Archive for Patpong

ThaiPeeps Revisited

Posted in สะพานลอย with tags , , , , , , , , , on April 7, 2013 by สะพานลอย

Saphan Loy’s first foray into the blogging world was back in 2006. It’s hard to believe that we have been at it for seven years, and I suppose we can insert all sorts of cliches about the passage of time here. Much has changed in Thailand and the world in that time, and the red light blogs have eroded in both quality and content during that time as well. With miscreants like Big Baby Kenny Ng appearing on the scene, and the vicious attack on perhaps one of the finest Thailand nightlife blogs, the legendary MangoSauce, things really haven’t been the same since the 2000s.

Lek and I finally decided to revisit ThaiPeeps, which has always been there as a kind of archive of sorts. We cleaned up the way it looks to make it simpler, and removed any links to videos that have since been deleted or withdrawn from YouTube. Although we haven’t added any YouTube videos to ThaiPeeps in a long time, the Blogger platform nonetheless allows for continued uploading without any expense to yours truly. This is certainly one area that WordPress may wish to explore, although to be fair Blogger and YouTube are both owned by Google.

That said, I invite you to have a look around at some of the videos curated there. The one we’ve selected above still interests us, for purely intellectual reasons. And if you come across anything on YouTube that might be of interest, please send the link to be added to ThaiPeeps. For one person (or two if we count Lek), the task is too time consuming (i.e., looking at YouTube all day to separate the wheat from the chaff.)  Only Big Baby Kenny Ng has that kind of free time. But I am always happy to see something interesting, particularly if it offers a glimpse into the Thai worldview that is otherwise difficult to obtain.

Red Light Roundup

Nothing much happening in the Red Light whoreblogs, which partially explains the long absence. This week’s Stickman is worth a look, as he generally seems to do much better when he hands the microphone over to someone else. It could very well be that the people he tends to interview are infinitely more interesting than he is, which is probably not a significant hurdle to begin with. In this week’s column the owner of the former Mississippi Queen discusses the filming of the classic American war film The Deer Hunter (1978) at the bar and what it was like to meet with Robert De Niro in his suite at the Oriental, which is an interesting story indeed.

However, Stick also seems to have literally torn a page from the playlist of Bangkok Eyes, in that the subject this week is a somewhat historical journey into the past to what Patpong was like at a time when Professor Big Baby Kenny Ng was awaking from his very first wet dream. Generally, we prefer to visit Bangkok Eyes when we need our fill of historical pictures and the like, since our friend William R. Morledge has been documenting the history of the red-light districts of Bangkok since the very inception of Bangkok Eyes. It could also very well be that we will see many more such stories, which are likely efforts to stimulate the remaining brain cells of Stickman’s growing demographic of Viagra eaters and ailing pensioners.

In other news, Mobithailand, who is still alive and relatively well and blogging about his experiences in Pattaya, has suffered a few set-backs recently, including a harrowing financial ordeal that is probably more reflective of a disintegrating world economy than anything else. However he has completed his novel A Lust for Life and has made it available to anyone who knows how to make use of a computer, and also read the English language. That essentially eliminates anyone who comments on the Big Fat Baby Kenny Ng site. Anyway, Mobi also has received a mention on the Stickman site recently, which has significantly increased his traffic. Have a mosey on over to read about his continuing saga (and to see photographs of his very lovely Noo sitting on his piano bench).

We have it on good authority that it has been hot in Bangkok. Remain cool, put ice in your beer, and enjoy your water-making activities. Both indoors and out.

The View from Above

Chris Coles and Bangkok Noir Redux. And Redux. And Redux….And Redux…

Posted in สะพานลอย with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on February 24, 2013 by สะพานลอย

Paint by Numbers

Those indefatigable academic men at work from Down Under over at New Mandala have given Chris Coles pride of place in a February 15th posting in which the paint-maker describes, yet again in the event that you’ve missed his bizarre explanations in the past (or if you failed to purchase the book called Navigating the Bangkok Noir), why his art is exactly like German expressionism, why it is important, why writers like Stephen Leather (Banging Bill’s Wife) and Christopher G. Moore (Pattaya 24/7 and The Wisdom of Beer) are part of this “noir” movement, etc, etc. 

It is somewhat surprising that the learned professors who run New Mandala have allowed Coles to drone on and on about this topic, although perhaps less surprising that Saphan Loy’s response to the post was moderated out of existence. It went something like this:

Chris Coles’ guest post has all the hallmarks of a self-serving, self-congratulatory navel-gazing think-piece clearly intended to revive a moribund interest in his book of the same name, and to generate some sympathy for this idea that his work and the work of others somehow constitutes an expressionist movement unique to Bangkok’s grim underbelly. There are so many things wrong with this from an intellectual perspective that it is difficult to know where to begin. First, there is something inherently artificial in attempting to broadly create an “artistic” movement of expatriate “artists” (mostly down-on-their luck expatriates who also happen to spend inordinate amounts of time in Bangkok’s brothel districts while scribbling implausible stories on bar napkins), where there simply is none. Coles lumps his own painting efforts, the macabre neon results of which are perhaps best-suited for the interior of a carnival funhouse, with the scribbling of typists like Christopher Moore, Stephen Leather, and Jon Burdett, whose collective fictive output is largely unreadable and place an undo strain on wood-pulp processing factories as well as the digital backbone of the Internet. In fact, Stephen Leather has recently taken to giving away digital copies of “erotic” short stories on Amazon with titles like “Banging Bill’s Wife.”  The most commercially popular of this sorry lot is Jon Burdett, but even his Bangkok-based stories do little justice to the nuanced reality and cultural complexity of living in a place like Thailand, and they have little to no bearing on Coles’ imagined “noir” movement. What is equally distressing about this whole misguided effort is that the concept of noir, as an extension of the German expressionism that Coles so admires, is essentially being grafted onto one very narrow aspect of Thai urban culture, namely the red-light districts that cater to white foreign men. There is very little of the native Thai voice to be found in his concept of Bangkok noir (or Southeast Asian noir) or whatever; and when Thais do appear, they are merely prostitutes, drug dealers, or murderers or corrupt public servants. One can hope and think and try to will into existence some grand artistic movement until the water buffalo comes home. But if other scholars, writers, art critics, and historians of Southeast Asia are directing their gaze elsewhere, or fail to see any artistic merit whatever in the examples Coles provides, then the overly ambitious Bangkok noir movement is destined to be consigned to the collective digital shrug of the Internet’s ever-shortening memory.   


Now, Lek and I occasionally read some of the postings over on the New Mandala site, which we had mistakenly believed was a place of lively academic debate and rigorous intellectual exploration. (Lek finds anything with too many words “boring”.) Instead what one has come to expect from New Mandala is a small coterie of like-minded individuals, exhibiting all of the mutually masturbatory inclinations of a left-leaning graduate school seminar, who seem to save the lion’s share of their consternation for the institution of the Thai monarchy and the threadbare cliche of corrupt Southeast Asian politics (the amount of ink that has been spilled tilting after this windmill in the Western academy shows no signs of drying, so long as another PhD can be squeezed profitably from the tired hackwork of political scientists flummoxed by Southeast Asia’s historically-grounded patron-client networks.)

Poseidon Massage Parlor

Here is Coles’s take on corruption in Bangkok (or Southeast Asia by extension):

A world where endemic corruption is not only considered to be “normal” and “permanent” but even “essential”.

In most of these artistic works, there always seems to be double helpings of Impunity, disenfranchisement, South East Asia Big Men, a complete lack of any meaningful Rule of Law, almost no actual rights inherently belonging to the individual.

Coles makes clear in the beginning of his post that he is not an intellectual, but an “artist”. He admits this probably to deflect attention from the weakness of his arguments and the implausibility of his observations (generally limited to the area in proximity to Bangkok’s red-light districts). Even so, in a forum like New Mandala, the claims he makes here about the absence of Rule of Law in Southeast Asia, and the lack of “actual rights belonging to the individual” should at least invite some scrutiny or critical circumspection, at the very minimum. Instead, the editors at New Mandala decided that Coles was immune from pointed criticism, and so his post has all of the characteristics of a bully-pulpit, a kind of meandering journey through a painter’s untutored mind.

Homosexual Bars in Bangkok

We will leave this tired story (which shows no signs of going gently into that noirish night) with some parting words from Coles, which have the nasty chemical buzz of paranoia the kind usually associated with psychedelic drug abuse:

Individuals are frequently and arbitrarily subject to state and Big Man violence, selective and biased law enforcement, sometimes even assassination and disappearances. 

The View from Above

The Year in Review: A New Year Ahead. Observations, Predictions.

Posted in สะพานลอย with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 28, 2011 by สะพานลอย

What a sordid year it was. As we get ready to ring in the new year, Thai style with a bottle of lukewarm Singha, let’s recall some major low-lights from the year past, and look ahead to what the new year holds in store. The past year witnessed some atrocities, as usual, in the Thai redlight blogosphere. Very few gems were to be found in the roughage that comprises the palsied prose and tortured syntax of the blog-heads. In addition, we have seen that some scribblers have decided to bow out of the online scene altogether. A few comments follow. Parental discretion is advised.

Stickman Bangkok

Let’s start with the biggest and the brightest of the online luminaries, Stickman Bangkok. After teasing his audience throughout the year with hand-wringing and indecision regarding his future, he has decided, not surprisingly, to stay put in the red-light districts of Thailand, which have come to define him. His photography has devolved, and his favourite subjects still seem to be poor children and bargirls. While he unashamedly takes cold (hard) ladyboy cash, and the filthy lucre of brothels as advertising revenue, he still insists that he doesn’t partake, and that he is stupefied by changes in the country. Saphan Loy believes this is the most interesting part of his website, though he doesn’t intend it as such. He is constantly flummoxed by Thailand’s changing demographics and the demographics of the sex tourist population in general. What does the new year hold in store for the poster boy of sex tourism himself? Likely, he will find himself stuck in Thailand, a “lifer”, ping-ponging from bar to bar like some character in a Greek tragedy. Always tantalized by the offerings, but never partaking, we predict he will end up much like Dean Barrett.

One day in the new year, he will break down, step into Bar Bar or Demonia, and be offered a sound lashing from a Thai rice farmer’s daughter who will then insert an uncomfortably large sex toy into his rectum while he barks like a soi dog. Stickman will consent enthusiastically, and find it so pleasurable that he will dedicate himself to BDSM for the remainder of his natural life, never sitting comfortably again. From there, he will slip down the slippery slope and avail himself of the services of a small group of ladyboy escorts, who will treat him like a schoolgirl in the comfort of his Bangkok highrise.

Big Baby Kenny Ng

This year marked the departure from the serious blogosphere of Professor Big Baby Kenny Ng out in California. He has clearly given up the ghost, allowing the only active thread to be overwritten by the criminally insane. His brand of lunacy will be turned off in the new year, and he will likely be joining the swelling ranks of American unemployed academics, scratching out a living by tutoring semi-retarded children. But not to fear. There are plenty of openings at TEFL International, and perhaps the clown-in-chief there can teach him a thing or two about the Thais.

As of this writing, however, it appears the Ng has just published another word-fart about a cheap buffet in Bangkok. He is clearly celebrating his holiday in Bangkok, courtesy of the moronic California taxpayer, who is so immobilized by political correctness that he (or she) cannot stand up in the face of basic humanitarian atrocities.

The Chinese love all you can eat buffets. They pile their plates full of crappy fried food and rejoice in the low cost of eating it, then pass it through their intestines, then clog up the plumbing, much to the horror of the chambermaids at the cheap flophouse he calls home in the city of angels. Saphan Loy predicts that Ng’s cheap Bangkok buffets will soon turn into long lines at his local soup kitchen.

Big Baby Kenny will soon join the long lines at the soup kitchen.


Our friend Mobi has been busy and, mercifully, staying sober. He has interestingly decided to post photos of his paramour, Noo, who is quite lovely indeed. We wish Mobi the best in the new year. He has been one of the few stalwarts among the blog-heads, always posting honestly and without artifice. Mobi consistently proves that a dotage spent in Thailand can be tempting, relaxing, and enjoyable all at the same time. We hope he avoids temptation of the spiritual kind, and continues to post about the darkside and all the darkies that can be found there.

The Redlight Scribblers (and Painter)

Stephen Blather et al., including the abominable Chris Coles, will likely continue to type unreadable prose, and render unspeakably offensive arts and crafts that assault the senses (unless those senses happen to be dulled by the local lager and barbiturates.) Look for hefty additions to the pulp-making machine, or network-clogging “e-books” that appeal to the inpatients at your local veteran’s home. Also in the coming new year, perhaps Coles will finally sell a neon bargirl to the half-blind, or the blind-drunk, who would like a painting to install above the commode. Or, better yet, perhaps the new year will inspire Coles to retire from his paint-making efforts, hang up his smock, and, instead, take up semi-permanent residence on a barstool on Patpong, administered to by a snaggle-toothed ladyboy.

Jimmy Smithers

So, what of that lady(boy’s) man, Jimmy Smithers? He has exciting plans for the new year. He is currently in negotiations with a major motion picture studio for the rights to his personal stories. He also has a new line of merchandise planned, including coffee mugs, tee-shirts and insulated beer holders. He is hard at work on his e-book, and is scanning his local classified sections for shemales, transvestites and ladyboys. Because he was recently fired, it is unlikely that a Bangkok trip is in the cards for the new year. Look for further depravity to escape from his keyboard, prolonged struggles with alcohol and sinus medication, and lurid accounts of his masturbation habits. He may even develop adult-onset diabetes, or have what he calls a “crap-attack” at an inopportune moment (like a job interview.) We predict great things for Jimmy Smithers. He’s one to keep your eye on. You know, by covering your other eye with your hand when the room is spinning, or you can’t navigate the Bangkok sidewalks after consuming too much Mekong Whiskey.

At any rate, Saphan Loy wishes you the best of the holidays, and a happy new year. As long as sex tourists are willing to jot down their half-formed ideas, their tawdry hopes and dreams, and their sinful encounters with third world prostitutes, we will be there. And despite all our plights and gripes, we still give them credit for trying. After all, an internet absent of their presence would be a boring place indeed.

The View from Above

The Hollow Men Operation Part 2

Posted in สะพานลอย with tags , , , , on November 7, 2011 by สะพานลอย

Let me be no nearer
In death’s dream kingdom
Let me also wear
Such deliberate disguises
Rat’s coat, crowskin, crossed staves
In a field
Behaving as the wind behaves
No nearer –
Not that final meeting
In the twilight kingdom


This is the dead land
This is cactus land
Here the stone images
Are raised, here they receive
The supplication of a dead man’s hand
Under the twinkle of a fading star.

Is it like this
In death’s other kingdom

— T.S. Eliot, The Hollow Men (1925)

The station chief who came up with the title Hollow Men Operation was apparently a well-read man. Yale educated in the classics, his knowledge was encyclopaedic. Not only did he directly incorporate T.S. Eliot’s poem as part of the vast operation that comprised Mike’s work in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War, but he also ensured that the nomenclature of the operation itself would go without detection for so many years. Most government bureaucrats, for example, did not understand the allusion, and they generally followed orders regardless of what it was called. Mike’s decision to tell us the details, marked by many years of soul-searching, but also vague feelings of remorse, coupled with a slow breakdown of his faculties which were the result of excessive alcoholic drinking, truly denote how “secret histories” are often related: orally passed on in dark corners of dark bar-rooms in the company of women who don’t understand a word of what you are saying.

Once the Potemkin villages of the red light districts in Bangkok served their intended purpose, controlling large parts of the military population and providing dollar-denominated currency to the Thai treasury, and once the conflict in Vietnam was over, there were questions that remained. What to do with the actresses and agents involved? What to do with the physical structures themselves? Was there a way to mothball the entire operation? According to Mike, the solution was fairly complex. Rather than keep close tabs on the military population, and to ensure that communist sympathizers were weeded out with efficiency, the decision was made at the top to keep the structures functioning, but now in an effort to attract the detritus of the entire globe who would be attracted to places like Patpong like moths to the flame. In short, it was an excellent way for Interpol and other organizations to follow international vagrants more closely and to monitor seedy business deals closely.

According to Mike, the operation was not mothballed, and an interim caretaker operated the “fronts”, or what we know of as the go-go bars. As their purposes changed over the years in terms of intelligence collection, it was decided that a quasi-governmental organization, comprised of several interested nations, would continue to monitor Bangkok’s red-light districts in order to sort out the various and sundry who come to Thailand’s shores yearly, looking for only God knows what.

We miss Mike dearly. The guy at the Madrid who paid for all the drinks, who shared his thoughts on everything from literature to God to conspiracy theories. He was the master of ceremonies in a time when Thailand needed him most. He was generous with the women, almost to a fault, and generous with his motley group of friends. He will be remembered for his service and dedication. Happy premature Veterans Day.


To be continued……


The View from Above


Pussy Change Water

Posted in สะพานลอย with tags , , , , , , , , on September 16, 2011 by สะพานลอย

For those of you following at home, you may notice that our posts are titles taken directly from the helpful menu of live shows available on Patpong. This one, “Pussy Change Water”, is curious for a variety of reasons. From my degrading memory, I seem to recall seeing a woman transfer the contents of a water bottle into a glass, though, of course, this memory may be impaired for a variety of reasons. Let’s try to decipher it, shall we?

We know that some women (or at least as it is sometimes depicted in pornographic websites) are “squirters” and are somehow able to “ejaculate” vaginal fluid at great distances. Whether they are employing some crude carnival trick or not, perhaps only a circus clown can give you an answer. My theory that “squriters” are in fact playing a kind of trick was once challenged when Saphan Loy witnessed in one particularly vulgar pornographic clip what appeared to be a woman “squirting” while the man was fully penetrating her. You could clearly see on the video clip a stream of fluid run down the man’s erect, inserted penis, as though she were actually urinating. (She was “seated” on his lap, facing the camera.) Whether she urinated or produced an abundance of vaginal fluid is difficult to tell. You are, of course, welcome to make your own conclusions about the myth of “fejaculation.” But Saphan Loy remains skeptical.

We cite here in its entirety some literature from Wikipedia on determining precisely the nature of the supposed fluid that women produce during this hypothetical situation, while noting that most scientists have neglected the simplest test of all: The taste test.

Nature of fluid

Critics have maintained that ejaculation is either stress incontinence or vaginal lubrication. Research in this area has concentrated almost exclusively on attempts to prove that the ejaculate is not urine,[43][63] measuring substances such as urea, creatinine, prostatic acid phosphatase (PAP), prostate specific antigen (PSA),[6] glucose and fructose [64] levels. Early work was contradictory; the initial study on one woman by Addiego and colleagues reported in 1981,[30] could not be confirmed in a subsequent study on 11 women in 1983, [65] but was confirmed in another 7 women in 1984.[66] In 1985 a different group studied 27 women, and found only urine,[46] suggesting that results depend critically on the methods used.

A 2007 study on two women involved ultrasound, endoscopy, and biochemical analysis of fluid. The ejaculate was compared to pre-orgasmic urine from the same woman, and also to published data on male ejaculate. In both women, higher levels of PSA, PAP, and glucose but lower levels of creatinine were found in the ejaculate than the urine. PSA levels were comparable to those in males.[5]

Pussy Breaks Water

The other option in this show is that possibly the performer “breaks water.” This would be even more mordantly repellant than the actions described above. Who would be interested in viewing this? When a woman “breaks her water”, she, of course, is actually giving birth, so such shows would clearly be available only at the finer hospitals and with special permission, presumably, of all concerned parties.

Finally, if we can all recall from our catechisms, we know that Jesus Christ changed water into wine. Now this is a demonstration, were it available on Patpong, that would surely attract attention, for a variety of reasons. The establishment would indeed be able to serve as a wine bar and a live pussy show: an elegant combination indeed.

Pussy Drinks Water

So what occurs in reality when the “Pussy Changes Water?” Or, better yet, what happens when [a] pussy is “charged” a few baht for water?

Photo of pussy changed water courtesy of BBK.

We suppose, ultimately, that it is anyone’s guess.



The View from Above

Pussy Write Letter: Poll Numbers and the Professors of Pimpology 101

Posted in สะพานลอย with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 24, 2011 by สะพานลอย

In hoping to solve the mystery of the legendary Patpong Pussy Shows once and for all, our non-scientific poll has revealed that the overwhelming majority of readers prefer ping-pong demonstrations as a vital part of their nightly pussy shows in Patpong. The poll results also show quite clearly that our readers are discriminating pussy show connoisseurs. While the great majority of readers polled enjoy the ping-pong ball aspect of the demonstrations, in second place was a preference for pyrotechnics and special effects, like the string of snapping firecrackers. It begs the simple question: Why? Never in all of the years that we have enjoyed the occasional game of table tennis have we equated the small plastic balls with anything that even vaguely resembles an erotic act. Indeed, table tennis itself seems to reek of absurdity and a whiff of misplaced Asian fanaticism and pent-up athletic frustration resulting from a lack of innate physical prowess.

Asians display a preternatural ability with table tennis.

There were two write-in responses, one of which was the simple and unqualified “No”, while the other stated that the reader “only enjoyed banana shows.”

After a perusal of the menu of options that we featured on the pussy show poll and that lists the wide-open vaginal possibilities for the pussy show-goer, I think that were Saphan Loy to enjoy a pussy show sometime soon, after, say, a light repast at the Oriental, we would most likely forego the ping-pong balls, the beer bottle demonstration, the firecrackers, the “pussy fishes in” option, and the “pussy blowing candle” trick, and would absolutely insist that the exhibited pussy performer “write [a] letter” with her vagina. Much the same way Dean Barrett can do using only the anal sphincter muscles of his asshole.

And not just any letter.

I would not be content to merely observe the model/actress/pussy showgirl scribble sloppily on some random piece of paper in an indecipherable scrawl using only her vaginal muscles and a simple pakka: I would want, pay for, indeed demand an actual formal letter, addressed to William Mahanakorn and the readers of Saphan Loy in Thai and in legible penmanship. Anything short of that would be grounds for a refund, a heated discussion with the pussy show creative director, and a scathing critique in this blog.

The pussy letter might begin thus:

Dear Saphan Loy Readers….

While you have enjoyed mocking Patpong pussy shows now for the better part of the last week, I would like to inform you that inserting objects into my vagina like live fishes for your amusement is neither fulfilling as a career option, nor is it sanitary or especially safe for the goldfish thus employed. Therefore, after tonight’s performance of “pussy fishes in”, I am hanging up my knickers and returning to Chiang Rai to work on my uncle’s rice farm, and to vend decanted Fanta in plastic bags. Thank you, Mr. Mahanakorn, for your years of kind patronage and your critical recommendations.



Hot Ping Pong Action: Asian Style

In other news from the United States higher education system, “higher” becoming increasingly the operative word here, a professor from Farleigh Dickinson University in New Jersey has been arrested for running a prostitution ring when not droning on and on about physics in the classroom to bored and disaffected undergraduates. According to the latest breaking news, the investigation is widening, and professors at the University of New Mexico (including a former president and current Professor Emeritus of Political Science, F. Chris Garcia, at UNM) have been implicated and arrested. The website that Professor David Flory (of Farleigh Dickinson University) allegedly ran from his home and office in New Jersey is called Southwest Companions. It is a password-protected site that introduces men to over-priced call girls in New Mexico, who charged clients about $800 USD. As usual, the Huffington Post, who covered another infamous Thai prostitute advocate/college professor Kenny Ng from California State Univesity at Northridge, has published an article here that has the more salacious details.

In his defense, Professor Flory stated that the site was a “hobby” from which he derived no revenue. Saphan Loy has never ceased to be amazed by the bizarre fabrications, the feeble lies, and the utter disregard that professors tend to have for the public at large when they attempt to float their ridiculous and child-like justifications. It reveals two things: first, college professors, while “book-smart”, cannot figure out that by investing in a powerful attorney or public relations manager, they might be able to mount more successful defenses of their inexplicable actions, and two: they completely lack the skills to articulate cogent fictional narratives in their own defense. In other words, their lies are like those that a child might tell after being caught stepping on a toad, or trying to filch a cookie from the cookie jar.

What is happening in the US higher education system to inspire these less-than-stellar academics to write about and openly promote prostitution, whether domestic or, in Kenny Ng’s case, outsourced to the developing world? And who can forget the Northwestern University professor, John Michael Bailey, who authorised a live fuck-saw demonstration for his undergraduate psychology class? In short, what exactly has happened to universities, the once vaunted and respected ivory tower?

In our opinion, the higher educational system lost all semblance of credibility once it had been decoupled from the rigours associated with European systems of philology, philosophy and theology, and, of course, the requisite instruction of the classical languages like ancient Greek and Latin. But I suppose at this point this is merely the kind of complaint that would invite an instant and hostile accusation of academic elitism from those in higher education who would like to see their narrowly defined liberal agendas satisfied and amplified, so they can continue to exhibit fuck-saw demonstrations, write about queer and transgender “theories”, or discuss in any way shape or form such dubious French thinkers as Foucault and Lacan. After all, Dick and Jane, who grew up in the suburbs or the agrarian midwest, would fall behind miserably were they forced to learn Latin, study classical philosophy, or be otherwise forced to generate, heaven forbid, an original and actual thought shaped by concerted effort, rigorous research and logically sound argumentation.

But what is most astonishing about the latest example of “professors gone bad” is that it clearly reflects a growing trend in academia that illustrates that professors, once considered ethical and moral exempla of their societies, have abandoned such notions of responsibility, moral or otherwise, toward their students and have disrespected their own academic communities in the process. And in the broader terms of power structures, empowerment, and a socially engaged, holistic approach to the academy, these bizarre sexual “hobbies” that include prostitution, sex tourism, exploitation, sex-toy demonstrations and the like, constitute a complete misunderstanding or ignorance of power and education, and how they are intimately related. Or what’s worse, they reflect a degraded display of casual antipathy, cynicism and intellectual poverty. We won’t belabour the point here, but leave it at this. Whether the US higher educational system is bloated with miscreants, sex tourists and perverts with PhDs, or whether the intrusion of the State into academic administration has facilitated an environment whereby presidents, provosts, and Boards of Regents and the like are terrified of making what is obviously a moral stand, these dilemmas present here as difficult to answer questions.

Saphan Loy’s suggestion: write a letter.

Rice Harvest, Northeast Thailand

Which reminds us. Recently, Stickman Bangkok featured a young woman from the provinces named Jeap, whose new service in Bangkok promotes the mixing and mingling of Thai girls from the impoverished countryside with lonely and elderly farang from the West who are unable to meet women without her assistance. It was a glowing review of Jeab and her services. But keep in mind, it is not a sex service, and Jeab made it clear that she personally pre-screens all applicants lest they violate Thai cultural norms or display obvious evidence of mental illness.

Sadly, Saphan Loy received an email from Jimmy Smithers the other day, who was so charmed by Jeab and her service, Thai Eternity, that he promptly wrote an email to her. Alas, he never received a response. Out of my sympathies for Jimmy Smithers, I reprint it here should Jeab and Thai Eternity reconsider his mostly pathetic case and simple plea for help:

Hi Jeab,

Congratulations on your article on Stickman Bangkok. You are so lucky to have so much attention for your site Thailand Eternity. A few questions. I am anxious to meet Thai Ladyboys, and I would like to marry one in the United States where it is legal. I know you can help me with my dream. This dream is that one day I will be able to meet a nice Thai Ladyboy, go to her family in a village in the countryside, pay them to buy a new farm and bull for their corn fields, and hopefully bring her to the United States where she can help me with my cleaning, laundry, reminding me to take my medicines, go to ice skating rinks with me, and of course, be my special wife so my whole family can be happy too.

I hope you can help me.

A few things about me, though. I have some disabilities, and some medical problems. But nothing crazy. And I stopped doing drugs a long time ago. So, I think that will be helpful. I have a good heart, and just need a lifetime companion, a really good wife. I am not the best looking man in the universe, but I take a bath twice a week. But I am kind, helpful, and like gardening (but not in a faggy way), I own three cats, and I love learning new languages and cultures. I have studied Taiwanese also, mostly on Yahoo chat, and really love everything about Oriental culture, like suishi and old kung fu movies.

I hope you can help me.

Jimmy Smithers

The View from Above

Live Sex Shows on Patpong: The View from Above

Posted in สะพานลอย with tags , , , , , , , , , , on June 13, 2011 by สะพานลอย

A menu of options await the Patpong visitor.

After giving much thought lately to the fabled “pussy shows” of Patpong, the notorious sex district in Bangkok, and wondering exactly how they originated in the history of the Thai red-light districts, we’ve devised a simple, non-scientific poll for our readers to help come to some conclusions about this mystery.

While women use certain techniques to develop their vaginal muscles, specifically the Pubococcygeus muscle (try saying that word after a few Bia Chang) in what is typically called a Kegel toning exercise, it is strange that a demand was somehow created for the various stunts listed on the helpful menu above. Any of these acts would make a great title for a Dean Barrett book. How about “Pussy Blowing Candle” by Dean Barrett? Now that’s a book we would spend $2.75 to read on a Kindle.

The View from Above

Where every vote counts….Vote early. Vote often.

Big Top Bangkok: Stickman’s Circus of Teaching Clowns

Posted in สะพานลอย with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 18, 2011 by สะพานลอย

Pausing from the arduous task of transcribing notes from my meetings with “Mike”, and the secret history of the red light districts of Southeast Asia, we turn this week to an obscure corner of the Stickman website, which is probably overlooked every Sunday in favour of the latest salacious news and pointers from the red light districts. The series of articles, introduced last summer, is called “Teacher Tim.”

It is important to remember (or at least easy to forget) that the Stickman site even has a secondary objective: to help foreign English teachers who have questions and concerns about teaching in the kingdom. After a closer inspection of the Teacher Tim column on the site, and thanks to the clown-like magic of Google, it becomes evident that the thinly veiled advertorials for TEFL International are written by a circus clown. Quite literally. Tim Torkildson, aka Dusty the Clown. See here for his blog.

Tim Torkildson, TEFL International Spokesman in Thailand and Circus Clown

One of the aspects of living in Thailand and being an integral part of the “naughty nightlife” is that one gets used to an odd assortment of characters who were simply never properly socialized in their own countries, or are addicted to whatever vices found most appealing and readily available in a developing world country. What is particularly unnerving about the selection of a former circus clown as a nominal ringleader of ESL teachers in Bangkok and who, in turn, contributes articles for Bangkok’s most popular red light and adult entertainment website, is that the whole project is simply too creepy to fathom. To enumerate here the variety of reasons why clowns are inherently creepy is to indulge in a psychological exercise largely based on the primal fears and appropriate repulsion of children, and the difficult to articulate anxieties of parents everywhere.  But to use a circus clown as a shill for the ESL teaching profession is a bizarre stunt even for the sordid cast of characters who regularly inhabit the red light districts of Thailand, and the blogs and websites that feature them.

Posting as “Torkythai” on YouTube, here are the commercial pitches (unmitigated by a quirky little weekly column) for the TEFL International program. In this pitch, Tim promises to potential TEFL participants that all the “beautiful women will kiss all the handsome men”, and vice versa.  And if that isn’t incentive enough to take a TEFL International course, Tim the Clown promises “candy and cake and cookies” and “lemonade” to potential teachers who select the Thai-based programs. Here, he also throws in a balloon animal. If that wasn’t enough to entice the prospective student, Tim the Clown takes a creampie in the face. Hard to resist. Unless, of course, you are an actual adult.

Although all of the Torkythai posts are painful to watch and are extremely cringe-worthy, they all tend to engender in the viewer a profound sympathy for unwitting Thai students who have to endure poorly paid ESL teachers recruited in this fashion. In this endorsement from the series of videos, Tim the Clown bizarrely simulates the drinking of “poison” if the viewer does not immediately fork over (in US dollars) from upwards of $1,390 for a TEFL International course in Thailand.

Further review of TEFL International on the Internet reveals that many of its former students actually consider it a kind of “scam” and that its programs in China were, at one point, raided by the police. While Saphan Loy cannot support this claim with any evidence or testimony directly, and reviews on the Internet are notoriously suspect, the fact that the word “scam” appears in a Google pull-down menu to facilitate the search term is, in itself, a kind of supporting evidence by design of the search engine. Try the terms “TEFL International” and “Scam”, and more stories appear about the company.   

TEFL International is a business predicated upon the assumption that anyone can obtain the qualifications necessary to teach English as a Second Language (ESL, or sometimes rendered English as a Foreign Language EFL) in a few weeks. That there are prestigious universities that dedicate the resources necessary to confer master’s and doctoral degrees in the subject (as applied linguistics, or as second language pedagogy) in the United States and Great Britain seems to Saphan Loy to suggest that receiving the equivalent expertise in a few week’s time is extraordinarily dubious. That said, what can be surmised from the TEFL clown’s tactics is that they are disturbed reminders that mixing teaching and frequenting red light districts (like the Stickman does, and like Big Baby Kenny, also a teacher, does too), can cause some interesting dilemmas for the teachers responsible for the content of the brothel websites. See TEFL Clown Tim choke his own chicken here.

Anyway, what’s an honest red light writer (and non-teacher) to do? Send in the Clowns. Naturally.

The View from Above

Leaked: The Secret History of Operation Hollow Men (Part 1)

Posted in สะพานลอย with tags , , , , , , on April 16, 2011 by สะพานลอย

Here is a story that has waited patiently for many years to be told. Nearly one year after Saphan Loy was launched, complete with the breaking of a champagne bottle over an antiquated hard drive, we are honoured to present an exclusive feature story that has been years in the making. With the sad passing of one of Saphan Loy’s dearest drinking companions and confidants over at the Madrid Bar in Patpong (we’ll call him “Mike”), and the modest Buddhist ceremony at a small temple in Kanchanaburi that marked his entry into the next world, we can “safely” begin to tell it here for the first time without fear of compromising “Mike’s” identity, his extensive network of contacts, or his activities prior to passing away.

Like any complex narrative, the story itself unfolded over many nights at the Madrid and in the strictest of confidence. There was, however, a tacit understanding that by hook or by crook, Mike wanted the story to be known for whatever personal reasons. Occasionally told in a drunken haze or two, with a moll or two straddling his lap, and at other times retold soberly over cups of coffee at out-of-the way cafes during the monsoon rains, Mike animated the story for Saphan Loy with the conviction that its complexity would be unraveled before esophageal cancer got the better of him. It is in his memory and honour that the story of Operation Hollow Men is hereby recounted.

In 1964, Mike, an intelligent young American graduate student, a bit idealistic but studious and quite obviously smart, and well on his way to earning  a PhD in applied statistics, was approached to join a company of CIA officers and US military servicemen in developing an extension of the program called the Psychological Operations Group, or OP 39, for the dissemination of “black psychological operations (or psy-ops)” within the Southeast Asian theatre during the lead-up to the Vietnam War. These operations fell under the umbrella of the semi-mythical Studies and Observations Group (SOG), a covert effort that coincided with increases in military presence in Indochina. He explained,

When they approached me about the job, I was really just a kid. I told my father about it, and he was all gung-ho, but that was just his generation talking. So I took the job. It beat the prospect of teaching at a university. It allowed me to travel. Because I didn’t have too many contacts anyway, no girlfriend at home, it wasn’t too difficult to explain away my sudden disappearance. My folks just told everyone that I was doing missionary work, or something like that, which seemed believable enough, I guess. My parents were both active in the local Presbyterian church, although certainly not zealots or anything. And by ‘active’, I mean they brought a pie or cake to the Sunday morning bake sales and made significant donations at Christmas time.

Mike, who was fully supportive of US efforts at the time from a political standpoint (having come from a conservative and relatively wealthy family in New England), agreed to offer his services and was therefore sent to an intensive language training program maintained by the US government in Montana, where he breezed through his coursework in Thai, Laotian, Hmong, Lahu, Khmer, Vietnamese and Mandarin Chinese. His facility with difficult and obscure Asian languages attracted the attention of the top brass at the CIA, and, although Mike never confirmed it, it seems his work on OP 39 became more complicated: although he wore the uniform of a serviceman, his checks would come from Langley for the rest of his natural life.

In Montana, they actually imported all of these Asian teachers. It was kind of funny to see them out in God’s country and dealing with the harsh winters. But the agency provided them with meals, lodging, healthcare, you name it. They even had their own cuisine whipped up in the mess hall so they wouldn’t get too homesick. The smallest town was like 45 minutes away and we were out on this ranch in beautiful country surroundings. The trout fishing and the fresh air were incredible. The place had its own electrical generating system and telecommunications capabilities, water filtration system, the works. There was nothing else to do out there other than study languages. Because I was pretty good at Hmong, I thought I’d end up in Laos up in the hills. But no dice. 

Mike seemed to enjoy his senescence in Thailand, like the scores of government pensioners and retirees who find themselves in Pattaya, Chiang Mai, or even Bangkok today. He maintained a modest home on the Thonburi side of the Chao Phraya, and, while he had a Thai wife several years ago who since returned to her native village to take care of an ailing mother, Mike had a series of “girlfriends” (all of whom he called “Lek”) who would tend to him, cook his meals, do his laundry, take care of the house, chase away monitor lizards, pick the mangoes. Typical arrangement found anywhere throughout the Kingdom. “All on the US taxpayer’s dime,” he would sometimes say, chuckling to himself.

When Mike and I would meet at the Madrid, it had at some point become an almost daily ritual. He would order his steak and eggs and nurse a glass of house red wine, and Saphan Loy would order a beer (or two) and simply listen. He rarely allowed me to take notes, so we would have to rush home (traffic permitting) and hit the keyboard quickly in an effort to ensure that all the details were freshly preserved. Admittedly, there were parts of Mike’s story that were difficult to believe, the details really straining the limitations of what I had always assumed was an objectively verifiable “reality”. And I told him so. After all, Saphan Loy enjoyed watching documentaries about the Vietnam War, and none of this stuff was ever included in those grainy newsreels and highly polished productions that appear with frequency on public television stations.

One of the realities of the American effort in Indochina was the logistical complexity that the war really represented. Diplomatically, militarily, culturally, the place was a literal jungle of confusion, conflicting ideologies, divergent loyalties, and geopolitical maneuvering. For the boys who showed up bravely to do their part, the war required an astonishing level of preparation. Even the guys Mike worked with were a bit overwhelmed by the tasks they were assigned. But there was something in the work that Mike really relished. He never shied away from a challenge. And he always spoke glowingly of the guys he worked with at different phases of the operation.

The thing you have to remember about the operation was how the guys came together from different parts of the agency with different skill sets. Our psychiatric team was second-to-none. They were essentially building better mouse-traps. They knew where to put the cheese, and how to ensure that their guys kept coming back for more. It isn’t too hard to manipulate behaviour, but if you want to repeat your success rates, you have to take certain measures, tweak the results ever-so-slightly, measure again, then change it up a bit.

Operation Hollow Men was a spin-off of Operation Humidor (another OP 39 project). Mike reported that the paper trail between the two operations was so thoroughly eradicated that, over time, few people in Operation Humidor even knew of the existence of the Hollow Men team. In essence, Mike’s project had become semi-autonomous. Sure, Langley had a direct say in some of its activities. But for the most part, the Hollow Men team was like an independent cell operating under such deep cover that, according to Mike, at one point he no longer knew what part of the story was true himself. Nor did he care. Living as he did in a world of fiction really suited him. 

Operation Hollow Men was comprised of a team of several men and a few women who specialized in a wide variety of operative tasks. While Operation Humidor worked on spreading misinformation deep inside Northern Vietnamese territory and creating fictional insurrections, Operation Hollow Men had an entirely different set of instructions. The team included clinical psychiatrists, behavioural experts, urban planners, linguists and biochemists. The head of the Hollow Men team was a guy they all called “St. Elmo.”

Based in Bangkok, St. Elmo was the “go to” guy with the Thai government and the local Chinese business establishment. Fluent in Thai, Hainanese and the Teochew dialects of Chinese, St Elmo was charged with the first stages of Operation Hollow Men. The idea was fairly simple. The behavioural scientists and clinical psychiatrists were tasked with a two-pronged objective: first, to alleviate battlefield stress by designing “R&R” experiences in friendly countries (Thailand, Japan and the Philippines) in urban environments that would not have a long-term impact on the American and allied soldiers either morally or chemically; and secondly to recreate similar conditions for the North Vietnamese Army (NVA) regulars and VC operatives at remote locations deep in North Vietnam, with some coordinates placed even in Laos and Cambodia.

St. Elmo is quite a character. He is a cartographer by training. Maps were his bag, before GPS systems and the NGA and all that. He could negotiate with the Chinese Thai community directly. He was shrewd. And of course his budget was limitless. So when he made proposals, they were rarely turned down. Before the US became directly involved in the local markets, these small-time guys were selling cigarettes and cans of Budweiser individually, or taking wagers on the cock fights. Anyway, St. Elmo loved the whole thing. From start to finish. From setting up the first bars once the tactical team decided on placement and design, to hand-selecting the colour of the women’s bikinis and now notorious number tags, he was the guy. The Lahu women would sometimes call him the “Papa Roach”, but why that is, I have no idea.

Throughout the conflict, the NVA and the Viet Cong treated battlefield stress with a potent sedative manufactured in China that tranquilized the soldiers in a “clean” way. Taken with rice whiskey, the medications soothed weary soldiers and allowed them to sleep restfully without any detrimental residual effects. The medication also eased sexual cravings. According to Mike, one of the ideas that they originally floated was a covert attempt to interdict the pharmaceutical supply lines from China that the NVA troops had regular access to. Interrupting this supply with adulterated pills would be a sure-fire way to reduce effectiveness among NVA troops and the VC. While efforts were made during intense aerial bombardments along the Ho Chi Minh Trail to pinpoint the supply lines from the Chinese pharmaceuticals factory directly, penetrating the chemical and pharmaceutical distribution network was (and remains to this day in the region) extremely difficult, labor-intensive, and expensive.

Meanwhile the NVA intelligence collection capabilities were unsurpassed and growing more entrenched by the day. Having infiltrated the highest reaches of South Vietnam’s political and civil structures, the NVA intelligence apparatus made use of a wide range of strategies that challenged St. Elmo’s planning capacities. SOG was left in the intractable position of having to emulate the NVA intelligence-gathering tactics themselves rather than dedicate the necessary resources to effect projects “from scratch”. One of the signature ways that North Vietnam collected intelligence in Saigon was to simply open a go-go bar, massage parlour, nightclub, or a brothel that appealed to American servicemen, off-duty intelligence analysts, and even foreign embassy staff, then make use of dancers, masseuses and other comely bar girls to entice and seduce them. These linguists, hand-selected females who were often trained in Maoist China, used a “broken” English to signify a lack of understanding and to disguise their true identities. The reality was far more complex. Often intoxicated, the off-duty US and allied government personnel in Saigon would talk to each other and share sensitive information under the mistaken assumption that the substance of their conversations was not completely understood by these highly skilled intelligence operatives.

An Image from Saigon in 1972. The Kiwi Club.

By duplicating the North Vietnamese intelligence collection methodology, Operation Hollow Men began to take shape in Bangkok. The team mobilized small entertainment troupes that would set up shop in proximity to NVA and VC troop installations that dotted the Southeast Asian theatre of war. By using simple karaoke machines, basic stereo systems (either cleverly disguised as Chinese manufacture, or “repurposed” war materiel), and a modified rice whiskey that stimulated the libido (as well as the desire to “talk”), Operation Hollow Men was able to beat the Vietnamese at their own game and to achieve a modicum of success for the intelligence community.

While the mobile entertainment units were deployed in the field in Northern Vietnam and elsewhere, St. Elmo was busy negotiating with the Thai Chinese community to set up a “safe haven” for US troops on R&R in Bangkok proper. He scouted desirable locations in what was then mostly rural coconut plantations along the khlongs that spidered out from the city center. Sure, the military had its concessionaires outside of the airfields like U-Tapao, but these were rather simple affairs staffed mostly with young women who wanted to marry a farang. The Hollow Men team’s plans had envisioned an entire district in Bangkok, and later multiple districts, designed by urban planners and behavioural specialists, in which to establish entertainment venues that would ultimately serve several functions. Insofar as the Thais would allow such districting within the city was a different matter entirely. Nonetheless, St. Elmo was instrumental in selecting the Patpong district as well as Soi Cowboy as special economic zones for the purposes of Operation Hollow Men. When the Thai government objected to additional sites and insisted on the reconfiguration of New Petchaburi Road, a small fishing village on the Eastern seaboard was selected as a viable alternative.

It was funny, because normally the US Army Corps of Engineers is assigned to setting up bases and field locations. But the agency saw that as a potential compromise. Too many people to trust, basically. So after the urban planners and behavioral specialists designed these miniature mouse-traps, we had to hand-select a group of guys from the Navy, telecom engineers who were a crazy bunch of guys. They basically would rig up anything, sound systems, radio beacons, whatever, then spend the night drinking. These guys didn’t care what we were doing. They basically set up the juke joints out in the jungles and in Bangkok too, and the agency would do the rest.

First, according to Mike, they needed to create a safe and effective way to deliver sedatives and related psychotropics that the US had designed (and that a large Swiss pharmaceuticals firm [NAME REDACTED] was producing on schedule per a lucrative US government contract.) Second, the US government wanted to ensure that its service members were not lured into similar projects established by the enemy in regions that were considered outside of the military’s purview thus harder to monitor, including remote jungle outposts or Potemkin-like villages nestled near the secret airfields. By staffing these sites with compliant and docile Lahu women under the authority of a Thai “mamasan”, the military ensured that the sensitive matter of “comfort women”, for which the Imperial Japanese had been well-known, was dispensed with out of hand. And thirdly, by creating a revenue stream for the Thai government and its intermediaries, the US was ensuring that its various interests in the Kingdom would be protected. In essence, by converting the US dollar to Thai baht (via private arrangements between servicemen and the Lahu women) in these specially designed military districts, Thailand’s treasury was receiving a generous cash “gratuity.” This cash exchange was entirely separate from the clubs that were directly controlled by the military and that issued its own currency in the form of redeemable “tokens”, usually smaller monetary amounts that could be traded for bottles of beer or cigarettes.

To be continued.

The View from Above

Bangkok Noir: Beer, Bargirls, and a Paintbrush

Posted in สะพานลอย with tags , , , , , , , on April 6, 2011 by สะพานลอย

The blogs and commercial websites have been falling all over themselves in an effort to promote the so-called “Bangkok Noir” painter Chris Coles. Saphan Loy knows a thing or two about a thing or two when it comes to art, so it is fairly risible to see someone like Dean Barrett, William R. Morledge, or Christopher Moore promoting so heavily the Coles exhibition in Bangkok this month.

One of the symptoms of sustained exposure to the red light districts of Thailand that sex tourists routinely exhibit aside from venereal diseases is a strange desire to attempt to capture, however imperfectly, in photography, words, or, as we see here, in fluorescent paints that glow in the dark, the essence of the experience. That it is ephemeral and highly mutable with the added effects of alcohol and drugs (whether cheap sex enhancements or the like) makes the whole process somewhat dubious and deeply derivative.

It might be easy to dismiss out-of-hand the work of Coles as an artifact of the nightlife in Thailand and elsewhere that illustrates that, when one is truly addicted to the experience of sitting on a bar stool in some Patpong or Nana Plaza dumpsite, there is little else to do other than doodle on a cocktail napkin or partake in some Chang Beer induced navel-gazing. Taking it one step further and committing the whole thing to canvas seems to Saphan Loy like an act of masturbatory self-justification born not of artistic “inspiration”, but of profound feelings of guilt and sorrow.

Omitted from the Coles site is, unfortunately, a detailed price list. Although it is unlikely that Mr. Coles’ paintings will appear on Sotheby’s auction block anytime soon, the discerning sex tourist, when not haggling for the cheaper wares of the Patpong night market or eagerly pursuing beer specials, may have an altogether different artistic opinion. 

While we gave up staring at black-lit or glow-in-the-dark posters many years ago, at about the same time we gave up smoking marijuana and listening to Pink Floyd, Saphan Loy has considered purchasing a painting from Mr. Coles for the reception room of our corporate offices to position right above the love seat, preferably one showing the rictus grin of a ladyboy.

Barring that possibility, Saphan Loy proposes to commission Coles to do something on a larger, more ambitious scale. We envision a large black canvas filled with his signature fluorescent paint that shows the artist sitting alone in a mostly empty Bangkok hellhole and being visited by the worst kinds of demons of his own pathological worldview and imagination, mildly retarded with Singha beer and easily procured barbiturates, while (and here’s the tricky part) on the television screen positioned over the bar is the projection of Coppo di Marcovaldo’s medieval depiction of hell, rendered by Coles in precise and painstaking detail. 

The View from Above