by Antonio Pineda and Matt Superfisky with Edits by John Long
Dusk falls over the Chao Phraya River. I stand at the dock waiting for the boat to ferry me to the Oriental Hotel. I am to meet an American gigolo in Bangkok, as he is now a professor of literature at a prestigious Thai university we shall call him Roc. The ferry pulls up to the quay. I board and watch the panorama of sparkling lights and skyscrapers on the other side. as the boat cuts through the water.
The night sky is studded with stars. The ferry pulls up to the dock of the Oriental. I disembark and stroll to the terrace overlooking the river. Roc is sitting at a table nursing a beer. He began his career in the underground music scene of Seattle. Roc was part of the Grunge rock music scene and hung out and partied with Kurt Cobain and Nirvana. He was tight with, Mother Love Bone until their lead singer Andrew Wood succumbed to an overdose of heroin. Mother Love Bone morphed into Mookie Blaylock and later became Pearl Jam. His relationship with Chris Cornell and Soundgarden began in 1988 when he snuck into one of their first shows.
He went on to engineer and produce demos and side projects for Alice in Chains, Candle Box, the first band that Madonna signed to her label. Roc toured with Public Enemy the seminal rap outfit who with Grand Master Flash and the Furious Five pioneered political rap. Flavor Flav of Public Enemy declared Roc to be the hippest white-bread dude on the planet.
Roc arrived in Bangkok a decade ago and immersed himself in the lifestyle, rolling deep with beautiful women and partying like a rock star. He wound up destitute and living in the red-light ghetto with four demimondaines. Desperate for money, he solicited a date on a Bangkok Chat with Araya a prosperous Thai-Chinese businesswomen. She was more interested in companionship than sex and enjoyed dining out in elegant restaurants, shopping and night clubbing. Araya took him under her wing and taught him the refinements of Hi-So life. She took him to bespoke tailor to the stars Lucky Ricky and bought him the accoutrements of the profession, a blue pinstriped suit and a gray blazer with two pairs of trousers.
Roc developed a network of women eager for his services. Roc cracks a wry grin. ‘People think being a gigolo is all about hard alcohol, hard drugs and hard sex. In truth some women were totally into sex but some just wanted companionship.’
His luck changed when he met Tong a model in her late twenties who was the mia noi – second wife or kept woman of a Thai millionaire businessman. Tong said they were in an open relationship. He was married with children and spent a lot of his time flying around the world to attend to his business. He purchased a penthouse in a high-end condo unit for Tong and supported her with a regal lifestyle. She in turn was to be available to him upon demand. Roc and Tong were soon embroiled in a passionate affair. They were fixtures at the best restaurants, nightclubs, and social events.
One day there was a knock on Roc’s door. He opened it and encountered two Thai hoods in Hawaiian shirts. One pointed a Colt .45 to his forehead and pushed him inside his modest flat. Tong’s significant other turned out to be an underworld vice king. Roc was told in no uncertain words to stay away from Tong. The hoods threatened him with dismemberment of his private parts unless he got wise. Roc cashed out as a gigolo. A cheeky grin crosses his face. ‘I got out of the business. I found I had a penchant for comedy. I had done a little stand-up comedy in Seattle.’ Roc re-invented himself as a stand-up comedian and became part of the nascent but burgeoning comedy network in Bangkok.
Roc’s green eyes sparkled with mischief. ‘ *Tony lets blow this honky-tonk. I’m going to take you to 808 out at RCA.’
We roll through the lobby of the swank Oriental Hotel. A classical music quartet is playing Mozart in an adjoining room. We catch a taxi outside and swing out and into the Bangkok night. Roc pulls out his iPod and blasts Mixmaster Morris a.k.a. The Irresistible Force. This dude is Old School. The driver is nodding his head to The Force. I’m likin’ it. The taxi pulls up in front of RCA and we bail.
We hit the street and roll up to 808. It is situated on the former location of Astra. Roc exchanges pleasantries with the bouncers on the door and introduces me as his guest. The bouncers stamp our hands and we hit the set. DJ Cash Money is rocking the house. He is hip-hop to the max. It’s a young and tricked out crowd. The dance floor is bumpin’ and heaving with ecstatic dancers. Steel girders overhang the roof on top of the bar. Roc orders vodka tonics at the bar.
Matt Hammond, the ace face behind 808 comes over to talk trash. Matt was formerly the DJ at Qbar. He is tricked out in the requisite hip-hop gear and knows everybody who is somebody on the electronic music scene in Bangkok. Matt schmoozes with a posse of fashion models. He invites us to join him at Zion a trendy after-hours club. The electronic music scene in Bangkok is wide open. I have a date meeting me at Twisted Republic so I decide to bail.
Roc hits the dance floor with one of the models in the posse. Cash Money brings home the bacon with Old School hip-hop that is burning up the house. Roc and the model are engaged in hot dirty-dancing. Once a gigolo, always a gigolo.