Love.

 

Party time at Lady Love.

 

A video that did the rounds this week on social media of a grumpy old Thai guy ranting at two foreigners on the skytrain for not wearing face-masks. After the best part of 3 years, most of the world has moved on from mask-wearing requirements, but Thailand remains in the Covid dark ages. To be clear, for some time now there has been no legal requirement to wear a mask in Thailand. However – and quite rightly – private businesses can impose rules on anyone on their premises and some do so: there are shops and other businesses where you must wear a mask to enter the premises. The skytrain system is a private business and as such, it can require passengers to wear masks if it wishes. However, it does not do that. As such, anyone not wearing a mask is neither breaking rules nor the law. This, however, did not stop this self-righteous old geezer from having quite a rant, and that rant went viral. Feedback from 99% of people was that the old man was a fool and Thailand really needs to move on from this. Expecting people to wear masks everywhere is so 2021. When will the Thais move on?

It’s just 3 weeks until Christmas. When I was living in Bangkok I used to think it would be so much better to be back in New Zealand for Christmas than spend the holiday season in Bangkok. I have to admit that these days I think at times that it might be more fun and, dare I say it, feel more like Christmas if I was in Bangkok. Despite being a Buddhist country, Christmas in Bangkok *is* a lot of fun. Parts of downtown Bangkok are decorated beautifully and there is a real buzz at this time of year. Christmas in New Zealand is great weather-wise but the country essentially shuts down from Christmas Eve for a couple of weeks. Thailand seems to just stay in party mode! I do miss this time of year in Bangkok.

 

Meet her at Angelwitch, Nana Plaza.

 

Thailand-Related News Article Links

Quote of the week comes from a regular reader, “Patpong…..it still exists.”

A small temple in rural Thailand is without any monks as the monks all tested positive for drug use.

Thai children photographed toking on a bong is adding to anti-cannabis fervour in some quarters in Thailand.

Russian tourists are returning to Thailand in large numbers.

Air Canada launches North America’s only non-stop flight to Bangkok.

 

Meet them at Mandarin, Nana Plaza.

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I wanted to clarify what I was saying in last week’s opener as the point seems to have been missed by quite a few who sent feedback. The column was titled Are Sex Tourists Having Less Sex. Many readers seemed to take it that there are few people in the bars and few people about. That was not the point I was making at all. The bars are actually doing very well for the most part and there are lots of people about. The point that many missed – and perhaps I didn’t make it very clear – is that while there are people visiting the bars, not a lot of them seem to be there for sex, as was the case in the past. Sex tourists are still visiting, but where they once clocked up a new lady a day, or more, now they seem to just perch and watch the show. It’s a huge change in a relatively short space of time.

Your Bangkok commentator,

Stick

 

Stick can be contacted at : stickmanbangkok@gmail.com