Weekly Reports on Pattaya activities, 6th February 2000
Weekly Reports on Pattaya activities
6th February 2000
- Tai Boys Boys Bar visited again; still very pleasant bar
- Throb’s Sexy Male Strip Tease show features complete stripping
- Playboy Club’s closure short-lived, but caused concern
- High Season here as Pattaya swamped with Chinese New Year celebrants
- Ambiance Group partners meet with Gay Pattayan; air cleared
- Dragoncastle: Gay Festival Nov. 5, 2000; rumor re: Telephone Bar in Bangkok
- John of Reno comments on Tough Love article
- Gaybutton reviews grand opening of Splash nightclub
- Pattaya gains bi-lingual newspaper, Pattaya People
- Pattaya Info newspaper reports on huge Duck Square development
A RETURN VISIT TO TAI BOYS BOYS BAR FINDS STAFF AND SETTING VERY PLEASANT AND MODERNISTIC
I hadn’t been in Tai Boys Boys Bar on Pattayaland Soi 1 for quite some time, but was pleasantly surprised when I visited there this week, the night before their celebration of Chinese New Year’s Eve. I found a modern, pleasant, well it and beautiful place, nicely decorated, but more important, a friendly, helpful staff. Moreover, the music was played at a very reasonable sound level and featured of good, listenable music to which the many good looking young men were dancing on the stage. The bar was nicely decorated for the Chinese New Years celebration, but not in an overly ostentatious manner. They also featured a sign pointing out they have now been in business three years. I was the first customer of the evening, apparently, arriving right at 9 p.m., and was welcomed by the staff, given good service and personal attention, and had a chance to watch the approximately twenty young men in the bar, most of them dancing at the time, all friendly and welcoming too. Smiles abounded, and all of the young dancers seemed attentive and interested. Fortunately, several other customers arrived while I was there, so my leaving after only one drink did not wipe out their customer base. This was a reminder that, with all the many bars available in the Pattaya area, I just don’t get around as much as I should to check out each place from time to time. This was a very pleasant experience.
THROB’S “EROTIC AND EXOTIC SEXY MAN STRIP TEASE SHOW” NOW FEATURES COMPLETE STRIPPING, AND DISCREET NUDITY
Throb Dance Bar, directly across the street from Boyz Boyz Boyz in BoyzTown, Pattayaland Soi 3, (see Map, www.pattayagay.com/) has changed its “erotic and exotic” show, and now features a sexy and somewhat tantalizing strip tease show, with the dancers stripping completely, but being very discreet about what they show. Although the “boys” do some flashing, basically the show features the removal of each young man’s underwear, suddenly, made possible by the use of velcro holds on the shorts, followed by a discreet coverup, with a hint of “naughtiness”, but no total frontal nudity. The new show seems to be bringing in pretty good crowds and customers seem quite satisfied. Sounds like it should be well worth a visit.
PLAYBOY BOYS CLUB’S CLOSURE CAUSES CONCERN, BUT HAS NOW REOPENED AFTER SHORT INOPERATIVE PERIOD
Two of my friends noted early this week, on a night when the bars are usually quite busy, that Playboy Boys Club was closed. It is situated on Day-Night Soi 2 (see map, Day Night Sois, www.pattayagay.com) There was no indication of when or whether it would reopen. Since this bar has been enjoyed greatly by my two friends and several others who regularly go there, concern was significant that they might be out of business. However, the bar has now reopened and the “story on the street” is that they were forced to close due to a person under legal age being found working there. The closure was only for one or several days, and the business is back to normal, although one report indicates there are far fewer young lads working there now than before the closure. Hopefully staffing will be returned to normal before too long.
CHINESE NEW YEAR’S CELEBRATIONS BRING HUGE CROWDS TO TOWN; HIGH SEASON IS HERE AT LAST, LIKELY TO STAY THROUGH SONGKRAN, MID-APRIL
After what had to be a somewhat disappointing holiday season in December, due primarily to the unusually cold weather which reduced Thai traveling and discouraged many foreigners as well, Pattaya now appears to be into a genuine “high season” with streets packed with cars, stores, restaurants and bars quite busy, and many people all over town from various Asian locations, as well as some Europeans and Americans.
This weekend has been busy with various celebrations for the Chinese New Year for the Year of the Golden Dragon. Although the Chinese New Year is not an official Thai holiday, more stores and businesses seem to close for this celebration than for the western (Jan. 1) New Years Holiday. Crowds started arriving Thursday evening, and the area has been busy through to Sunday evening, with many hotels reportedly fully booked.
In addition, local newspapers are reporting that many hotels are nearly fully booked from now until the Pattaya Water Festival, Pattaya’s own Songkran Festival, held in mid April. From all appearances, “high season” has definitely arrived, belatedly, and is expected to continue with pretty respectable numbers of customers for virtually all businesses, including the bars and entertainment venues, at least until Songkran. The rather chilly weather of Christmas week has been replaced by the more normal warm days and cool nights fairly typical of Pattaya area Januaries and Februaries. Crowds appear to be of good cheer, and also seem to be spending fairly liberally.
Special New Years programs in many bars brought especially good crowds, and those bars that went out of their way to offer something really special seemed to be doing quite well. Pattaya’s and Thailand’s economy seem to be stabilizing; the value of the baht has settled quite definitely in the 36 to 38 baht to the U.S. dollar range (this week about 37.45 to the US dollar), and consumer and business confidence both seem to be stronger.
AMBIANCE GROUP PARTNERS PROVIDE VALUABLE INFORMATION TO GAY PATTAYAN; HOTEL IS LARGEST GAY HOTEL IN PATTAYA AREA –55 ROOMS, INCLUDING DELUXE SUITES IN GARDEN LIKE SETTING
I had the pleasure of meeting with Jim Lumsden, one of the owners of Ambiance Group, the organization which has developed and operates the Ambiance Hotel, the Boyz Boyz Boyz Nightclub, the Throb Dance Bar, the Splash Bar, and The Body Club Gym and Massage center.
The Ambiance Hotel, alone, is the largest gay hotel in the Pattaya area. It now has 55 rooms available, including five roof top deluxe suites in a garden like setting. This also includes rooms on the 3rd and fourth floors (counting ground floor as first floor, as Americans do) of the building across the street from the main hotel and Boyz Boyz Boyz. That building is now called “Ambiance II”, and is an integral part of the entire hotel, with bell boys carrying guests bags to their rooms at all hours of the day and night (24 hours), and 24 hour room service as well. The newly constructed roof top deluxe suites on the upper level of the Ambiance Hotel / Boyz Boyz Boyz building provides a beautiful view of the city and the bay, and is in a garden like setting, atop the building.
Photo, below, Ambiance Hotel, ready for Chinese New Year
Plans are proceeding for an elevator to be installed on the second floor of the hotel, for access to all upper floors and the roof, with elevator installation expected to be completed by May, 2000, according to present plans. The first floor (ground floor) has no space for the elevator, but it is a “straight shot up” once you get to the planned location for the elevator on the second level. Bell boys will still be available to carry bags for hotel clients around the clock.
In a “clearing the air” meeting between Jim Lumsden and me (as “Gay Pattayan”), we cleared up the several misunderstandings that had been created recently when e-mail Jim thought was being sent to me was apparently addressed in error to another “Gay Pattayan” with a confusingly similar domain name.
(My e-mail address is <GayPattayan@pattayagay.com>, a domain name with the city name first, before the sexual orientation (gay) tag. “Pattayagay”, not vice-versa.)
This incident emphasizes the importance, when using the Internet, of using the exact mailing address, since any deviation can lead to the mail going to someone totally unintended. Most importantly, Jim and his partner, Gordon, now know who I am, have my personal e-mail address, about which there is far less likelihood of confusion, and will be welcome to contact me directly any time they choose. They have been invited to provide information on coming events, and any other information on their activities they think might be of interest to our readers. I think we have established what should be a good relationship for the future, which could be invaluable for our readers.
Ambiance Group has been very progressive in establishing and operating clean, pleasant and well maintained facilities through the BoyzTown area, and is instrumental in promoting the image of BoyzTown. Their establishments have always been well run, by all reports I have received over the years, and continue to provide tremendous opportunities for gay visitors to Pattaya.
Among other things the public does not always know, Jim indicated that his “boys” are all fed well every night of the week, with Ambiance Hotel’s kitchen preparing huge quantities of Thai-style food for the boys, and transporting it in huge kettles, fresh out of the kitchen, to the Boyz Boyz Boyz bar site where the boys from all of their bars (BBB, Throb and Splash) all join together for a tasty, filling and plentiful evening meal. The meal is provided at 8 p.m. each evening at no cost to all boys who work in the bars , with the proviso that any boy who had gone out with a customer the previous night (“an off”) pays 20 baht for his meal. Jim emphasizes that he established this policy quite some time ago, so none of his “boys” have any excuse for claiming to a customer that he is hungry, or that he hasn’t eaten all day.
In addition, Jim advises that every boy working in any of their bars is given a medical check up by a doctor EVERY WEEK, to provide reasonable assurance that all boys working for the Ambiance Group bars are healthy and free from communicable diseases, especially sexually transmitted diseases. This medical check up is provided by Ambiance Group at no charge to the “boys”.
In addition to the medical checks provided weekly by the Ambiance Group, all “boys” working for the bars are required to participate in complete checks by the local health department, usually twice a year. On those occasions, the health officials set a date on which they will conduct the tests. Jim points out that, “when these checks are carried out, we have to make every member of staff available on the day. As is the custom in other countries, the results of these tests are a private matter between the boy and doctor. But over the years we have had HIV positive staff and most have moved away from the area. Some boys we have employed in other areas of the employment and we are happy to help them in any way we can.”
As one who was actively involved in the fight against AIDS in the U.S. before coming to Thailand, I am delighted with the enlightened attitude of the Ambiance Group in dealing with medical checks and in providing continued opportunity for those who are found to be HIV positive, a far more progressive view than often found in many areas of Thailand.
The Body Club Fitness Center and Massage was also discussed. The Body Club is located directly across the street from the main entrance to the Ambiance Hotel, on the second level of the building now housing Throb Nightclub and Splash Nightclub. Jim pointed out that, when the fitness center first started, the masseurs and weight trainers were all taken from the staff of Boyz Boyz Boyz, and the men worked this job in addition to their regular duties at Boyz Boyz Boyz.
Photo taken from www.thebodyclub-pattaya.com/
After being in operation only about a year, however, Jim now finds that almost all of the masseurs and trainers working in The Body Club have elected to make that their sole job, and have given up their work at Boyz Boyz Boys. He feels that this shows great confidence of all the young men there in the success of The Body Club, and that they are able to earn a good living there without the additional work at Boyz Boyz Boyz. He is very proud of that choice freely made by most of the men working there.
One other practice instituted by Jim for all of the Ambiance Group’s bars is that the boys are not given any portion of drink charges, so they have no financial incentive to ask the customer to buy them a drink. Jim is concerned about the practice in some bars of putting pressure on the boys to have the customer buy them a drink virtually as soon as a boy joins a customer. Jim wants the buying of a drink to be a customer’s free choice, and wants the boy to have no financial incentive for “pressuring” a customer along those lines.
Jim also took note of a comment I had made in the Weekly Report quite some time ago about visiting the site of the newly opened Splash Bar (before it opened) and seeing no visible signs of construction activity. Jim pointed out that the former Cockpit bar site had been purchased as a joint venture between Ambiance Group and a friend named Kevin, who had made the original arrangements for taking over that Cockpit complex, and they determined to work together in developing that site. When Splash was planned and initial checking of the foundation was made, they found there were no “underpinnings” to the building… virtually no foundation at all, and knew that to have a bar with a huge “manquarium” or swimming area for boys in which to present shows would require a massive foundation. They brought in a highly qualified engineer from Bangkok, who developed all of the plans for a proper and adequate foundation for the Splash Bar and, noting that they were going to have the fitness center on the second floor, directly above Splash bar, they took note that the weight of the fitness equipment and of the jacuzzi up there, would require special supports for that floor, also.
Accordingly, not only did the Ambiance Group need a totally new foundation under the building, capable of supporting the immense weight of a water tank filled with water (up to 100 tons of weight, considering the steel and the water, I am told), but they also had to put in special heavy steel reinforcement in the ceiling above Splash, which would serve as the floor for the fitness center. It was the need for all of these vital building structures, Jim advised, which made it impossible for them to meet their original target date for the opening of Splash Bar, and for continuing delays until the foundation was fully installed and properly checked, and then the heavy steel and glass tank structure installed, etc.
Jim advised that, not counting the purchase price of the basic building which Kevin and the Ambiance Group bought as a joint venture from the owners of the building where the former Cockpit bar had been operating, the Ambiance Group has expended more than one and a half million U.S. dollars (U.S. $1.5 million), in fixing up the building, and in renovating and decorating the Throb and Splash Bars, The Body Club fitness center, and the upper floors of the building for additional hotel rooms. Anyone who has visited any of these facilities recognizes readily that the facilities are really “first class”, with great attention paid to high quality both in appearance and quality.
One other part of the Boyz Boyz Boyz operation that Jim wanted to point out was the continuing demand from a large segment of the public for the female impersonator shows which have been featured at BBB for many years. The shows are now at 12:30 each night, and feature, among others, “Tina Turner”, the star of the Simon Theatre production, and other leading performers from Simon Theatre. Jim pointed out that he would be delighted to do away with the show that I call a “drag show”, since it is a very expensive show for the Ambiance Group, but it is something for which they have a large number of customers who regularly attend just to see the show. Some come night after night, Jim advised, and any attempt to have it less than every night of the week meets objections from the shows’ dedicated followers. “Tina Turner” particularly draws a large following, Jim advised. They have limited the show now to six numbers per night, in recognition of the fact that many other customers prefer masculine shows rather than female impersonators, but they make an effort to please everyone, and also offer a “man’s” show each night as well.
Jim’s long time partner, Gordon, joined us briefly during my discussions with Jim, and expressed pleasure that we now know each other, and will be able to provide more information (and more accurate information) to the public. He indicated that he didn’t recall ever seeing me before, and I guess that’s a tribute to my rather “non-descript” appearance –except for being quite a bit overweight– but I assured him that I had seen him several times in the Ambiance Hotel coffee shop, where I am pretty much a “regular” for early morning breakfasts. I also mentioned to him that on one occasion one of the waiters had asked Gordon about the expected date of the opening of Splash, after I asked the waiter if he had heard any news on that topic. (At that time, I had been unaware that Gordon was “the Gordon” who was part owner of Ambiance Group.)
Gordon called to my attention the big write up on Splash published on the “Gaybutton’s Gay Guide to Thailand” web site, and commented that he thought Gaybutton now had a link to my site. I checked out the Gaybutton site, and it indeed has a really outstanding section of its board featuring the grand opening of Splash on January 3, 2000– which grand opening I attended (unnoticed, as almost always). I report further on that web site’s coverage elsewhere in this report, but you really ought to check it out. It is indeed a fine report on this outstanding new bar, with many, many pictures of the facilities and of the young men working in the bar. See “Gaybutton’s Gay Guide to Thailand”‘s special section on Splash; I feel confident you will enjoy it!.
Incidentally, Jim had earlier expressed some concern about the fact that I have maintained at least a degree of anonymity as I go around gathering information and in general enjoying myself as an ordinary customer. He now recognizes that some degree of anonymity can indeed be a valuable thing for me, and respects that, but is also happy that we can now openly keep in contact, particularly by e-mail, so I can be aware of any concerns he might have and address them, and so he can also provide information on upcoming attractions at any of his facilities. . Since the Ambiance Group operates some of the best gay facilities in Pattaya, the more information I have on what is going on in his places, the better the job I can do in keeping the readers informed.
I hope this meeting will be beneficial to the readers, and to the Ambiance Group, for which I have the highest respect.
DRAGONCASTLE-ASIA REPORTS DATE FOR THIS YEAR’S BANGKOK GAY FESTIVAL, AND RUMOR REGARDING TELEPHONE BAR IN BANGKOK
In its Feb. 2 article, “BANGKOK BITS AND PIECES”, Dragoncastle-Asia’s web site reports the following: ” BANGKOK – JAN 20 – The Bangkok Gay Festival will be held on November 5th this year and promises to be bigger and better than the first one held in October last year.”
Dragoncastle then goes on to report: “Unsubstantiated rumors abound that the long established Telephone pub in Silom Soi 4 has been sold. The story goes that the buyers are Pattaya businessmen….”
I will keep my ears open for further information on this possibility! The Dragoncastle web site is a source of a huge amount of information on the gay scene in Thailand and throughout Asia. It can be found on the Internet at www.dragoncastle.net
JOHN OF RENO COMMENTS ABOUT “TOUGH LOVE” ARTICLE
Our long-time friend, John of Reno, comments: “I found the discourse in the latest Weekly Report (Jan. 30) about helping the boys was excellent. Having raised two girls by myself, I can tell you the hardest part of being a parent is TOUGH LOVE, even today when they are 26 & 27 it is hard to not just want to help them. My youngest is going through a divorce and I can remember how difficult a time that was for me, but just like these boys, you cannot prevent them from making their own mistakes, as those are the only ones they will remember and adhere to. But that is the only thing that will make them grow, is hard knocks, just like us, we only remember the things we worked for, not what was given.
“Anyway I enjoyed the discourse and hope he leaves him in jail in Chonburi and does not rush out with money and food as that will nullify the effect of whatever he is in jail for, which I took to be some type of drug thing. I am sure the jails in Thailand are not nice, but then we coddle people here in America so badly, our system is more interested in prisoners rights, than getting justice.”
GAYBUTTON’S GAY GUIDE TO THAILAND REPORTS ON SPLASH’S GRAND OPENING ON JANUARY 3; GAYBUTTON WAS EXCLUSIVE PHOTOGRAPHER
The following report is taken from Gaybutton’s Gay Guide to Thailand, found at www.members.xoom.com/XMCM/gaybutton/Splash.html
“As of 3 January, 2000, Splash, Pattaya’s newest and hottest gay host bar, opened its doors for the first time To say that Jim Lumsden has done it again, and simply leave it at that, would indeed be an injustice. Splash is much more than just another gay host bar in Pattaya. Splash is not merely a bar. It is a surrealistic illusion. It is a dream, a fantasy. It is a masterpiece. In short, it is a work of art.
“Splash is unique. There is no other bar like it in Thailand, probably the world. The pool, alone, is one hundred tons of steel and water. The interior (of the bar) is solid granite, some from Thailand, some imported. The furniture is splendid and comfortable. Even the ashtrays are solid brass. More than one and a half million US dollars was spent creating Splash.
“Even the hedonistic splendor of ancient Rome could not have conceived of something like this. It is absolutely incredible.
“Splash opened its doors for the first time at 9:00 PM on Monday, 3 January, 2000. I was privileged to be part of it and was granted exclusive photography rights. There were no Y2K glitches. Everything went off exactly as planned. The excitement built up. Jim Lumsden was a show in himself, as the director of a Broadway show would be on opening night, as he frantically checked and double-checked all the last minute details, praying that it would all succeed. It can honestly be said that Jim has a hit on his hands.
“As you walk through the door the first thing you see is the gigantic pool in front of you. You can take a seat on the side, at the center, and even right at the base of the pool, where you are within inches of go-go boys dancing right in front of you, and boys swimming in the pool. There are no support pillars to hinder your view. Every seat is a good seat. It is as a theater ought to be.
“The go-go boys change positions ever few minutes, and there are constantly different boys swimming in the pool, sometimes singly, sometimes in pairs. The bar began to fill with eager customers, delighted to finally see what everyone has been waiting many months to see, elated to be part of the grand opening, waiting for the first show. One looks around, drinking in the magnificence of Splash. The decor and paint is Art-Deco pastel. The bar, the tables, and even the floor are all solid granite. There is a beautiful aquarium in every corner. The lighting is perfect. The acoustics are perfect. The music is at just the right volume, not so loud that it becomes uncomfortable to bear. Conversation is not difficult at all. The temperature is well controlled, just right.
“Then the lights dim. It is time for the first show. There will be several shows every night. The go-go boys leave the stage. Suddenly the music begins. Appropriately and humorously, it is the music from the opening scene from Jaws. All of the music during the show is appropriate, ranging from For Your Eyes Only to the theme music from Titanic.
Swimmers cavort in Splash’s new pool (Photo by Gaybutton)
“Now, the boys begin entering the pool, and a risque yet tasteful underwater ballet begins. Jimís choreography is superb. There has never been anything like this. All eyes are glued to the pool, taking in this marvelous experience.
“Splash is the most unbelievable gay bar on the planet. It is a fabulous experience, even for those who are not gay at all. Splash is located right in the heart of Boyztown in Pattaya, directly across the street from the Ambiance Hotel. It puts every other bar to shame. It is worth a trip to Thailand just so see it! If you are going to be in Thailand, donít miss the experience of Splash.”
That is the end of the comments from Gaybutton’s review of Splash’s grand opening, but the web site is replete with many photographs of the interior of the bar, of the bar’s owner and artistic director, of go go boys dancing in front of the pool, and many photos of young lads swimming in the pool, mostly in time with the music. The pool itself has mirrors in back, reflecting views of swimmers in areas of the glass where the swimmers may not be as readily viewable. It is clearly a well designed glass swimming pool.
Although Gaybutton’s review is a little “gushy”, the Splash Bar is certainly a place worth visiting, and will be one of many places in the Pattaya area you should not miss. Go to the gallery collection of photos on the web site (URL given above) to get a better idea of the bar and its offerings. You will also find the rest of Gaybutton’s site well worth checking out.
PATTAYA GAINS BI-LINGUAL NEWSPAPER: PATTAYA PEOPLE
A new Pattaya newspaper, publishing most if not all stories in both Thai and English, has hit the news stands, with many details about people affecting the every day life of Pattayans, and publishing classified ads in both English and Thai, as well. The “Pattaya People” newspaper apparently will be issued twice monthly, with the current issue, number 2, being dated for Feb. 1 thru 15. “Pattaya People” carries a news story that Pattaya hotels are now basically fully booked until after the Pattaya Songkran celebration in April. However, the state of hotel availability here is that, barring an extremely unusual circumstance, plenty of rooms can be found at any given time, though not always in the exact hotel of your choice. No one should pass up a trip to Pattaya just because he believes he might not get a room of the type he prefers. An incredible assortment of rooms is available at almost all times.
“PATTAYA INFO” NEWSPAPER REPORTS ON DUCK SQUARE
“Pattaya Info”, a multi-language “entertainment guide”, featuring articles in English, French, Dutch and German, reports in the current issue on the development of a huge new project at the southwest corner of South Pattaya Road and Sukhumvit Road. This is the report from “Pattaya Info”, about a major development on which not a word has yet been published in “The Pattaya Mail”, the primary English language newspaper relied on in the Pattaya area.
“AMAZING DUCK SQUARE: You have probably noticed all the construction work taking place west of Sukhumvit Highway between South Pattaya Road and Theppasit Road. Well Pattaya get ready for the amazing Duck Square, set to open in April of this year. This 180+ rai covered shopping plaza is massive and will certainly be a big boost for Pattaya’s economy as a major attraction for tourists to the city. Duck Square is a shopping plaza of 700 shops varying in size from 48 sq. meters to 192 sq. meters. Surrounding the perimeter of the plaza is parking for 500 autos. Looking to the future, additional undeveloped land has been set aside for expansion and parking. The plaza has been beautifully designed to attract Pattaya residents, tourists and bus tours. Khun Thongperm Siriprechapong told the P.I. that already 60% of the shops have been leased for three years. It is understandable why leasing has gone so successfully at Duck Square. This is a wonderful and well thought out project that Pattaya can be proud of. Individuals and companies interested in receiving more information about leasing space at Duck Square may contact Khun Thongperm at (038) 374-445 – 9 or (01) 340-4686.”
We have been noticing heavy construction work for months, but not a word has been published about this project in the local English-only newspaper. It is nice that someone lets the public know what is going on.
That’s it for this week.
Gay Pattayan February 6, 2000