Last Week in the Red-Light

Welcome to the new post-lockdown, same as the old post-lockdown. Like deja-vu all over again, as Yogi used to say, here we are in the midst of a tourist ban in a country 99.99% dependent on tourism. As such, the gogo bars, bistros, karaoke bars, and bdsm bars of the red-light district are stocked with liquor, packed with girls, and belting out dance tunes with merely a trickle of customers. It’s true that the expat crowd is out in greater force this time than they were after the first lockdown ended. Back then, they seemed more afraid of Covid, less-inclined to spend cash, and not so desperate for a good time. Not so this time. This time they’re taking the opportunity to party. Perhaps they’re anticipating a coming 3rd incarceration. More likely, though, it’s a reflection of the human need for contact, conversation, and consumption of those vices that aren’t as appreciated as when they’re denied.

At any rate, there were more punters out last week. Shenanigan’s was packed all day and night, as was Bada Bing and The Strip. XXX Lounge and Black Pagoda saw less foot traffic, but still had solid runs of happy regulars and big spenders. King’s Castle and King’s Corner were similarly busy. On Friday night, BarBar was overrun. At one point, there were 30 customers getting their swerve on in that dark adult playground. Overall, it was a mostly-profitable week for Patpong. The cruisers were back in force. If you’re not familiar, “cruising” is an American tradition that started in the 1950s. It’s where people get in their cars and drive slowly up and down the same stretch of street. In those days, it was a social occasion, and a way to show off your car. In Patpong, it’s practiced by people who’re either too shy or too poor to actually hit up the gogo. So they do laps around The Pong, slowing down at the door of each gogo to peer inside, or possibly have a short, flirtatious interaction with the girls out front. They range from high-end Benzes to old rickety motorbikes. The two things they have in common are a leering curiosity and a burning in their loins. Once, I thought I caught a whiff of chlamydia wafting from one of the many Mercedes that stopped outside The Strip.

The week was pretty standard for Seven. I did what I normally do—hop between bars, drinking and cajoling with the girls until I can no longer stay awake and so stumble home and into bed. On Tuesday, Earn had a toothache that bothered her to the point where she was too distracted to massage my naughty bits while I sat people-watching on a stool outside the gogo. I popped over to the pharmacy and got her a rash of antibiotics and Codeine—something that would’ve been impossible without a prescription and insurance in the US. Total cost: $1.25. Anyway, it worked, and a short time later she felt well enough to barfine with an aging, balding monger—short-time to a hotel in Sala Daeng. She was back inside of an hour, and said the guy climaxed in less than a minute. Her dental ailment continued to improve, and by Thursday she was able to do things with her mouth that she and I both didn’t dream possible two days prior.

Everyone I talked too last week agreed that the bottles of San Miguel Light being served in the bars tastes weird. A few punters speculated that it’s old stock that waited out the lockdown in a hot warehouse somewhere. No amount of lime can fix it, either.

On Wednesday, all-girl Thai supergroup The Grumps made their 2nd appearance at Shenanigan’s in the start of an ongoing weekly residency. I wanted to get some pics and video of their set but I arrived late, thanks to a late harem girl back at my apartment, and by the time I arrived there were no open seats in the joint. I stayed long enough to hear their stirring rendition of “Linger” by The Cranberries, a brave choice over “Zombie” as it’s less-well-known in TLOS and also harder to sing.

Two weeks ago, the word was that Khun Tan had turned in the keys to Crystal Palace. And maybe he did. But it hasn’t stopped the place from opening every night. In fact, I’ve seen a constant stream of elegant, well-dressed Thai chicks going in and out of there on a nightly basis.

Pink Panther opened last weekend with no fanfare, and has been quiet each night, despite having some fit gals in their stable. It must be down to the Japanese soi not hosting any tourists. Panther’s an easy walk from Thaniya, and that’s where most of their customers used to come from. Patpong punters have to run the gay gauntlet (gayntlet for short, copyright BKK7) on Soi 2 if they want to go there.

Soi 1 is dead, except for the bright oases of King’s Castle and King’s Corner, plus the Derby King restaurant and of course, Madrid. Surprisingly, the rotation at King’s Corner is the best in the Pong, with 2 sets of 14 girls, mostly comprised of hotties. There are lots of new faces mixed in with the old guard, some of whom have been augmented with new tits and tattoos.

That’s not to say the other gogos don’t have hot girls. They definitely do. Each one has a gang of stupidly hot girls.

On Thursday, I was sitting outside Bada Bing when a farang who was clearly in his late 50s walked by in a pair of skinny jeans. Which is kind of like seeing a baby in a tuxedo—ridiculous and hilarious. Aside from buying somtam for the staff at The Strip, it was the highlight of my evening. Across down, our very own Jack Nites attended a trivia quiz charity event at Zinc 101 for The Good Shepherd Sisters Bangkok, a night of fun, food, and friends, all for a good cause and seems it’ll be a regular thing now. Every 1st and 3rd Thursday of every month. That same night, Jack also managed to do a photo shoot with BarBar’s favorite mistress—Huntress. He’s everywhere, Jack is.

On Friday, I was sitting in The Strip when “Ghost Story” by Sting began to play in my iPod. The song takes me back to a time in Los Angeles in the early 2000s when I almost married a farang lady. She was the California version of hi-so, with plans for a big house and lots of kids. She refused to give fellatio, and claimed that intercourse was too painful due to a ‘tilted uterus.’ I used to listen to that song in an effort to psyche myself up to marry her. I looked around the bar, at the smoking hot 20somethings shaking their asses onstage and the handful of lovely bedroom playmates I’ve been fortunate enough to copulate with and thought, Cheesy Pete, I almost got locked-in to a lifelong death sentence with that horrible witch. Later, a middle-aged farang couple walked by, frumpy, dilapidated and worn-looking, resembling what I likely would’ve looked like had I thrown in with little miss tilted uterus. The girls beckoned the couple inside for a beer, at which the male plaintively wailed at them, leaning into one girl’s face and gesticulating wildly as if the offer was an offense to his delicate sensibilities. I wanted to shout, “Hey, dickhead. You’re the one walking through a red-light district at midnight. You’ve no right to feign offense, you cunt.” But instead, I just pointed at them and made the “crazy” gesture with my finger around my ear. The girls laughed and we went on with our night.

Last week, someone told me that Soi Cowboy and Nana Plaza were dead, and it wasn’t worth going because hardly any places were open. I can’t remember who said it, but they were only half right. On Saturday, I visited both. Jack Nites was once again doing a photo shoot over on Cowboy so I met him for a beer and to survey the scene. It was…not that bad. Or not as bad as I’d heard. Most of the bars are open, with smaller but still adequate rosters of girls. Dollhouse had 2 rotations of 10 girls each and 90b drinks all night. Lighthouse’s happy hour was 90b beers with half the number of girls as Dollhouse, but with better music (a gogo that plays the Soup Dragons deserves a tip of the hat). I got suckered into Long Gun with the classic manoeuvre of 10 hot girls outside. Inside, there were only two girls onstage.

Suzie Wong, Soi Cowboy
Dollhouse, Soi Cowboy

Comparatively, Nana was positively rocking—at half capacity. Many bars were shuttered, but the ones that remained open were busy—or at least, busier than I’d heard. Rumors of Nana’s demise were greatly exaggerated. The outside bars—Morning-Night, Stumble Inn, and Big Dog’s—were packed. Hooters was open but had only a handful of customers. Some of the freelancers have even returned to the Nana Hotel car park.

Inside the Plaza, the open gogos were Lollipop, Twister, Playskool, Random, Whiskey & Gogo, Spanky’s, Sexy Night, Rainbow 4 and 5, Erotica, Billboard, Enter, and Butterflies. Billboard is still the best gogo in Bangkok. Their stage was rammed with super hot girls, and the joint was packed with customers. Coming in a close 2nd was Butterflies, which really just employs the run-off from Billboard.

Before Covid, the order of success of the three red-light districts was Cowboy first, followed by Nana, then Patpong. Today, Nana is the clear leader, with the hottest girls and the most customers, while Cowboy and Patpong are tied for 2nd place.

Overall, I was encouraged to see both Cowboy and Nana doing better than I’d expected—better than I’d heard. It means there’s still hope for the RLDs’ survival. Everyone just needs to hold on a little longer.  Last week, BK Magazine wrote a hit piece on Patpong, and today the Post published their version. In both cases, the ‘journalist’ talked to the wrong people. If they’d asked, I could’ve written their articles for them. It’s easy, here: “This just in—Bangkok adult entertainment zone that depends on tourists for 99.99% of their business not doing well after a year of zero tourists.” Fake surprised face.

Also, they turned up during the day. If you want to know how business is going in a red-light, you don’t come during the day. Anyway, don’t count these places out just yet. Yes, lots of bars have closed—temporarily—and yes, lots of girls have taken jobs at Starbuck’s and Lazada. But there are still throngs of sexy dolls who remain, and more still who will return once the airport reopens. So for now, we expat punters and whoremongers should take advantage of the lighter foot traffic and embrace the RLD of our choice as our own personal stomping ground while we can. Because the tourists will return, and when they do, it’s going to be a stampede.

If you’d like to see a pictorial companion blog for the one you just read, head over to http://patpongnightlife.com/2021/03/07/last-week-in-the-red-light/

Swing by next week for a closer comparison of Cowboy, Nana, and Patpong, and between now and then keep your glass chilled, your junk warm, and cheers to another week above ground in Paradise.

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