“Show Now, Show now!” the barkers cry as you try to walk down Soi Twilight, your progress constantly threatened by the reaching hands of bar touts, who like their not-to-distant cousin the leech, grab hold and begin sucking the blood from your very soul. The timid, newbies, and small groups of Japanese touri all fall prey to the aggressive touts and are whisked into a bar whether they wanted to go in or not. The more brave may hold out. They want to see the good stuff. So they’ll ask one of the touts when the show starts. The answer is always the same. With a disinterested look at his watch, the barker falls back on his initial cry, “Show Now!”
The show is always just starting. Even if it is only 8:00 and the soi’s shows are not scheduled to start until 10:00. Even the, old-timers know that means the curtain will actually rise some twenty minutes after that.
But then the barker’s job is not to schedule your evening for you. It’s to get you into his bar. Whether or not you hang around for two hours waiting for the show to begin is not his concern. If you are a first time visitor to Bangkok’s notorious soi of nude male dancing bars, and if you wait to catch a show, you’re in for a surprise. If you’ve been to the bars before and know what to expect, chatting up the soi’s touts may be as entertaining as the show. Sometimes, that can even be a better form of entertainment.
A patron of Bangkok’s gay gogo bars for close to three decades now, the display of hard flesh in action no longer titillates as it once did. But then the shows no longer rely on titillation, they’ve progressed to full on sex. Guys fucking each other leaves no room to doubt that their efforts might be simulated sex. The X-Boys and X-Size bars need to add another two Xs to their name if you want truth in advertising. And their shows are not even the raunchiest on the soi.
I try not to mourn for the good old days in any aspect of my life. You can’t not come off as an old fart when you start whining about how things once were. For me, watching a show now is more about checking out a potential guy for an off than it is to be either entertained or aroused. That’s not a bad thing, there is no guessing about what he’s packing or how nice of an ass he has. By the end of a show you’ll even know where his talents lay. I’m sure newbies to the world of Bangkok’s gay gogo bars get just as hard today as I did decades ago. And today they have a lot more reason to do so. Still, I miss those more genteel times when the sex wasn’t as in your face as it is today. At the same time, there are memorable acts of days gone by, seared into my consciousness, that I am just as glad no longer qualify for inclusion in shows today. Once was more than enough. There is such a thing as too much of a good thing. Especially when it is exceptionally bad.
With a dozen or so bars on Soi Twilight alone, all running their shows at the same time, competition for customers is fierce. Once the old Twilight bar started offering fucking acts, it wasn’t long before the other bars followed suit. Full nudity was the predecessor to the fucking acts, and again Twilight blazed the way. Soon all the bars had acts that left nothing to the imagination. And tried to out do each other in how that hard flesh was presented. There are innumerable ways to strip a guy down on stage, countless ways to show off the goods once he is naked. Thank the gods for innovation. Every bar had its moment in the spotlight having come up with the newest or sexiest act to showcase their stable of boys. Once you’ve hit insertion though, there are not that many different ways of presenting the act. There’s a reason no one has ever published a sequel to The Kama Sutra.
When I first started visiting the bars in Bangkok, nudity was seldom on the menu. The guys wore skimpy underwear, danced around a lot, and if the bar was feeling particularly brave they might even simulate having sex. But cocks were kept tucked in. At best you might get a quick glimpse of a hottie’s ass. Still, it was quite exciting. In the know patrons of Barbiery, before it became Dream Boy and moved across Suriwong to its present home, staked out the bar stools just to the right of the entrance upstairs. It was a great spot for prime viewing after the show’s finale. The guys would strip down and be totally nude just as the lights went dark. You didn’t get to see anything on stage, but the guys coming off stage would often offer you a peak of their goods as they passed by.
It wasn’t long before erect cocks were on view, though often hidden behind gauzy fabrics or moulded by wet underwear. Flashing became the norm and once that barrier was broken, hard cocks took center stage. Twilight again set the pace and introduced the Big Cock Show, which is still a staple at many bars. Chorographers competed for new ways of getting the guys naked and presenting their bodies on stage. But sex, if there was any, was still simulated.
Never to be outdone by the competition, toward the end of its run Twilight used to have the guys rotate on the stage totally naked around 10:00 each night. And the place was always packed. I don’t know why that little feature never caught on. Perhaps the boys were not as thrilled with it as the customers were. Shuffling across the stage in their underwear was the norm when I started hitting the bars, and except for that brief excursion into naked dancing by Twilight, it’s the same today during the boys’ rotation. The bars all compete now to see who can come up with the most unusual fucking act. I think if any of the bars served up a naked rotation of guys like Twilight once did they’d have a packed house. Regardless of who was fucking who elsewhere on the soi.
Dream Boy has one of the classiest shows these days, the numbers all have some thought put into them. It has always been one of the more popular bars on the soi. While others have taken their turn at being the hot bar for brief periods of time, Dream Boy has always relied on its steady trade allowing its competitors to vie for top honors. And they still, nightly, run the giant puppet cock act which is a hold over from the Barbiery days. But even the tired old and way too familiar is better than some of their attempts to excite. It’s been a while since I’ve visited Dream Boy, so maybe they came to their senses, but at one time part of their ladyboy act included a trannie parade with hard cocks on display. Ladyboys exhibiting meat that put the nation’s elephant population to shame is not erotic. It’s scary.
Not quite as grotesque, but definitely a ‘what in the hell were they thinking’ was the act they ran for a while under blacklight that had a bevy of ladyboys crisscrossing the stage as they pulled incredibly long dayglow streamers out of their asses. Sure, it was different. It was colorful. That the performers had already made their way down the stage and back again a dozen times and the ribbons seemed to have no end was a bit worrying. As the novelty of the act wore off you couldn’t help but contemplate the preparations that act required. And that thought alone was enough to rid you of any hardness your best buddy may have been considering.
Future Boys, where Ocean Boys is now, had its own rep for sleaze and in its day was one of the more popular bars on the soi. For a while they had a ladyboy working their shows who actually looked like a woman. She wasn’t one of the typical statuesque katoey who dazzle. The banality of her appearance lent an unexpected air of realism to her act. It wasn’t until she started servicing a few studs on stage that the illusion was shattered. No real woman has ever learned how to suck cock like that.
Toward the end of that bar’s run at popularity they offered an act for a season or so that started off with a saffron robed monk coming on stage. The skit featured a progression of young men joining the monk on stage, bowing in reverence offering a suitable honoring wai. Who knows what the plot entailed, the chatter in Thai brought on guffaws from locals in the audience and silent bewilderment from the farang. The storyline was quickly discarded though, along with everyone’s clothes, and the monk ended up bottoming for half the cast. Considering the respect afforded to monks in Thailand, that act surprised, and appalled me. Though to be honest, if they’d gone with a hunk as the monk I probably would have enjoyed it much more.
The first fucking act I saw was, surprisingly, not at Twilight. It was a bar, now defunct, that was upstairs probably where dream Boys is now. The bar wasn’t there for long, but had semicircular booths for seating and a large stage. Their acts all had a story, little plays that ended up with the guys on stage naked. The night that one of the guys started fucking another started as most of their acts did. This one revolved around a few guys meeting up on a basketball court. There was a bit of shoving, a faked argument, and soon the cast was armed with those black rubber clubs all the bars like to use to simulate a bit of SM. I think.
I don’t expect Thai bar boys really understand the SM thingy, but they do like the loud whap that piece of hose makes when it strikes flesh. With several pairs of guys on stage whacking each other I missed the fact that one of the couples had switched over to using flesh. When I did notice, it was so unexpected that I might have failed to grasp that the pair had begun to fuck. I think it was the sudden silence in the bar that tipped me off to something unusual going on. The other two pair of guys continued to slap each other around but every eye in the place was riveted on the copulating couple. No one could believe what they were seeing. It was truly a moment in gay gogo bar history. Now, all shows end with fucking and if you consider the other acts foreplay, there’s barely enough time given to get the audience wet.
Most of the fucking acts in the early days involved slow build-ups to the act. While some used doggy style, most were face to face, missionary positioning that portrayed two guys in love. It was soft porn with hard dicks, a hazy, lazy, romantic sex act accompanied by love songs. But evidently love didn’t sell as well as sex. It wasn’t long before the guys got to it as soon as they took the stage, and acrobatics reigned supreme. Today it is extreme fucking, never sensual, and barely erotic.
Bar managers keep trying to think up new ways to present the act. Their efforts are seldom successful, even to the most generous of minds. When X-Size opened they had a designated fucker in their stable. One of the ugliest guys you’ve ever seen. His body was nothing to get excited about, and while he may have had an extra inch or two in length over his bar mates, his total lack of a chin ruined the overall affect. His act was never enjoyable to watch. The epitome of bad sex was watching him hop across the stage like a bunny with a little fem boy playing the role of the carrot. It’s the only show I’ve ever walked out on. Not in disgust mind you but rather I was laughing uncontrollably and finally decided I really should leave. Fortunately Mr. Ugly is no longer the designated dick at X-Size, though he is still employed by the bar. But they’ve moved him outside and he keeps his clothes on, now he is a barker.
I’ve never been attracted to any guy I saw getting fucked in a show. They almost always are fems and they screech a lot. Still, if that’s your thing I’ve often wondered how in the hell you’d compete back in your hotel room with no ropes, swings, or ladders to use. When they are used to having their partner making 360 degree turns while bouncing atop them, wouldn’t your efforts just come off a bit mundane?
I’m not sure which bar started the fucking in customers laps act, but for me once they hit that point the thrill was gone. The first time I saw a pair of boys circulate through the audience offering a close up and personal view of their fucking my response was OMG! Then it became an opportunity to laugh at the discomfort of those chosen to be a landing strip. Now it’s the signal to call it a night and head back to the hotel. Even Tawan has added that little act to their show. It’s the finale at most bars. You’d think someone involved in running the bars would notice they mass exodus of customers when the guys hop off stage.
Maybe it’s just me but the constant drive to out weird the next bar has been taken too far to the extreme. Two guys kissing, hugging, slowly stripping off their clothes, progressing to oral and then anal sex – not unlike you might back in your room – is erotic and arousing. The guys who play pee wee golf with their humongous cocks just don’t have the same effect. I’m not saying the old days when you barely caught a glimpse of dick was better. It just seems to me there is room somewhere in the middle for a show that is both erotic and enticing.
There was an upstairs bar kinda by Dick’s Cafe for a while that tried to go the soft porn route while the rest of the bars were putting their money into trapezes. They made a big deal out of their choreographed dance numbers, but their chorographer/star was a diva and the stage could barely hold his ego much less the back-up dancers. And all they ever did was dance. They held true to their ideal, never pandered to those wanting to see some real action, and instead of hitting a happy medium went out of business. Maybe the other bars took that as a warning.
Many pundits on the gay Thai message boards revel in the decline and near-death of Soi Twilight. But then those same fools have been predicting the soi’s demise for years. Yet, the bars are still busy, they still are making money, and are still pulling in customers. There may be slow nights without hardly a customer in the house, but across the street at the Patpong night market the once overflowing lanes are empty too. There are fewer visitors at the girl bars too, it’s the state of the world economy, not disillusionment with the shows ( or prices) on Soi Twilight. But the bars have taken their acts about as far as they can go. And I hate to see what some strange Thai mind may still come up with next to out do the competition. The bars are not going away, but it may be time for a few to try a different approach to set themselves apart not by getting even weirder but instead taking a step backward.
Or am I just getting to be an old fart?
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