State of the Red-Light: August 2020

If you’re one of the five people who regularly read this blog, you’ll know that I—Bangkok Seven—am not a reporter. I don’t do “journalism” in this blog. Rather, I regularly shit onto the internet whatever happens to cross my mind that week. But these are strange times, and strange times call for even stranger mutterings. Specifically about how and where and to what extent the red-light districts of Bangkok have been affected by the pandemic known as The Flu That Only Kills Old People—I mean, Covid-19. Let’s take them in order of their appeal.





I was released from quarantine at 7 am last Sunday, and was in Patpong by 8 for breakfast and a bloody mary at Shenanigan’s. It was delicious, especially after two weeks of pre-packaged Thai meals that half the time gave me the squirts. Then I hit the True shop for a new SIM card and swung by the cigar shop for a couple of Cubans. Then I met up with Lucky at The Paddy Field for an all-day session that lasted until the gogos opened.

At the moment, Patpong is a dismal shadow of its former self. The night market hasn’t reopened and 7 of 10 businesses are still shuttered. But if you shut one eye, squint with the other, and set your expectations low, you can almost recognize the Pong of old. The list of open gogo bars as of last week are as follows: XXX Lounge, Bada Bing, Black Pagoda on Soi 2, Superstar and Thigh Bar on Soi 1. That’s it. The rumor is Soi 1 will completely reopen beginning 14 August, which means the addition of King’s Castle 1 and 2, King’s Corner, and Kiss Bar. I couldn’t confirm whether the night market would also return on that day.

We hit Black Pagoda first. They’re facing down the downturn in foot traffic by throwing out drink specials. Right now, if you buy a girl a lady-drink, yours is free. Nice. Or buy your own for 99 baht. Also nice. A lot of the old faces were there—friends of yore who embraced me with the air of a weary soldier fatigued from a long battle. Then we pushed on to XXX—no change in drink prices there. Maybe it’s their way of denying the pandemic ever happened. One of the 5 pictures I donated to Andy when he opened the bar has disappeared. I can’t think of who would’ve swiped it, but I don’t blame them. It’s a rendering of Mew—nude, with an AR-15 in her lap and pointing a couple of Glocks at the camera. I’m not even mad. It’s flattering that someone liked it enough to steal it. Then we hit Bada Bing, where the prices also remained the same. In there, things seemed almost normal. There were half a dozen customers and around 20 girls shouting my name like Norm from “Cheers” (possibly too old a reference for some). After that, Lucky bailed and I finished out the night in Superstar, where Sai and Pai from Kiss Bar were temping for extra cash. So was Wunt, to my surprise. She’s been a King’s 1 headliner for years. I asked her if this was a permanent relocation. She said no, that she’d be returning to King’s when its stage is re-lit on the 14th.  Then she promptly took my Line ID and scheduled a naked ninja photo shoot. All things considered, it was a good night.

On Wednesday, I ventured back into the Pong, worried at what I’d find. Happily, two more gogos had reopened—Glamour and Pink Panther. I did a 6-bar run (XXX, Glamour, BP, Panther, Thigh Bar, Superstar, and Bing), and in the first 5 I was the sole customer. Amazing. Granted, it was a Wednesday, and I came and went early, but the lack of locals and regulars was frankly shocking. Where were they? The bars are fully staffed, with chicks gagging for attention-slash money-slash fun. Were they afraid of Covid? I couldn’t wrap my head around it, but I did enjoy being the center of attention everywhere I went. I don’t remember so many girls getting so handsy since my newbie days on the soi.

On the plus side, there was no lack of hotties on the poles in each joint. Anyone who has the means and opportunity should take advantage of the dearth of customers and get to the gogo post haste, for a number of catch-phrase reasons: fish in a barrel, buyer’s market, sure thing, falling off a log, win-win, easy-breezy tittie squeezy.

On Thursday I hit up Nana, where things were basically the same as Patpong. There were a few more customers—everywhere I went had between 5 and 10 punters—and exponentially more chicks.

My first stop was in Rainbow 4. Don’t ask me why I passed 3 and 5—I just followed my nose. My usual first joint—Mandarin—was shut. Rainbow 4 had two rotations of 10 girls with a handful of hotties in each. San Miguel Lights for 170 and two customers counting myself. Then I popped in to a place called “Random” in the old Rainbow 3 location. I was the lone customer for a veritable platoon of whores begging for attention. 165b SMLs. After that, I slipped into Billboard. They had two girls at the door doling out hand sanitizer and temperature checks. There were 20-girl rotations on the carousel and 8 at a time in the bathtub. At least half of them were hot, which is a remarkably high ratio. 160b SMLs. I was one of 4 customers. Then I swung over to Butterflies. It was a 50-girl free-for-all in there, with about a dozen customers and a party atmosphere. 160b SMLs. My last stop was Twister (formerly Bangkok Bunnies). There were 15 dancers on the main stage with a couple of lookers among them. I got harassed by a loopy bird who jumped offstage to insinuate herself into my evening. I paid her a hundy to go away.

I have to say, it was the first time in a long time that I left Nana reluctantly. Had I been in the market for new harem girls, I imagine I could’ve recruited half a dozen in two hours’ time. And the mood everywhere was festive, albeit likely faked. Or maybe people were happy to be back at work but couldn’t ignore the glaring mathematical problem. There are simply not enough butts in the seats to cover salaries, electricity, and rent. It’s too bad, because the gogos are just as magnificent as they used to be. The girls are up for it. There are even drink specials to be had in some places. So where are the mongers? Meanwhile, many bar owners are considering closing down Monday through Wednesday to save on costs.

I began my weekend by hitting Cowboy Friday night. Heading into Asoke on the bts, I had PTSD flashbacks of the quarantine hotel that held me captive for 15 days off Soi 23. Half of Cowboy is closed, so looking down it from one end to the other is a bit depressing. But just like in Nana and Patpong, the joints that were open were packed with girls. My first stop was Crazy House, where a rotation of 16 naked girls adorned the stage. Only one stunner among them, but that’s par for the course these days. Thanks McDonald’s, for fattening up an entire nation. I was one of 5 customers, and the other 4 each had two gals playfully pawing at them. I was approached several times by friendly lasses but they were all out of my weight class. I drank half a 170b SML and bailed.

Next up was Baccara, where several fetching frauleins beckoned me over. It was the first time in years that I wasn’t ignored for not being Japanese. Vive l’Covid. 190b SMLs. A bit steep. 10 sassy but chubby topless dancers in university skirts cast hungry looks at every customer (there were about 10 of us). Suddenly in a flash, it all donned on me at once—the effect of the pandemic on the red-light district has been a time warp. Covid is to gogo bars what a Delorian and flux capacitor are to Michael J Fox. The virus has knocked the naughty nightlife scene back to 2010, when the baht was weak, tourism was down, and pole dancers were hurting for cash. All this time, I thought the reason I had to beat them off with a stick back then was because I was young and handsome, and that girls stopped showing me attention over the years due to my fading attributes. Not so. They simply earned themselves into a higher tax bracket and didn’t need my money anymore. Thank you Covid, for once again making me an economic necessity for gogo dancers.

The next rotation at Baccara was decidedly less…thick. Decked out in red Chinese-style mini-skirts and halter tops, they looked downright delicious. For a moment I wondered why the girls in similar uniforms—only yellow—didn’t join the red-skirts onstage. Then I realized they comprised a third rotation! Three, count ‘em three rotations at Baccara. In the middle of a pandemic. Glorious.

Then I pushed on to Lighthouse, stopping briefly to grieve at Dollhouse’s closure. Lighthouse proudly displayed a rotation of 12 girls, half of whom were fit and lovely. Happy hour SMLs were 90b. I spoke briefly to the owner, who was surprisingly upbeat. He said they’ve been keeping their heads above water, and even turned a profit the previous week. He said foot traffic was sporadic—sometimes crowded, sometimes empty. I was one of only 4 customers, but he mentioned they really don’t get busy until after 11 pm. I counted four girls I would’ve happily taken home, had I been in that frame of mind.

After Lighthouse I popped directly across to Cowboy2 and was virtually molested. Four girls got in my face before I even sat down. I wound up buying drinks for two of them (230b each) and a SML for me (140b). One girl tried the old “I want tequila and Coke” which means she wanted 2 drinks. I said no, so she ordered a Heineken. There were 3 customers inside including me. I had a great time with the girls, grabbing tits and pussies like a masher and folding 20s into random bras. After that, the pickings on the soi got slim. I made a last-minute choice to go to Long Gun, where the huskiest rotation by far thundered in Rubenesque fashion on the stage. Nude, shaved, and rotund. 180b SMLs. The high point of Long Gun was the music. I stayed for three songs which were “Bad Touch” by The Bloodhound Gang, “7 Nation Army” by White Stripes, and “Clint Eastwood” by Gorillaz. I’d go back again just for the tunes.

And that was my Cowboy night. In truth, I should’ve stayed longer and looked in on Shark and Suzy Wong’s but I was anxious to get back to where everybody knows my name—namely Patpong.

One interesting aspect of the new tourist-free normal is the emergence of a demographic of emboldened geriatric expats who look like moving museum relics from bygone days. I witnessed a handful of old perverts pawing at girls in dark corners of all 3 RLDs. They all looked the same, sporting trousers and shirts from a bygone era—I got an early 80s vibe—badly-dyed comb-overs, weird loafers, and dingy jewelry that looked like it came from an off-boulevard Las Vegas pawn shop.

My main takeaway from visiting these RLDs that I’ve loved so well for so long is that, after 5 months in exile, Seven is out of practice. I’ve become bad at drinking, bad at shit talking to girls, and bad at whoremongering in general. On my first night of freedom, I took a break mid-ponging to race home and nail my number 1 harem girl. To be fair to me, we were both out of practice. It was shameful. One minute of bj, followed by 2 minutes of furious banging, followed by 10 minutes of pushing rope while I tried not to go into cardiac arrest. I got better as the week progressed, but that first time out of the gate after such a long slump was a harsh reminder of my own mortality. Time to get back on the treadmill, and maybe try some tantric yoga.

My other main takeaway is that the number of hungry, willing, eager, broke hotties far outpaces the customer base at the moment. I don’t know where the locals are or why they’re not hitting the gogos but it’s the best time in a decade to get an eyeful, handful, or mouthful of one or more PYTs (pretty young things). If you’re one of the dudes staying away, I suggest getting your ass in a seat in one of these joints asap, because once the tourist flood gates open, you’re going to be hard pressed to find decent tang that hasn’t already been taken.

So cheers, fellas. To another week above ground and in the red-light. And cheers to the teeming throngs of girls hitting that stage, regardless of who’s watching, providing mongers like me with enough eye candy to satisfy the most debauched sweet-tooth.