I hate this time of the year. All of a sudden you realize there’s a ton of stuff you meant to do over the last 12 months that you never got around to and time is quickly running out. It’s a self imposed deadline, despite what the calendar says, so I generally ignore the situation. But occasionally I stop taking matters in my own hand for a spell and turn my attention to checking off at least a few of the items on my annual to-do list before they get added to next year’s list. Such was the case this weekend when I finally got around to watching Only God Forgives.
I figured a movie set in Bangkok by a visibly gay award winning director, starring a former Sexiest Man Alive has got to be worth viewing. Even if I am a bit ambivalent about said former Sexiest Man Alive, Ryan Gosling. It’s not that I don’t find Ryan attractive, it’s more about his degree of attractiveness. Not that I can think of any reason I’d kick him out of bed. And with Bangkok serving as the tale’s backdrop, how hot Ryan is or isn’t really doesn’t mater. I mean I watched Bangkok Dangerous and Nicholas Cage would never even make it to my bedroom much less into my bed so I could kick him out of it. So I’m not sure why it took me so long to stick the movie into my dvd player. Maybe it was because the film was booed after it debuted at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival. But then that’s an European reaction. And since the French consider Jerry Lewis one of the world’s best actors, I don’t really trust reviews coming out of the continent.
If you haven’t seen it, Only God Forgives is a gritty film noir . . . oh who in the hell am I trying to kid. I haven’t a clue what in the hell that flick was supposed to have been about. Visually, the movie is stunning. The plot someone sketched out on a cocktail napkin. And then no one bothered to flesh it out with details. Or dialog. The acting is wooden, though I’m guessing purposely so even though what purpose that was supposed to serve is beyond me. I’m also guessing it was supposed to be a morality play. But then sharia law doesn’t really sell well in Hollywood. So who knows. Of watching the movie one reviewer said, “I felt violated, shat upon, sedated, narcotized, appalled and bored stiff.” I’d agree but I really was narcotized while watching the film and it didn’t help.
The tale itself is a pretty basic one. Boy meets girl (who is an under-aged prostitute), boy kills girl, girl’s father get invited by machete wielding cop to kill boy (so he does), machete wielding cop chops off girl’s father’s hand for killing boy, boy’s mother flies into town for a not-so-tearful reunion with boy’s brother and immediately, lovingly wraps his cute ass in her arms . . . and then it starts to get weird. But that scene with Kristin Scott Thomas as the mother framing Ryan Gosling’s ass with her arms – to the extent that it gives the phrase motherly love a whole new meaning – does remind you which of his talents won Ryan the Sexiest Man Alive honor. I’m just not sure who it was that decided cops in Bangkok run around wielding machetes. ‘Cuz we all know that’s taxi drivers, not cops. Quentin Tarantino would have go that right.
Ryan plays the now dead boy’s brother, Julian, an American expat who runs a Thai boxing club as a front for the family’s drugs smuggling operation. Since drugs are a part of the plot (albeit a very small and convenient part) Ryan would have been better served by taking Nancy Reagan’s advice when the role was offered to him and should have just said no. But he’d teamed up with the visibly gay director, Nicolas Winding Refn, in Drive to some success, and even swapped spit with the pudgy Dane when that film won at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival. So Ryan was probably expecting a bit more. And we all know what Nicolas was expecting. Note to straight guys: we appreciate your willingness to be our buddies, friends, wing men, and collaborators. But when you slip us tongue we consider that a green light. And if then you start acting all coy, there’s gonna be hell to pay. Like being cast in a movie that some reviewers consider to be one of the five worst movies of all time. But let’s get back to the important part of Only God Forgives: Ryan Gosling’s ass.
I’m still ambivalent about Ryan Gosling as a whole, but am now enamored with his ass. As evidently Nicolas Winding Refn is too considering how well and often it is featured in Only God Forgives. And that bothers me. Not because Nicolas is an obvious bottom, but because I generally prefer a nice, plump, round, and well-toned backside. Ryan’s is more on the small side. Not to mention, technically he’s a blonde. But then I spent close to twenty years drooling in anticipation of seeing Ryan Phillipe’s equally enticing ass, and when that money shot came I have to admit it was well worth the wait. Huh. Maybe my ambivalence is about actors named Ryan. Or blondes. Or actors who come across a pretentious little shits.
And while I’m on the subject, Ryan gets his ass kicked in Only God Forgives (Gosling, not Phillipe). By the aforementioned machete wielding cop. Who obviously saw the first ten minute scene of the movie – which spent far too long in a close-up shot showing Ryan slowing making a fist – and realized he didn’t need his machete to put a whooping on Gosling. Seriously, Ryan makes a fist like your six year old nephew who you have to explain to why you’ll break your thumbs forming a fist like that. It makes you wonder why his character is supposed to run a muay thai club when he can’t even make a decent fist. But then you remember the director is visibly gay and a muay thai club is a good excuse to show a bunch of hot young thai guys in boxing shorts and it all makes sense. Exactly why it was also necessary to throw in a short clip of a Tawan-style bar boy pose down, however, is not as evident. Oh, the visibly gay director thingy. Right. Which would also explain the characters’ discussion about the size of Ryan’s cock (Gosling, not Phillipe). As well as his prostitute girlfriend’s lady parts being referred to as a cum dumpster.
But it is that inexplicable short clip of muscle dudes on stage in posing straps that has absolutely nothing to do with the scene it was thrown into that starts working on your consciousness and begins to make you suspect the visibly gay director just might be a genius. It’s easy to discount his efforts in Only God Forgives because he seems to not have made any. But as a homage to Bangkok the film works and captures the city’s exotic essence and allure better than any other movie in which the Big Mango plays a staring role. The movie’s slow pace, absence of dialog (and even sound in many scenes) gives you the opportunity to fully take in the setting. From the over abundant use of white Christmas tree lights as decor, to dark alleyways that still manage to brim with color, to a mangy soi dog hobbling across the screen on three legs, to an almost unrecognizable Emporium Suites, the cinematography captures what is so familiar in Bangkok that you almost never consider it. Until an extremely strange and slow movie make you take stock.
The nighttime streets of the city play an important atmospheric role in the film, and you’ll recognize many of the locales, some specifically, some in the ‘I’ve been there, where in the hell is that?’ vein. And while the bar scenes may not be as familiar to you – they’re all straight clubs, unfortunately – Refn manages to get Gosling to capture the bored but enthralled look that many sexpats exhibit, a look you will be familiar with. And just like a night out on the town with Thai friends that inexplicably and suddenly involves a karaoke bar, in the middle of all the machete wielding mayhem, Refin’s Thai protagonist suddenly stops his rampage to hop on stage and start belting out some Issan tune that sounds suspiciously like a cat caught in a Cuisinart.It’s pure brilliance. It’s Bangkok at its strangest. And it’s the Bangkok I know and love.
On that level, Only God Forgives transcends its mediocrity and displays a familiarity with the Bangkok scene that most movie critics would miss due to their lack of familiarity with the city and its naughty night life. Though I suspect Roger Ebert is in the know if you know what I mean. There’s a scene where Gosling is having a one-sided conversation in English with his bar girl girlfriend that’ll invoke a been there done that response in all of you. And even the movie’s slow pace is reminiscent of the top speed you can manage when attempting to stroll down Sukhumvit.
Leonardo DiCaprio’s film visit to the Land of Smiles in The Beach supposedly continues to draw visitors to Thailand. Even though the actual scenes of Thailand other than the mythical island are minimal. I doubt Only God Forgives will have the same impact on movie goers. Especially since so few have bothered to see it. But as a repeat visitor to Bangkok, Only God Forgives will draw you into its spell. And like Bangkok, it’ll leave you wondering just what in the hell it was you just went through. It may not be the best movie for you to start the new year out with, but despite all of its faults I do recommend you pick a copy up. No plot, minimal dialog, and no nudity might not sound like much of a draw, but I did mention the hot, young local lads in muay thai shorts, right?
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It’s a shame Pattaya bar boys don’t have standing in American courts or they’d have one hell of a class action suit against FarmersOnly.com for stealing an idea that has been a major source of income for them for decades. I don’t get the mystique of the ‘fresh off the farm’ bar boy thingy, but suspect it has a lot to do with their assumed naivete, lack of education and/or intelligence, and past history of putting an orgasm in front of all else, evidenced by their years of having sexual relationships with farm animals.
It’s a bar set at such a low level that even the least desirable punter can easily score a win. Provided he can force himself to let loose with the $25 that orgasm would cost him. And okay, so that water buffalo back on the farm might have been a bit tighter, but surely the sight of an elderly sexpat gumming his evening meal is reminiscent of Bossy chewing her cud. And if that doesn’t get an ex-farmer bar boy hot and hard I don’t know what will.
The Buddha said, “I need somebody willing to get up before noon, milk farang, work all day in the internet cafe tending his flock of overseas boyfriends, milk a farang again, eat supper, and then go to Sunee Plaza and stay past midnight at an unofficial meeting of the local NAMBLA chapter.” So The Buddha made a farmer.
While we’re on the subject of litigation to grow rich by, as little television as I watch I’ve recently seen a law firm’s ad seeking members for a suit against the makers of Risperdal, a drug used to treat schizophrenia and symptoms of bipolar disorder that causes its users’ male offspring to grow breasts. And yup, I have to say it: That’s a lawsuit that’s udderly ridiculous. Or would be in Pattaya. Considering the average degree of masculinity of the town’s bar boys, growing breasts without the expense of hormone treatments would probably be considered a win, not something to sue over. One man’s streets paved in gold is another man’s free breast augmentation treatment.
Which may sound like a bit of a digression. Even for me. But we’re talking about the mythical ‘fresh off the farm’ bar boy, the fabled trucks full of new recruits from Issan that roll into town and get all the old queens all aflutter. And while I’m not an expert on life in rural Thailand, I’d think any young man who’d spent his formative years toiling in the fields would have, at a minimum, a slightly toned physique. Instead of the underdeveloped muscle tone that the boys of Sunee exhibit on stage nightly.
“I need somebody with arms strong enough to rustle a fatted-calf and yet gentle enough to deliver an orgasm to a farang old enough to be his grandfather. Somebody to call hogs – but not call his customers by that name, tame cantankerous machinery – with or without the assistance of a little blue pill, come home hungry, have to wait lunch until his bar mate’s done servicing visiting sexpats and tell the farang to be sure and come back real soon — and sound like he means it.” So The Buddha made a farmer.
In The U.S., despite Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson’s warm memories of black folk happily working in the fields, glad to have employment, and so appreciative of their white overseers that none of them ever sang the blues, farming these days is all done by machinery. Cotton, for example, is planted, grown, and harvested now without any human hands – of any color – ever being involved. Which must be a real bummer for Phil’s band of merry slaves. No wonder so many of the country’s inner-city youth turn to a life of crime; the wholesome life of field work that was so beloved by their forefathers is just not available to them any longer.
But in Thailand, even though the water buffalo has been replaced by tractors and motor driven tillers – which are actually called ‘iron buffalo’ in Thai – to the point the government has established special buffalo banks to encourage their continued use, manual labor still plays a pivotal role in rural village life. And since Pattaya’s punter population all seem to agree that servicing obese, gay octogenarians is an easier life than working the farm back home, you have to wonder just where in the hell all those farm boys who’ve come to in City to strike it rich at $25 a blow job are hiding.
The Buddha said, “I need somebody willing to sit up all night with a newborn love affair with a farang. And watch it die. Then dry his eyes and say, ‘Maybe next year.’ I need somebody who can shape a crack pipe from a persimmon sprout, shoe a local’s foot with a hunk of car tire, who can make a ladyboy’s gown out of sequins, feed sacks and shoe scraps. And who, come high season, will finish his forty-hour week by Tuesday noon, then, pain’n from toilin‘ on his back,’ put in another seventy-two hours.” So The Buddha made a farmer.
On a joint trip to Bangkok several years ago, a room mate of mine scored a hot Issan boy at Babylon, fell in lust – which in his case was at least mutual – and spent the majority of his holiday wrapped in the strong arms of the gorgeous, dusky-skinned lad. His paramour was a duck farmer visiting the big city to explore his wild side. That’d be the side of him that liked penis. I’m not exactly sure what being a duck farmer involves. Or why you’d want to be one. Bur the young stud had muscles that no amount of time in the gym could ever replicate, spatulate feet that’d barely squeeze into a EEEE width shoe, and skin so beautifully dark that I briefly considered stealing him away from my friend. Okay, so I spent a lot of time considering how to steal him away. But my failings as a wing man is not the point. That without ever knowing what he did for a living, with just one look you’d know he was a farmer is.
Compare that vision of earthly delight with your typical Pattaya bar boy, who’ll screech in terror at the idea of exposing his milk-white skin to the sun, whose muscle tone only shows how foreign the idea of a gym is to him – unless he made a few baht being photographed for a “before’ picture for the gym’s advertising campaign – and whose only footwear concern is his ability to stay balanced while wearing high heels, and you gotta wonder just what kind of farm it was those boys supposedly came from. Whodathunk indoor gardening was so popular in rural Thailand?
The Buddha had to have somebody willing to ride the ruts that pass for streets in Pattaya on his motocy at double speed to snare a farang “boyfriend” ahead of the rainy season and yet stop in mid-pursuit and race to help when he sees the first sa-moke – and the chance of sharing in the tip – from a bar mate’s loom. So The Buddha made a farmer.
Of course when The Buddha made Pattaya he never intended it to exemplify the typical rural, village life of the Thai people. It was, and is, a city built on fantasies and greed. I’m not sure who it was that decided to spin the fantasy of tying the two together, the farang sexpat or Thai bar boy. But do know that most bar boys in Pattaya don’t know eggs come from chickens. Nonetheless the fabled farm boy/bar boy of Pattaya continues to be a favorite literary device of every gay would-be author stealing the motif of that popular World War I era song, How ‘Ya Gonna Keep ‘Em Down on The Farm (After They’ve Seen Paree), by transplanting Sin City for The City of Lights. And planting the fantasy of the poor, once-a-farmer bar boy in the hearts and minds of Pattaya fans. While there is no doubt many bar boys come from outside of Pattaya, and many come from rural Thailand, that in their early years they worked a farm is highly doubtful. But then as Buddhists, maybe they did in a past life.
The Buddha said, “I need somebody strong enough to clear palm trees and heave bails, yet gentle enough to tame the English and wean the pig-like elderly and tend the pink-skinned pullers, who will stop his dancing for an hour to resurrect the broken middle leg of a farang on holiday. It had to be somebody who’d plow deep and straight and not fake coming. Somebody to seed, feed, breed and rake over and dis and plow into and plant ideas of romance and try to fleece and strain to milk and replenish the self-induced and finish a hard week’s work with a five-minute baht bus ride to Walking Street where the straight gogo bars are and where he’d rather be.
I guess, as fantasies go, the delusion that your boy du hour was until recently a hard working farm boy is an innocuous enough of one. At least that’s preferable to the even more popular fantasy among Sunee regulars that their boy du hour just recently reached puberty. And if it means the funds for buying a new water buffalo are in his future, that’s undoubtedly a fantasy your boy du hour will promote. Even if he’s not quite sure what a water buffalo looks like. The only problem is when the newly arrived sexpat decides to cash it in, move to Issan with his no-longer-a-bar-boy-now-a-boyfriend, and start a farm of their own. ‘Cuz while that ex-bar boy may willingly accept land and a house as part of the dowry due his family, performing agricultural-related tasks is not something he’s gonna be willing to do. He didn’t move to Pattaya to milk farang by milking their seed for a future of milking cows.
“Somebody who’d bale a family together with the soft strong bonds of sharing, who would laugh and then sigh, and then reply, with smiling eyes, when his son says he wants to spend his life ‘doing what dad does.’” So The Buddha made a farmer.
The farmer The Buddha had in mind, was a farmer of men. Preferably, rich, foreign ones who spend but a few weeks in Thailand while willingly sending bushels of baht to their boy special on a monthly basis. Harvest time to a Pattaya bar boy means his monthly trip to the local Western Union shop. Yes, The Buddha made a farmer, even if he’s not quite the image of the farm boy you had in mind. And he let the other gods make the fools whose money is soon to be parted. But that’s Thailand, where the seed of longing and the promise of love unite in fruitful bliss. At least for the farmer.
(“With all due apologies to Paul Harvey, his 1978 “So God Made a Farmer” speech, as well as the 2013 Dodge Ram truck.)
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Maybe it was having to work ‘Fucking’ into every post title that doomed the 50 Shady Gays blog to its short run. Too bad, the blogger ranted with the best of them and this look at racism in Thailand nails it on the head.
Before you meet your own next Wednesday morning, What Is A Hangover does a great job of explaining the what along with some hows by offering suggestions on the best way to survive one.
Bangkok’s monk bowl village has been on my To-Do list for ages, but it’s always on my way to somewhere else and gets moved back to the bottom. This is probably one of the best tales I’ve read of a visit and maybe it’ll get moved back up to the top of my list again now.
The Top 10 Most Unwanted Holiday Gifts sounds like it’s about Xmas, but only if you are on holiday during the Christmas season; it’s about the least appreciated souvenirs travellers buy to inflict on their friends and family back home.
Sorry, got a frog caught in my throat.
This week’s NSFW Tumblr link to a cornacopia of hot male Asian flesh is Lovely Asian Guys. And many of them really are quite lovely.
Thai Boys And Friends Check Into Bangkok’s DJ Station is a photo essay from Queerty . . . can you spot the moneyboys?
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I miss not being in Bangkok for the New Year celebrations this year. But then again, maybe not. I don’t know if the civil unrest will be spilling over to where the larger countdown parties are being held; more than likely the protestors will be partying themselves rather than using the gatherings for political purposes. But I’d probably avoid the one at CentralWorld this time around anyway. That’s been my normal hangout for ushering in my first hangover of the year in the past. Though the gods decided I should be elsewhere the year the bombs went off. And since they tend to enjoy screwing with man a bit too much I don’t think I’d take the chance this time around. Even without the gods’ intervention, you should always play the odds. And this New Year’s Eve, I don’t think they are in your favor.
I spent the bombing New Year’s Eve on Soi 4 with Nut, my muscle-bound friend from Tawan. As count down parties go, it was a bit anti-climatic. And on Thai time. There were balloons hanging in a large net to be dropped at the stroke of 12, and a few minutes later they did. But I got an unsolicited kiss from Nut (on time) which raised the bushy eyebrow of his younger brother who’d joined us for the night. Nut had both a younger and older brother who also worked at Tawan; this was his youngest sibling, who did not. What his brothers did for a living was no secret, watching his oldest bro swap spit with a farang was a new experience for him though. But then the balloons dropped and the joy of jumping on fallen balloons to pop them quickly pushed that memory into the past.
We headed over to Soi Twilight later that night, taking soi-side seats at what was then the Banana Club at the foot of the soi. The booze was flowing freely, and a large contingent of Euro-trash backpackers who’d decided the gay boys knew how to party the best were busy dancing in the street. There was one – I’m guessing British from the bad teeth – girl shaking her way too large booty who kept making eyes at Nut, an invitation to join her. And maybe more. I’ve just read a thread on one of the message boards about how all straight Thai boys fantasize about scoring a farang woman. Must be different for Burmese boys ‘cuz when I suggested Nut take her up on her offer he gave me an emphatic shake of his head. Along with stating the obvious. “She fat!”
Huh. I don’t know if she heard him. But then maybe it’d have been a good thing if she had. New Years is always a good time to start a diet. And when a straight boy who’s otherwise gonna spend the night in bed with an older gay guy considers that the lesser of two evils . . .
I met Noom at New Year’s too. Technically, the night before. But we ushered in the eve in bed together, and started off the new year that way too. That was my first year of joining the masses at the CentralWorld countdown. Literally. Not knowing better, we joined our fellow sardines in the unmoving pack of humanity stuffed into the street in front of the main stage. Hot, sweaty, and with no other choice than to swim where the school decided to go, I can’t say it was the most enjoyable of experiences. Until the fireworks went off and Noom declared each burst of fiery light, “Bee You Teeeee Full!” Falling in love is a great way to start your new year off.
Big on tradition, but wiser too, we’ve since spent most New Year’s Eves at the same spot, but at the slightly less crowded beer tents set up in front of the shopping mall. Each has its own stage, its own set of music acts, and all offer a view of the main stage. As well of the crowd filling the street below. It’s not your cheapest option, but reserving a table comes with a handful of script to use for more beer than you can possibly drink and a variety of local food to help soak up what you do manage to get down. We’ve done the beer tents for four, or maybe five, years. Different tents, different tables, different menus, but they all work the same. The more popular dishes they run out of. And even though you pay for them with your script when you order, if there’s none to be had . . . well, it’s just too much effort to be handing back fake money.
But then since it is usually just the two for us and the smallest table you can reserve is for four, we always have more script than we can spend anyway. Though Noom tries. At the end of the evening as the crowd below surges backwards and the beer tent waitstaff starts cleaning up, he carefully counts out what’s left and then orders that amount in Coke. Noom’s tradition is leaving the count down party carrying several cases of Coke through the crowd. His thriftiness satisfied, it doesn’t take long before the load becomes too much to bear and he starts handing out free cans of soda to anyone and everyone we bump into. I’ve never figured out how much those cans of Coke cost me. The joy Noom gets out of playing Santa on New Year’s Eve is worth it.
When I met Noom he was working at Future Boys. That bar morphed into Ocean Boys, and getting ready for the new year with plans on it being mor fortuitous by working at a new bar, we spent out last New Year’s Eve together there (it’s now Zeus, and, again, Noom has picked his old hangout as his new place of employment). I’m not sure why he decided we needed to spend New Year’s Eve in a gogo-bar that year, but out of all the years I’ve spent the holidays in Bangkok I’d never done so before so I went with his plan. And typical of Noom (and his OCD thingy) ‘plan’ was the operative word.
When we walked in the captain made a grand show of leading us to a table that had a Reserved sign on it. The night before New Years Eve, smack dab in the middle of high season, the bars are packed. On New Year’s Eve, not so much. There’s a lot of other parties going on in town. And a lot of the boys have already headed back home to spend the holiday with family. But it was the thought that counted. They’d hired that fat ladyboy who seems to emcee most of the bars’ special events for the night, and I got her so plastered she kept slipping off the corner of the stage she’d been siting on. Ah, good times.
Knowing there’d be no cans of Coke to be handed out that year, we’d hit Little India earlier that day to load up on calendars with Ganesha on them for Noom to pass out to his bar mates. Or at least those he liked. The calendars had all cost the same, but the pickings were slim so we had a half dozen of different styles. Noom had ranked which had the best photo of his favorite god on them and was careful about who at his bar got which calendar. I doubt if the boys knew the deference. The fat ladyboy emcee spilled a drink on hers.
The party culminated with a big cock contest, which Noom had arranged for me to be a judge for. It involved a ruler. And the aforementioned big cocks. Noom was quite pleased with himself, so I didn’t mention I don’t do metrics and just eyeballed what was presented to me instead. Not that it mattered. I don’t remember what the prize was other than it included cash, but Noom had already decided who needed to win. Which had nothing to do with size but rather who hadn’t landed any offs that week. I guess those who really measured up had already been taken care of through ample bookings. For a lot of punters a big cock contest sums up what Thailand is all about. For me, a big cock contest where the smallest guy wins and none of the other contestants complains says it all.
But this year that big cock contest is between those formerly known as Yellow Shirts and those formerly known as Red Shirts. And it looks like the army will be who decides who the winner is. Regardless of who wins, I hope it’s just politics as usual in Thailand and not the bloody battle that many are predicting. Maybe it’s a good year to miss the party in Bangkok. Hopefully, the fireworks will just be fireworks. I do know I’ll miss hearing Noom’s pronunciation of beautiful. And the big cocks too, of course.
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