Bunny Balcony Ladyboys

The Bunny Balcony Ladyboys bar is no more. Well, the ladyboys are.

Just a couple weeks after opening in the spot that was the Cheap Charlie heaven Balcony Bar before the pandemic, Bunny Balcony Ladyboys opened with a lavish party and considerable hype among ladyboy enthusiasts. But on July 4, it switched to offering female-only entertainment.

What Happened to Bunny Balcony Ladyboys?

There’s no topic that inspires as much debate and vitriol among naughty nightlife fans as ladyboys. Some – notably Japanese and Koreans – love them. Others hate them and don’t want them anywhere near girl bars.

That animosity is not limited to punters. Last week one Nana Plaza girly-bar owner became alarmed at the rising number of bars with transgender women and made his feelings known to Nana Plaza’s landlord. The landlord was seen in the plaza that night and, two days later, ladyboys went off the Balcony. Figuratively, of course.

Whether any of that is connected only Nana’s top man knows. But the timing is interesting.

Bunny Balcony Ladyboys Was Nana Plaza’s 5th Dedicated Trans Bar

Bunny Balcony Ladyboys was the latest bar opened by the plaza’s largest tenant, Tee, who seems these days to name all his bars after his wife, Bunny. There’s the Bunny beer bar in the front of Nana Plaza, Bunny 2 go-go bar inside, plus the newer Bun Bun 1 and Bun Bun 2 carved out of what used to be short-time hotels. Bunny Balcony Ladyboys was the latest to turn parts of a hotel into a watering hole.

With its opening, there were five full-time ladyboy bars; the others being Star (the former Straps), Obsession, B-52 and Wonderland. A sixth dedicated ladyboy bar is being built in the former short-time hotel next to Butterflies on the top floor and is expected to open before high season.

More alarmingly to many, however, are the number of go-gos mixing natural born women with the transgender variety. Two of those are Tee’s bars: Rainbow 1 and Rainbow 3. Random 2, next to Wonderland on the middle floor, has and always has had a couple of ladyboys. And a Nana bar manager said Thursday a couple of ladyboys have begun working the pole again at Erotica, which has employed them off and on for years.

Even a major Nana Plaza bar owner and proponent of ladyboy bars called mixed bars “bad”.

“That can cause all sorts of problems. Not good,” he said Thursday.

Problems indeed. This week a couple of Chinese men who unknowingly took two transgender women out of one of the aforementioned mixed bars got violent when the truth was undressed at the Nana Hotel. A fistfight between the tourists and the ladyboys broke outside the hotel, which was captured on video.

How Many Ladyboy Bars Are Too Many?

So how many ladyboy bars are too many for Nana Plaza? It depends on who you ask.

In the years before Covid-19, online chatter continuously said Nana Plaza was the place for ladyboy lovers and, if you were looking for women, you’d be better off going to Soi Cowboy or Patpong. As the number of dedicated and mixed bars rose, the plaza’s reputation worsened.

Of course, the numbers don’t bear that out. 2019 was the biggest year ever for Nana Plaza in terms of visitors and revenue.

With the closure of Nana Plaza’s short-time hotels, and their subsequent transformation into new bars – Lace Lounge, Bun Bun 1 & 2, Bunny Balcony Ladyboys and the coming ladyboy bar next to Butterflies – Nana Plaza now has 36 different bars, including the four pubs out front.

With the gender change at Bunny Balcony Ladyboys, that means Nana currently has four ladyboy bars out of 36.

“Ten percent is not a lot,” said the ladyboy-bar proponent bar owner.

The Worsening Economics of Girly Bars

The same major bar owner said that, due to the changes in Thailand’s economy and society, Nana Plaza must add more ladyboy bars if it hopes to survive long-term. There simply aren’t enough available women willing to work in the bars anymore, he maintained.

Many of the women who previously worked in his women-only bars have quit and gone to work overseas. Many now return from Dubai, Malaysia, Taiwan and Macao with incomes of hundreds of thousands of baht a month. He said one previous dancer who just returned from Dubai told him she has earned US$15,000-$20,000 in one day with certain clients.

Thailand also is a rapidly aging society with a birthrate that will see the country’s population shrink over the next two decades. Combine that with increased education, higher average incomes and more opportunities to either not work in the sex industry at all or work independently and it all adds up to go-go bar industry that will continue to decline.

One only needs to do is look at Pattaya, with more than 100 girly bars, to see there aren’t enough “quality” entertainers to fill bars anymore. The same is coming to Bangkok. Some bar owners argue it already has, pointing at the sharply lower number of young, slim, attractive women in the bars.

The major bar owner said ladyboy bars are needed to keep Nana Plaza going in coming years and said he wouldn’t be surprised to see, at some point in the future, half of Nana bars employing transgender women.