The signs fronting Soi Pratuchai are an obvious clue to what you’ll find inside.

Whodathunk Wikipedia would have a page on Soi Twilight! Of course being the scholarly site that it is they’ve gone with the more proper designation of Soi Pratuchai , but then Twilight predates the on-line encyclopedia and will undoubtedly fall from use as those of us who remember the street’s glory days fade away much as the bar for which the soi was named is now but a fond and sleazy memory.

But then I don’t think GIGO – garbage in, garbage out – is as popular of a phrase as it once was either. That the thought is still valid is proved by Wikipedia’s Soi Pratuchai page. For such a short entry, it really does contain a lot of trash. I don’t know that Wikipedia would be a first time visitor’s first source for information about the gay commercial sex scene in Bangkok, or even if most would ever land there. Anyone who does is in for a bit of information, an already outdated directory, and a nice dose of quasi-urban myth. For those more familiar with Bangkok’s main gay gogo bar area for visitors, it also provides a few laughs.

The entry gives a brief nod to the street’s former name, misses the Duangtawee Plaza monkier completely, and informs you that Soi Pratuchai means Triumphal arch. Some bar needs to translate that descriptive name into a visual, a humongous neon sign of a fleshy pair of masculine legs and thighs welcoming all to enter. Wikipedia then lists the “gay bars, restaurants, café and salons” on the soi, hitting the majority, missing a few, not knowing about a few more that have since sprung up, and totally ignoring the ‘salon’ part of the entry until later when it is mentions that the “establishments advertising ‘massages’ are in fact disguised brothels.” The horror!

Wikipedia somehow missed the massage joints on Soi Twilight.

I guess if I wanted to be picky I could debate the use of brothel to describe a happy ending massage joint in Bangkok, but that’s splitting hairs. You pay, you get off, same-same. Not so in disagreeing with the page’s next claim that the soi also offers “a few famous blowjob bars that offer oral sex at the main bar or in back rooms.” Any real visitor to Soi Twilight knows there are no back rooms and none of Soi Twilight bars allow oral sex at the main bar. At least not off stage. At least not any longer. Punters with those needs in their heart need to walk a few blocks down the street to find that brand of entertainment.

But then a first time visitor who got their pre-trip info off Wikipedia will probably be so knocked out by what the bars do offer that the lack of back rooms and/or getting sucked at the main bar would probably go unnoticed. And where disappointment might set in from the lack of getting blown while watching the show, the show itself would far exceed Wikipedia’s claim that the ‘most notorious’ part of the shows “ features boys performing exotic feats involving bathing.”

Maybe they are just washing up after all those blowjobs they’ve been handing out.

My biggest problem with the info supplied by Wikipedia however is that if you heed their warnings you’d never get upstairs into one of the bars to be disappointed at the lack of free flowing oral sex. The website warns visitors that “Some of these second-floor gay bars are run by scam artists who lure tourists with offers of low prices and later present a wildly inflated bill along with a threat of physical harm should the bill go unpaid.”

Oh, please.

Oh No! Danger Will Robinson! An upstairs bar!

Granted, everyone knows that if you are in a horror movie the number one rule is to never run upstairs. Maybe that is where this urban myth came from, or at least why it remains a common warning in every guidebook that mentions Patpong. Wikipedia is the first source I’ve run across that placed these notorious clip joints on Soi Twilight though. Usually that warning is about the girly bars on Patpong 1 and 2. Nice to know the gay bars are getting a bit of on-line equality these days.

There are only three ‘upstairs’ bars on the soi these days. Hot Male – the old Twilight bar – X-Size which is a sister bar to X-Boys, and Dream Boys which is by visitor count the most popular bar on the street. Dream Boys’ rep alone should tell you that unlike in a slasher flick you are not facing a bloody death by heading up the stairs at a gay gogo bar in Bangkok.

I’ve no doubt that the scams attributed to upstairs establishments once were quite common. About thirty years ago. I still run across more recent claims of this type of thing happening at the bars in Patpong, but it is always a tale told by a first timer and I’ve a strong suspicion that rather than a scam the problem stems from the visitor’s lack of understanding how the bars operate. Invariably the tales are about a small group of friends who braved the flesh pots of Bangkok looking for a bit of titillation. Invariably the bill for the night of fun runs much higher than the visitor thought legitimate. Invariably, if they did the math correctly, they’d see their complaint is with the bar’s prices, not with being scammed. Or at least it’s a scam of a different sort.

You’re more likely to get ripped off in Patpong at the girly bars than on Soi Twilight.

Across Surawong at the upstairs girly bars you may indeed be lured in with cheap drink prices. After climbing up those dreaded stairs you will be immediately surrounded by a bevy of girls, all pleading for a drink. Your drink may only cost 100 baht, their drinks are much higher than that. The gay gogo bars do not have ‘girl drink’ prices; when you buy a working boy a drink it is the same price as your drink. But ‘girl drinks’ according to Stickman, a gentleman who runs a website that covers the straight commercial sex scene in Bangkok, can and do run as high as 2,000 baht! A group of four buddies who each buy themselves and one girl a drink just racked up a bill totalling almost $300. Sticker shock? No doubt. Overpriced? I’d say so. Scam? Not really.

Even over on Soi Twilight there can be misunderstandings. I watched an elderly Asian punter in Hot Male one night who’d bought himself a few shots, bought a boy a drink or two, and then agreed to off the boy. When his check bin was tallied, he threw a fit. I’m not sure what language he spoke, but one of the mamasans had some ability in speaking his native tongue and after a few attempts managed to explain the charges. The gentleman did not realize he had to pay an off fee. It was a simple misunderstanding based on his lack of knowledge. I can only hope for the boy’s benefit that the mamasan also explained the need for a tip at the end of the pair’s time together.

Sex sells. So does bad news. So it is not surprising that lazy contributors to both Wikipedia and travel guide books keep this urban myth alive. Painting the commercial sex scene in Bangkok with the same brush used for the fool who heads up the stairs in a horror movie is too tempting to resist. The danger of a high bar bill attributed to the price structure a bar uses would be a more valuable bit of info. It is just as scary, just as disastrous to your wallet. And would serve as a better warning that jumping on the ‘little boy who cried wolf’ bandwagon. For bars that offer their entertainment both upstairs and downstairs.

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