Noom – my bar boy friend and current love of my life – makes his living getting naked on stage. And then getting naked again back in some stranger’s hotel room. And while he’s not gay – even though his customers are – you’d have to assume, at the very least, his moral compass and political leanings would peg to the left. I’ve read again and again that bar boys – if not the majority of Thailand citizens – are not the least bit interested in the politics of their country. But those opinions tend to flow from farang who don’t speak the language and/or who once attempted to enter into a political discussion with their 18-year-old ‘boyfriend’. Because Noom is not the least bit reticent about discussing his political views. Which are strongly held. Unfortunately, if Thailand had a Tea Party, Noom would be the country’s next prime minister.
I knew Noom was not a fan of the Red Shirts, even though that seemed akin to the rural poor in the South back home who vote Republican, an odd paradox that I always assumed had something to do with the advanced stages of tooth decay. Just as I assumed Noom’s disenchantment with Thaksin’s band of merry men was due to the disastrous effect their city-wide camp-out had on bidness at hiss bar. But when I asked him why he was so not in favor of the former prime minister cum international fugitive, his answer surprised me. “He steal from Thai people,” he said with much disgust.
“But all politicians steal from their constituents,” said I.
“Yes, but him get caught,” he replied, diplomatically ignoring my use of an English word he was unfamiliar with.
It appeared Noom’s opinion of Thaksin wasn’t so much based on his politics, but rather on his inability to master the art of being a corrupt politician. But that’s understandable. Getting busted is a universal no-no. Otherwise Ray Rice would still be in the NFL today. So I dropped the subject, decided he was neither a Yellow Shirt nor Red Shirt supporter, and was content with the fact he wasn’t wearing any shirt at all. Or any other piece of clothing either for that matter. And the only thing leaning toward the right or left that night was soon standing straight up and pointing north.
Several months later, politics once again raised its ugly head when that wasn’t the raised head that I had my heart set on. We were in Chiang Mai and the gang in red were busy driving around town in battered pick-ups blaring their political beliefs from bad sound systems mounted in the bed of their trucks. If nothing else, you had to be impressed by the singular intensity of the northern belief in an ousted leader, and the way the local political solipsists formed a community of obsessiveness thanks to the small amount of graft that had been passed their way in the past. Although they probably would have seemed more political-like and less hoodlum-like if they weren’t all wearing red bandanas over the lower part of their faces. But then when your Grand Poobah is on the lam and facing 108 criminal charges back home, you probably can’t fault them for that fashionista faux pas.
The first political billboard on wheels that rolled past elicited a snort of disgust from Noom. No biggie. The second that motored by he was more emphatic about. “I keel them,” he muttered. Huh. I didn’t realize that red shirt supporters were generally considered to be Burmese. But did consider it might be a good time to head back to the hotel to affirm which way Noom’s political beliefs were swinging. At least I think it was his political beliefs that I had in mind.
Later that night there was one of several parades that the town puts on for their version of the Loy Krathong celebration. And along with gargantuan floats featuring beauties and queens, thanks to the North being a hotbed of Thaksin fans, the Red Shirts had a contingent of masked men marching too. And Noom began being a bit more vocal in opposition to the opposition. Generally, I’m a strong believer in freedom of speech. But sometimes it’s not so much about not yelling fire in a crowded theater as it is about not yelling fire at a pyromaniacs’ convention. I decided we might be better off down by the river where the locals were only armed with firecrackers. Even if custom dictated lighting them off and throwing them at each other and anyone else in the general vicinity. Fortunately, Noom too decided that was more fun than keeling Red Shirts. Or Burmese. Not that the annual Yee Peng celebration in Chiang Mai doesn’t usually have a body count associated with it anyway.
Still, I learned when around Noom and the Red Shirts were mentioned, my best bet was to let out a derisive snort of my own to prove my allegiance. Which came naturally to me. Kinda like how Pavlov’s dog learned to salivate on cue. I mean since we were both usually rewarded with a bone. And soon thereafter the Reds proved those bandanas come in just as handy when looting a large shopping mall before setting it on fire as they do when joy riding to political tunes, the country quieted down (temporarily) and the specter of King Thaksin faded into the sunset of his sister being elected to lead the country in his absence. In other words, it was once again business as usual in Thailand, and political strife no longer impacted Noom’s bank account.
Assuming Noom’s disenchantment with the political goings-on in his country had more to do with money than actual political issues, I was anxious to hear what he thought about the current regime when the army in Thailand did what the army in Thailand tends to do every decade or so and decided to overthrow the government once again. Martial law imposed by the junta wasn’t the boon to tourism you’d think it would have been, and by the time I arrived in Bangkok the new powers that be had decreed the sex in sexy shows – that which made Soi Twilight famous – was no longer a part of making Thailand a happy place. I figured the dent the junta’s moral crusade had put in Noom’s wallet would mean he’d added them to his keel list. And I practiced my derisive snort, ready for the first time General Prayuth’s name came up. Proving you can teach an old dog new tricks. Or at least variations on the old trick when the reward is the same.
So I was a bit surprised when after we’d gotten our Welcome Back to Thailand and It’s Great To See You Again orgasms out of the way (along with one or two more for no better reason than we are both male and consider orgasms an integral and important part of our relationship, or any relationship for that matter) Noom voiced his opinion that not only was he content with the junta running the country, but was a fan of the good general. And instead of a derisive snort, was expecting a high-five. I gave him a hand-job instead. Not that he was in need of yet another orgasm. But I had to do something while I contemplated his unexpected political stance.
General Prayuth had already demonstrated his moral beliefs were just slightly right of those held by the type of Christians back home who believe in a god whose benevolence involves the frequent application of copious amounts of fire and brimstone. And that didn’t appear to gel with the lifestyle enjoyed by a male prostitute. Even in Thailand. At least in my mind. An explanation was in order.
“You like General Prayuth?” I called out from the bathroom where I was washing lube from my hands.
“Yes. Him say no more boom boom at bar.”
Huh. Boom boom is what Noom’s bar is all about. That’s like removing the peanut butter from a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. None of the tasty protein you love and crave is left to enjoy. And boom boom is what lines Noom’s wallet with baht. And since boom boom is always worth discussing, I delved into the subject further.
“Isn’t that bad for business?”
“No. I still book customer.”
Well of course he does. And there’s the crux of the matter. The sex shows at Bangkok’s gay gogo bars were always the icing on the cake. They were the not-so-cheap thrill that provided an excuse for cheap-ass sexpats to bitch and moan about drink prices at the bars. They legitimized the bars’ existence and allowed the boys in brown, bar owners, and punters to pretend the bars were something more than the houses of prostitution that they are. Sure watching naked guys on stage having sex was fun, but the majority of customers never went to the bars for the shows. They went to off a bar boy so they could put on their own show back in their hotel room. And that’s where Noom makes his money.
Bar boys make extra baht for appearing in the shows. Being part of the rotation – which years ago used to be called dancing – on stage is mandatory. Showing off your junk on stage is not. Who does what during a bar’s show depends on the bar. But most have a captain or manager who makes the call on which numbers will be in that evening’s performance and which boys will be getting both naked and off. At most bars, each boy gets to decide if he will participate or not. And in which acts he will perform, depending on the amount of nudity, hardness, and sexual acts involved. Generally, the belief among the boys is that appearing in the shows is a good thing. It’s extra advertising, a chance to stand out from the crowd. Especially if you are well-hung and it stands out from your body. Within reason.
Noom has always known stage time increases his chances of booking a customer. There’s also the fact that he’s a star. And stars belong on stage. And if there ever was a body that should be appreciated in its fullness, it’s Noom’s. He has nothing to be shy about. But regardless is still uncomfortable about being naked on stage. He prefers those acts that hint at what he has to offer. Begrudgingly in the past, he’s taken part in those where he is totally exposed. And totally erect. But he has always drawn the line at having sex on stage. Boom boom, in public, is a no-no in his mind. And he’s glad that the new powers that be agree with him.
“Don’t you book more customers when they see you in the show?”
“I no lie.”
“But I’ve seen you naked on stage.”
“Dat fault you.”
Ooops. I seldom tell Noom the exact date I’m arriving in town. A lot of the time I can’t resist and call him from the airport as soon as my plane lands. But I enjoy the most showing up at his bar unannounced, usually timed so that the show has already began and I can sit in the dark and watch him do his thing on stage. I don’t know why I enjoy seeing him naked on stage so much when seeing him naked in our hotel room is much more intimate. And productive. But I do. Or did. That’s no longer allowed by governmental decree. Nor would it be now that I know the amount of thought he puts into his appearances. And the lack of appearances by his little buddy.
It turns out Noom’s nightly plan is to appear in one of the early acts, not naked, but still providing enough to show what he has to offer. That alone is usually enough to land a customer. If not, he’ll do another act where nothing is left to the imagination. Nine nights out of ten, that does the job and he gets offed. On night #10, or when he’s waiting for me to finally show up, he’ll take part in the Big Cock Show! Although he’s just as likely to call it a night before that happens and keep his big cock in his underwear where it belongs. Unless he suspects I may be in the audience watching.
“Shit. I’m sorry. I thought you were always in the Big Cock Show!”
“It okay. I know you lie.”
“I wish you’d have told me that before.”
“I tell you.”
I let my mind enjoy a replay of the night we met many years ago. It’s still a fresh memory. Probably because it gets replayed so often. I don’t recall him ever saying anything about liking or disliking showing his stuff on stage. But at one point, after the rest of the bar boys had stopped massaging me and left for greener pastures, after I’d already bought Noom a drink, and after it’d already become obvious that we’d be leaving his bar together that night – and obvious to him that we’d be leaving his bar together for many nights to come – he excused himself because he had to take part in the next act of the bar’s show.
I waited in breathless anticipation for the hunk I’d quickly fallen in lust with to appear on stage. My dick too stood up and paid attention ‘cuz we were going to get to see him in all of his glory. Sooner than expected. The lights came up. Two guys appeared on stage, one naked, one in his underwear, both erect, and began soaping down each other. As the second guy’s underwear came off, his junk slightly hidden by the large amount of suds around his crotch, Noom took to the stage. In his underwear. A muscle-stud extraordinaire. The other two boys turned their attention to his body, as had every eye in the audience. They began slowly, sensually, lathering his chest, his stomach, his groin. And although still tucked away in his briefs, Noom’s not-so-little buddy responded. And grew. As did every cock in the audience. And mine waved back when he looked up and smiled at me.
The lights dimmed and the act was over before Noom’s cock ever made its full appearance. I’d like to say that I and the rest of the audience were disappointed. But that’s not true. Not showing everything, leaving the promise that there was more to come, was far more erotic than if he’d been fully exposed. And for the fans of naked dick, there were two of them on view anyway. Just not Noom’s. Thais are big on telling you something by not saying it. You are supposed to be smart enough to get the message on your own. That night, my wrong head was doing the listening. Which is understandable. If you are not Thai. It took years, a coup, and a morality-based crackdown for me to finally get the message.
“Oh, damn. You did. Sorry. Again.”
Noom just smiled. Because he loves me. Or loves being right. Or maybe he just knows me too well. Because he obviously knew what replaying that night in my head had done to my other head, slipped off the bed, grabbed my hand, and pulled me into the shower to reenact his infamous soap number. Sans underwear this time around.
That night, as we often do, we hit his bar to share his largesse. And to catch the show. Noom nodded, frequently, fully in agreement with the lack of nudity on display. I tried to be as enthusiastic. But it’s gonna take the bars some time to come to grips with the new reality. They are still focused on what can no longer be done instead of what can be. They’ve yet to hit that happy spot between the erotic and the just plain sleazy. Not that the audience seemed to mind. There were still almost naked boys on stage, there were still almost exposed erections on display. And while the number of customers was nowhere near what it had been a few years ago before the worlds’ economy took a nose-dive, there were still happy bar boys walking out the door with a customer in tow.
“See? It better.”
“Yeah, but I miss all the nakedness.”
That derisive snort I’d been practicing finally aired. But it came from Noom instead of from me. Apparently, I just wasn’t getting what it was that both Noom and General Prayuth considered the hallmark of making Thailand a happy place. And apparently, a demonstration was in order. That night, as we seldom (as in never) do, we headed to Nature Boys. Or, more specifically, Noom pulled me down Suriwong, past Tawan, to Nature Boys’ door and then shoved me inside. Alone. Demonstration or not, Noom wasn’t gonna be caught dead in the place.
As in my last visit to the bar quite a few years ago, there wasn’t a show going on so much as there was a small group of barely dressed boys waiting on stage for the door to close. Kinda like a pet boa constrictor waits for a mouse to be dropped into its cage. I’d like to say I was the only customer. But there was an elderly, over-weight farang sitting at one of the bar’s few tables blowing a street urchin whom I assumed worked there while another equally grotty looking boy did the same for him. It seemed the junta’s crackdown hadn’t yet reached into the darker sub-sois.
I immediately turned to
flee leave, having already had more than my fill of what the bar had to offer, only to find the door blocked from the outside by a 145 lb. giggling Thai bar boy. If I’ve never mentioned it before, Noom’s sense of humor leaves a lot to be desired. But muscles aside, I still out-weigh him. And it’s difficult to put your full weight against a door when you’re doubled over in spasms of laughter. But he made his point. Far better than Pat Robertson has ever managed to do. Maybe the junta is on to something. Maybe the lack of sex in gogo bar shows isn’t the end of the world as we know it. Maybe a slightly more conservative approach to Bangkok’s naughty nightlife could be even more erotic. Maybe I don’t really care because once Noom had managed to get himself back under control he reminded me what Bangkok’s red-light district is really all about. “Come. We go back hotel for Big Cock Show!” he promised, leading us off into Bangkok’s no longer quite so notorious night.
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