Tanned burly men in white boxer shorts and striking crew cuts gyrate suggestively to a dance number. The low-rise stage offers the audience a close-up view of the muscular men, capturing the attention of male and female patrons seated on a row of sofas. Each dancer makes eye contact with a new member of the audience within seconds of their arrival. The musty scent of sweat and cheap perfume hangs heavily in the nightclub catering to patrons with sexual orientations ranging from gay and bisexual men to heterosexual women.
Located in a strip of bars on Patpong road, it is one of a number of clubs where heterosexual women, both local and from overseas, come for sexual services provided by Thai male sex workers, who are largely bisexual.
Ken, 24, and born in Prachin Buri, is a smartly dressed male go-go dancer who believes it is about time Thai society opened up to the fact that women have the same rights as men in opting to pay for sex, which he thinks is a convenient way to release one's sexual urges with no strings attached.
''This topic is taboo because our society would prefer to think it doesn't exist,'' said Ken, who has worked in the red-light district for almost five years. ''Asian women in general have become more outgoing and don't want society to dictate to them how they should spend their money. The purchasing power of women today is much greater than one would have imagined. Just like buying a new bag or shoes, paying for our services is another way to let off steam for my female clients. I think it's about time we respected that. Being a male sex worker is not just about what goes on behind closed doors, often we also become their confidants.''
Ken, who is the youngest of four siblings and a college drop-out, believes that the sex industry is like any other service-oriented profession, and the customer is king. As he considers himself bisexual, he manages to pick techniques to please his women customers through his interaction with gay men, where he plays both a passive and active role.
''Thai women prefer tall, muscular men, but as I am on the slimmer side, I get asked out mostly by Japanese, Chinese and some Caucasian tourists.
''Most Thais admit to me that they are willing to pay for sex to get back at their philandering husbands or boyfriends. They feel getting a lover is too much emotional hassle.''
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New York Times