Sexwork Cyber Center
By Dave in Phoenix
PO Box 55045, Phoenix AZ 85078-5045

Promoting Intimacy and Other-Centered Sexuality

Thailand Intimacy & Healthy (Adult) Sexuality Research Report

COPYRIGHTED 1999 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED - MAY BE REPRINTED OR QUOTED FROM ONLY IF CREDIT IS GIVEN, and/or show link to page where material was quoted if you are getting it from our website. I request a note where it was quoted or republished or if reprinted a copy of the publication. I hope the information is helpful to many, but want to be sure it is properly credited as I try and do for all material I use.

Thai sexwork is more "Girlfriend Rental" which is so much more enjoyable to many men than Western transaction oriented prostitution.

Source: Prologue to: "HELLO MY BIG BIG HONEY!" Love Letters to Bangkok Bar Girls And Their Revealing Interviews by Dave Walker and Richard S. Ehrlich at by Dr. Yos Santasombat)

Dr. Yos Santasombat is an Associate Professor on the Faculty of Sociology & Anthropology at Bangkok's Thammasat University. He is also Research Director of the Local Development Institute in Bangkok's Department of Medical Science and author of the book, The Community and Commercialization of Female Sexuality.

This excerpt with full credit is being shared under the Fair Use provision of US Copyright laws and International treaty’s for educational purposes with no financial gain.

There is a marked difference between the Western conception of prostitution, and the open-ended prostitution in Patpong or Pattaya. Because in the West, you see prostitution as an occupation. You go to them directly and then you strike a deal, and then you go straight to business

But in Thailand, the girls don't usually talk about the price at first. They would try to establish rapport first. We're not talking about a piecemeal type of relationship that describes other forms of prostitution in the West. In the cases here, the Thai girls themselves are prepared to extend their relationship for a number of days or weeks or even years. Sometimes the farang (foreigner usually from West) himself ends up spending the entire vacation with one girl and sometimes he comes back. Sometimes she becomes his mistress or even a wife.

I think in most cases, the girls enter into the relationship from a strictly pecuniary motivation. The girl will attach herself to a client or a farang more permanently if she finds the relationship enjoyable. Those are the cases I find most interesting in open-ended prostitution in Thailand.

Once the relationship is extended, the girls' involvement with the farang often gradually changes. Her stay with the man is usually conditioned upon his readiness to support her or to take care of her financially. The line between money and love becomes very fuzzy, because the money itself cannot be distinguished between signs of affection, tender caring and love itself. Mutual or material dependence frequently engenders some sort of an emotional attachment on the part of the girl herself.

So, what starts out as a money-orientated transactional arrangement becomes a mixed involvement, a more complicated relationship. In extreme cases it becomes even possible that the attachment comes from pure emotion. It somehow gradually detaches itself from the material aspects or the money. And in prolonged cases, open-ended prostitution can be characterized as an ambiguous compliment of love and money.

In the West, we talk about love and money as mutually exclusive. I don't think the same is true in open-ended prostitution here. The two cannot be separated or distinguished. It is much more complex in this regard.

What I find interesting in this book is the farang side of the whole thing. Somehow they are very naive, very stupid, sometimes very romantic. I feel both amused and sympathetic at the same time because the farangs themselves must be very confused when they enter into these relationships.

They are often not the most handsome of all, they are usually in the latter years of their life, they are bald, unattractive and quite lonely in their own little society.

When they come to Thailand, they are struck with, first, not hard-core prostitution, not a deal, not the thing that they're accustomed to in the West, at home.

But they are struck with girls who are all over them, who are trying to establish a relationship, and display physical attraction to them -- which I think would be very confusing to a man in that position when they are not accustomed to receiving that kind of play.

So when the girls stage sexual interest or attraction to the farang, sometimes she may praise his good looks. In some case, who knows, the feeling may be genuine. And there is no talk about money in the first place. They will talk about his background, what kind of job he has, why he's here, if he has a family or not, something like that. Remuneration is never presented as a payment but rather as a reimbursement for lost income from the bar. It's always this trick that confuses the newcomer into this world.

The farang's sense of the world, his cognitive map, is thrown into chaos because he cannot make sense of what is going on in this deal. He cannot apply his concept of prostitution to the Thai situation. And he somehow would feel very uncertain whether a girl is with him for love or for money.

Some farangs try to convert the girl, try to rescue her from this hell hole and give her a chance to recover her own dignity, in a Western concept. This problem of meaning will continue to bother him for many years to come. He is in a kind of a dilemma. If he decides the girl is not a prostitute, and she continues to stay with him because she likes him, he wonders what makes him so attractive in the first place because at home, he usually never could find a girl, could not get a date, is shunned by the girls back home.

Dave in Phoenix’s comment:

I hear this all the time in reports on E-mail lists and newsgroups, that often the man winds up just having girlfriend like fun with a bargirl he meets. He may take her to a disco, on a trip to one of the islands, out for dinner or visit tourist attractions with her. He realizes the financial pressures from family etc on the girl and is happy to provide some financial support as well.

In some bars I visited in Bangkok and Pattaya, the girls fees were negotiated up front (typically 1000 baht or about US $26) for 2 hours or so of lots of sensual sex or maybe 1500B for spending the night. But at other times when I asked about her desired fee the response was "up to you" and no more discussion about money occurred. This aspect is very different from the U.S. prostitute!

For a older (age 52) man who tends to be attracted to younger women (over 20 but under say 35), it was wonderful to be in a culture where younger women often preferred older men like me for their maturity. In the U.S. finding an open-minded girlfriend under 45 is very difficult I have found unless she is overweight and not physically attractive to me. Overall Thai women are slim and very beautiful compared to the average overweigh American women with an attitude who is very uptight about sexuality from our repressive cultural teachings.

Author Unknown said:
Thai ladys, even the most money serious, treat you with dignity. They, at the very least, pretend to like you. I could go on and on about this, but I won't. I will say that I believe that this is the primary attraction to Thailand for guys that have been here, not just cheap sex. Rental love and affection. It's also not too difficult to get a "rent to own" kind of set up going. Tons of these ladys that play for pay want a steady boyfriend that will take care of them. Ever had any luck trying to get a hooker to get a cup of coffee with you after the dead has been done? Here, you're constantly called upon to make up creative excuses why you can't do this or that tomarrow.

As for types of venue, girls at go-gos, beer bars, etc. are mostly available for your pleasure after you pay a bar fine. In the absolute strickest sense of the word, they are prostitutes (man, that just looks crumby on paper and leaves a weird feeling in the brain after writting it). I guess fishbowl massage places would be about the closest to my concept of the "hooker". I have heard about bordellos, especially in rural areas of Thailand, but have never found one yet. There are girls that hang around outside of Thermae and BG 7 that will go with you for money which would make them hookers, but again, only in the stricktest sense of the word. I have never used an escort service as they are too pricey for my budget, but I have heard many glowing tales of happy rewarding liasons with Thailands call girls...again no one seems to think of them as hookers.

Why not book a hooker? ...Can't find 'em. Who needs a hooker when BKK has over 500,000 potential girlfriends. Thousands of which work at NEP, Soi Cowboy, Soi 33, Soi 22, Entertainment Complexes, Buckskin Joes, Patpong, etc...every night of the week!

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