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Soi Bangla nightlife: arrests could eradicate freak sex shows

Rihanna Sparks Sex Show Investigation

Tuesday, September 24, 2013
PHUKET: A crackdown on Phuket sex shows is imminent following vulgar tweets sent by pop star Rihanna to her millions of followers, Thailand's Tourism and Sport Minister said today.

Somsak Pureesrisak was speaking in response to questions from a Phuketwan reporter at the opening of a new tourism facility on Phuket today.

Rihanna exposed the appalling denigration of women and mistreatment of protected slow lorises in Thailand in a series of revealing tweets and photographs during a short Phuket holiday.

Sex shows and the mistreatment of the cute, big-eyed lorises have flourished in Phuket's west coast tourist resort of Patong. Some Phuket police turn a blind eye to the law-breakers and are paid hefty bribes to not do their jobs.

In her most telling tweet, Rihanna reported:

Either I was phuck wasted lastnight, or I saw a Thai woman pull a live bird,2 turtles,razors,shoot darts and ping pong, all out of her pu$$y

Phuket police say they can't find the sex shows but the touts that encourage tourists to visit the shows swarm all over the tourist walking street of Soi Bangla every night and cannot be missed.

Today Minister Somsak warned that he had already assigned officers to an investigation and had the approval of Thailand's Prime Minister, Yingluck Shinawatra, to make arrests immediately.

''This kind of show is illegal,'' he said. ''Even though the businesses make money, that money is illegally made.

''Many tourists have been reporting about these shows to the ministry. Other reports have come from Thai businesses who do not like this kind of thing.

''Thai businesses affected by 'powerful people' [local 'mafia'] have also been reporting about it. So now we are working on it.''

Phuketwan Reporter: So you are stamping it out?

Minister Somsak: Last night I assigned the Permanent Secretary of the Tourism and Sport Ministry to ask the Prime Minister for a policy. She confirmed that if we have obvious evidence, we should arrest them immediately.

Earlier today the Minister for Culture, Sontaya Koonpluem, told Phuketwan that his department was also looking into the issue.

The Ministry of Culture has responsibility for protecting the reputation of Thailand's women and has clamped down hard on cases of lewd behavior in the past.

In Thailand, a young woman wearing a wet t-shirt in public can bring instant condemnation. But shocking sex shows are tolerated because renegade officers get a cut.

The Tourism and Sport Ministry is driving a campaign by authorities to remove all scams and rip-offs of tourists and to clean up the image of Thailand's tourist destinations.

Phuket is the destination chosen to pioneer improvements in quality service, to crack down on corruption and taxi and tuk-tuk rip-offs and jet-ski scams, and to provide better protection for all visitors.


Comments have been disabled for this article.


Police say they can't find the sex shows is like tourists in Belgium saying: we can't find the chocolate... It's impossible for anybody not to find this. Unless of course one is on a strict diet, and is paid for not looking at the chocolate.

Posted by Charles on September 24, 2013 17:48


Great of Phuketwan to follow up with your questions. While still not convinced, I would like to stand corrected and Thailand get rid of these awful stuff, that taints the image of this country. Even though...

Posted by Lena on September 24, 2013 17:53


This is hysterical...does anyone really believe that the sex shows will dissappear?....all this yak yak yak from gov't officials to show the world that they will supposedly be doing something to clean up Phuket...I'm not buying it...a few arrests will be made to appease the select masses and then the sex shows and the likes will continue as normal...It is clear that it has been part of Patong for a long long time and its a big part of what draws many people and their money out here. It will not dissappear aanytime soon...Look, if you don't like it and it odffends you, don't go there...All this talk, you would think Patong has the only red light district in the world....Many cities have them...who is kidding who?

Posted by sky on September 24, 2013 18:17

Editor Comment:

The sex shows are not part of normal red light activities in any part of the world and clearly denigrate all women, Thai women especially. It's time they went. There is no evidence that any tourists come to Thailand to see the sex shows. Tourists pay to see them because they are there. The money would be spent on other activities if the sex shows weren't there. Thailand would be much better off without them.


On my first visit to Thailand on the eve of new year 1997/98 to Pattaya, the similar show , that operates until now,but in different location - I was told that show by guides, that show is illegal , but yes, owned by police so it is half-legal, and "for tourists is legal" - same rods and bars on the entrance , checking bags for photo- videoequipment and so on. No real facade - just sign "LIDO".

So, now show arrests for sex show are imminent ..?

I guess the problem is not the show itself but tweets with som-nam-na effect.
Now I start to realize that restrictions on photo- videoequipment are put in place there for the same avoidance of som-nam-na issues , you know..

Posted by Sue on September 24, 2013 18:35


Go to any of the Soi Seadragon Go-Go bars and you will find the girls gyrating butt naked.

If a raid is imminent or in progress, the guys at the door will warn you no naked ladies tonight.

One bar is the most notorious of all - people having sex with the girls right at the tables and nobody blinks an eye.

It is crystal clear that the local police has zero interest in clamping down on this business and very much a financial interest in keeping them going.

The reaction of Thai authorities is your typical hypocritical window dressing that happens when the stink became too much to hide.

In this case exposed by a famous pop-star.

You and me could complain all day and nobody would give a damn.

Posted by ThaiMike on September 24, 2013 18:47

Editor Comment:

There's a distinction to be drawn between what goes on behind closed doors in bars or clubs and the sex shows, performed before an audience of tourists. Only the sex shows clearly denigrate all women, but especially Thai women. They are a repulsive vestige from an era when Thailand was the sex capital of the world.


The ping pong shows are a "tourist attraction" and aren't really hurting anyone. The girls who work there aren't forced to do so, so why not make it legal? That way the Boys in Brown might miss out on some "tea money", but at least they won't look stupid when they claim they can't find these shows, despite the army of touts along Bangla Road all waving signs. The obvious alternative, is to send in some plain clothes police. But we all know that's not going to happen.

Posted by Rupert on September 24, 2013 18:51

Editor Comment:

The sex shows are not appealing. They denigrate all women and Thai women especially. I saw one back in the 1980s, as a journalist on a TAT junket. Back then, Thailand was the world's sex capital. It's not any more. Prostitution has been legalised most everywhere. Although Thailand has matured over the past 30 years, the lewd sex shows remain. It's time they were stopped.



Posted by Mister Ree on September 24, 2013 19:24

Editor Comment:

Happy to take a joint libel case from you and them, Mister Ree, but not interested in anything you have to say.


When I told my family I will be going to Thailand for work and I would like to invite them after a year or two, they told me that they would be not so much interested because it's just a little bit too sleazy for them. The reputation for being a sex-tourist place was prevailing at that time. 2 years later nothing has changed about the reputation - despite me starting the next attempt to invite my family to come by for a visit. I can say that I found a couple of nice and quiet places on the island.

Posted by Jakub on September 24, 2013 21:37


Thailand was, is and will be one of the most popular sex-tourist destination. It is silly to claim that it all left in the past. Open your eyes. Sex-tourism was just limited to some special areas, where it is still thriving. Take a taxi from city hall of Bangkok for example. Just 10 minutes. Very funny. It is just a quastion of lost face again. Nothing more. Check immigration data, how many men come here alone. Do you think most of them come to eat som tam or just to get tanned. Very very naive.

Posted by Stranger on September 24, 2013 22:29

Editor Comment:

Who said sex tourism had been left in the past? You fail to understand yet again, Stranger. The sex shows don't draw any tourists to Thailand, just denigrate women. They are what should be stopped.


Certainly Phuketwan walks a delicate tightrope between advocacy and activism. Push too close to activism and risk access. I understand that. As long as somebody is making money, be it the vendors or corrupt officials, it will continue to exist. Last August, after three nights on Bangla, it seemed as though the number of "sex show" touts to people actually attending sex shows might well have been 1:1. If TAT wants to gain "high value" tourists, they either need to make it more family friendly, or install casinos. Good luck.

Posted by bill on September 25, 2013 07:58



Sex shows are can be found in many place of the world... Like Amsterdam where "Erotic theaters" near canals offer theater like set up with stage, where Actor and Actress perform, positioned on a large rotating plate, to guarantee to spectators all possible points of observations. Schoolboys are also allowed, they made quite noise by giggling, so it distracted the Actor who coplained aloud and asked to shut up, as otherwise his perfomance level dropped sharply.

In Latin America there are 24/7 live TV show where every citizen ir invited to perform.

Few quite young absolutely normal women from Europe were positively excited about png-pong shows, and were impressed how to train certain muscles to keep object there so well, they were eager to develop such skills, but not too such degree of mastership.

On one management meeting we were discusing incentive schemes for managers, we were suprised that beside financial stimulus one colleague of us when decsribing which non-financial awards woudl motivate him to work harder, said "acting in porn movie" - and he was absolutely serious.
Just people are different.

Posted by Sue on September 25, 2013 08:03

Editor Comment:

Most people are appalled by freak shows of all kinds, but they will visit sex shows in Thailand because they're there. The shows denigrate all women, whether or not the schoolboys giggle and people make jokes about porn actors. If Thailand wishes to show its maturity as a nation, Amsterdam is not the example to follow.


Ed: These shows denigrate women, I agree. But why you explicitly repeat "especially Thai women" ? What makes them so special in comparison with women of other nationalities ? On top of it, these shows also involves men and ladyboys. Isn't there any denigration, as well ?

Posted by Werni on September 25, 2013 09:01

Editor Comment:

There are laws in Thailand specifically to protect the reputation of Thai women. In my opinion, these shows not only break laws against lewd behavior but also damage Thailand's culture and maintain the crude, lewd reputation that the country is trying to shake off.


Exposed by Rhianna? Did nobody know about it before?? Come on Ed, enough on this story already please...

Posted by phuket madness on September 25, 2013 09:47

Editor Comment:

We don't take instructions, phuket madness.


''maintain the crude, lewd reputation that the country is trying to shake off''.

I've never seen evidence of that. My two son's families refuse to holiday on Phuket because of the sleaze reputation.
When one can look up on the internet: ''Out of all the tourists that visit Thailand each year, approximately 60% are male, and NGOs estimate that 70% of male tourists in Thailand are sex tourists''. ( and websites like Thailand Sex Guide - Sex Holiday Asia, Exotic Thai Vacations abound, it does not appear that anybody, including the TAT is trying to shake of the image.

Posted by Pete on September 25, 2013 11:11

Editor Comment:

Those figures are total rubbish, Pete, and probably always have been. One of the best investigations, carried out a few years back by Prospect magazine, estimated that no more than one million of Thailand's tourists then were sex tourists. With prostitution legalised in more places, the evidence is that the sex trade is diminishing, not growing. Malaysians crossing the southern border still constitute the largest proportion.


Ed: I don't think World Outreach publishes ''total rubbish'', they are there to help the less fortunate around the world and probably come across cases of exploitation that you and I would never experience. They might have religious overtones, but they are sincere in their work and what they accomplish. I have never previously heard of Prospect Magazine, but having looked it up I see it in the main specialising in politics, economics and current affairs. World Outreach is much better known.

Posted by Pete on September 25, 2013 12:07

Editor Comment:

Pete, load of rubbish. I can't speak for World Outreach but many of these organisations - especially the religious ones - accept the highest figure because it suits their purposes (ie, more sin, more cash, larger staff, etc). Independent investigations by highly-regarded journalists on classy magazines are not so suspicious. Ask World Outreach for its sources.


I might just do that and at the same time ask Prospect magazine the same question. You wouldn't object if I included your responses - or would you?

Posted by Pete on September 25, 2013 12:31

Editor Comment:

We stand by our comments. The 5000-word Prospect article was republished in the now defunct 'Phuket Post' and acclaimed as being the best informed article to that point on Thailand's sex industry. If you can find the link on Prospect, it would certainly be appropriate to send it to World Outreach asking them for a response. Businesses in Bangla and Bangkok will also tell you their figures are laughable.


Blaaa Blaaa Blaaa
I live here in phuket for 6 years
I've only ever heard blather
all talk and no action!

Posted by Chris on September 25, 2013 16:21


these shows have been going on in Thailand since 1970 when I was stationed at UBON RTAFB. just go to patpong back then and the shows were available.

Posted by KOZMO on September 26, 2013 20:49


@ Thaimike. That all GoGo bars in seadragon should have Butt naked ladies is total Rubbish... There ar e at least one of them -Diablo Agogo- that do not have any disscusting ping pong shows or naked dancers at all..there are pure fun and also one of few if any gogobars that doesent rip off customers. so b4 u state any thing like that do ur homework.

Posted by frog on September 28, 2013 16:26


ED: renegade officers get a cut?

Why would you say that? They are not renegade. They are the norm. The police system is rotten to the core.

Posted by phonus balonus on September 28, 2013 17:45

Editor Comment:

Police are supposed to enforce and obey Thailand's laws so any officer who does not is a renegade. There are honest police, too.


@ frog

My homework never included keeping up with Go-Go bars but obviously we attended educational institutions of somewhat different standards.

Never been in a Soi Seadragon Go-Go bar that did not have the girls appear naked some time during the evening.

Lucky you if you found one.

If you find the sight of naked and attractive women disgusting, one feels compelled to ask what on earth were you doing in a Go-Go bar in the first place.

Posted by ThaiMike on September 28, 2013 17:57


@ thaimike. discusting ping pong show it was. not about naked women :)

Posted by frog on September 29, 2013 16:57

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