Sex in 5-Star Bangkok Bathrooms: Grindr and the Workplace as the New Gay Disco
Bangkok and sex. The two go together like Paris and lights, Chicago and wind and Buenos Aires and wine — which, come to think of it, often leads to sex.
The smell of it is in the air, competing with all of the delicious food being fried up and sold on the city’s busy sidewalks. Or in the bathroom stall of your five-star hotel!
Don’t feel like dancin’? Today is your lucky day because even if you’re traveling solo, you can get lucky without leaving the comfort of your 5-star hotel room — or with a quick elevator trip down to those spotless bathrooms in the lobby. Just leave your inhibitions in the taxi that drops you off at the front door, and let the fun and games begin!
Oh, and if you happen to be gay, you’ll need your iPhone and a profile on Grindr, that boy-meets-boy application whose geolocation device has revolutionized the international gay dating scene and is putting even more bang and cock in Bangkok. If you’re looking for fastlove, it’s the next best thing to just walking around with your junk hanging out.
The other night I learned a little more about the power of Grindr and the insatiable male sex drive when I went out for drinks with one of the guys who works at the front desk of one of Bangkok’s 5-star hotels. He told me some of the funniest, most horrifying stories I’ve ever heard. The term “guest relations” will never again have quite the same meaning for me!
So what’s all in a day’s work for this front-desk employee? Checking in guests, checking out guests, luring guests into the bathroom for clandestine on-the-clock trysts. Think Hotel and Fantasy Island crossed with Queer As Folk. I was going to include The Love Boat, but really, what’s love got to do with it?
Thanks to Grindr, there’s rarely a dull day at work. My friend is almost always logged on, even as he was telling me his stories. When he’s checking in guests, it’s with his attention divided between the job at hand and on a hand job, which he will likely score on his next break, courtesy of the iPhone perched conveniently by the keyboard. As he’s checking out incoming guests (as in sizing them up with his gaydar), he’s checking out Grindr to see who’s online.
Some of his future conquests check in solo, some with friends, some with lovers and others with their girlfriends, deepening their voices and putting on their best hetero act. So many of them, it seems, have profiles on Grindr. Minutes after sending another new guest off to his room, he glances down at Grindr to see who’s around. Hot guy alert! “25 metres away.” He starts typing.
“Hi. How’s it going?”
“Pretty good. Didn’t you just check me in?”
“Yes, that was me.”
“I had no idea you were gay.”
“I didn’t know that you were gay either.”
“Meet me in the bathroom in 15?”
“See you then!”
Though I suppose he’s only honoring the ultimate goal of his job, which is to make guests happy, I still couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Sometimes he has this exchange several times a day, the record being, he told me, five in one shift.
Apparently, he’s not the only worker who’s fooling around on the job. Everyone does it at all of the classy Bangkok hotels, he said, and not just the gay men with the Grindr application downloaded on their iPhones. The female employees, who are all so beautiful and elegant, often go out to dinner with hotel guests before getting more intimate behind closed doors — though most likely not the one on a bathroom stall. It might be more Carrie Bradshaw than Samantha Jones, but the endgame is the same.
Alas, I’m not on Grindr, so I won’t be meeting up with any of my fellow residents unless it’s purely by accident — and aside from a hottie sighting or two in the gym, I haven’t spotted anyone worth making a special trip to the loo for. Still, perhaps I shouldn’t have been so quick to send away that cute hotel employee who delivered the bottled water to my room a couple of weeks ago.
But who am I kidding? I’m much too shy to ever go there. I’ll be picking up my next stranger with a Jack and coke in one hand and a lame Rihanna remix pounding in my ear. In a city that’s just dripping with sexual opportunity, it’s even more certain than death and taxes. Standing on the sidelines at DJ Station can be like watching a public orgy unfold, as guys switch partners more frequently than the DJ changes songs.
And if I end up doing the walk of shame through the lobby the next morning, I’ll have to remember to hold my head higher. Everyone watching me has probably walked in my scuffed John Varvatos boots — sometimes more than once a shift!
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