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Stickman writes a weekly column that covers the straight version of Thailand’s naughty night life. While it is interesting to see what’s up in that world, and amazing how similar the experiences of gays and straights delving into the bar world are, Stick also covers general interest news and his reports on local areas and attractions alone are worth sifting through the minutia of the latest rumors about bars you’ll never step a foot into. I love his night-time photography too. Since discovering his site decades ago I doubt I’ve missed a single week of reading his column. And I’ve linked to it on this blog too.

The Stick occasionally writes about ladyboys. Much more often than I do. And that makes sense. In Thailand working ladyboys make their money off of straight punters, not gay touri. You may have to sit through a deplorable lip syncing act before you get to see the hot naked guys in Soi Twilight’s bars, but if you really want to go mano y mano with a member of the third gender, you’ll have to visit one of the dozen of ladyboy bars over at Nana. In the past Stick has interviewed various ladyboy escorts in addition to covering the ladyboy bar scene – all the photos in this post are his – and as his columns often are, they are usually an enjoyable and sometimes educational read. His latest column too was about a ladyboy. It’s one I wish he’d never written.

One of the ways Stick makes a few bucks is by providing investigative services for overseas punters whose Love of Their Life remains back in the kingdom. These punters pay Stick to go check up on their honey to make sure she’s not selling her body while said punter is not in town. I’m thinking of offering a similar service for gay guys who feel the need to have someone find out what their BS is up to when left on his own. I’ll only chargee $20. And you’ll get a form letter in response that says: A) He’s a moneyboy, of course he is still out peddling his ass, that’s what he does for a living; and, B) if you pay someone to check up on your ‘boyfriend’ your relationship is already doomed even if he wasn’t taking on the highest bidder nightly. You’d think I just blew my entire business scheme by telling everyone in advance what they’ll get for their $20, but there’s no accounting for just how gullible farang in love with bar boys are. That’s usually how they go into their predicament in the first place.

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So the twist in Stick’s latest tale was that the floozy he’d been paid to check-up on was a ladyboy. Working in a massage parlor in Pattaya. See what I mean? That’d be the easiest $20 I ever made. But Stick is a bit more compassionate than I and he actually made the trek down to Sin City to find out if the girl would be willing to do the dirty with him. It’s a humorously told tale, with neither a happy or surprisingly ending. And it would have been even funnier if Stick, confronted with getting a massage from a masculine looking ladyboy, didn’t react like a little girly boy himself.

I’m sure a large portion of his regular readers had a similar reaction at the column’s title Alone In A Room With A Thai Ladyboy. The rest scurried off to grab a bottle of lube as Stick starts off posing the question, “Have you ever wondered what it would be like to find yourself alone in a room with a ladyboy? What about being in a room with a ladyboy while you’re absolutely starkers, with but a towel protecting your dignity?” He then proceeds to explain the set up and back story, begins telling his tale – making it clear he’s only there because it is his ‘job’ and not because he wants to be – as well as telling everyone just how uncomfortable and vulnerable he was feeling, before pausing to explain his personal views and history of dealing with ladyboys. So let me pause for a moment too.

A newbie to the rub and tug world of happy endings that pass for massage places in Thailand probably would feel a bit leery regardless of the gender of the masseur. Few massage places come close to providing an atmosphere that says anything more than sleaze. Some try to dress the place up with a nod toward decor, but all provide a small room – sometimes with nothing but a curtain for walls – that does little to disguise the fact that it’s a place for you to have a quick orgasm and the house to make a few bucks off of providing you with that pleasure. But The Stick is not a newbie. He’s had plenty of massages disguised as something other than what they are in the past. His feelings of being vulnerable were only due to it being a man in disguise who was touching him. Because, I guess, he was afraid he would be raped, would enjoy it, and would then end up being the ladyboy’s bitch. And he says so:

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“I maintain that there’s the smallest chance in all of us – even the staunchest homophobes – that we might somehow be aroused by the touch of a ladyboy and end up like the retired soldier who was Kevin Spacey’s neighbour in the closing scenes of “American Beauty”.”

Later in his column he goes on to say that he admits the occasional ladyboy looks good, but then quickly adds that doesn’t mean he’s ever felt anything towards them. No problemo. I feel the same way about women. The real kind. And I have no problem with Stick knowing what he likes. But I have to wonder if there may be a bit of a ladyboy lover residing deeper within his soul than he’d like to think. The lady doth protest too much, methinks. Noting once that you are not into ladyboys would suffice. Taking every possible opportunity to restate your 100% straightness while beginning to sound like an adolescent giggling about cooties, is a bit much. It’s not about feeling a bit uncomfortable over the unknown, but rather about fear of where that unknown may take you. Homophobia is defined as the fear of lesbians, gay men, and ladyboys (when you don’t know the difference). And that fear often is not about what they may do, but what you may consider doing yourself. Stick says he may be “somewhat homophobic”. And then goes on to prove there is no ‘somewhat’ involved.

It will be interesting to read his fan mail next week ‘cuz despite his years of living in Thailand which should have provided him with some insight into the third gender, Stick has decided (and firmly believes) “that guys who go for ladyboys are just that, gay.” He has many loyal readers who like the ladyboys and I doubt any of them considers himself to be gay. Ladyboys don’t. And considering that bar owners who specialize in ladyboys open shop in the straight adult entertainment areas rather than on Soi Twilight, I doubt they do either. Stick is a bit confused. And when you are both confused and feeling vulnerable, it’s easier to use the gay label – with all the accompanying feelings a homophobe attaches to that label – than it is to attempt to understand someone else’s reality.

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Okay, so I’m not a big fan of ladyboys either. Too many are a caricature of themselves, too many take their pretensions of being a Hollywood star a bit too seriously. But they are fabulous, and when you meet one who carries herself with that degree of dignity only a ladyboy can muster, you have to pay her the respect she deserves. And labelling her as gay is not in the least bit respectful. Now you may think I’m just as guilty of throwing out labels for calling Stick a homophobe for his belief that punters who prefer ladyboys must be gay, but unfortunately he just couldn’t help himself while trying to explain why he isn’t. And it too was an “Ewww! Cooties!” moment. He says:

“. . . while I am happy enough to be around ladyboys, just like with gay guys I don’t like them to get too close nor to be around them for too long. I would not be that comfortable, for example, to have a gay guy or a ladyboy squeezed next to me on the small seat on the bus to Pattaya.”

Huh. I hate to be the one to burst your bubble of illusion Stick, but you’ve been squeezed in next to a gay guy on the bus to Pattaya more times than you’d believe possible. We don’t all wear rainbows and tiaras. That longing in your seatmate’s eyes you assumed was thanks to the bevy of cheap female prostitutes waiting at the end of the ride was really about the hot hunks he was going to spend the weekend ravishing. A few might even have been dreaming about the ladyboys he’d soon be enjoying to the fullest. But more important is the question of just what you are fearful of from sitting next to a gay man or a ladyboy? It’s not like someone’s sexuality is contagious. Or is it that you really think that fine senior citizen body of yours would just be too much and said gay dude or ladyboy would be unable to control him or herself?

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Considering his beat as well as having covered ladyboy stories before, I assumed Stick would be a bit more open to alternate lifestyles. Maybe the problem is that he is, and more than he’d like to be. There is no basis in reality for being afraid of sitting next to a gay man on a bus. Unless it is your reaction that causes your concern. I’ve enjoyed reading Stickman’s column over the years and would hate to think I should quit reading them because it turns out he is a homophobe. Instead, I’d like to suggest he spend some time on Soi 4 and Soi Twilight and discover the wonderful world of gay men. By doing so he may learn that President Kennedy was right, the only thing we have to fear is fear itself. And if it turns out his fear was based on a supressed desire, maybe we’ll have a new gay blogger writing from Bangkok.

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