On March 31, 1995 Mayor Guiliani closed the last porno parlor on 42nd Street. Patrons of the peep shows cried on the sidewalk. Drug dealers, hustlers, and whores were evicted from their territory by policemen. Even panhandlers were forcibly advised to find another spot to milk the city's human kindness.
Times Square was exorcising its demons.
Soon Disney opened a store for tourists and McDonalds came to feed them. The Doo-Wop as pimps called 42nd Street had been transformed into another American shopping mall, although you could still buy porno DVDs and magazines at the Virgin Megastore.
Pattaya city leaders have long discussed how to transform Babylon by the Sea into a family destination and every night fathers drag their sons down to Walking Street, while married couples trawl the go-go bars to spice up their relationship. The town fathers would much more prefer wealthy visitors shopping at upscale malls and if the do-gooders have their way with the venerable Costa del Sleaze, Pattaya will join Times Square as a pale shadow of Sodom.
The TOT head wants to bring in another million, but only if they are Platinum AMEX card holders.
Is the end of Soi Six close at hand?
A reputation like Pattaya is hard to live down. The murky sea is unswimmable. The beach is a bikini strip of sand. Traffic clouds the air with black diesel smog. The apartment boom has eradicated the greenery and overtaxed the infrastructure. A hard rain floods the streets. Last month I spoke with the manager of the Sheraton, who said that his clientele likes Pattaya, but finds the smell a little hard to take.
"What smell?" I asked him in the Sheraton's seaside gardens.
"The smell of the sewers."
I must have been here too long.
I smell nothing.
Several NGOs complain about the sex trade.
A Thai government survey announced the findings that all his inspectors saw were 'young people having a good time'.
So the go-go bars, beer halls, and massage parlors aren't going anywhere soon, because not everywhere in the world has to be like Iowa, where the only fun is watching corn grow.
Plus Pattaya will never revert to that quiet fishing village of the 1960s. No matter how much a rai of land costs, because nothing sells better than sex.
Ask any man in Pattaya.
We like this version of Disneyworld just the way it is.
Sorry, but the good can go to heaven if they want a good time.
And I don't mean Heaven A Go-Go.