Although I’ve been struggling with the level sexual exploitation that I’ve seen in the city, I may have been naive to think that the men who work at Tawan couldn’t possibly be vulnerable to it at the same degree. Most of them are in their 30s, and some in their 40s, and they are so big that they gave the appearance that they could mop the floor with you,
Sex work is prohibited in public places in Thailand, so for the most part traditional brothels have been replaced by “entertainment” venues like go-go bars, and pimps have been replaced by managers. It’s technically legal to sell sex in a private place like a hotel room, which is why these go-go bars work the way they do.
The soliciting that happens in these places is not legal, however. As a result, owners and workers of such venues must make payments to corrupt police officers and local officials to keep them going. Police abuses are widespread and some use fear of arrest to extort bribes or free sex.
One of the guys in Tawan sat in a chair to my side, and put his left leg up, slouching like a bad boy in only a speedo. He began scrolling through his phone, aimless and bored. He had massive arms, and a beaded necklace resting on his large, round chest. His body was covered in tattoos.
He looked over at me with a subtle nod, then looked back down at his phone and scrolled some more. He was in his 40s and carried a harsh history in the creases of his face. Between his muscles and mean look, there wasn’t a doubt in my mind that he could take care of himself, not like some of the younger guys I’d seen on Soi Twilight.
This isn’t to say that he couldn’t get hassled by cops. He just struck me as less of a target because of his age and build.
Another guy in a speedo sat next to me who looked just as tough. He introduced himself and asked questions like where was I from and what was I doing in Thailand.
“Nice muscles,” he said, squeezing my left bicep. I laughed because they were half the size of his. I worked out several times per week, even since I’d arrived in Bangkok, but I have the sort of body that just doesn’t get very big, regardless of the amount of time I spend at the gym. I’ve never been able to gain muscle like these guys, but I’ve always wanted to.
All the guys on stage suddenly got off it and the lights went out. “Welcome to My World” by Jim Reeves started to play through the speakers. Three stocky guys entered the stage wearing only masks and long red capes, although one of them wore just sunglasses in lieu of a mask. Their outfits were a cross between Spanish bullfighters and guests from the orgy scene in Eyes Wide Shut.
They did a cute dance number, moving in unison (or at least trying to), flipping their capes back-and-forth. They would press their capes against their crotches to accentuate their erections since they were naked underneath.
After dancing around for a little bit, they removed their capes. They were already wearing condoms and maintained their erections as they danced about. Surely they had popped some Viagra earlier.
They started giving each other blowjobs with condoms. They then simulated fucking through a sort of rhythmic dance, without actually penetrating one another.
I have to admit, I enjoyed the show. It was silly, to be sure, but it was playful too and was all in good fun.
Whether a sex worker is old, young, muscular or skinny, advocates in Thailand have emphasized that they’re doing it out of necessity, not desire. I think that can be said for a lot of sex workers, even in Canada. I’ve known people who have gotten into it because they fell on hard times. It happens.
What bothers me about Bangkok’s sex scene is the problem they have with human trafficking and underage sex workers. No matter how liberal one’s view is towards prostitution, this is unacceptable.
Looking around Tawan though, that’s obviously not a problem. It’s just stocky and muscle men, which is perhaps that’s why I’m so comfortable with the place.