Thursday, September 13, 2012

How Gay Is This Bangkok Billboard?

The things you notice when you wear your glasses for the first time in weeks!

Today I put on my specs, stepped onto the balcony and immediately noticed something that nearly made me fall over it. How could I be so blind without my glasses not to have noticed it before? Off in the near distance was a bright red billboard with a shirtless guy motioning for me to "Shhh." He needn't have bothered. I was already speechless.

What are they trying to sell? That was the first thought that ran through my head. Ah, there's the word "delivery," but just what would show up on my doorstep if I rang up the number in the upper left corner? The guy?

My second thought: The male model in the ad would look more at home gyrating onstage at G.O.D. than attempting to lure passersby on Narathiwat Road during rush hour. I'm pretty sure I must have flirted with him once on the dance floor. So this is what Thai women want? I'm assuming the advertisement is for their benefit and not the Silom Soi 2 and Soi 4 crowd.

It's an intriguing advertising concept, mostly because it goes against everything I've come to associate with Bangkok and Thailand outside of the red-light districts. Though Bangkok is the sex capital of Asia and possibly the world, there's a whiff of prudishness permeating the air here. Modesty in everyday activities is the norm: I never see shirtless guys jogging around Lumpini Park in the morning, or cleavage popping out from low-cut blouses during regular business hours.

You can buy bootleg copies of movies that are not even out yet in the U.S., but I still haven't been able to track down Magic Mike, the stripper hit that was released in the U.S. two and a half months ago -- not even on Silom Road, the night-market strip that I can't walk down after midnight without half a dozen people hawking porn DVDs in my face.

I never go to bed with my glasses on, so I probably won't have a very clear view of the delivery guy the next time I wake up with the curtains drawn. That's okay, though. I'd rather see Matthew McConaughey or (and!) Channing Tatum first thing in the morning.

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