Confessions of a Red-Light Addict Part 5: Baby Steps

G’Day reader, my name’s Seven, and I’m a Bangkok Red-Light addict. It’s been some time since I last reported on said addiction/affliction, and that’s mainly because there wasn’t any real change to speak of. I’ve spent nearly every night of the last several years in one BKK gogo or another, with no hope in sight of weaning myself off or wearing myself out. But now, I’m happy to say, I’ve made some progress. If you’d like to catch up on my semi-scandalous sojourn through the RLD, feel free to scroll back through this website for Parts 1-4.

Over the course of the last few weeks I have, with a 90% success rate, managed to stay out of the red-light between Sunday and Thursday, with some surprising side-effects, most good, some bad. The positive result has been threefold: First, I have more money. Since I’m Seven, a trip through the red-light isn’t like an average trip to the red-light. I can’t simply barhop, buy drinks, and go home. I have a list of acolytes that depend on me for their dinner money and drinks, and so I tip generously at every venue and provide liquid sustenance for a handful of lovely ladies at virtually every stop. For a while there, I was burning 2,500 per night, which is of course ludicrous. So staying out of the gogo 5 nights a week has made me suddenly richer, to say the least.

Second, I’m getting more rest. It turns out that drinking ten cocktails before hitting the sack doesn’t make for quality sleep. Now, I’m waking up, eyes brighter and tail bushier and, at least on week days, I am a more productive and respectable member of society. The only snag now is a difficulty falling asleep. More on that later.

Last but not least, I’ve lost weight. It’s amazing how easy it is to stay thin when you’re not piling on hundreds of extra calories per night with booze. Without exercising even one minute longer, I managed to shave an inch and a half off my rotund girth making mundane acts like climbing stairs and bending over much easier.

Unfortunately, not everything about this newfound lifestyle is great. For one thing, it adds pressure to the short time I still spend in the Red-Light, and I tend to overdo it more often now than I did before. Before, if I went home early or missed hitting one of my favorite bars, it was no big deal, because I knew I’d be right back at it the next night. But now, if I miss a bar, or if one of my girls happens to not be there on a Saturday, I might not see her again for a week. Unless she comes over, of course, but that’s never a guarantee. Thai girls are notoriously flakey.

Another downside is being deprived of the medicinal effects of booze. I occasionally suffer from gout, which seems to come on when I haven’t consumed enough water to sufficiently flush out my system. Needless to say, 10 beers a night is enough to flush anyone’s system. In a previous blog titled “The Benefit of the Gout,” I mention this happy side benefit, the science of which is backed up by a friend who also has gout, and who also says it comes on when he cuts back on boozing. If you need more proof, just last week I was sitting at home and suddenly felt the telltale tingle of gout onset. So, I leaped from the sofa, threw on some shorts, and ponged. Sure enough, the alcohol did the trick. Crisis averted.

In spite of the new lifestyle, some of my old bad tendencies haven’t changed. I still manage to screw myself every time I gogo. If I was smart, I would gauge a red-light visit by my budget, allotting a certain amount to spend in a night, and when I hit it, go home. But I don’t do that. Instead, I base my fun on a set schedule. Partying till 11:30 still leaves enough sleep hours to function the next day. If I’ve overspent but it’s not yet time to go home, I run back to the ATM for more and keep. On. Truckin’.

But there’s a glimmer of hope for yours truly of late. They say it takes 30 days to break a habit, so I’m not out of the woods yet, but so far I’m doing a pretty good job of abiding by my newly-implemented rule of 5 days offpong per week. Give or take. I’m helped by a fairly persistent rainy season and a team of dedicated bedroom playmates to keep me busy at home. Plus I’m teaching myself to play the ukulele and I’ve taken up painting again—something I hadn’t done since leaving the United States in the mid-2000s. So trading ogling dancing girls and beer for a more enriching home life has been pretty terrific. One serious consequence, however, is the time it takes to fall asleep.

Science states that several beers and cocktails equal fast, instant sleep. And I did love coming home, stripping naked, and being out cold before my head even hit the pillow. Now, it’s a different story.

From Sunday to Thursday, I lay awake in bed staring at the ceiling, waiting for sleep while my brain tortures me with memories and ideas. On a given night, I think of half a dozen new blog topics, poems, or things to paint, and since I’m an idiot I don’t keep a note pad next to the bed. Instead, I get up six times to jot the idea into my phone. Interspersed with that craziness are a long list of memories, mistakes, missed opportunities, and regrets from my old life. I am my biggest critic, and I bully myself by not letting me forget all the things I’ve done wrong. On sober nights, I miss the sweet mercy of vodka and its magic ability to temporarily erase self-loathing and quiet my constantly working mind.


Additionally, it turns out that staying dry 5 days a week really lowers ones tolerance, so when I do drink now, I get really hammered really fast. And I get hangovers now, which I never used to do. Turns out it’s easier to maintain a constant mild alcoholism than it is to get rowdy only occasionally. I’m not sure how to fix this problem, apart from returning to a Sunday-to-Sunday drinking schedule or quitting all together. Like those old dudes you see in the gogo sipping Coke or soda water.


Somewhere between a 7-night Red-Light week and teetotaling till the weekend. I foresee a time where, if I’m bored on a Wednesday, I can treat myself to a short ponging without falling off the wagon, and perhaps open a bottle of Bordeaux at home on a Monday purely for a reason other than to bring on sleep. I secretly suspect that the crucial ingredient is exercise. I tell myself that banging my harem is enough cardio, but it ain’t. I’ll try to add some kind of training routine. In the meantime, have a great week, see you Friday for a frowback, and cheers to everyone out there making self-improvement changes to their routines in order to lengthen their days in this, the greatest country in the world—Thailand.