Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas in Bangkok

December 25th, 1995 --

When I saw all the middle-aged whore-mongers standing around wearing Santa hats, I couldn't control my laughter.

A small after-work Christmas party was taking place at our rather remote branch of the largest language school in Bangkok. I had actually quit a few days earlier, along with another guy I worked with, in order to spend a month long holiday on the island of Koh Samui. We weren't leaving until Dec 26 in the evening, however, so we went back up to the school on Dec 25th for the party, with the intention of going out to celebrate more seriously afterwards.

We were the two youngest, at 25; all the others were in their 30's, 40's, and 50's.

The sight of these dissipated, bleary men making a half-assed attempt at sober Christmas cheer was enough to send me into gales of hysterics.

"Shut up and put on a hat," said English Teacher T.

The Thais, despite being Buddhists with a Muslim minority, had adopted Christmas in a big way; or perhaps it's more accurate to say they'd adopted consumerism and shopping in a big way, and Christmas seemed to them to be all about that, all overseen by this mysterious Santa Claus figure.

Most Thais liked the idea of Santa Claus; just another Buddha with a white beard, to them, I suppose. But not everyone agreed.

"No good Santa Clause come Thailand," said the 19-year-old boyfriend of one of the 50-year-old British male teachers, one of two homosexuals we worked with. "No good come house at night. People will shoot him like a kamoey," he said. (Kamoey being the thai word for thief, not to be confused with the Thai word katoey, which means transvestite.)

The party went off quickly and painlessly; no alcohol was permitted but we exchanged token gifts, Secret Santa style, with the Thai secretaries and had punch and Christmas cookies. (Naturally somebody had bought a flask so our punch was loaded with Thai rice whiskey.)

There was one uncomfortable moment when a secretary who was a Muslim received a ceramic piggy bank, but it all passed in the spirit of international Christmas cheer.

At about 10.00pm, we headed off to go in search of the true meaning of Christmas.

Our favorite place was Nana Plaza, a cheery little cul-de-sac of bars on two floors, with "gogo bar" style places on the ground level, where the girls danced on stage in bikinis, topless or even naked depending on the bar and the time of the evening. The second floor had smaller places, with more of a bar or pub style atmosphere; and of course on the second floor was the Nana Guesthouse, which rented rooms by the hour.

All of the places had free admission; to take a girl out you had to pay a bar fine, which if I remember correctly at the time was 500 bhat, about 20 dollars. You could buy a girl a "lady drink," which cost 3 or 4 dollars, and sit with her a while and get to know her; while the hovering mama-sans encouraged it, most of the girls I knew considered it bad business and felt a little embarrassed to ask for it.

(For what it's worth, I seem to remember the price of a small Carlsburg (33 cl) was 50 bhat -- $2. Our paycheck for the month was about $800, so that actually seemed a little pricey.)

Now of course the bar made its money with the "bar fine" -- whatever price you negotiatied with the girl for anything else was up to you and girl. 500 to 1000 bhat was typical ($20 - $40), in my experience; whether I was receiving a discount for not being fat and gross, I don't know.

There were of course all of the shows which have become legend: bananas, razor blades, transvestites, fire dancing, snakes, etc. The girl who specialized in shooting darts out of a blowgun in her vagina actually had a crush on me and was chasing after me for a while, but I never had the nerve to give her a try.

As you can imagine, Nana Plaza was a fucking blast.

The girls were mostly beautiful and slim, and the atmosphere was amazingly friendly and pleasant; I never experienced any rip-offs -- the $200 bottle of champagne or whatever -- and there was no hostility from anybody.

The girls never seemed abused or even depressed. Why should they be? What teenage girl doesn't enjoy dancing and hanging out with her friends? And here they made money doing it. Fucking fat sleazy German guys can't be that pleasant -- but there were plenty of youngish, fit guys in their 30's, engineers and army guys and what not. Nana Plaza was usually populated with the local expats, unlike the more touristy Patpong Road flesh-pits.

Needless to say, on December 25th, 1995, at 11.00pm or so -- this was one festive place. The area was decked out with Christmas trees, Christmas lights, candy canes, etc.

Into this den of sin walked the English teachers. Wearing Santa hats.

We had a few at one of our favorite downstairs go-go bars, Voodoo; we'd arrived just in time for "tit frenzy," as we referred to it, when all the girls came out and danced topless for one song.

Then we went upstairs to get hamburgers.

There was a little food-stand where a guy made hamburgers; I'd make a hyperbolic statement like, they were the best hamburgers I've ever eaten, but I suspect in actuality, the atmosphere and having a hot little Thai chick on our laps had a lot to do with how much we enjoyed them.

There was a small bar near there that we usually had a drink in; it was called something like REBEL YELL or something equally white-trashy and rednecky, but they played rock music, unlike the blaring techno-dance music at most of the gogo bars, so we found it a bit easier on the ears.

Only two girls worked there; we referred to them as Crazy and Tattoo.

They claimed to be sisters, but I don't think they were actually related; sister is a word close friends often use to refer to each other in Thailand. (Particularly hookers.)

Tattoo, as you probably guessed, had quite a few tattoos and piercings. This is EXTREMELY rare for Thai girls, and was damn near unheard of at that time, despite the rest of the world being pretty into that stuff back in the 90's. She had a really nice panther on her stomach.

The Crazy one was Crazy. She looked like a stunning example of a typical Thai girl; the delicate features and unbelievably fine, soft and honey-dripped skin, the almost total lack of body fat besides nice hand-fulls of breast; the long raven hair.

But she clearly deferentiatied herself from most Thai girls by scowling all the time. In The Land of A Thousand Smiles, this was damn near as strange and unusual as the tattoos and piercings on her sister. She liked to talk to me, for some reason, but I saw her meet most come-ons with outright hostility. Once when English Teacher Q kept trying to talk to her, she suddenly slapped her hands over her ears, closed her eyes, and started screaming until he backed off.

Neither of them would leave with any of us, ever; they neither asked nor allowed any of us to pay their bar fine. We drank with them and played Connect Four, but that was the extent of it.

But this Christmas day, the two of them were drunk off their asses. They were dancing on top of the small bar in their underwear, to the Rolling Stones. This was a jolly sight, you can believe it.

Almost immediately, the Crazy one leapt down and jumped into my lap. "You pay bar fine?" she cooed.

English Teacher M high-fived me. "Now that's the Spirit of Christmas!"

I finished one more beer and eagerly led her up to the Nana Guesthouse. She was so drunk she was actually staggering; I'd never seen a Thai girl so drunk. Not a young one, anyway.

I can't remember what it cost for a room -- it seems like it was about 150 bhat ($6) for an hour. (For comparison's sake, that's about what I paid per day at the cheap hotel on Khao San road I was living in.)

The rooms were okay, with a nice shower and bathroom and cable TV, and while I'm not exactly sure they changed the sheets after each guest, they kept the rooms relatively clean.

She asked me to order a couple of Carlsbergs from the room service guy while she took a shower.

I happily laid on the bed to watch MTV and uncapped my Carlsberg.

Twenty minutes later, I impatiently knocked on the door. "You alive in there?"

She came out, wrapped in a towel, weaving on her feet like a boxer who'd taken too many head shots.

"You okay?" I asked, a bit concerned, taking the second Carlsberg from her as she tried to drink it.

"Okay," she said.

She lay down on the bed.

I, as eager as any beered-up 25-year-old would be, unwrapped the towel from her gorgeous slim young body.

The unusual smell that came up is difficult to describe. It wasn't a typical fishy smelly vagina odor; the best way I can think of to describe it is like a particularly strong and cloying combination of spices.

She was reclining with her eyes closed; I bent down and kissed her for a while, on the lips and nipples, and then gently tried to insert my finger into her vagina. She flinched and said, "ow!"

"Okay, look," I said, "you're sick! Your pussy is sick! We can't have sex!"

"We can! It's okay," she said.

I tried again, and again she squirmed in pain.

I thought of trying to get her to blow me but I knew that was probably going to be a lost cause; Thai hookers don't often do that, and she looked like she was going to fall asleep any moment.

"All right, get dressed!"

That woke her up a bit, when she realized I intended to leave without giving her the 1000 bhat I'd promised her ($40.)

She argued that she needed the money to get home. After some haggling, I agreed I'd give her 500 bhat if she gave me a quick massage. It was a sucky massage even by non-Thai massage standards and after a few minutes she wanted to take the 500 bhat and go.

"All right, shit, Merry fuckin' Christmas."

I went back down and found English Teacher M drinking on the ground floor with a couple other guys we knew. He still hadn't found a girl that he liked.

"How was she?" he asked eagerly.

The impersonation of me saying with a worried, perturbed look on my face, "Something wasn't quite right down there," became a running joke and catch-phrase over the course of the next six months.

It was already after one a.m. at this point; the go-go bars around Nana Plaza had to close at 2.00am due to government regulations, but there were other options, so we decided to head for the second most festive place in Bangkok:

The Thermae.

The original Thermae bar was actually officially referred to as a "coffee shop" so it could get all-night status; it was run by the police, anyway, so it stayed open well past dawn.

I'm still not sure where it actually was; we would just get into a taxi and bellow "THERMAE!" and the driver would take us back on some side street behind a big indsustrial-looking building, and drop us off in a dark parking lot in the back; we entered the building through a rear doorway, and into an old industrial restroom, with a long trough to pee in.

Then you went down some stairs. You couldn't see much, due to the heavy smoke from dozens of cigarettes that obscured everything; it was very dark, as well. There were, I think some windows, but they were painted over and most of the place was underground.

I remember -- your feet would stick to the floor, like in a movie theater where somebody has spilled coke. In this case it was spilled beer and god knows what. A general gluey ooze of desperation.

At the bottom of the stairs, there was a room on the right; if you looked in, you could usually see a group of Thai policemen playing cards. There was never any trouble at the Thermae, because everybody knew the cops would just come out and beat the living shit out of any troublemakers and perhaps kill them.

Decorations? Near the bar there were vinyl couches, I remember that. Wooden chairs and tables. It was a small place and usually packed at 3.00am; it was always difficult to find a seat.

Thai bar girls went to the Thermae when they got off work at 2.00am; there were plenty of freelancers there, too. The men that went there were usually the die-hard Bangkok locals; literally this was the bargain basement of hookers.

Still and all, you could see some nice looking girls there, despite the older whores occsionally attacking the younger ones in the parking lot.

English Teacher M and I applied ourselves to some more Christmas Carlsberg; before too long he'd found himself a nice girl, and was ready to leave with her.

"I guess I'll just go home," I said, weary and, for all the second-hand smoke and stench in the Thermae, still recalling the strange smell that came from the Crazy girl's vagina.

I made one last glance around the dingy bar, and a little Thai girl suddenly latched onto me. She was cute, but a little pudgy by Thai standards.

"I don't know," I said to M. "I think my heart's not in it."

"Oh, man, look at her! Can you break her cute little heart? It's Christmas!"

I agreed and we went to a very cheap guest house nearby. This was was considerably grubbier than the Nana Guest House, but only cost about 50 bhat for an hour. It smelled of bug spray and had peeling paint on the bathroom walls.

We sat on the bed and snuggled a bit; we chatted. I remember she asked me how many Thai girls I'd been with, and I said I thought she was the 5th or 6th; she volunteered the information that I was about her 40th customer. She was very cheery, I remember, and I wasn't feeling too cheery as the dawn rolled around.

We undressed; I put my arm around her and felt that she had some kind of lump near the base of her spine. Tumor? Prehensile tail?

She was playing with my cock, and it was stirring slowly and crabbily to life.

She had her head on my chest and indicated my nipples. "Tomai?" she asked. I knew that meant "why" in Thai.

"Why do men have nipples? Now that's an ancient and difficult question, isn't it?" I babbled to no-one in particular.

She dug her tongue into my nipple and quickly administered a very firm and professional and extremely festive Christmas handjob.

"Jak wao" the Thai girls call it -- tugging the kite string.

Jack, wow! "Whew!" I said afterwards. "That was nice, thanks." And no lingering worries about diseases, unless I'd gotten bedbugs from the crappy room.

She beamed and hugged me very sweetly. I can't remember what I gave her, I think it was something like 300 bhat. ($12)

We took a tuk-tuk out of whatever hovel of a street we were on and I began making my slow and painful way across Bangkok back to my hotel, as the sun rose on the city.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all, a good night!

(Amazingly, I was able to find this video on YouTube of the original Thermae's entrance area; it does not linger on the toilets, but you can see them.)

This is a website about the old Thermae, which closed in 1996; another bar with the same name opened up, but it lacks the subtle ambiance of the original.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

New Old Motion Comics

The England vs. America Debate:

A Conversation About Cloning:

English Teacher X in Singapore:

Because hey, what cartoon isn't better with some generic techno music behind it?

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Vodkaberg Mashup

Yes, I took all those pictures personally, and yes, I knew all those girls, usually in the biblical sense, and yes, those tits are all real.

And yes, there are lots more pictures like that on this blog; look at the archives and you'll see plenty.

My book about Vodkaberg should be available about March or April of 2012.

And before I start having to answer a bunch of "DUDE I'M GOING TO RUSSIA" emails -- remember a few things:

1) Almost all of those pictures were made in 2004 - 2006 -- you can see the dates, there.

2) While you can certainly still rock out in Russia, expecting to have the same experience I had is about like going to Seattle in 1998 and expecting to enjoy the grunge scene, or going to Height-Ashbury in 1977 and expecting to enjoy the Summer of Love. It's vastly different now than it was even five years ago.

Friday, December 16, 2011

My Latest Thang

Yo dawg, I heard you liked trailers.

Okay, so TO TRAVEL HOPELESSLY is now available as a paper book, also:



New content? Dude, I'm too busy marketing! That's the worst part of the internet in general, it turns us all into whores and advertising agencies for ourselves.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Book Book Book Book

So I'm branching out into video, this is my first putative effort:

Blatant self-promotion, of course, but I hope to put some more entertaining videos up soon, now that I know how to use the video editor. I promise, my Christmas gift to you all -- at least two funny stories about whores, before the New Year. And perhaps in the form of a motion comic, or an actual animation.

The ETX GUIDE is now available in a new, properly formatted version as a paper book on Amazon. and directly from Createspace; regrettably, when I corrected the scaling errors, the increased page count caused the price I needed to charge to make a profit go up. (Blame the bankers with their blatant speculation on commodities, and go occupy whatever.)

And kind regards to the Alpha-Gentleman Bardamu, who runs the In Mala Fide website / magazine, who gave kind reviews of my books recently.


Wednesday, December 07, 2011

The Feminine Mystique

So there's a lot of talk on the internet castigating American and European women for being masculine, and praising women in other countries for remaining true to their femininity.

But there's never much discussion of what feminine actually MEANS.

Basically, on all these pick-up artist and wife-hunting forums, feminine is just kind of a synonym for "hot" with sort of the added idea of "not very mouthy."

Yeah, obviously, I think anybody, even most women, would agree that it's better for women to look like models or ballerinas than like lumberjacks or merchant marines.

But my Russian girlfriend is probably the most feminine, girliest, girly-girl in the history of womankind, so I can speak with authority on the issues that people who haven't gone out with some really feminine girls aren't thinking about.

You will have to start opening doors for her. Growing up in the 70's, my generation got a kind of half-assed introduction to doing that, but I suppose guys who grew up in America in the 80's and 90's weren't even taught to do it all. (I can remember one incident when I first went to Russia, of standing dumbly in a hallway with a girl, and saying "Uh, what are you waiting for?" and her saying, "I'm waiting for you to open the door!")

If you don't live with her, you might have to go to her apartment and get her, and then escort her out on the town. Sometimes in Russia it was a 45 minute round trip to get some girl, and of course then you double the taxi money.

When we were in Russia, I had to meet her at the bus-stop after she finished work. My girlfriend is exceptionally kind and allowed me to sleep in the morning and not walk her to the bus-stop, but I know she onsidered it a bit of a dick move on my part.

You will carry her bags, and some cases she'll even want you to carry her PURSE, if it's especially large.

And here's the one most of these guys on the forums aren't going to be able to deal with --
YOU HAVE TO PAY FOR EVERYTHING. A truly feminine girl wouldn't pay for anything. She needs all her money for make-up and skin creams.

Now of course my conclusions are drawn from dealing with Russian women; but I knew guys with Thai girlfriends and I suppose it's probably the same in other countries.

There are two other issues that frequently go along with being very feminine that fortunately I don't experience with my girlfriend -- girls who buy into the whole "princess" thing are often very greedy and often extremely jealous. (Thai girls especially are known for being incredibly possessive and jealous; I knew a former boxer in Thailand who was terrified of the temper of his 40 kg Thai wife.)

After all -- she's a princess and you'll have to TREAT her like a princess.

So I doubt that these guys harping on the Internet are really thinking about a world in which all women are the epitome of feminiity, because then THEY'D have to develop the old-fashioned, elegant manners of Cary Grant and go to considerable trouble and expense to do so.

These dudes are dreaming an impossible dream of Lara Croft and video porn stars who look perfect but they can turn off immediately upon ejaculating.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

The Most Famous TEFL Teachers (Updated for 2015!)

(I've just been doing a 2015 Edition of GUIDE TO TEACHING ENGLISH and I thought I would update my list of famous TEFL teachers, which was far from comprehensive.)

There are a number of influential and important figures in the world of TEFL.

These include luminaries such as Stephen Krashen. Noam Chomskey. Jeremy Harmer. Michael Swan.

The problem, of course, is that NOBODY OUTSIDE THE WORLD OF TEFL, and MOST OF THE PEOPLE WITHIN THE WORLD OF TEFL, have never heard of them at all.

Noam Chomsky is arguably well-known among grad student types for his political activism, but until he goes on DANCING WITH THE STARS, the average American will have no idea who he is. In addition I haven't been able to find any indication he ever taught English as a Second Language, despite all the linguistic theory he came up with on the subject.

With that in mind I offer this list of the most famous (former) TEFL teachers.

12) Oliver Stone, film director and screenwriter of such ground-breakingly violent films as SCARFACE and NATURAL BORN KILLERS, taught English for six months at the Free Pacific Institute in South Vietnam, before giving that up to join the Navy. The quote “If you’re not born crazy, you’re born boring” is prominently displayed on his personal website. That strikes me as a very TEFL sort of statement.

11) Nicky Hornby, author of novels such as HIGH FIDELITY, which usually centered around spoiled, self-centered man-children as they bumbled their way through life, apparently taught English and TEFL in London at some point. Little information seems to be available about where, why, or how he liked it.

10 ) Bob Geldoff, musician and charity activist, apparently pissed off to Spain at some point to teach English, somewhere in between working at the slaughterhouse and starting the group the Boomtown Rats and single-handedly saving Africa from famine. 

9) Gary Glitter, 70s glam rock star, after fleeing child porn charges in Britain, was arrested in Vietnam for raping teenage girls as young as 12; he claimed he was only teaching them English. Whether he actually did any teaching is a bit in doubt, to say the least.

8) Keith Wright, former Australian politician and leader of the Australian Labour Party, nearly became Prime Minister in 1983 – but in 1993 he was jailed for 8 years for “indecent dealing” with underage girls and rape. A former preacher as well as teacher, he now runs TEFL and teacher training courses in Asia. He is quoted in an article in the Courier Mail as apologizing for his errors and saying that "literacy can free people from poverty. Improving literacy is, therefore, a way of combating child exploitation. I'm glad to say there is a charity element in my work." 

        7) Charles Berlitz, the grandson of Berlitz School founder Maximillian Berlitz, probably deserves a place on the list. Unlike his father, it would seem he actually taught English. (His father actually began the Berlitz Schools to teach French and German.)

Most sources are unclear as to whether he actually taught, merely saying that "during breaks he worked for the family language school"; he later worked mainly in the publishing and tape-production part of the business. But we can assume he probably did a little teaching, somewhere along the line, so he can at least earn 7th place on the list.

He sold the company in the 60's, and focused himself on other equally scientific and logical pursuits:

If you don't want to bother to watch that, he apparently believed that The Bermuda Triangle was related to the lost city of Atlantis and ancient astronauts, subjects upon which he wrote many books. He also wrote a book about The Philadelphia Experiment, which supposedly had a World War 2 battleship disappearing due to time-travel and invisibility experiments.

The Berlitz company actually entered legal proceedings at one point trying to stop him from using the Berlitz name, as they felt it might reflect badly on the school.

And if his rather kooky wrting wasn't enough -- he married a student!

        6) Perpetually grumpy and acerbic author and professional backpacker Paul Theroux worked as an English teacher for the Peace Corps in Africa as well as at the National University in Singapore.

As we all know, Peace Corps volunteers are hardly the usual kind of English teacher; Theroux didn't think much them, himself, nor did he think much of teaching; in the introduction to a collection of early novels, he describes wanting to write to escape the "tedium of teaching" and that he "found nothing" in Singapore.

Nonetheless, Theroux had plenty of adventures, it would seem; he writes that "In Malawi I saw my first hyena, smoked my first hashish, witnessed my first murder, caught my first case of gonorrhea.” He also got kicked out of various countries for getting involved in political activism.

So we place him respectfully at number six on the list.

        5) Todd Solondz is probably not any better known, in terms of being a household name, than any of the above-mentioned, but he is a director who has made several award-winning and commercially successful films. He taught ESL in the early 90's for the New York Association for New Americans.

One of the characters in his second and most famous film, HAPPINESS, works as an ESL teacher, and has an affair with a Russian student (who turns out to be an abusive grifter.)

The other characters in the film are a father who proves to be a pedophile who rapes young boys, a guy who makes obscene phone calls, and a murderous fat woman. Yeah, it was made in the 90's.

His featuring ESL in a film earns him fifth place on the list.

        4) James Joyce, author of critically-lauded, weighty, unreadable novels worked for many years for the Berlitz chain in Trieste.

We are informed by Wikipedia that during this period his was constantly scheming to make money in other fields, while simultaneously drinking heavily and wasting his brother's money:

"Joyce's ostensible reasons (for teaching) were desire for Stanislaus's company and the hope of offering him a more interesting life than that of his simple clerking job in Dublin. In truth, though, Joyce hoped to augment his family's meagre income with his brother's earnings.
Stanislaus and Joyce had strained relations throughout the time they lived together in Trieste, with most arguments centring on Joyce's drinking habits and frivolity with money."

        3) John Fowles , the British author of THE COLLECTOR and THE FRENCH LIEUTENANT'S WOMAN, wrote his first novel THE MAGUS while teaching English in Greece. Wikipedia states that "Fowles was happy in Greece, especially outside of the school," and that he and all the other teachers were fired after two years for "trying to institute reforms."

In addition, he stole another guy's wife while he was there, and THE MAGUS was full of a reasonable amount of sex, as far as 60's literature goes. As far as I know, it's the only popular and critically-acclaimed novel in which the main character is an EFL teacher.

Therefore, despite not being particularly widely-read these days, he earns #3 on the list.

        2) John Mark Karr taught English in Gautamala, while fleeing from a child pornography charge in the United States, and was teaching English in Thailand when he was arrested for confessing to the murder of JonBenet Ramsey.

Of course he didn't do it, and was exonerated by DNA evidence after he received a business-class trip back to America escorted by federal marshals.

(TEFL teachers around the world should pay attention to this quick, free, and easy way to get a ticket home in an emergency.)

John Mark Karr is apparently in the process of undergoing a sex change and lives as a woman named Alexis Reich.

Since then he has been up on domestic abuse charge and there are recent reports of him making death threats related to organizing a cult around JonBenet Ramsey, and his current whereabouts are unknown.

AND NUMBER 1) : J. K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter books. She taught English in Porto, Portugal in 1992, and in the course of two years, got married to a local, had a child, got divorced, and returned home to be diagnosed as clinically depressed. I'd say that establishes her TEFL cred, wouldn't you?

And of course, eventually, she came up with the idea for Harry Potter books and is now worth a billion dollars.

In addition to being the most well-known, she also provides inspiration to the legions of TEFL bloggers out there hunched over the keyboard. (Rule #1 for success: don't write about TEFL.)