Hole and Corner
3 min

Muscle worship at Tawan Bar (Part 1)

Am I into sthenolagnia?

Tawan Bar is a muscle go-go bar located a few blocks west of Soi Twilight, the gay red-light district. Credit: Mike Miksche/Daily Xtra

According to Brenda Love’s Encyclopedia of Unusual Sex Practices, sthenolagnia is when one is aroused from the demonstration of strength or muscles. That includes muscle worship. 

I am a sucker for a big chest and arms, although I prefer a gut to a six pack any day. The hairier the better too, which I think means that I’m into muscle bears. I don’t know why, but I’ve always been turned on by guys who are bigger, stronger and older than myself.

I’m learning that Bangkok isn’t the best city to be in if you’re looking for this type of guy. There aren’t any leather bars, where you’d typically find them, and the only bear bar in the city closed earlier last year. When I learned that there was a muscle go-go bar called Tawan near the neighborhood of Silom, it piqued my interest.

I read some reviews about Tawan online, which seemed to be the best way to find out about obscure venues in the city. One guy wrote, “To me, it is a bear bar, not a muscle bar! The guys there are terrible!” Someone else added, “The muscle men are fat (off season, they told me) and most are in their 30s and some look over 40.”

Bears? Over 40? I didn’t need to read any further. It sounded hot — maybe after all this time I had finally found my spot in Bangkok. 

Despite the customer review, Tawan still promotes itself as “a centre of muscular men in Thailand.” It’s located a few blocks west of the majority of the other go-go bars on Soi Twilight, the gay red-light district. For Tawan to be so removed from the others on Soi Twilight (which features younger and skinnier men), it seemed kind of fitting given the demographic of the guys.

When I approached Tawan, I was hounded by the host who kept telling me to come in.

“I am,” I said, to assure him, but he acted paranoid as if I might veer off to another bar. 

“I’m coming in, I said.”

He led me through the bar, between the stackable chairs that were lined in rows like at a cheap wedding. He sat me under a series of hot air balloon lanterns hanging from the ceiling — it was all very low-tech, like it was decorated from a dollar store. 

To really drive home the muscle theme, an old chest press machine and cross trainer sat a few steps away from the stage. 

The place was getting busier, presumably for the 10:30pm show. There were two shows nightly, and the other was scheduled for half past midnight. 

With the exception of a couple of Westerners, the majority of the patrons in there were Asian. It confirmed my suspicion that most Westerners don’t come to Bangkok for muscle boys and bears, but rather for the young men of Soi Twilight. 

The waiter took my order. “Just a beer,” I said. He brought me a regular sized bottle that cost 400 baht, which is the equivalent of C$15. I looked at the bill twice to make sure that I’d read correctly (I’m on a writer’s budget). You generally pay 100–150 baht (roughly $4–5) in most places in Bangkok.

“This better be good,” I told the server. I didn’t leave a tip.

There were three guys on stage doing bodybuilder contest poses. One of them was doing a front bicep pose with his gut sucked in, and the one next to him was flexing his back with his elbows pushed ahead of his torso. The final guy was flexing his triceps out to the side, which defined his shoulders and chest. With the number pinned to their speedos, you’d think that they were competing, but they were just warming up for the show.  

Although the posing was silly and kind of creepy, I found the guys to be extremely attractive. With the exception of the triceps guy, who was young and ripped, the other two weren’t overly muscular, not like professional bodybuilders. They were more muscular and stocky, but I didn’t mind in the least. They had big arms and chests, with guts too, as did a lot of the other guys there were like that as well, built like tanks. 

Whoever had written those two reviews online were being far too harsh because honestly, this was heaven (minus the cost of drinks). Many of the guys in Tawan were the sort that you wouldn’t fuck with — so hot! 

It occurred to me then, that yes, I am definitely into sthenolagnia, without a doubt . . .