Take This Blog and Shove It, Part 1

Salutations, reader. It’s your boy Seven, neck-deep in the heart of the red light district. I’m trying out a new series, the objective of which is to take apart some of the more inept claims, comments, and literary crimes in other people’s Bangkok-related blogs. That scene—The Bangkok blogger scene (BKBS for short)—is caught, as it were, betwixt two groups of writers: the originators and the noobs. The OG’s, the old guard, the ones who started it all, emerged in the late 90s and early 2000s. They were the tiny Bukowski’s (or maybe Lebowski’s) of BKK, waxing and wallowing in the sweet sweet mud of the red-light scene in its heyday. They built huge followings consisting of expats, tourists who came, went and wanted to live vicariously through the narratives of these gogo gods, and the never-beens trying to get an eyeful of a place that seemed too good to be real.

But then came the onslaught of social media, and soon everyone hitting the tarmac in Thailand was an instant blogger, Youtuber, and self-described expert. Those mis-educated, mashed potato-brained morons who were victims of the useless “whole language” learning approach of the last 2 decades and most recently Common Core in the United States (a program deliberately meant to turn an entire generation retarded), suddenly pepper-sprayed the internet with the stupidest, most vapid, least-informed, most poorly-worded asinine content ever created. This series will mostly be critiques of those ignorant blogs, because they’re easy targets. But at the same time, the OG’s of BKK are losing steam and losing their edge. That clan are now made up of senior citizens—in attitude if not in years—who not only don’t have their finger on the pulse of the nightlife, they can’t even find their own pulse, and don’t come out at night anymore. So there’s plenty to poke fun at.

For this first foray into blogtiquing (blog critiquing, copyright BKK7), I faltered a bit coming out the gate. What I thought would be a scathing rebuke turned out to be…….assent? Recently, a well-known Bangkok blogger posted an article giving advice for expats. In it, he told us to stay out of the red light districts, because foreigners who go there are not respected by their Thai peers and the girls there are “troubled.”

Wait. What?

Avoid the red-light? You mean the place that throngs of people clamor into planes, trains, and automobiles to get to each year? The place Googled by billions and ogled by millions on Youtube? Is that the place you mean?

The blogger in question spent decades in the RLD and built his entire readership by narrating his exploits in it. Set that apparent hypocrisy aside for the moment, and the fact that all the adverts on his website are for hookers and girly bars. Forget that for a sec. The notion that the red-light isn’t a place to parade oneself around is already kind of a given. And the dudes who do it (I’m raising my hand) do so because we are addicted and couldn’t stop even if we wanted to.

So I got ready to tear this guy a new one.

I was all set to rant about how it sounds like he’s shitting all over everyone who works in the RLD, namely the Thais and farang whose lives are inexorably tied to that life, that location, and all that comes with it. I was going to point out that nobody who runs a gogo bar has plans to become a UN ambassador, but neither do they walk around with a scarlet letter on their chest. And those “troubled” gogo bar girls are some of my best friends in the world. Sure, a lot of them go the wrong way. Some get into drugs or take up with dangerous types. But—I was planning to say—you find ne’er-do-wells pretty much everywhere (ever been to a Catholic church?). And does that mean we tail-chasers should abandon the gogo and take up the lifestyle of swanky Bangkokians like the ones in that “Crazy Rich Asians” movie? Because the bitches in that flick were no picnic, either. I was prepared to explain that going from lo-so to hi-so just exchanges one set of problems for another.

I was gonna say not all red-light girls are bad, that a lot of them have hearts of solid gold, and that some of the kindest, most selfless, best examples of what it means to be a human being that I’ve ever encountered came out of or are still in the RLD. I planned to go on to say that some of the WORST, most repugnant people I’ve ever known are the type who look down their nose at the red-light. My first instinct was to present a direct contradiction to the idea that the red-light should be avoided, and say that there are better people in the RLD than in the group that shits on the RLD.

But then I went back and read his statement again, and noticed an important detail. He didn’t mention Patpong. He only referred to Nana and Cowboy.

I concede that a case could be made against those latter two, which are strictly gogo areas. Ironically, the same can’t be said for Patpong. Long considered the sleaziest of the three RLDs, the Pong is experiencing a kind of renaissance. Gogos are being replaced with live music venues, high-end restaurants, and sports bars. There are prominent foreign business owners who have nothing to do with the red-light scene that run large parts of Patpong now. Anyone who would dismiss an area like that simply because there are gogo bars in it would have a fundamental misread of what’s there, who’s going there, and why. So if the blogger in question left the Pong out deliberately, it shows a sophisticated, nuanced understanding.

Personally, I love the red light district. I love gogo bars. I love the dancers, the owners, the staff. I love the folks who bark for ping pong shows and soapy massage. I love the ladies selling lingerie. I make no apology. I get more respect from the mamasans and ladyboys loitering outside the Corner Bar than my own boss and coworkers, most of whom have no idea what I do in my off hours. The girl pulling pints at Paddy Field is a more genuine, more salt-of-the-earth soul than most of the farang cunts I rub elbows with. If I had to choose between a circle of friends that were middle class, straight-laced goodie-goodies or a gang of rough-edged gogo dancers with full back tattoos, battle scars, and a list of horrifying stories, there’s no question who I’d go with. As Morrissey said, “The world is full of crashing bores,” though you can avoid them pretty easily in Bangkok. Just walk into a RLD. So if the blog in question was a red-light hit piece, I stood ready to defend my stomping grounds.

But in the end, after my initial knee-jerk response, I admit that I kind of agree with him—at least, when it comes to Nana and Cowboy. Those neon Xanadus, where I found such fun and fulfillment my first few years in Bangkok, now bore me to tears. With the exceptions of Lighthouse and Shark in Cowboy and Mandarin in Nana, I find the bars to be cold, callous money sucking enterprises packed with jaded, cynical girls. Now, I could be wrong. It could be that I just don’t spend enough time there to get to know anybody. But in the end, after all my huffing and puffing, I’m in agreement with our intrepid blogger. Whether he left out Patpong on purpose or inadvertently. I’m going to assume the former, because doing so was a stroke of genius.

The truth is, I don’t mind if people look down on me for being a Patpog rat. But wouldn’t it make more sense to judge someone based on their character, and not where they work or drink? Kind of cunty, if you ask me. I leave that up to you. Meanwhile, I’ll be hanging out with 6 of my best friends, all of whom will be in bikinis, and I’ll be trying to pull their tops off while they take turns bouncing on my knee. What’s your night looking like?

Check back Friday for a frowback. Between now and then, you know where I’ll be. Cheers to another day above ground, and cheers to Patpong—a Shangri-la unlike any other, and the covetous dream of millions of men worldwide. Don’t be ashamed to get there. As often as you can. Peace out!