I always suspected so much, never having really gotten into porn, or even graphic sex scenes in Oscar-worthy films. I mean, that sequence in Blue Valentine where Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams go at it on the floor may have underscored the marital dysfunction of the characters, but it's not like we didn't already get it.
Couldn't the movie have made the same sad statement about love and marriage and obligation f***ing by leaving certain things (like Williams's breasts) to the imagination? Unless you're Marisa Tomei playing a stripper in The Wrestler (and proving that fortysomething can indeed be as taut and limber as twentysomething), isn't all nudity in film pretty gratuitous?
I wasn't really thinking about any of this while I was watching the guys onstage last night at Hot Male in Bangkok, parading around and baring everything God gave them. (And boy, did he give some of them a lot!) I don't know what took me so long to experience a Bangkok sex show. It's not like I just arrived yesterday. Maybe it's my aforementioned distaste for nudity, both at home and in public.
But last night my friend, a Bangkok native, decided that it was time for me to lose my virginity -- again. When I told him that I'd already given it up, having seen a male revue in Pattaya last summer, he laughed and said, "Not like this one." From the moment we walked onto Soi Twilight, ground zero for gay sex shows in the Patpong red-light district, I had a feeling he was going to be right. Sex was in the air -- and the stench wasn't all that appealing. It's one thing for sex-club personnel to try to entice you inside from a distance, but the ones here were practically mauling us as we wandered down the strip, looking for a show worth checking out.
We settled on Hot Male, where, for the price of one 250-baht drink ($8), you got to watch guys in white briefs with numbers on them sell themselves onstage (one wearing brown cowboy boots, a tuxedo-shirt collar and briefs with the bedazzled word "sex" embroidered at the top, was working so hard to get my bid, I thought he'd jump offstage onto my crotch); near-naked guys rolling around on the floor, covered in soap; and yet more of them strutting about with their junk hanging out. If you've seen 12 condom-covered penises dangling in front of you, you've pretty much seen them all, but I'll never listen to Robbie Williams's "Supreme" the same way again.
For the main event, two naked guys got onstage and gave us a tutorial on how to practice safe sex while swinging from bars, dangling sideways, hanging upside down and running around the stage. I was astonished by their stamina, their acrobatics, and the fact that they were actually doing it. They were taking sex to brand new heights -- literally!
Looking at the bored expression on the face of the "top" and listening to the shrieks of the "bottom," not sure if he was expressing actual ecstasy or if it was just part of the act, I did the unthinkable: I started to laugh. Not just a giggle, a loud guffaw right from my belly. It was uncontrollable. My friend joined me. Thankfully, the crowd was too mesmerized by what was happening onstage to notice -- or care.
I can't say that I was bored, but I wasn't turned on either. Some of the guys in the show were extremely handsome, and every time one of them winked or smiled at me from the stage, I winked and smiled right back. But there was something missing. They couldn't even get a rise out of me when a few of the showboys standing in the doorway to the bathroom patted my ass and tried to grab my crotch as I made my way downstairs to the loo. I didn't look back in lust, or in anger.
As I watched some of the guys in the audience purchase dates for the evening (for 100 baht, or roughly $3, they'll sit down beside you and enjoy a drink -- your treat, of course), I realized what was missing from sex as a spectator sport, this love for sale: the chase. I live for a good challenge, a feeling of accomplishment, the thrill of pursuit -- or being pursued. When you walk into a room full of hot males, all for sale, knowing that no one will turn you down if the price is right, there's simply nothing -- or no one -- to aspire to. Gorgeous guys at Hot Male are a dime a dozen, but for me, not even worth that much.
Congratulations, Bangkok! You've accomplished the impossible. You've made sex totally unsexy.