Stickman Weekly, February 4, 2024
Last week’s photo was taken of Nana Plaza from the Landmark Hotel, looking down on the distinctive roof of Bangkok’s busiest bar. This week’s photo was taken this week and I make that comment because it does not usually look like this and you might need to look closely at the background for clues of the location. This is a spot I’d say most Stickman readers have walked past many times.
Stick’s Inbox – The Best Readers’ Emails From The Past Week
Keep it simple and reap the benefits.
I’ve said this before about this lady drink bullshit. Why not be the bar that puts a clear sign on the wall? “All lady drinks 200 baht, no exceptions.” And stop this bullshit rip-off crap. Be the bar that does that, be the bar that plays decent music and be the bar that wins!
Bar industry moving in a new direction?
I wonder how many bar bosses will take the lady drink problem seriously and actually address the lady drink scams? Will more and more gogo girls refuse to go with customers? I can see a potential pattern emerging. The dancers just want to get tonnes of lady drinks (which is easy income) and bar bosses encourage them to do that, as both parties are making loads of money. Right now we are seeing the gogo bar industry moving towards a different business model. Are gogo bars going the same way as Western strip joints whereby you cannot take the dancers home with you? Dave The Rave
When five drinks is actually one.
On the topic of girls pulling down 40 lady drinks a night, you probably know this but according to a friend who runs hostess bars in Cambodia, it’s not uncommon for Asian guys to say “five” when they order a girl a lady drink and they pay for five lady drinks and she gets credit for five lady drinks and gets the commission from five lady drinks but she’s only served one. Which is a dream for bar owners of course and it’s free money. <I’ve never heard of this happening in Thailand, but that is not to say that it doesn’t happen – Stick>
Lady drinks thoughts from a bar.
I wanted to share a couple of insights regarding the concept of a lady drink. Recently, a Russian gentleman left a review on Google, expressing his satisfaction with the lady drink system. He appreciated the time spent conversing with one of our ladies, although the language of their communication remains a mystery to us. It was delightful to read such positive feedback. Interestingly, it seems that Russians grasp the concept of a lady drink more intuitively than Europeans. We often encounter negative reviews from European customers who misconstrue the lady drink system as a form of deception. We firmly believe that if a lady spends over 20 minutes with a customer, it negates any notion of a scam. We continuously encourage our ladies not to abandon their patrons post-receiving their drinks, although, admittedly, there are instances where they step away, perhaps to use the restroom or to briefly engage with their phones. In a reflective conversation with our owner last year, he reminisced about the ’90s and early 2000s, noting that the ladies were more proficient in English, and the lady drink system functioned more effectively. Today, unfortunately, the reliance on Google Translate has become prevalent. Pink Panther, Patpong
Lady drinks in Thailand are a relative bargain.
In Hawaii, whether going to a Thai / Korean / Vietnamese bar, all lady drinks start at $20. That’s for non-alcoholic beer or Soju. Everything after that is $40. Bear in mind these women are not nearly as pretty but they do sit and chat with you. Probably why the price of lady drinks in Thailand seems like a bargain to me.
More Readers’ Emails
No budget for Bangkok? Try Angeles.
I enjoyed your article on lady drinks. It’s disappointing that things are going that way. Indeed, I found Bangkok to be so transactional on my last visit, and the ladies so undesirable, that I have no desire to go there ever again. Angeles City in the Philippines is going the same way, but it’s about 10 years behind Thailand, so it’s still (just about) worth a visit.
The pleasures of Dundee.
Dundee in Soi Cowboy was a small gem. There was a friendly but slightly annoying ladyboy mamasan. The girls slept upstairs which created a special familiar vibe. If a customer sauntered in to the bar late at night, the mamasan went upstairs and woke up a couple of girls.
I wouldn’t call that list of drinks offered by Bada Bing “premium spirits”. Some bars in Thailand stock shit alcohol one never hears of anywhere else. What you mention would be standard anywhere else. Bombay Sapphire and Tanqueray would be premium gins and nothing less than Gordon’s would be what one would expect as a standard in a bar. Absolut is shit vodka in a designer bottle. It came in 7th in a blind vodka taste test I did. The only thing premium is the price. My test didn’t include Grey Goose, but the top three were Finlandia, Stoli, Smirnoff. When I had a bar, I stocked one bottle of top shelf and nothing else and sold them at the same price others were selling cheaper stuff. I didn’t stock JW Red but had Black (at what others were charging for Red). I also carried Glenfiddich and Glenlivet for some regular customers.
Dropping 10K on a night out.
I’m with the spending 10,000 baht email writer from January 21. Sure, it’s a stupid amount to spend on a night out but as the beer kicks in I tend to go ‘what the heck’. Back home in my local, the average age is probably 60 and arguing about football is as exciting as it gets. The only thing I usually regret is potentially running out of money so I can’t do it again until the next trip. It’s not like gogo bars are an every-night thing for me anymore. When I go out, it’s to party and not to bar fine.
Pattaya, good news & bad news.
The good news is that all the bars in soi 6 are packed with girls. I have never seen so many girls in these bars, some of them surprisingly pretty. The bad news is that a lot of customers are now Korean and Japanese so just like what happened in Angeles City, prices and attitude of the girls have changed markedly. Many girls are only interested in Asians, requesting drink after drink, and asking prices similar to those found in gogo bars. I am getting old and the noise level in these bars has become unbearable so nowadays I prefer the Coconut Bar, a nice stroll, fresh air, and the very real possibility of finding a diamond in the rough, as I have many times.
This Week’s News, Views & Gossip
Nana Plaza is being tarted up. The rumour mill has it that Nana might undergo a change in look with graffiti artwork mooted. In an upper floor stairwell, the yellow has been replaced by what looks to be primer. Nana Plaza’s owners stand out from the crowd by actually investing in and improving the complex. Those behind Cowboy and Patpong could learn a thing or two from them.
Team Spain, the two young Spaniards who bought Nana Plaza’s Whiskey & Go-Go last year and reopened it as Essence in November have cashed out. The bar went on the market in early January and a deal has already been done with Essence acquired by a Russian. As best as I can remember, this would mark the first Russian-owned bar in (what was once) a farang-dominated bar area in Bangkok. Do I have that right? Have Nana, Cowboy or Patpong ever had a Russian bar owner before now? Greg, the French former manager of Red Dragon and Shark, has been brought in.
Miami Vice is the newest bar in the Silom area, located at street level below the Sala Daeng BTS station. Behind it is a fellow with years of experience in Patpong whose CV includes The Strip and XXX Lounge. Miami Vice is a cool name for a bar and you could do all sorts of neat promotions related to the classic 80s TV show. Girls were enticed to the bar, smooth-talked in to believing this new bar would mark a return to the glory days of the area. Less than a week later, Twitter was flooded with images of Miami Vice filled with men. No, the bar hadn’t taken off like a rocket, the format had changed and the men were gay. Miami Vice had gone from girly gogo bar to gay bar in 5 days! This abrupt change in format was particularly disheartening for the dancers, most of whom had jumped ship, enticed by the promise of a busy bar and big $$$ to be made. What happened to these dancers who were thrown into the wilderness? Apparently, the sensible among them headed to Nana Plaza and Soi Cowboy. Bright girls, they know where the money is.
Has there been a second wind in the high season? Word is the past 10 days has seen an uptick in bar trade from what was already good to, at times, amazing. A friend arrived at Soi Cowboy around 11 PM on Monday night which is exactly the time you head out if you’re looking for a quiet time. He headed for his favourite Crazy House, only to find every seat on the ground floor full and much of the upper floor occupied too. The bar was full of ladies and the place was rocking.
The following night in Nana, Spanky’s boasted the most people per square metre. Billboard, as usual, was also packed and the next night, there was not a seat to be found in Thailand’s best gogo bar at 9:15 PM.
A bar owner with bars in multiple areas – but, strangely, nothing in Nana or Cowboy – sent me an email on Friday night. I have known this fellow for 15 years and he’s one of those guys who doesn’t sugar-coat anything. “Here, life is a bit difficult due to the heavy pollution, but we have known about this for a long time and just have to wait for the day they actually do something about it! Business is ok. Not the same as the great years before COVID, but it is acceptable.” There is a very clear pattern here. Nana and Cowboy are humming. Elsewhere? You’d have to say that other bar areas aren’t in top gear.
In Nana Plaza, Spanky’s celebrates its 17th anniversary this coming Sunday, February 11th. Spanky’s got the formula right from the outset and has managed to maintain standards year after year. It helps that the owner is a positive, fun-loving upbeat guy who all the girls in the bar want to shag. (To be clear, I am *not* saying that he shags the girls at all, more that the girls really like him and would do anything for him). Interesting fact: Who was the original owner of Spanky’s? Don’t know? The answer – which is immediately below the poster below – will surprise you! Have a think about it before you scroll down. I guarantee you’ll be surprised!
The original owner of Spanky’s was…..The Arab! The current owner acquired Spanky’s from The Arab.
Speaking of The Arab, a reminder that Spice Girls in Soi Cowboy is absolutely not on Stickman’s recommended bars list. There was another report from a reader this week who was stung after spending a short time in Spice Girls. This fellow bought two drinks for himself and two lady drinks. The bill was 1,500 baht. Ouch!
If you’re not sure where to go on Soi Cowboy, recommended bars are Dollhouse (which seems to be the favourite Soi Cowboy bar / most talked about bar amongst Stickman readers), Suzie Wong, Rainbow and Baccara.
While we’re talking about Dollhouse, put a circle around February 16th in your calendar. That night the Soi Cowboy bar will celebrate its 22nd year anniversary party. There will be food, prizes, and wild offerings that only God knows at this time. More details in next week’s column.
Chinese New Year and Valentine’s Day fall just four days apart this year. Valentine’s Day is a big night for the ladies and there will be lots happening in many bars to celebrate. Could there be a more fitting bar to celebrate the Year of the Dragon than Red Dragon in Nana Plaza which is beautifully decorated in a Chinese theme with a large dragon above the bar area? Along with its sister bars Mandarin – located right next-door – and Shark in Soi Cowboy – all 3 bars will host nightly parties, lucky draws, shows and events to celebrate Valentine’s Day and Chinese New Year, from the 10th to the 14th. The girls will be dressed up in their sexiest Mandarin Red outfits – some of these ladies feature in photos in today’s column.
If you visited Soi Cowboy this week, enjoyed a few drinks and then wandered down soi 23 later in the evening, I hope you made it out safely. The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration demolished the footpath on the Soi Cowboy side of Soi 23 from Sukhumvit Road, all the way up to Craft. Stumble Inn might be in the middle of Soi Cowboy but one imagines all the stumbling this week happened at the end of the soi and along soi 23 as punters stumbled over, and ankles were twisted. Such work is usually done in small segments, and not hundreds of metres of pavement all at once. To City Hall’s credit, however, real progress had been made with a fresh concrete foundation for new tiles poured by Thursday.
Is that what happened to the poor fellow pictured above? Did he come a cropper on the mess that was the pavement this past week on soi 23? No, in this fellow’s case, he didn’t. This photo was actually taken on Soi Cowboy the week before. But imagine this: You’ve booked your Thailand holiday, got the tickets, booked the hotel and planned your itinerary, including a visit to Bangkok’s red-light districts. Then you break your ankle! Well, that didn’t stop this hobbling tourist who wasn’t going to let a bone fracture spoil his fun. He made his way down Soi Cowboy just fine by putting his leg up on a scooter!
Up the road in Soi Nana, the troop of deaf girls who come and go from the Nana Hotel car park are back. This time around their count is 5 and they can be found opposite the world’s largest adult playground most nights. These deaf girls don’t stick around for long. They’re there for a few weeks and then they disappear for months. Where do they go? What’s their story?
If deaf girls aren’t your thing and you’re more of a chocolate lover, reports say there are still plenty of African women to be found on Soi Nana. Most of them linger farther down the soi.
Speaking of Africans, the crackdown of Africans openly selling drugs on Sukhumvit Road finally made it in to the mainstream media this week when ThaiTiger reported that a number of Africans had been arrested. Despite the crackdown, reader reports from this past week say that there are still Africans openly offering drugs to foreigners on the main Sukhumvit Road. They may be fewer in number compared with a few weeks ago, but there are still a few doing their thing.
Happy hours and drink specials tend to run weekdays when trade is lowest. Weekends are when the money is made, right? The new District B in the Backyard Bangkok community garden off Soi 69 in Phra Khanong is actually selling local bottled beers for less at the weekend than during its weekday happy hour. All local beers are just 69 baht until 7 PM. Guinness pints run 219 baht. You can learn more about District B and Backyard Bangkok by following their Twitter feed.
For fetish fans, put a ring around….no, not your private parts….but Saturday, February 10th, in your diary when Demonia on Sukhumvit soi 33 will celebrate The Night Of The Queens. This is an international event on the fetish calendar which has previously been held in Barcelona, Miami and other cities where fetish is appreciated. This year it comes to Bangkok and the host venue is Demonia. Mistresses from around the world are making the trip for what I am told will be a night of spicy indulgence. You need to book in advance and should note that the price is higher than usual with an entrance fee equivalent to 100 Euros. There will be snacks and prizes to be won.
Down in Pattaya, the Chinese are taking over the northern end of Pattaya – from soi 6 or thereabouts down towards the Dolphin Roundabout. Indians (and Middle Easterners) have long had a foothold in the South Pattaya area, particularly the sois immediately behind Walking Street. Ruskies are all over Jomtien and are partial to parts of Pratumnak Hill. Where does that leave for white men from developed countries? The dark side? Or will they point out to Ko Larn and suggest that’s the place for white men to camp out these days? Pockets of the dark side aside, is there anywhere in Sin City which today could be reasonably called a farang enclave? To be clear, in this context I mean farang as those from developed Western countries.
Following on from the newsbyte in last week’s column where some ladies on Pattaya’s soi 6 are asking for 2,500 baht and not willing to accept a single baht less, of course the important word is some, as in some ladies and not all. 2,500 baht is not the standard price on the soi. The going rate on soi 6 seems to be between 1,000 and 1,500 baht.
Speaking of prices, perhaps we should spare a thought for our Japanese friends who come to Thailand for the bars. They seem to be suffering more than most. A bar industry insider explained that they are seeing fewer Japanese punters which they attribute to the weak yen. Prior to Covid, when drinks were typically around 170 baht, that was equivalent to about 500 yen. With the yen much weaker now than it has been in decades and some drinks priced now around 220 baht, that is over 900 yen. It’s a big difference!
I mentioned last month that Pattaya bar group GentsClubs.com is looking to expand, but didn’t think it would happen this quickly. The group this week announced that a second Maggie May gentlemen’s club will open, this time in Jomtien Beach. To be located on Thappraya Road opposite Sharple’s Fish & Chips, the new Maggie May is set to open in the middle of this month. It’s being converted from an open-air beer bar to a gents club, featuring a closed front, sofas and curtained booths. Maggie May claims to pour the best pint of Guinness in Pattaya, and will let holders of its Guinness discount card use them at both the Soi Chaiyapoon and Jomtien locations to get pints for 210 baht. More details can be found in this month’s GentsClubs.com newsletter.
Back in Bangkok, if you were allowed to enter Nana Plaza early – say between 4:00 and 6:00 PM – you’d see it’s something of a food fest. Service staff and early-arriving dancers (not everyone is late) chow down before their shift. And gogo bars have plenty of seats and tables where girls can eat, right? Well, the old saying “you can take the girl out of the bar but you can’t take the bar out of the girl” has a corollary: “You can take the girl out of the village, but you can’t take the village out of the girl.” Instead of eating at tables, maidens plop themselves on the floor, often in a circle inside the bar’s locker room, spread out plastic bags full of street food and enjoy an Isaan-style family meal together. Stories are told and there are laughs, some screams and heaps of smiles. When the girl eventually leaves the bar industry, will it be memories like these she remembers, or will it be how many tequilas she drank one night or how much money she made? Methinks it will be the former.
Week in and week out, I lead the charge and am wonderfully supported by many of you as we whine like a bored housewife, bemoaning the tattoos, piercings and silicone enhancements the majority of gogo girls sport. I am told that in Crazy House, there’s an attractive lady who just turned 26 who is a throwback to the days of old. #70 has not a single tattoo, no piercings – and does not even wear earrings – and no plastic parts. Ms. Natural is quite the exception these days in an industry where most women insist on enhancing their look through un-natural means.
Last year I ran a photo of the free condom dispenser in the toilets at Long Gun. (It’s assumed the condoms were free for the ladies, but they are placed above the urinals, so who knows.) The rack has had an upgrade. The plastic dispenser is gone and has been replaced with Sangsom boxes with condoms sorted by circumference size. For reference, 49 mm is considered “Thai size”. There’s also some lube to help the ladies with those 56 mm johnnies!
Perhaps the biggest news in the bar industry last year was the authorities ordering a number of bars in Patpong soi 2 closed, along with the Museum of Patpong. The much respected head of that group of bars was arrested. He was arrested because his name was on the company documents. Aside from a number of bars in Patpong soi 2, the company had acquired a couple of bars in Phuket where it was revealed the mamasans had a business running on the side, diverting customers to a hotel where they were running a bunch of underage ladies. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: this was truly one of the good guys in the industry and I don’t believe for a moment he knew what was going on. If he was guilty of anything, it was trusting his Thai staff. So what’s the latest? I understand he was facing two cases. He was found guilty in the first case and given a 1-year sentence. The next case is to be heard in March. Time already served means that if he is acquitted in the second he will be a free man. One would expect deportation to follow after which it is presumed he could return to Thailand, if he wishes. Deportation does not mean being blacklisted. This gentleman – and in this fellow’s case, that word is fitting – has long been a popular figure and many in the industry have their fingers crossed that come next month he will be a free man.
What this whole episode demonstrates is that anyone whose name is on the company registration / lease for the premises / works in a senior position / has a work permit showing them in a position of authority could potentially find themselves in the gun. There have been numerous cases over the years where someone in a foreign-owned business has been up to no good, the foreigner owner / directors / managers claimed to be unaware, and when the authorities got involved they went after the foreigner. If your name is tied to the business, you need to consider this – and it applies every bit as much to businesses outside the nightlife industry.
Super Bowl LVIII kicks off early Monday morning Thai time, February 12th. Whisgars on Sukhumvit soi 23 – just a bit further up from Soi Cowboy on the other side of the road – will be showing the game with a 4-hour breakfast buffet and various free-flow drinks. Doors open at 6:00 AM and kick-off is 6:30 AM. Details above.
Sometimes I don’t spell things out in a column and from time to time I deliberately leave things left unsaid. I like to wait for readers to comment and essentially fill in the blanks – and I like to run these comments in the Emails To Stick section of the following week’s column. In last week’s column opener I included screenshots from the public Facebook account of a mamasan at XS A Gogo who was gloating about what one of her girls, Miss Golf, had earned in a month as she touted for new staff. What I didn’t say is that the breakdown of the lady’s earnings which saw her averaging 40+ lady drinks / night over the 20 nights she worked in a month very strongly suggests that she was drinking water, or at the very least, something non-alcoholic. The mamasan commenting about the lady’s liver is likely a ruse. A lady weighing 50 kg or less consuming 1.5 litres of hard alcohol night after night would be dead. Tequila and water look awfully similar.
Thailand-Related News Articles
A British base jumper illegally climbed to the top of the 29th floor of an apartment building in Pattaya, and then fell to his death.
Scammers are masquerading as Royal Thai embassies and consulates.
In Korat, a Swiss man admits to strangling his Thai wife to death.
A drunk Brit brutally attacks a Bolt driver in Pattaya and then later says a Thai fellow attacked him.
Bangkok Pat’s latest video looks at Soi Ngamduplee and Soi Sribumphen, known by some as Bangkok’s original backpacker neighbourhood.
Seeker of The Way looks at Bangkok’s Chinatown and some of its nightlife attractions.
For the past couple of years this column has featured a lot of photos of ladies currently working in the bars. Other photos included are relevant to news and gossip. I handle the layout of these images. If I talk about a bar, I will sometimes include a photo of that bar. This column features a few ads. These ads change frequently, as does their placement. That side of things, I don’t have anything to do with. I have zero input on where any ads are placed. The way the ads work is that each ad is placed automatically in the entire back catalogue of columns. Occasionally they may appear in an inopportune spot in terms of column content and might split things up. From a column content perspective, it’s unfortunate. But it is also necessary as it simply isn’t practical to go back and add and remove ads from almost 23 years of columns. So if you’re wondering about the off placement of some of the images / ads in the column, hopefully that explains it.
Your Bangkok commentator,
Stick can be contacted at : firstname.lastname@example.org