Dressed in a daring nautical-themed outfit, sex worker May confidently predicts the survival of Thailand’s sleaze town of Pattaya, despite the Thai military junta’s attempt to tame the kingdom’s “Sin City.”
She is bullish because she, like tens of thousands of others in the industry, has no plans to give up her job. And there are no signs the hordes of foreign sex tourists are abating.
Two hours east of Bangkok, Pattaya has a bawdy reputation that goes back to the Vietnam War era, when American soldiers partied there while on leave.
Today the town spins money off its no-holds-barred reputation, and its most successful workers earn anywhere from 70,000 to 150,000 Thai baht ($2,000-$4,400) a month — as much as 10 times the average national wage.
But concerns about the impact on Thailand’s reputation have spurred authorities to act, while frequent reports of underage sex workers, drug abuse and organized crime operations further muddy Pattaya’s name. (Jerome Taylor/AFP)
A photo-essay by Agence France-Presse photographer Roberto Schmidt captures a night on Pattaya’s streets and in its establishments, providing a glimpse of the town’s sex-driven economy.