Ms. Magazine

This article led the global section of Ms. Magazine (Summer 2010 edition). Please click here for a PDF of the full article: PING PONG HELL: Thailand’s Sex-Show Industry is All about Pain

By Deena Guzder

BANGKOK, Thailand — Tiew, a petite 46-year-old migrant with bleached blond hair and mahogany brown skin, remembers the night when razor blades lacerated her vaginal walls. After amusing a largely Western audience by executing bizarre tricks such as using her vagina to extinguish a candle and her pelvic muscles to shoot out ping-pong balls, Tiew prepared for her grand finale. Off stage, she implanted a wire tightly coiled with steel razor blades into her vaginal cavity. Tiew planned to extricate the wire as she gyrated around a pole in front of her inebriated audience, but she never had the opportunity.  Suddenly, the anemic music was silenced as the Royal Thai Police flooded the stage with light. Alarmed women groped for their clothes, customers began proclaiming their innocence, and the brothel’s manager escaped through a rear exit. Completely naked, Tiew raced down the dilapidated building’s three flights of stairs into Bangkok’s notorious Patpong district. The blades sliced her open like a gutted fish. “My god, the pain,” recollects Tiew. “I didn’t know a person could even feel so much pain.”

The vast economic disparities between Thai locals and tourists have long enabled affluent foreigners to request massages with “happy endings” or to “rent a girlfriend/boyfriend” for a holiday. Now, the global economic crisis is spawning dangerous new ways to dehumanize women. During “exotic” dances, sex entertainers such as Tiew insert and extract everything from live animals to razor blades from their vaginas for the amusement of tourists. Razor blade tricks are “understood to be a job requirement in the bar-show setting where [johns] are sexually excited by the possibility of the genital mutilation of Thai women,” states Melissa Farley, Executive Director of Prostitution Research & Education.

To continue reading, please click here: PING PONG HELL: Thailand’s Sex-Show Industry is All about Pain

Copyright © 2009 Journalist Deena Guzder