Who is William Sparrow?

A Book Review

Red-light Nights, Bangkok Daze: Chronicles of Sexuality Across Asia, by William Sparrow, 2008

Perusing from time to time the aisles of what are called “book stores” or “libraries” we occasionally find a gem hiding among the various more serious tomes about Thailand and Asia. It was no accident, therefore, that we pulled one such gem from the shelf by a writer who calls himself “William Sparrow” and who founded the website asiansexgazette.com, after contributing to the Asia Times, which hasn’t been updated with one of William’s sex articles since 2008, roughly the same time that this book came out.

It appears that for a very brief span of time, one year in 2008, at the time of Mangosauce’s existence (which is credited as well after one or two of the short vignettes that appear in this book), Sparrow was writing about Asian prostitution, peppering his own squalid experiences and observations in various brothels with anecdotal information, questionable data, and even more dubious quotes from various persons unnamed. A few interesting experiences he alleges: being propositioned by Thai twins on Patpong while his (Thai) wife gives her tacit approval as long as he uses protection. (He declines the offer!) He is threatened by mysterious “Triad” characters in Hong Kong in darkened bars in the red light districts there. And he even (because he is married to a Thai woman who is still in Thailand) declines sexual relief from a Hong Kong prostitute in a short-time hotel, which makes for an interesting scene. (They shower together, he finds her stunning and aggressive almost in a dominatrix sort of way, and yet out of fidelity to a Thai woman many kilometers away, he does not let her touch his engorged genitals.)

In short, the book is a collection of sorry essays that span the Asian sex world, not just his beloved Thailand, but also places like Hong Kong and the Philippines, and yes, even Pakistan (shudder at the thought). While a few essays attempt to make interesting general points backed by dubious statistics about Filipinas working abroad, or Japanese men preferring masturbation to actual coupling with females (much like Big Baby Kenny Ng), or their predilections for the “school-girl” aesthetic (also much like Big Baby Kenny Ng), the essays presented here are thin on substance, and thick with the bravado of a Asian fetishist. Wait. That’s not quite right, since he chronicles very few of his actual sexual experiences: he talks “around” them as coyly as a schoolboy.

Saphan Loy appreciates the tone of his essays. He is at least quite honest about his interests and desires, which is a refreshing change from what is found in the red-light blogosphere, which has taken a marked nose-dive recently. Admittedly, it made for entertaining (offline) reading and made us wonder all the more: what happened to William Sparrow? His site, asiansexgazette.com, hasn’t been updated since 2008.

Is he spending time in a jail in Hong Kong? Has he passed away? We await his next volume, unless his health has declined or he has encountered some other unknowable fate with the Triads of Hong Kong. Perhaps he is sitting on a bar stool next to Dean Barrett debating the differences of “sexuality” between poor Thai farm girls and light-skinned mainland Chinese professionals.

William Sparrow's Opus

The View from Above

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