Weekly Reports on Pattaya activities, 13rd February 2000

Dr. Allen R. Briggs



Weekly Reports on Pattaya activities

13rd February 2000



  • “Thai Guys” magazine, issue 3, features Icon Club Bangkok, Tawan Bar, Pattaya’s Bruno’s Restaurant and a reprinted gay guide to Siam of the 20’s
  • Crazy Pub had contests Saturday Night in various categories
  • Splash swimming show is spectacular
  • Lucky Karaoke Pub now shown on web site map
  • Mike Williams arriving in Thailand March 1, in Pattaya March 12
  • Film “Anna and the King” is “entertainment”, not Thai history


“Thai Guys” magazine’s third issue continues its practice of featuring great stories on places of interest, insight into business operations of fascinating businesses, and, this month, a look at “old Siam’s” gay history.

The magazine, which started last fall and comes out every two months, is still available locally with free distribution, and is available by subscription. Free distribution presumably will end, even in Bangkok and Pattaya, once the magazine has become well established and widely read.

“Rome has fallen!” is the title of the article of the former Rome Club, with its history as a fabulous gay-friendly place in the ’70s and ’80s, which fell on “hard times” when its homophobic management tried a different approach, and then tried reverting to its former style, but not finding much of a welcome by a gay community with long memories. The article details the opening in Bangkok tomorrow evening (Monday, February 14, Valentine’s Day) of the Bangkok Icon the Club, plus an “Icon the Shop” across the soi which will be “sort of a coffee bar and will carry all the Icon brand products from calendars to underwear (perfume and other delights to follow).” The article also promises open air terraces on both sides of the street (Silom Soi 4) to “watch the world go by”.

The so-called “gay guide to Siam of the 20’s” written up in this issue of “Thai Guys” is fascinating. It covers a travel book, “Friendly Siam: Thailand in the 1920s”, by Ebbe Kornerup, translated from Danish in 1928, and recently reprinted by White Lotus Press, Bangkok, 1999. The magazine shows many tantalizing photos of young Thai men, scantily clad, in the 1920s, and speaks of the author, saying: “Delighted by things Thai, his narrative also reveals an eye keenly alive to male beauty, and his descriptions of ‘fine young fellows’ — the attractive prisoners, fishermen, laborers, and footballers –are augmented by number of near nude photographs.” The article also points out, “How such ‘warm’ descriptions eluded the rigourous self-censorship many early gay travellers practiced is a lingering question. This is a double narrative–a well-crafted story of a journey to a little known faraway country and a covert tale of a trip to a ‘homophile’ paradise.”

The write-ups on Tawan Bar in Bangkok and on Bruno’s Restaurant in Pattaya are equally well done, and make this an issue well worth treasuring.

“Thai Guys” accepts subscriptions. In Thailand, they ask that you just issue a cheque to OPQRS Co. Ltd, for 600 baht for 12 issues and send to Fortune Condo Tower 2, 315/253 Saturpradit 19 Road, Yannawa, Bangkok 10120, e-mail: thaiguys@loxinfo.co.th ; and for subscriptions outside Thailand, the cost is 2,000 baht for 12 issues, for which they ask that you send your credit card number, expiry date, reason of payment (subscription to “Thai Guys”) and amount (baht 2,000), including your address, to OPQRS at the address above.


Information was received too late to give advance notice, but the Crazy Pub sponsored several contests Saturday night at its venue in Sunee Plaza (see Map of Sunee Plaza area, on the www.pattayagay.com site). The contests sought to choose “Mr. Too Big and Too Long”, “Mr. Too Short and Too Small” and “Mr. Popular” from a field of contestants to be provided by the other bars in the Pattaya area. In an apparent attempt to avoid transvestites, the contest rules provided, “no breasts” and “no wigs allowed”. Unfortunately, the event occurred on election day in Pattaya, which, due to announced police restrictions on serving of alcholic beverages, may have reduced the turnout. I was unable to attend, although I had planned to do so, and therefore cannot give you the full report I had planned to provide. Knowing how popular Crazy Pub shows are, however, I think you can safely assume they had a good crowd turnout, and I hope the contestant turn out was great. Perhaps I can provide more detailed information next week.


I was able to take in a full late show at Splash Bar in BoyzTown (see Map of the Pattayaland area, in the www.pattayagay.com web site) this weekend, and it was far better than the first show I saw on grand opening night. More experience in the performance really pays off. This was made more spectacular by featuring two swimmers, swimming, embracing, cavorting with each other, and, at one point, locked in a “69” style embrace, barrel-rolling over and over underwater for a seemingly incredible period of time. Jim Lumsden, one of the owners of the Ambiance Group, greeted me there and made me and the young man who was with me feel welcome, just before show time for the final show of the evening, at approximately 2 a.m. (The bars in Pattaya can stay open until 3 a.m.) The show has improved dramatically just since grand opening January 3; colorful lighting changes were fascinating, and highlighted and backlighted the swimmers beautifully, and a steady stream of bubbles flowing from the bottom of the pool up the glass front, added substantially to the beauty of the scene. Jim advised that they had that capability on grand opening night, but thought the bubbles would be distracting. They have since apparently realized that the stream of bubbles adds beauty as well as a touch of mystery to the swimming scene, as the performers go through their ballet-like performances under water. Both the young man with me and I felt the show was superb, and bodes well for another great attraction to the downtown Pattayaland area in general, and to BoyzTown specifically.

GO GO BOYS DANCE IN FRONT OF SWIMMING TANK AT SPLASH ON GRAND OPENING NIGHT … Photo by Gaybutton from his Guide to Gay Thailand site: http://members.xoom.com/gaybutton/gaythaiguide.htm


Our ever-so-helpful mapmaker has revised and upgraded the web site’s Map of the Icon-Octopus area to show the location of the new Lucky Karaoke Pub recently opened under new management on Soi 17 just southerly off of Pattaya Third Road. In doing so, the map has been changed to include the path of Soi 17 all the way from Pratumnak Road (the southerly extension of Pattaya Second Road just southerly from South Pattaya Road) to a point beyond Pattaya Third Road. I think this helps greatly in putting the location of this gay-owned pub in perspective. I had planned on visiting the pub this week, but due to unexpected problems that night, I have had to delay my visit, but will definitely make a point of getting out there soon to check it out and report on it.


Our friend and author of several web sites extolling the wonders of Thailand and the great gay bars it features, Mike Williams, is moving to Thailand for at least one year. He has accepted a position in the Bangkok area that will be for one year, with the possibility of extensions, and he will be seeking housing in the Bangkok area. He expects to arrive for a visit to Pattaya on March 12, and head back to Bangkok on March 14. His friend Jim from America is already planning on a visit in May, that will definitely also include some time in Pattaya, along with Mike. Mike’s web sites include the following:

http://www.fortunecity.com/oasis/tuscany/893/ksc.htm Khun Sweet Cigar, Pattaya and more.

http://www.fortunecity.com/oasis/tuscany/893/ This is Mike’s main gay site on Thailand, including his visits to Pattaya.


Dennis Regan provided the following to share with you:

“I would like to share some thoughts with you concerning the recent movie “Anna and the King” with Jodie Foster and Chow Yung Fat. I know that there has been considerable controversy in Thai newspapers concerning the fact that the film is banned in Thailand. One often sees something like: “My Thai wife and I saw the film and enjoyed it.” Or “It is only intended as entertainment and needn’t be taken so seriously as fact.” And so on.

” I do not wish to address the issue of censorship policy. It is not my place to criticize the policies in that regard of another nation. But I would like to discuss my perceptions of the film and what it represents. I have three references for my views: the film itself and two books. They are “Anna and the King of Siam” by Margaret Landon (pub. 1943) and “The English Governess and the Siamese Court” by Mrs. Anna Leonowens (pub. 1999). The latter is a compilation of Mrs. Leonowens’ two books on the subject: “The English Governess at the Siamese Court” (1870) and “The Romance of the Harem” (1872).

“First and foremost it must be recognized that the books and stage performances by and about Mrs. Leonowens do not represent unbiased fact. They do represent her rather feminist perspectives of life in the court of a famous Siamese monarch then known to the western world as Maha Mongkut, father of the then Prince Chulalonkorn. And they relate often to her interactions with the king’s powerful and capable premier Chow Phya Sri Sury Wongse.

“Her books were written some time after she returned from Siam, and they are often critical of a society she could only understand from her own point of view. Her books represent no more than her opinions. And I expect that is entirely reasonable.

“It is Margaret Landon’s book which was used as the basis for the stage and cinematic productions relating to Anna and the King of Siam. And Mrs. Landon admits in her preface of essentially fitting the facts to the story, although her book does parallel that of Mrs. Leonowens very well, in my opinion, however a good deal is invented and not at all in Anna’s books. In other words, not fact. Very good reading but not fact.

“And now to the movie. For those of you who have not seen it, it is a spectacular colorful production filmed in Malaysia at great cost. The acting is superb as is the direction and the entire production. It is quite entertaining. However, based on the books cited above, I must say that it is absolutely phony from beginning to its inglorious end. While some names are taken from Anna’s books and that of Mrs. Landon, they are often not applied to the same characters in the film. I was at a loss to find one single episode in the film which was actually as Anna had described. Not one. And many have been purely fabricated, such as the completely ridiculous ending in which Anna and her son and Prince Chulalonkorn save the Siamese kingdom and the great king Mongkut himself by their clever, wise intervention with firecrackers. I could find no record of anything vaguely, remotely similar in either the books or in historical references. Pure ficiton showing her purported strength and wisdom.

“The film, in my opinion, represents Anna as being all wise and always correct, something not unlike Margaret Landon’s book. But in the books I cite, the wisdom of the King and that of the Kralahome (Sury Wongse) are also evident. In the movie they are subordinate to Anna. This was a highly intelligent and capable king who successfully calculated a solar eclipse, spoke and wrote in many languages including European ones, and who was very much responsible for preserving his nation from the inroads of the British and especially of the French of that period. This is a king whose great son Chulalonkorn was to continue Mongkut’s good work in bringing Thailand into modern society.

“How very well I can understand the chilling Thai reception to a movie . . . or to the books about her . . . in which an English woman is presented to the audience as being critical of the society including the king and, often, knowing better than they in a manner very reminiscent of the current feminist attitude. I believe that the overwhelming power of films and of television to give one the impression that they are representing unvarnished fact must give the Thai people pause when they consider such a fallacious biased perspective as presented in the movie. And I agree with them in that and understand their wish to censor it.

“The film was entertaining on the one hand and only vaguely relating to historical fact on the other. I commend it for the former and condemn in for the latter. Frankly I very much recommend Margaret Landon’s book for its entertainment value and for being closer to fact as Mrs. Anna Leonowens represented them than the movie.”

End of review of “Anna and the King”

That’s it for this week, Guys.

Gay Pattayan February 13, 2000

E-mail: GayPattayan@pattayagay.com

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