A confused title to this week’s book review, with Angels of Pattaya (ISBN 978-1-908518-09-5, Maverick House, 2012) not really the sole province of Pattaya’s angels, but also shared by Bangkok and Phuket, and countless “Thai” venues throughout the country. In fact 75 percent of the first interviews are with girls from anywhere but Pattaya.
The concept of the book is to reveal the inner thoughts of the Thai bar girls, or those in the flesh trade in its many different forms from massage parlors, go-go dancers, service girls from the bars and freelancers who find their marks in the discos.
All the interviewees have the same story – pregnant early, abusive “husband” who runs away, the children are raised by their grandparents, and the girl sends B. 5,000 every month to her mother to look after the children. Most do not want to return to village life (and their children) but want to stay in Bangkok or Pattaya where the life is more exciting.
The ones who are drug addicts have the standard ‘drug excuses’ and they are only involved in prostitution because life has been so hard for them. The readers may have sympathy for some of the girls interviewed, but it would be misplaced with the addicts.
Money is for all of them, their god, and undoubtedly they can make money in amounts far greater than they could working as maids or in factories. Even in the massage parlors, the masseuse gets B. 500 from each customer and then solicits for tips on top. They admit to four or five men a day, which means they potentially are bringing in up to B. 60,000 plus tips each month. Who would want to work in a factory, even with the new basic wage of B. 300 a day?
The pervading feeling as you read the book is just how shallow these girls are. They are really not the stereotype of the abused young girl forced to run away from home and unable to earn enough money any other way. These girls are in it for the money. “This is what I do,” is said more than once.
Wise words from one, “I hope farang read this book. I want to tell them if they want to meet a Thai lady for a girlfriend or wife, better you go to a nice place and meet different kind of girl. But that other girl maybe do not want sex right away. Wait, tell the girl okay, just for the movie or eating dinner. If only want sex, okay, then girl from bar is better. We work for money, not for love.”
It has often been said that every newbie to Thailand should read Stephen Leather’s “Private Dancer” to get an idea of the wholesale sex business and those who work within it. Angels of Pattaya with its collection of stories, which quite frankly become boring with the repetition, should probably be added to the newbie’s list. Literary voyeurism might describe this better.
A slim volume and the RRP is B. 460, so less than most of the girls “short time” charges.