Stickman Plugs the Ladyboys

In the world of advertising, there is a certain category of product endorsement called, depending on where you live in the world, the advertorial or the “infomercial.” Here is a Wiki reference to a good example from the early 1960s for the sale of toupees. The way an advertorial works is that it is disguised as an informative article or a simulated television programme, often complete with a kind of talkshow “host” and an interviewee, but in reality it is a lengthy, thinly-veneered advertisement or endorsement of a particular kind of product. Anyone who has ever watched a television after 3:00 AM as a result of insomnia knows how ubiquitous these infomercials really are.

Stickman Bangkok employs this age-old advertising technique in nearly every one of his weekly updates. Nowadays, there is very little content on his site that is not an advertisement or product endorsement in some kind of disguise. This week’s entry is no different. Perhaps reflective of the economic realities of the red light districts of Thailand is a shift away from the employment of actual women of the demimonde to the employment of men who can pass as women in the bars and brothels throughout Southeast Asia. Some young Thai men, for example, must surely know that given certain feminine features or predilections, their potential to earn an income as a certain kind of woman increases significantly above, say, what a motorcycle taxi or tuk-tuk driver earns.

Stick’s story this week is one that serves as an extended commercial for the Ladyboy Escort Services that are advertised via a banner ad positioned directly under the main story. It is written in a coyly naive and somewhat misleading way. Sure, the Frog Bar features prominently, but because the narrator “refuses to pay a barfine”, the reader, whose interest may be aroused by a kathoey bar in Pattaya, is left with more questions than answers. How much is a typical bar fine at a kathoey bar in Pattaya? The correct “answer” for the reader who prefers ladyboys would of course involve the Ladyboy Escort Service that is prominently displayed, whereby, presumably, one pays the ladyboy directly for his services. So, the lesson is, no bar fine required.

Make no mistake: there is nothing inherently wrong with ladyboys or an advertisement for their services. What should be pointed out, however, is that the reader is being sold a product or service within the body of the story itself.   This is not really rocket science, but it is like selling hair replacements to an already bald audience.

And so the moral of the story? Avoid ladyboys? Naah. The moral of the story is to avoid bar fining a ladyboy by using an escort service (conveniently plugged directly beneath the story).

Still, Saphan Loy wonders what the real story behind the story could have been had it been even remotely more interesting. Hmmm… (rubbing chin and daydreaming):

Now, normally in Pattaya, I never pay bar fines. It’s just my policy. Always has been, always will. I am tighter than a two dollar watch. But there was something about this young woman, maybe it was the deeper voice, the protruding Adam’s apple, the hands of a basketball player, or the odd resemblance to a guy I knew in high school. Or maybe it was just the effects of the Singha beer. Hell, I guess I had lost count at five. Whatever it was, I decided that this time, I would pay a bar fine. It wasn’t really a money issue. I knew my advertising revenue from the ladyboy escort service and the bondage club was padding my bank account with depreciating baht every day. Sometimes I didn’t even check my balance. That’s how good I have it. Plus, I was, after all, in Pattaya….what the hell, right? When in Rome….

So, I eagerly paid the mamasan, who smiled knowingly, and I barely tried to conceal my desire for this strange man/woman hybrid. She was very direct with me, even while we innocently played Connect Four and had some quality “girl talk” in Thai. I generally like an “in-charge” kind of gal, so this increased my desire for him and I knew that I was in store for some pleasant memories. She kick-started her motorbike and I sat behind her like her farang bitch prize. We raced off into the tropical night and I grew dizzy with expectation. It was late, so I didn’t care about the other expats and sex tourists giggling at me as we made our way past the bars and clubs.

She took me to a part of Pattaya I had never been before. I was feeling especially protective of my camera. What if he/she took me to a remote spot and beat and robbed me? What if he/she put something in my drink and I was already under its effect? What would happen to my camera and my ATM card? These were thoughts I quickly put out of my head. I knew well enough about these kinds of things happening to less-experienced guys. I was looking forward to for once being one of the young women I always dreamed I could be. Just like the ones I try to capture in my loving photos, so beautiful. Suay mak mak. Anyway, we get to this sordid looking place somewhere on the outskirts of town. In his deep froggy voice, he commands, “Wait here.” I obey meekly for what seems like an hour. I hear what sounds like an argument coming from the little guest house. My heart is racing. Should have popped a Xanax, but too late for that. “Follow me,” she commands. Again, I do as I am told as we make our way to the front door of this little guesthouse of sorts.

I don’t know. Maybe I’m expecting too much, I think to myself apprehensively. Something a little more, well, romantic. Maybe my fantasy won’t live up to the reality of what is about to happen. Suddenly, she almost kicks open the door to this small dimly-lit room. Is she going to carry me across the threshold, like in an old movie? That certainly would be more romantic. I wouldn’t feel as cheap and nervous as I do now. Where is this headed? Does this mean that I am gay? Of course not, I persuade myself. Again, my reasoning seems compromised by the Singha, but I can hardly contain my excitement all the same. All of my years in the red light districts of Thailand have not adequately prepared me for whatever awaits in this little foul-smelling room on the outskirts of Pattaya. It’s not too late. I can always make a dash for it. So what’s a little เสียหน้า? Meanwhile, I hear the shower running from the bathroom. The small lizards dart about on the walls in the dull glow of the fluorescent lightbulb….

That was all in good fun. We of course know how the story really ended. Fairly anti-climactic, so to speak. And another moral of the story to remember: a girl has to kiss a lot of frogs before, well, you know the rest.

The View from Above


For similar vintage advertisements, see



3 Responses to “Stickman Plugs the Ladyboys”

  1. Dude, you are *seriously* reaching here, to make the connection between the LadyBoy Escort service, and Stickman’s current story. Now, maybe you are right, and maybe those who are inclined to LadyBoys would have been making all those connections you listed, but I read Stick’s story as just that – an amusing anecdote of how even a guy with experience can occasionally be fooled by a decent LadyBoy.

    The only issue I had is that Stickman apparently took an anonymous forum poster’s comment as sufficient proof to jump to the conclusion that this was a LadyBoy, without any other confirmation – which leads to a whole lot of other questions, IMO.

  2. Would you mind if I quote a couple of your articles as long as I provide credit and
    sources returning to your site: http://saphanloy.
    I will aslo make sure to give you the appropriate anchor
    text hyperlink using your website title: Stickman Plugs
    the Ladyboys | Saphan Loy. Please make sure to let me know if this is
    ok with you. Thankyou

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