This month's two-pronged 'Soi Twilight - Patpongs story' kicks off several years back with an historical look at the 'Twilight Zone' (as it was sometimes called) - Bangkok's largest dedicated gay Night Entertainment Area - and segues into the Patpongs of today.
MIDNITE HOUR's first visit to Soi Twilight was in 2005 - a 'guided tour' walk-through with author
Jerry Hopkins<link>, a person who would be familiar with these lesser-known sois. However, at that time, there were too few Nitespots on the Soi to consider it as a stand-alone Night Entertainment Area - it was nowhere close to reaching 'critical mass'. A year later, MIDNITE HOUR did another walk-through of the Soi and discovered the Soi had grown substantially. At that time, we had an opportunity to interview the owner of the Banana Bar which was located just next to the Twilight Bar, or more correctly, just across the Soi from where the Twilight Bar once existed. He had been around since the Twilight Bar was the lone soldier at the top of that Soi. He recalled that the Twilight Bar opened on, or about 1966, but didn't have a clear recollection of what year it closed. Nevertheless, it was around long enough to give Soi Pratuchai its nickname - known to all taxi drivers... etc. It therefore follows that the eventual buildup of the then Soi Pratuchai between 1966 and 2005 was slower than slow. From 2006 on, however, Soi Twilight was "on the map"; it had reached 'critical mass' and new Venues were opening regularly - some relocating in from Soi Than Tawan.
But, as 'The Only Constant is Change', and as bars and bar areas inevitably cycle from 'low, to a high point, and back to low', the build-up in Soi Twilight would not last forever... In a seemingly inconsequential event in 1996 on Patpong 2, the Princess Castle closed (oh, the memories...), and the Screw Boy -from Soi Twilight- opened there, next door to the Pink Panther. It failed, and moved back to Soi Twilight, eventually failing yet again, and returning yet again to Patpong 2. After another false start, it kick-started in June 2007 as 'New Screw Boy" (later dropping the 'New'). It is still there today at its original location next to the Pink Panther So it was that the Screw Boy became the first hard-core gay bar to come to Patpong II long term. (...Continued below...)
At a glance... A color-coded look at the current penetration of gay bars into the Patpongs.
Nevertheless, unknowingly, the Screw Boy was the harbinger, the foreshadower of the coming gay bar exodus, much of which would end up in the Patpongs. For the next few years the bar-count at Soi Twilight climbed at a fairly regular pace, even while the occasional rumor of 'soi closing' would pop up - and bars would be asking themselves, and us at MIDNITE HOUR,
if they should move (or in some cases move back) to Soi Than Tawan. Then in 2012, Ocean Boy closed, again amid rumors of the Soi closing. Even so, it was assumed it would be immediately replaced by another bar, however it was many months before it would reopen as The Zeus - beer bars sprouting on the empty verandas next door. The Zeus closed at the beginning of 2015, never to be reoccupied. It was from this point onward that Soi Twilight would begin to slowly contract. Mario Massage closed not long after that in mid-2015, again, those digs never finding a replacement venue.
The towering sign, able to be seen from afar, was all that most knew of Soi Twilight.
The '@ Chai Massage' on Soi Twilight closed in late 2017, never to reopen. Fresh Boys had already permanently departed Soi Twilight, opening upstairs on The Ramp in Patpong II in April 2018. Then in mid-2018Dick's Cafe Bangkok moved to 'Gaytown' at the north end of Jomtien Beach. Dick'sSoi Twilight digs would not reopen. At Dick's closing, the handwriting was already on the wall for the closure of Soi Twilight - it was more than 'rumor' - it was just a matter of when, not if.
This Map shows Soi Twilight in 2013 - at 19 venues.
In September of 2018, the upstairs X Size closed permanently, followed by the closure of the X Size Massage downstairs in January 2019, leaving just their downstairs pool bar. The pool bar closed in February, and the far end of Soi Twilight began to be walled off with sheet metal construction barrier. ...The 'cascade', the exodus, had begun. This was when MIDNITE HOUR published a photo of a sign they posted telling customers not to worry, the bars inside the Soi were operating 'business as usual'. On our visit 01 April the entire back half of Soi Twilight was closed off (with the exception of New Classic and Hot Male Beer Garden at the Rama IV Road entrance). Some bars were already openly posting signs saying they were moving to the Patpongs.
The New Twilight sign remained in place years after it went out of business. Nevertheless, that bar lent its name, indellibly so, to the Soi - up to, and including the day it closed. This sign was removed years ago.
In March 2019 we noted on our site the impending / ongoing close-down of Soi Twilight (Soi Pratuchai), and the start of the 'exodus' of its bars. As previously noted, many of those bars were in the process of relocating to Patpongs 1 & 2. But unnoticed by most over the last several years -and prior to the recent 'big exodus' - a number of other gay bars had already been trickling into the Patpongs.
Below is a summary break-out of the gay / katoey bars in the Patpongs in recent years :
*King's Corner - The 'ground-breaker', although it was open since the late 80's, it was some time before it became half-katoey / half straight bar - the Patpongs' first 'gender-bender'. As the name suggests, a Kings Group Venue.
*King's Castle 3 - Next to follow on Patpong 1 - located in the original King's Castle digs. Also a home-grown King's Group Venue. This venue no longer open, currently home to Bannana Bar.
*Top Less Pool - The bar itself is a bloodline descendent of the Topless Topless Topless, which was actually topless and often more.... It didn't become a gender-bender until years later. It is still at its original location on PP2).
*Srew Boy opened in August 1996. It failed and left for Soi Twilight, failed again, and returned permanently to PP2 in 1998. After another false start, it reopened as New Screw Boy in 2007 (and would shortly drop the 'New'). It is still there today as Screw Boy.
*Pinocchio - On PP2, opened as a katoey special services bar on October 1997. It is still there today.
*King's Corner 2 - The 3rdKing's Group gender-bender - opening October 2012, and still open today on Soi Bookstore (between PP1 & PP2).. It is currently absorbing another long-standing katoey beer bar, the King's Garden.
*New Screw Boy Disco - Opened as an offshoot of the Screw Boy in April of 2016. It is currently under renovation and will remain a gay bar, however there may be a name change.
*Fresh Boys - Moved in from Soi Twilight in April 2018, before the big exodus.
*Tavern 2 - 'Tavern 2 (Tony and Tooey)' goes back literally decades - however about 5 months ago it quietly transformed into a katoey lounge.
*Chill Out - A gay lounge, moved into the short-lived Pussycat on PP1 in December of 2018.
*Qeen 501 (Queen) - A gay lounge, moved into the Studio Bar 9501 in March 2019.
*69 - A gay lounge, moved into the short-lived Tokyo Boy on December 2018.
* The 7 gay bars that moved to the Patpongs at the closing of Soi Twilight commencing April 2019:
*Hotmale *Hotmale Beer Bar *Bannana *Super Boyz *Lucky Boys Bangkok *Bangkok Massage *Dream Boy Paradisio
This Area Map shows the proximity of the Patpongs and Soi Twilight - as well as the other Night Entertainment Areas in the vicinity.
In conclusion, it can be seen that the number of gay bars has been steadily increasing over time, and ever more rapidly as time goes on. As these gay bars were arriving rather sporadically over the last several years, no one really took much notice. When seven bars moved in all at once on the closing of Soi Twilight, many took notice - and several of our readers expressed their various concerns to us. As we remain an historically oriented news periodical, we are not in a position to comment publicly on such concerns, however we note for the historical record that there are many out there who lament the slow and inexorable decline of the Patpongs, remembering those raucous Patpongs of the 70's and 80's.
Thank You for the excellent opening piece for May 2019 issue of The Midnight Hour. Peter Du Cane has provided an interesting and informative account of the Mississippi Twins. This nostalgic look back at Patpong was compelling and I read the article slowly as I did not want the story to end. The personal details and photos were fascinating. As usual the entire column was a worthy read. Keep up the great work.
I often went out with June. A ... colleague and I took the two of them on an FCCT dinner cruise on the Oriental Queen. A Japanese correspondent and his wife joined us, but most others, since they were accompanied by their wives, gave our table a wide berth.
I liked the Mississippi Queen stuff, I was there in 1974.
I have beautiful transparencies of Joy dancing and posing... Also Apple from Limelight plus others...
Very nice tribute.
(Author Peter Du Cane) did a great job in my humble opinion. It really brings back the glory days. I have put the link on my Facebook page.
'Many thanks for your wonderful piece on The Twins. They were true characters of Patpong during its best years. The street today is so sad by comparison. Again, thanks for reviving my memories of Bangkok in its hey-days.'
Was it Noi who danced in Deer Hunter? Anybody know what happened to her?
So many great characters. ...And talking twins...
Thanks. Very interesting story of the Mississippi Twins dancing at a bar used in the film Deer Hunter.
Takes me back. I think my first "bar girl" romance started at the Mississipe Queen. At some point the bar's owner was being financed by a guy working for ADB, or so the rumour went.
As a semi-serious dancer myself really enjoyed that issue. Sounds like The Twins would have made great Salsa dancers! I was surprised and impressed that their lives had included extensive foreign travel.
Amazing. Loved the picture with Dean. Beautiful girls.
Sadly before my time.... A great and poignant piece of writing by Peter though and it left me wishing I had met the twins - a lively and engaging pair of ladies by the sounds of things.
Great post about The Twins. Cheers.
We suspected there would be a number of expats who would remember the 'Mississippi Twins', but we were unprepared for the magnitude of the response to their story (some of which is shown immediately above). As can be seen by the testimonials in last month's retrospective by Peter Du Cane<link>, times in Thailand have substantially (not subjectively) changed - a time when the Thai Smile was connected to the friendly, uncritical Thai people, which in turn was connected to the Thai ethos of a former time - a time which many of us were fortunate enough to have experienced first-hand.
If you have time, I would very much like to pick you mind with regard to the following question: With regard to the present “Chuvit Garden” on Sukhumvit, I know, of course, of the destruction of the many ‘beer bars’ that used to be there. But, during that earlier era, was there “Any park” at all at the site---? Or, did the entire park/garden come into being only at the time of the beer bars being demolished---? Would appreciate whatever information---you might be able to provide. Thanks a lot…
MIDNITE HOUR: Sir,
Prior to the first bar beer being put up there (the Sweet Home, in December 1999) the entire property was open unused land owned by Chuwit Kamolwisit, a wealthy land developer and massage parlor godfather (later to become politician). It was at that time that we commenced regular monitoring of the development of the Chuwit property, starting with that single bar beer, in conjunction with our monthly surveys of Clinton Plaza across the street. Later, the area, which contained even more bars and shops, was given the name Thai Help Thai, and then later, when additional bars opened, it was called, Sukhumvit Square night entertainment area. The attached map, made days before its illegal destruction, shows the entire area owned by Khun Chuwit. The rear area, as can be seen, was never developed for bars; the outbuildings shown there were pre-existing unoccupied storage buildings. The front area, covered totally with bars and shops was destroyed 26 Jan 2003. It was this front area of the Chuwit Kamolwisit property that was later developed to become Chuwit Gardens. Due to myriad legal problems preventing any activity on the property, the destroyed front area remained untouched for two-plus years. The construction and tree planting at what was later to become "Chuwit Gardens" wasn't started until 2005. At that time, to salve his guilt (at least in the public eye) for being involved in the atrocity, Khun Chuwit also promised an art center, a public library and a daycare center for orphans alongside the park. None of those other tokens-of-conscience were ever built, of course.
So in direct answer to your question, there was never any 'park area', not even one tree, in any part, front or rear, of the Chuwit Kamolwisit-owned property until Chuwit Gardens was built in the front section - and that commenced 2, almost 3 years after the bars were destroyed.
Thanks for reading and for writing in. Don't hesitate to send your questions and comments - always welcome.
Three months ago the Nitespot that was to replace the long idle Radio City was nearing completion of its renovations. We passed by the other evening, and it still hadn't opened... It appears they are removing the entire interior piece-by-piece, to include all the newly installed renovations, and hauling it all away in trucks. Has someone forgotten to read their Business Plans For Dummies?
There had been talk on the street that The Strip was going to reopen. We took it with a grain of salt, thinking it was just another of the many incoming rumors. Well, we were wrong - The Strip Bangkok 2.0 (just say, "The Strip") opened afresh - party balloons out - early last month. Welcome them back to the fracas...
The long-standing King's Gardenkatoey bar beer has up and vanished. It was turned into an elevated A Go-Go stage after being absorbed into the adjacent King's Corner 2 - Patpong's largest katoeyA Go Go.
The New Screw Boys gay bar is closed for renovations. Look for them to open in about a month...
Royal Salute Cocktail Lounge located up on The Ramp has closed yet again. As there is currently a lot of activity up on The Ramp, lets go into a holding pattern and see what eventuates with this very old Venue.
Rig 1 Pub closed down after many years' successful operation up on The Ramp. This real estate was absorbed into the newly relocated Hot Male. Actual date of closure was a month ago.
Hot Male Bar Beer, ex-Soi Twilight, has moved into the long-unoccupied Thai Smile Bar. As yet, no new neon, so we will hold off for a photo for the archives...
The Lucky Boys Bangkok bar / Bangkok Massage combo have partied up the premises. A pic for the archives.
"Something Big" is under way just below the Black Pagoda, but we are not yet able to tell all...
Rainy Season has arrived in Bangkok - a sample of a rainy night on Soi Cowboy. A pic for the archives.
There are a number of street bars just at the mouth of Soi Cowboy at the Soi Asoke end, somewhere between five and seven on most nights. We were hoping to get photo coverage, but ran short of time this issue...
Last month we raved on about King's Night Club, located in the Rajah Hotel outbuilding. We shouldn't have rushed in gushing.... this month only darkness shines from within. If history is a teacher, Venues trying to make a go of it at this location have all failed, and failed quickly.
It started out as Eat, Drink, Man, Women on the ground floor, later expanding to the 2nd level with the Eat Drink Izakaya Sushi, then, more recently, the Nakarat gay massage opened on the 3rd level. Located at the top of Soi Katoey. May they continue to continue on...
It originally opened as Izakaya Tanpai 22 a couple months back. This month they did a 'name-change' to Infinity Japanese Snack Bar. Located in the Honey Plaza compound. (A Japanese 'Snack Bar' is most closely defined as a small lounge with hostesses and eats and drink.)
The Ghost of the Holiday Inn has scared off another ground-floor "Club". This time the Juicy Club has faded into the rain and the heat - after almost one whole month... This piece of real estate has got to have the highest turn-over rate of any in Bangkok.
The Luna Lounge is taking another run at it - after being closed last month (when we passed by). As we have grown tired of saying, the way to get regular custom is to open regularly... But what do we know, we only play here...
The Bar I'on keeps on improving the landscape, now that their renovations have been completed (2 months ago). Keep up the good works, gents... A pic for the archives.
We don't know what to call it, but it goes by the name Noi Kwa Roi (Less than 100). We do know that a lot of loud Rock 'n Roll comes pouring down that gilded stairway, and a lot of local revellers are hanging around on the sidewalk...
The Sweet Heart Rita Massage located deep in the heart of Side-soi Lemongrass (just past the Marriott Hotel) has called it a night. Ashes to ashes, so be it, then...
The Hemingway finally put up some signage. They are a restaurant-bar up until about 22:30, when they become a 'till-late' club. We are still curious about what will be opening up on the right hand side upstairs (it's still under wraps)...
The big news on the Soi, and the Nightlife scene in general, is the closure of Check Inn 99. After leaving Sukhumvit at Soi 5 for Soi 24, then on to Soi Ambassador, and most recently in Soi 33, the curtain has finally come down. The club owner says they are not looking for a new venue. Any such reincarnation would depend on getting together sufficient operating capital - which is currently not at hand. Many are sorry to see them fade... 'The Night Entertainment Scene' on Soi Dead Artists continues to dwindle - how much longer will it be before it loses 'critical mass' and winks out entirely as an expat Night Entertainment Area? Below is a clip at the original Check Inn 99.
The Good Old Days? You bet...
ARTISTS (Sukhumvit 33)
Christies Club and the Napoleon have opened in the premises recently vacated by the Check Inn 99 (and its upstairs Pavilion Sports Bar). We note the rare circumstance where the two bars (Napoleon and Christies) are both run by the owner of the premises, and not leased out to third party bar 'owners'. We also note that both these bars, the Napoleon and Christies, have failed, not once but twice before - each. Some of our readers, who know Soi 33 as well as anyone, have been surmising on how long the new setup will last. Let's just say my bookie isn't answering my calls... One reader suggested these 'new' bars be renamed 'shenanigans'.... but that name is already being used... ahennh...
SOI DEAD ARTISTS
The Soba Juban, a Japanese snack-lounge, has come back to life - just like nothing happened (they were closed last month). Located deep in Subsoi Pan Pan.
SOI DEAD ARTISTS
The on-again, off-again 33 Club has apparently reopened - I say, "apparently" because I saw the lights on, no one inside, and three bouncers lounging out on the sidewalk.... (File photo of busier times below.) I gotta say I've got a bad feeling...
The Pickled Liver Pub is undergoing big-time renovations - to include a heavy duty awining or roof reaching out to the edge of the Soi - will serve them well in this oncoming rainy season. We haven't heard if they will be keeping, or changing the name...
A quick wrap-up of the now-closed Soi Twilight. Their official 'last day' was 30 April 2019, although all the bars that were going to relocate had already moved out, and those that closed down and went out of business had long done so. It achieved critical mass (asterisk above) - on 01 June 2006. As reported earlier, most of the bars that survived the closure moved to Patpong 1 & 2, and another moved to Soi Katoey (Silom Soi 4). The photo below shows the boarded-up entrance to what once was Soi Twilight (Surawong Road entrance). This will be the last reportage of Soi Twilight.
La Biennale di Venezia, or just 'Venice Biennale' is an internationally recognized art exhibition of some renown, which - as the name suggests, happens every two years. This year it is open to the public May 11 - November 24 at the Giardini and the Arsenale - in Venice, Italy, of course. This year's grand event, its 58th, has been labeled, "May You Live In Interesting Times" - the pseudo-Chinese saying of common favor.
Banksy, who had been hovering just below the radar these many months, decided that since he had never been invited to what he admits is “the largest and most prestigious art event in the world”, he would invite himself. To make sure everyone knew of his 'stealth mission' to Venice, Banksy recently posted a video clip of himself on Instagram - showing him putting up his own exhibition next to the canal near the Venice Biennale. - Banksy's underlying private / public lament being why he has never been invited...
He labeled his street exhibition ‘Venice in Oil’. As the first photo illustrates, he rendered a series of oil paintings, which when arranged just so, depict a huge cruise ship in Venice'sGrand Canal at the Rialto Bridge and St. Mark’s Campanile - the recent surge in encroaching cruise ships being the obvious targets of his ire.
No sooner had Banksy's roadside exhibition become an attraction to passers-by, than the Arma dei Carabinieri showed up inquiring into Banksy's authorization documentation (such as is required to set up on Venice's public thoroughfares). Banksy, or the person in a long overcoat, black flowing scarf with hat pullled over his eyes, of course had no such documentation, and was asked to vacate the premises immediately. The pic just above, an outtake from the video clip, is of this Banksy-like person trundling his artwork homeward along the banks of a Venetian canal... with a cruise ship showing its ugly broadside in the background...
I Spray For Pay...
6 ft high x 15 ft
8 ft high x 11 ft
7 ft high x 34 ft
8 ft high x 15 ft
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IDNITE HOUR Graffiti
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se, although there are those who have insinuated....