Stickman Weekly, February 11, 2024
Last week’s photo was taken at the start of Sukhumvit soi 23. I am told the messed up pavement looks the same this week as it did last week. That was the second very easy photo in two weeks so this week’s is considerably more difficult. It is somewhere in the general downtown area but it is not on Sukhumvit or any of its sub-sois.
Stick’s Inbox – The Best Readers’ Emails From The Past Week
Pressure to ink.
I’ve long harboured a suspicion that when a girl first comes down to Bangkok or Pattaya and joins “the trade,” a great deal of subtle (and perhaps not-so-subtle) pressure to get inked up is put on her by the other girls, as a way for her to show that she’s “one of us.” Shortly after reading this week’s column I came across this on Substack: “There’s a little bit of science out there that suggests women encourage each other to get tattoos (and cut their hair) because subconsciously they know it harms the dating prospects of their “friend” relative to them.” Is that true? Your guess is as good as mine, but I surely would not be surprised if it were.
Is this Mr. Big?
Speaking of the African ladies patrolling on Soi 4 and elsewhere in the red-light districts mentioned in your columns, I have also noticed some questions as to whether there is a big boss running the show. I live near the newer 7 Eleven towards the end of Soi 4, near Soi Samahan. I frequently notice a few African girls in this neighbourhood and think many live up here bunked up in some of the sub-standard apartments and small guesthouses in this area. Last night I saw this tall, handsome, middle-aged black fellow, resplendent in a pimp-like bright cerulean blue suit, a blue and white striped tie, and a white cravat neatly folded in his breast pocket. He was sitting and standing near the 7 Eleven entrance, talking to several colourfully-dressed African girls who were hanging on his every word. It was quite the tableau! Could this be Mr. Big? Everyone hanging about also seemed to know this fellow. As it is, this 7 Eleven serves as sort of the hood community centre for various reprobates (including myself) in this part of Soi 4. The ladyboys from Chaos 9, the girls from the various massage joints, Thai freelancers, and the aforementioned African contingent are all there at various times of the evening. It’s worth a stroll to see another even seamier side of Bangkok.
Where to sit.
Your tale of the girls sitting on the floor resonates with me. When we moved out of Bangkok I spent nearly 50,000 baht on a large off-white sofa and a big comfy chair (I wanted pure white for my white room but couldn’t find one at the time). Yet my wife and visitors sit on the floor. While on Thai habits, when they gather I’ve noticed that all the women sit together (usually on the floor) and the men all sit together (usually on chairs). I asked my wife why this is as you’d never see a very obvious split like that in Farangland, and she said the couples see enough of each other at home so don’t have to sit together at parties. Logical, I suppose.
Girls just want lady drinks
I’m in Pattaya now. Your write-up on lady drinks is pretty accurate. I stopped by Palace A Go Go and I paid for 3 lady drinks in short order. Less than 5 minutes, probably 3, after the last drink she walked away. No request to be barfined, nothing. I was in Bangkok last week, and similar activity in one of the Rainbow bars, and King’s Castle and Pink Panther. Girls just want lady drinks. However, with the exception of Palace, there were a lot more girls than customers, plenty just sitting around, at least when I went. So it’s still tough for girls to make money unless they’re popular. My take on the current situation is just let the market run its course. I really doubt customers will pay for that experience again, thus only first-time tourists will get suckered.
More Readers’ Emails
If you’re not a happy consumer, the choice should be obvious.
As a man who has never frequented bar areas, and has had less than minimal interest in said things, maybe it’s not my place to comment on the bat-shit crazy prices and bill-padding of lady drinks and customers being stooged. The solution is extremely simple. Don’t go! Don’t give them your money! Boycott the ever living shit out of them and, sooner or later, things will change. A friend of mine who has pissed away a great deal of time and money on the above things bemoans often at how the women are fat, offer lousy service and it’s expensive. I am left pondering why he continues to go back. Now, I know the dating pool in the west is fairly scarce for men wanting traditional women, but do they honestly think they’ll find that in a bar in Thailand? In the end, it’s the customer who decides what the business will price its wares at – as per the law of supply and demand. If demand dwindles, prices will fall. Nothing genius there, but with something like the sex industry being as it is, with an all-time high level of male thirst, I doubt things will change anytime soon. Therefore, the best way forward is to simply not partake. If I don’t like what’s on TV, I don’t sit there staring at the shit for hours. I’ll change it up or switch it off. Not sure why people find that so hard to grasp!
Thumbs up for Spice Girls.
I ended up in Spice Girls about a week ago. First time in maybe 10 years. Dragged in by a very, very aggressive girl who showed, on the street, she was willing to do pretty much anything for a drink. So I thought I would try it. I made it very clear I was a local and that I thought the bar was too expensive and that I knew the girls didn’t go. Inside was empty. But they were very clear about the prices. A lady drink is 320 baht. I asked how much for Vodka + Diet Coke and I think they told me 300 baht. I said no, I want something cheap. What about Diet Coke? I believe that was 180 or 200 baht. The girl lived up to her promises and I actually bought her a second drink. The total bill was 800+ baht. And she was willing to go. I didn’t inquire as to the barfine. But I think the bottom line is if you’re really careful, and you get good value for the money spent on a lady drink, you can still have a fun time in Spice Girls.
Thai government efficiency.
Renewing a Thai passport is quick and easy. Go to MBK, 5th floor. The passport services area is huge. Hundreds of Thais, many long lines. I thought that I would have an hour of reading time (at least). Ten minutes later, my better half said “Done!” There is a kiosk where you open your passport to the picture page. Lay that page flat, the machine reads it. Then you insert your Thai ID into the machine. Then type your address and phone number. Then transfer 2,000 baht by your phone. Done! You keep your current passport. The new passport arrives by mail to your Thai address 5 days later! Quick and simple!
This Week’s News, Views & Gossip
The high season rolls on, showing no sign of letting up. Some say it’s so busy that it feels like the peak of high season has lasted for several weeks. I keep hearing the same thing from business owners along Sukhumvit – be it bars or restaurants, business is booming! February has always been a good month, but this year is at a whole new level. It’s so busy that anyone new to business in downtown Bangkok could very easily get God syndrome.
Should we be careful not to dismiss Patpong so quickly? A major development is coming to Bangkok’s original – but these days much-maligned – bar area. Dok Pub will emerge from the sites of the former Cosmos bar and King’s Corner 2 ladyboy gogo. The new venture, owned by Vinai, the operator of Virgin in Patpong and Geisha in Nana Plaza (and former Cosmos’ owner) follows the closure of Cosmos in May 2020 after more than two decades. Cosmos was a very pleasant bar, known for its relaxed atmosphere with friendly hostesses and later, for a short time, freelancers. It is believed that Dok Pub will bring a Thai-style pub atmosphere to Patpong with live music, targeting a broad audience. With renovations underway, Dok Pub could open around Songkran.
A heap of parties will take place over the next week. First up in Nana Plaza, Angelwitch is throwing a twin-themed party on Valentine’s Day. The lovers’ special day will be celebrated and it just so happens to coincide with mamasan Nic’s birthday. The fun will kick off early, from 7:00 PM.
Down the road in Soi Cowboy, Dollhouse will celebrate its 22nd anniversary this coming Friday, February 16th. Given the bar’s history and long association with Nanapong, the words midnight dance contest on the poster below are intriguing.
For fans of fetish, Demonia in Sukhumvit soi 33 will celebrate Valentine’s Day with a party themed “no hands”. The ladies will take care of giving drinks to customers who will not need to use their hands.
That’s not the only fetish event this week. Saturday, February 17th is the 20th Anniversary of The Castle, Pattaya’s fetish house and Demonia’s sister venue. All customers will receive a special gift, the second drink is free and there will be discounts on the price of membership for both The Castle and Demonia.
A heads up that there are a couple of holidays later this month. Great for those of you in employment in Thailand, but for visitors you might want to make a note that Saturday, February 24th is Makhabucha Day. As a Buddhist holiday, that means alcohol sales are forbidden and most bars will be closed that day. Expect bars to close at midnight on Friday, February 23rd – which should be a really big night. Bars will reopen at the usual time on Sunday.
Spanky’s has erected 5-metre-long dragons for Chinese New Year, inside and outside the bar. You can guess what happened next. Within a week, a number of other bars in the plaza played copycat and now there are dragons everywhere.
With that said, word is that despite trade on Sukhumvit booming, it feels like there aren’t that many Chinese about. That’s a minor surprise, considering it’s Chinese New Year, a period when many Chinese people like to travel.
As has been discussed in recent columns, many ladies try to get as many lady drinks as they can and may prefer not to be barfined. It begs the question: should bars with ladies who choose not to be barfined let customers know about this in advance? Such transparency is not common in the bar industry but at the same time, there is precedent. Pattaya’s Secrets bar had a great system back in the day. Girls who were available wore a green lanyard. Girls who weren’t available wore a red lanyard. The system was clear, subtle and appreciated by customers. The issue I see is that ladies who indicate they are not available may earn fewer drinks – so while the system would work well for punters, it may work against ladies. As such, talk of such a system is probably wishful thinking.
A couple of years before Covid hit, Bada Bing in Patpong had dancers working both downstairs and in a smaller upstairs lounge. Downstairs is laid out like a nightclub in Goodfellas, with small tables and small lights on each table, along with dark red, plush sofas. The lighting is low, with the spotlights focused on the stage. Upstairs, however, was much more lounge-like, with light-coloured sofas and the walls decorated with Mafia-themed movie posters from The Sopranos (from where Bada Bing gets its name), The Godfather, Goodfellas and more. Upstairs has been closed for years and has the feel of your grandmother’s dusty attic, with broken chairs, the girls’ high heels and costumes strewn everywhere, leaky air-con units and layer upon layer of dust. Today’s column features several photos taken in Bada Bing’s upstairs lounge this past week by Digital a-Go-Go and show how unique Bada Bing’s theme is. It’s just a shame customers can only see it through these photos.
Bada Bing is a French-owned and run bar. Have you noticed how many French bars make a greater effort to produce a well-designed bar? There are numerous examples including Baccara (half-French-owned these days, but originally entirely French), Red Dragon, Mandarin, Pink Panther and back in the day, Eden Club!
A sign in the toilet in Jungle Jim’s on Soi Cowboy promotes a beer deal that most likely isn’t even available anymore. But even when it was available, what kind of deal was it when the price for 5 beers was the same as the price for 6? Did Somchai’s calculator fail that day?
So many of you who tell me that your favourite gogo bar is Sexy Night on Nana Plaza’s middle floor that I don’t need to run a survey to find out readers’ favourite bar. Some of you have told me that the only bar of that genre that you go to is Sexy Night. And enough of you have told me that you have a special friend in Sexy Night that I’d bet the farm there are multiple Stickman readers in love with (perhaps even supporting?) the same Sexy Night dancer. If you’ve never stopped by Sexy Night, it’s an old-school style bar. The ladies tend to be a little older (but they’re not old per se), have a pleasant disposition and are generally not pushy. The music tends to be older and the small bar has a friendly vibe. It’s not the bar to go if you’re looking for dozens of scantily-clad, sexy 20-something Thai women dancing up a storm. If the idea of a laid-back bar with a friendly vibe and classic hits from times gone by appeals, this might just be the bar for you. Sexy Night is a hidden gem in plain sight, a great bar run by the same lady for approaching 40 years. I did a quick email inbox search and here are some recent quotes from Stickman readers about Sexy Night:
“Sexy Night actually is still the favourite. Purely as they play non car alarm music perhaps.”
“Not surprised to hear your comments about Sexy Night, It’s the only bar I go to, great music.”
“Sexy Night is a great bar with a nostalgic atmosphere. You can submit a playlist to the DJ, who is more than happy to play it for a small tip. I definitely plan to return to Sexy Night.”
“It was time to please the ears, so up to Sexy Night we went. As has been said in your column many times, it’s a throwback to the Nana Plaza of the eighties/nineties. The bar is old, looks old, thank God the music is old too, and you’ll meet some people who are working there for a long time. It was nice to be welcomed like a returned old friend. Not just the owner and her son are around for a long time, but so is the DJ (who immediately starts to play your favorite tunes, this guy has a great memory!) and the waiting staff. It really feels like they’re genuinely happy to see you again.”
“I concur with what you’re saying about the dearth of friendly bars. I’m a regular at ultra-friendly Sexy Night.”
Down in Pattaya, the first – and last – Slutz gogo bar closed for good on Thursday night and is now for sale. The asking price has been slashed from 6 million baht to just 3 million. The group behind Slutz – terrible name for a bar, I thought – came out of the gates like lightning, opening three gogo bars around Soi Buakhao, plus The Warehouse disco. Then last year’s low season bit hard and fortune turned. Warehouse lost its lease when the Thai landlord allegedly tripled the rent and it’s now an open-air Thai-owned music bar – and each of the Slutz fell like dominoes. Slutz on Soi LK Metro was the last to go.
There was another news report this week from Pattaya of a foreigner falling to his death from a hotel balcony. If you’re relatively new to Thailand / this site, reports of foreigners falling to their death in Pattaya were very common for many years. A decade or so followed and there weren’t that many reports. It’s starting to feel like the old days – and in this instance, that’s not a good thing.
Following up on the recent column about lady drinks and the amazing earnings by XS A Gogo’s top earner, Golf, it can be confirmed that Golf exceeded what was reported in that column and achieved an incredible 1,065 drinks in one month. It appears she worked either 21 or 23 days of the month. And from the graphic below, you can see there was one day where she achieved an incredible 64 drinks.
There have been rumblings of discontent from some about prices in the bars these days and general value for money. If you look at it purely as a price per drink or price per shag equation, the numbers may not stack up and there is an argument that the bar industry is getting a little pricey by Thai standards. At the same time, the bar scene provides an environment and atmosphere you won’t find elsewhere. The great thing is that in Thailand you have options. There are cheap places to drink. There are cheap places to go for a roll in the hay too. Presently, the bar industry is booming. But it won’t last forever and some time in the next couple of months, trade will ease off. Certainly, once Songkran is behind us and for sure when May comes around, visitors forget Thailand for a few months and that could be a dilemma for bar bosses. Will happy hours be (re-)introduced? Will other specials appear? For those who find their budget doesn’t go as far as it used to, give it a couple of months and there should be more happy hour deals at the very least. And many ladies will be more willing to lower their price too.
I hear good things about Mahou craft beer. You can get it by the pint at just 180 baht in Det 5, on Sukhumvit soi 8.
I frequently mention Dave The Rave in this column. My old friend was a gogo bar manager for 22 years – but he is not the longest serving in the industry. The last of the legends is Ricky, who it is believed is Thailand’s longest serving gogo bar manager. Ricky is both a manager and an owner.
Commenting further on what I said earlier about business booming, it’s not just Bangkok which is booming. Phuket is said to be thronging with visitors with a high number of Russians. And a friend got stuck on Samui last week. There are something like 20+ flights a day between Samui and Bangkok but he couldn’t get a ticket on a flight out. He visits Samui often and has never known it to be like this. He went on standby and couldn’t get on a flight for 2 days.
One of my favourite spots on Sukhumvit to hang out is Margarita Storm on the corner of Sukhumvit soi 13. The popular bar and restaurant will show the Super Bowl tomorrow morning. Margarita Storm is open 24/7 so you can turn up early to get the best seat.
Additionally, from tomorrow, Margarita Storm is reopening the second floor after extensive renovations over the last 6 months. They’ve transitioned from TVs, shuffleboard, ping pong and a pool table to a new design featuring cosy seating, a DJ, and a mixologist. There’s a nice view from upstairs out over Sukhumvit Road and it would be a great spot to take a lady friend for a quiet cocktail.
I have been asked to include the photo below of Saki during happier times at the Patpong Museum. A popular figure, Saki passed away late last year.
I’ve noticed a few more reports in the mainstream news in recent months about foreigners losing the plot and attacking Thais in public. In most cases, the foreigner is intoxicated. What’s behind this? We seldom heard reports like this in the past. It goes without saying that this almost never ends well.
Why do Thais all say they hate gossip, yet oftentimes it seems they like nothing more than a good gossip session. Of course, I can’t talk for I too love gossip….but at least I don’t say I don’t like it!
From Laos, word is that mass tourism from China and Korea has seen an expansion of the industry of ladies offering special services. It would seem that some in the tourism industry in downtown Vientiane now assume that single male tourists wish to partake. A good friend was in Vientiane this week and was approached one night by a lady telling him she had ladies available. Apparently the industry is expanding and the authorities are turning a blind eye. Yes, it has always been there but it was very subtle and you had to look for it. Laos always felt so innocent and the Laotians used to always be proud of their morals in this respect. But when there’s demand and $$ to be made….
Bangkok Matching is a premium dating company. Recently they were quoted in the media about what the Thai women who use their service are looking for in a man. This is a premium service but not what you’d call “hi-so”. 100% of the Thai women who use the service are seeking a smart-looking, clean-looking gentleman. I have to comment here that I am surprised how many Western men fail to realise the importance of cleanliness to Thai women. Thai women really notice the small stuff in this respect. Let’s not forget that decent Thai women make a great effort and spend a lot of money to look like a million dollars. If they pay that much attention to the way they look, they feel a man should make a decent effort. Not unexpectedly, 99% want one of a businessman, someone who is self-employed or a guy with a very respectable job, such as a doctor or other medical professional. 98% want a man who is at least 175 cm tall, and 90% want a man who looks after himself physically and is not overweight. He doesn’t need to be big or work out, but everything should be in proportion. 80% expect the man to have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree – and if he doesn’t have at least that level of education, he should come from a good (read moneyed) family. 80% expect the man to have a monthly income of at least 100K baht / month. It should be noted that I hear this number mentioned from many middle-class Thai women these days. And physically, the ideal spec is a light-skinned Asian man with what I would translate as a “typical East Asian look”. This may be feedback from just one dating agency, but I think it would be fair to say that for many decent and desirable Thai women, this is a fair guide of what they’re looking for in a man. How do you measure up?
My Mrs tells me that the Thai language forums and social media have had much talk recently about the number of Russians in Phuket. Thais are getting quite vocal and some are complaining that they feel they are being pushed out of Phuket by the Russians who they note are working in all manner of jobs including as taxi drivers, as shop assistants, in construction projects, real estate positions and others. Some are now referring to Phuket as “the second Moscow”. If Bangkok is the New York of South-East Asia then Phuket must be the Moscow of South-East Asia. One of my favourite comments that was made about Russia and Russians was that the country is like one giant Mafia organisation. You know what happens when this sort of thing gains traction with Thais….a crackdown on Russians in Phuket is surely coming!
I love chocolate. And like so many foreigners, I love the northern Thai curry, khao soi. But I never imagined these two products would be combined. Thai Northern curry chocolate is one of many interesting varieties of chocolate from Siamaya, an artisan chocolate producer in northern Thailand. They also have durian chocolate which I find more appealing. I imagine durian would pair better with chocolate than curry. I have yet to try it but it sounds interesting. What surprised me about this brand of chocolate is that it’s exported from Thailand to many places and is available down here in New Zealand. You can find more about Khao soi chocolate from Siamaya here.
Thailand-Related News Articles
Two foreigners fall to their death in Pattaya from apartment building balconies within half an hour of one another.
There is more info on Dave The Rave about the Patpong venue under construction, Dok Pub.
An Israeli allegedly stabs a Brit in the head in a bar on Ko Phangnan.
More than a dozen Danish tourists were injured after a bus crashed on mountainous roads in the north of Thailand.
A horror incident on a flight from Bangkok saw a German cough up litres of blood and die.
I’m working on a few column openers at the moment and had hoped to publish an article I have tentatively titled “Peak Pattaya” today. I couldn’t find all of the photos I was looking for so it will likely run next week. While I was searching through the archives looking for photos from Pattaya 10 – 15 years ago to use, I came across photos of a lady I used to know and, silly me, ended up going down a rabbit hole. That should make for an interesting opener all of its own. Over the next few weeks I hope to get these openers done. It’s been a long time since every column started with an opener and while I don’t plan to go back to that, if I have something worthwhile to say, I’ll write an opener. An opener every second week or so would be nice if I can make it work.
Your Bangkok commentator,