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Division of Labour: Pattaya is now home to, as of the deadline for this piece, 73 dens dedicated to the dubious art of chrome pole molesting. By the middle of September this number is set to grow by another two places. If nothing else collapses from financial insolvency during that time, it will mean a new record number of dens designed for ogling in Fun Town. This at a time when almost everyone is claiming the town has never been so quiet.


While this was certainly true just a few short weeks ago, anyone who’s been out and about at different times of the day or night recently can’t fail to have noticed Pattaya is busier; not High Season busy, but the scraping-the-bottom-of-the-barrel Low Season is behind us. Of course, during this period it’s amazing to listen to the range of opinions from various bar owners and other business people regarding the state of the Fun Town economy and their particular part of the economic cycle.


A couple of bar owners have claimed to me that they are doing the best figures in their, usually short, history. Others suggest Pattaya is dead and buried, only no-one has told the corpse as of yet. The truth, as always, lies somewhere in the middle: well outside the range of the rose-coloured glasses but not even approaching the long last walk to the graveside.


Consider this. At the start of 2003, just four and a half years ago, there were 25 dens of the chrome pole lining Walking Street and its environs. By September 6 there will be 49, admittedly down from the record high of 51 set earlier this year. Away from the main centre of action, as of early September, there will be a new record of 26 ogling dens.


With so many places offering air-conditioned comfort, one style of music (good, bad, or indifferent it at least beats trying to get your head around three bands and 48 thumping speakers all competing with each other in some beer boozer areas), and ladies of sullied virtue cavorting in various stages of undress, it’s perhaps not surprising some owners and operators are starting to re-think the way they do business in terms of opening and closing hours. For example, the Club Boesche ogling den (Soi 16, Covent Garden Complex) is now kicking off at 8:30PM and going on into the early hours (3:00AM and beyond). Part of the reason for the later start is they don’t have a happy hour, so customers tend to be thin on the stools until after 9:00PM.


A number of other places are following suit; after all, given that many dancers can barely get out of bed before 7:00PM and more than a few need to spend an hour or two in a beauty salon being turned from a sows ear into a silk purse, this tendency to later starts for some places is more than economically viable. On the other side of the alarm clock, plenty of places kick off in the early afternoon (Club Oasis in Soi Buakhow, Far East Rock, Club Nevada, and Hot & Cold in Soi Post Office, and Tahitian Queen on Beach Road are just five examples) and do pretty good business in most cases.


The night-time venues offering happy hours generally open their doors to the paying public anywhere between 7:00 and 8:00PM, attracting the early night stalkers, many in search of a companion who may be willing to go for a short period for a game of hide-the-salami.


A Fast First: On Saturday 1 September the Secrets lounge lizard libation room, noshery and sleeping palace (Soi 14, off Walking Street) will be celebrating its first anniversary with the usual array of coloured balloons hung out front and around the boozer and loads of free nosh from mid-afternoon onwards.


Sisters Are Doing it for Themselves: Rambling Ricky will be opening his new den of the chrome pole on or about 6 September (a Thursday night). To be called Sisterz, it is on the site of the old Honey ogling den. I don’t know of the large sign saying ‘Honey A Go Go & Beer Bar’ is going to be moved. The name may be spelt as if it’s been taken from a train station in Luxembourg, or a ski resort in the Swiss Alps, but anyone who is aware of Ricky’s predilection for girls who went to the Lickem-On-Toppe lez-be-friends finishing school will not be surprised in the least at the cognomen.


The den is quite large and when operated as Honey I always felt having large booth seating, while usually comfortable, tended to minimise the number of customers the place would attract. Even 12 years ago it was rarely busy. Ricky says the place has been renovated to take account of this and now can seat up to 130 customers, and there are even a couple of ‘fiddling’ booths still in place.


Here, There & Everywhere:


Offer free booze all night and you know you’ll be packed to the gunwales. This was how the owners of the New Living Dolls 1 chrome pole molesters establishment (Walking Street) celebrated their re-opening on Thursday night 16 August. After an enforced official closure, patrons were offered free draught amber liquid along with free house liver wasters all night


Tall Paul from The Dollhouse ogling den (Walking Street) is moving a little further south on the main drag and taking up the managerial duties in the FLB lounge lizard libation room as of 1 September, replacing Rambling Ricky. A new man of warm handshakes and general bonhomie will move into the meeting and greeting duties in the Dollhouse.


Long-time bar proper-upper Jacko has moved from his meeting and greeting duties around the corner in the quietly-achieving Hell Club to a more ‘drinking’ and sociable role in the Gorkle ogling den (Soi LK Metro) as of the last week or so of August.


Congratulations to Yankee Stan from the Cheers ‘we don’t have women in here’ boozer (Pattayaland Soi 2) on celebrating (I think that’s the word he’d use) 20 years of being in Pattaya.


Congratulations also to the Heaven Above chrome pole palace (Soi Diamond) who had hoped to celebrate three years of successful trading with a Hawaiian Beach Party night on Thursday 23 August. Unfortunately, they incurred the wrath of the local neck-to-knee bathing suit inspectors and were issued with a 60-day closure order. I’m told most of the newly-unemployed dancing damsels have been temporarily assigned to chrome pole hugging duties in the Living Dolls Showcase den. Being an upstairs boozer, no matter where you are, is always a difficult proposition, but Heaven Above managed to gather a core group of adherents and, by way of consistent promotions, they are usually well patronised. It’s also one of the few dens, along with Catz (Soi 16, Covent Garden Complex), where customers can obtain a copy of the Pattaya by Night magazine.


The Super Model ogling den- also in Soi Diamond- never managed to get much past a year in business, certainly not under the same management. It first opened in March 2005 and the original operators, after doing quite well in the beginning, I think managed to stay the course for a little over 14 months and then sold out to a German. Although he brought in an experienced Thai manager from Bangkok, the place never really hit its straps and the doors are now firmly shut and I’m told the lessee is having no luck finding anyone interested in purchasing the property.


Another place which fell foul of the body inspectors and has, I’m told, been given a 60-day closure order, is Classroom 2000 (Soi 2). The authorities are currently in the process of doing a Purely Puritanical (people might recall the original PP was Interior Minister in the ousted Fearless Leader government and led a rigid campaign of covering up the damsels and emasculating nightlife back in 2001-2002), although if you happen to be willing to fork out a sizeable wad of the purple and grey notes then it’s amazing how blind the eye can turn.


The famous and long-running Malibu beer boozer, noshery and all-balls-in-drag show place (Soi Post Office) is apparently up for sale. This is one of the best places for a night out in Pattaya with a cabaret show that’s so bad it’s great. The words ‘slick’ and ‘professional’ could never be uttered about the shows here, but ‘enthusiastic’ and ‘entertaining’ they certainly are. I hope whoever buys the place keeps them going. Noticed a sign in the Happy beer boozer complex (Second Road, opposite Mike’s Shopping Mall) offering a lease on a bar for just 9,000 baht a month rent and no key money. Wonder if there’ll be any takers?


Piece of Pith: Handle every situation like a canine: if you can’t eat it or screw it, piss on it and walk away.

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