The reason so many guys fall in love with bar boys in Thailand is that the majority of them are so damn sweet. They’ll treat you like a king, disregard your physical faults, and curl up in your arms to sleep like a warm puppy. How could you not fall in love?
And the bar boys fall in love, too. For totally different reasons. And nowhere near as often. If they have not become completely disillusioned from past experience, the promise of finding a good man who will take care of them is a dream close to every Thai bar boy’s heart. You’d think with both sides of the equation looking for love, that a match made in heaven would be a routine occurrence. Instead, you’ll often hear from customers and bar boys alike that if you are looking for love in a Thai gogo bar, you’re looking for love in all the wrong places. Neon screaming Boys, Boys, Boys is neither a happy place nor a place where your heart’s desires will meet a happy ending.
But then a Thai gay gogo bar is not a single’s bar where you go to find your future partner. A gogo bar is all about cash. You are buying. They are selling. Love, friendship, maybe even a bit of fondness may happen, but it will always start with you being a customer. And that is a much more loaded moniker than you may realize.
The cool thing about hanging out with a friend who is a bar boy in Bangkok is that you get to know other bar boys too. (Get your head out of the gutter, that is not where this is going!) The more time you spend with them, the more they let their guard down. And since Thais love to gossip, it’s not long before they’ll start telling you about some of their customers.
You’ll never hear about the ones sending them money. They all act like that’s an unheard of event. There are some secrets the brotherhood do not like to acknowledge to a farang. They will tell you about a boy who cashed in big time thanks to a farang, but that’s more about gossiping about the boy, not the farang. He plays a very small role in those stories, a bit part upstaged by his wallet. And though they probably trade more info among themselves, they won’t talk much about customers they like either. Other than to say that he is a good man. There is a big difference, however, between a good man and one who has a good heart. The former is about the customer’s overarching moral code and attitude, the latter about how free he is with cash. Many customers mistakenly believe having a good heart means being a good man. What was that line from P. T. Barnum again?
But the boys have no problem talking about customers they don’t like. Both in general and specifically. When it comes to bad customers, the derision flows freely. Not surprisingly, being a bad customer seldom has much to do with physical appearance. Most of the bar boys are straight to begin with. So old, bald, fat, toothless, myopic . . . it’s just an accepted part of the job. Sure they’d prefer young, built, and handsome, but in the end baht is baht. As long as you are clean and bathe regularly, you’ll get a pass on looks. What makes a bad customer usually has more to do with comportment and action than looks.
It amazes me how quickly, and accurately, the boys working in a bar will size up a potential customer when he walks in. And make no mistake about it, you might think because they are standing almost naked on stage that they are the one’s being sized up, but they are scrutinizing your every move with just as much attention as you are in weighing each of their pros and cons. And they will make a much more informed call than you will.
Have you ever noticed how some customers seem to draw a lot of attention from the guys working at the bar you are visiting? And how others no one ever seems to approach? That’s not because of familiarity, it’s because the guys know who is more likely to off them, who is more likely to tip them well, and who is more likely to show them respect and a good time. With just one look. They are adept at singling out who will be a good customer, and who will be a cheap bastard promising a not so fun evening.
On several occasions I’ve sat drinking with three or four boys, guys I’ve come to know well, and played thumbs up/thumbs down, reviewing the potential of the fresh meat walking into the bar. Their judgement is almost always unanimous. Sometimes it comes before the customer even gets seated. Others, not until he orders a drink and sits back to check out the guys on stage. Seldom has it taken longer than that. And sure enough, the customers that get a thumbs up from the group get approached by one or more of their brethren fairly quickly, while the thumbs down winners sit quietly by themselves leering at the boys on stage.
Occasionally one of the losers makes eye contact with a guy on stage and invites him over. The boy has little chance to say no, but always takes his time in getting there. The boy’s body language should be a dead giveaway, but the losers seldom notice. Once seated, that the boy is turned away and chatting with barmates a few feet away should be a clue, too. But the losers tend to remain clueless. Trying for some intimacy, he may grab the boy’s hand to hold, not realizing if the guy was in the least bit interested, he’d already be holding hands, or more. Why is it that some customers can not see that though they are in lust, the boy is just not that into them?
So what makes a good customer? Or more importantly, what makes a bad one? Sorry, facts are facts and it all starts with money. That is the sole reason boys work gogo bars. Cash. Some customers like to make excuses or pretend cash isn’t king, but it is. Just like with any other job that one is not passionate about. 90% of employees everywhere in the world are at work for one reason: cash. Why should a bar boy be any different? So it goes to reason that the boys are going to like customers who pay well better than those who do not.
Experienced bar boys can pick out a customer’s nationality at a glance. And some nationalities are known for being cheap. So just being British could be enough to tilt you into the bad customer category. But then how you dress and present yourself matters too, so there’s hope. Clean and well-dressed, even in a touri outfit, speaks volumes. And that also means clothes that fit as opposed to wearing a nice dress shirt that hugs your rolls of fat and nice dress slacks worn at belly-button level in a size or two too small. You can take pride in your looks, even at 80, even at 100 pounds overweight, even in a T-Shirt and jeans. How you treat yourself says a lot about how you will treat others. And those are the kind of clues the guys are looking for in determining if you are someone they want as a customer. A customer who has little respect for how he presents himself to the world will show little respect to his playmate for the night. And Thais are big in face. Yup, Thai bar boys want your money, but they want you to treat them with a bit of dignity too.
Unless you are in a sleaze bar, or Pattaya, a bit of respect goes a long way, Sure the boys make a living as a prostitute and spend their evenings parading about in their underwear and/or having sex on stage, but one-on-one, with a customer at the bar, they do not like to be treated like a piece of meat. A boy may tolerate your grabbing his crotch, but he isn’t going to like it. And if he can catch another customer’s eye, he’ll move off as soon as he can. If he already likes you, and is trying to close the sale, he may move your hand into his crotch. But there’s a big difference between an invitation and unwelcome advance.
Of course one of the quickest giveaways that you’re not going to be a good customer is if you try bartering over the cost of your initial drink. Yup, you can. Sometimes. Whether you are successful or not, every guy in the bar will know you tried by the time the captain walks away with your drink order. You are not going to be one of the popular customers. Trust me.
While money matters, it is not the only criteria, though. Thais love to have a good time. It’s a national obsession. And they can find fun in the simplest tasks. A customer with a smile on his face is preferred to the one with a scowl every time. And ya know what? You’re in a bar filled with half naked guys, you should be smiling. And laughing. And having a good time. And you will be if you let the boys working the bar know that you are fun to be around. (And that doesn’t even cost any cash.)
If you are going to spend the night at the bar and have one or more boys attend to your needs, you’d better be buying drinks for them. It is polite. And it demonstrates your willingness to take care of their needs too. You can get away without buying a boy a drink, and not be judged badly, if you only spend a small amount of time talking with him before agreeing to take him off. Sit with him for a half an hour without tipping or buying a drink and all of a sudden he’ll have to join the rotation on stage. Wonder why?
I know a lot of guys think that as a customer, it is all about them. That they do not have to blow unnecessary money or be concerned about what the boys think about them because of how they dress or how they act. They will tell you that when it comes down to it, regardless of how the guy feels – not that his feelings would ever be considered – if you pay the off fee the guy will go with you and perform as expected. They’ll tell you that regardless of how you act, the boy will be happy to be making a buck. But those same guys will tell you about how most bar boys are a dud in bed, won’t do what they said they will, want to get it over with as quickly as possible, and are only interested in your wallet. And they are partially right. But with that attitude, not only do you not get value for the money you paid, but your boorish behavior ensures that the boy will be just not that into you.
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