Having watched and commented on The Economics Of Being A Sex Worker In Thailand video I thought I would dig a bit deeper into the world of bargirl and go-go dancers earnings as the video offers up a very one sided story, only sharing earnings at the bottom end of the barrel.
The video states that bargirl Nam charges 2-3k for short / long time with a customer and she is only barfined two or three times a month. She also gets a 50 baht commission on any lady drinks bought for her by customers, earning Nam a total of between 20-30,000 baht per month.
That monthly income is roughly the same as what the hookers busted at a Hua Hin brothel told police they earned, however, unlike Nam, they were charging a lot less and certainly having sex with more than three customers a month as I’m guessing this particular brothel was servicing the needs of locals and not expats or tourists like the bar where Chiang Mai bargirl Nam worked.
Now I’m no expert and I haven’t been out there with a clipboard asking the girls to fill in a survey. All I’m sharing here is information I know to be true from firsthand accounts told to me by girls I’m friendly with who work around the three popular farrang bar areas. Other figures have been shared by managers and owners who aren’t in the business of feeding me bullshit to make their bars out to be doing better than they are.
Bar Girl & Go-Go Dancer Economics
The numbers below are “averages” for a month and for sure some girls will do a lot better and of course some will do less but I’m def not talking really low numbers when I say they will do less. Like all lines of business, there are slow months to consider and I haven’t factored in low or high season. What I’ve quoted below is from the past month or two.
I have broken the figures down by venue type as the younger, prettier go-go girls are obviously going to make more than the older models you more often find plying their trade in the beer bars of Bangkok. I’ve also added ladyboy earnings in to give some insight into how much they make a month.
The current short and long time prices charged by beer bar workers, go-go dancers and ladyboys are also listed. Again, just a rough guide as guys will be charged more and others less as it’s a free market and prices are negotiated on a customer-by-customer basis by the girl.
Monthly averages for barfines & drinks plus current short / long time prices
Now with my sharpest pencil I’ll do the sums.
Base salaries range from 4,000 baht a month in small beer bars jumping to 6k and as high as 9k in bigger, busier bars. Go-go bars pay on different levels too. Girls who keep their clothes on can start as low as 10k working up to 15,000 baht. Those who go topless or do full naked dancing will have between 14-18,000 stuffed into their pay packet at the end of the month. Showgirls will earn more again. Some dancers work on a daily flat fee as they aren’t employed full-time and come and go as they please. The freelance rates vary from 700-1,000 baht.
(Barfine and drinks quotas need to be met in some beer bars and chrome pole clubs, not all. If quotas aren’t met then salaries get docked on a scaling basis of how badly the girl has performed in the month)
A 100 baht will be pocketed from each barfine and 50 baht per lady drink commission so Little Lek has about another 6500 baht on top of what she is charging for her company, be it short or long time.
Now things get tricky here determining how many customers are shower sex, shower go types to all-nighters. Some girls do short time only – often the younger go-go dancers. Others prefer to snag a long time customer in the hope of a bit of partying and a feed on their customers tab plus hopes of a bigger tip. Going with half and half is the easiest option here so we can get some numbers down on our piece of paper.
Beer bar workers are going to take home roughly 35-40k a month in “service” charges going on the numbers above with their go-go sisters raking in about 50-60k in fees.
There’s also tips to be factored in too. Some customers will tip sweet eff all whilst other guys will give a few hundred baht on top of the agreed price to the generous who might drop an extra thousand or two on the bedside table. Lets go with 15k in tips as a ballpark figure as some customers will also give a little bit of something when they check bin and don’t barfine the lady they have been sat with.
Another small earner comes from the short time hotels that give a 50 baht kickback to the girls for taking her customers to their boom boom rooms. It won’t be much but it’s all money earned from parting their pins.
It’s all starting to add up now and definitely a big jump from the 20-30k quoted in the video.
There are also the big hitters who do six figures a month. Take one former Anglewitch dancer as an example of a big hitter who done a whopping 76 barfines over a period of just three weeks. That is some serious money on the table right there. Then there are the bars popular with Japanese customers, such as Rainbow and Baccara, where dancers doing 100+ barfines a month isn’t unusual and they will be charging premium prices too.
And of course sometimes girls get lucky and strike rich with a generous customer who’ll splash the cash without batting an eyelid. Mind you, the fellas don’t always get their money’s worth as The 25,000 Baht Handjob story shows. And lets not forget the chancers who’ll quote silly prices like 20,000 baht for short time and get a mug who’ll agree to pay the outrageous asking price.
What I’ve outlined above are averages to give a little insight into the money girls really make working around Nana, Cowboy and Patpong. Of course, some will charge more or less than what’s stated above and yes, some of these girls you sit with can drink like fish, knocking back a half dozen shots in an hour. I just shared what I know as it gets tiring watching videos and reading articles written by authors and organisations who pick and choose what they say and write to fit their agenda or cause.
Yes, most bargirls are poor but that isn’t down to their earnings, rather their inability to manage money. They spend as fast as they earn, and sometimes faster meaning debts.
* For anyone wondering why the long time price for a ladyboy is so low it’s because not many people want to stay with a ladyboy all night.