STEPHEN HENDRY MAKES AN IMPACT IN THAILAND
It is certainly not every day that a famous sports celebrity rolls into town. When did you last meet a living legend from the world of sport? This week it is an honour for a selection of pubs in Thailand to host Stephen Hendry. For some people who are not familiar with snooker, Stephen Hendry is deemed by many people, as the most successful player in the history of the game. In any sport, it is a fantastic achievement to become World Champion. However, Stephen has achieved this feat a record breaking seven times, which is truly remarkable. I am sure most of you know that snooker is an extremely skilful and highly competitive game. But, the “Flying Scotsman” made it look all so easy. For eight consecutive years, Stephen Hendry dominated snooker by remaining top of the world rankings. Stephen started playing snooker at the tender age of 12. At 16 years old, he became the youngest ever professional snooker player. Stephen then went on to become the youngest World Snooker Champion at the age of 21. It is fair to say that a very special sports celebrity has arrived in Thailand…
The scene was set; Stephen Hendry and his manager arrived safely in Bangkok on Monday morning. The Stephen Hendry Roadshow was organised by Rob Murray from Fluid Asia Pacific, who met and escorted Stephen to the Amari Watergate Hotel. Meanwhile, at the Amari Watergate Hotel, the resident manager David Cumming was preparing to ensure that Stephen Hendry had a pleasant stay. Later on, I met Stephen’s manager John Carroll, who said that the Amari Watergate Hotel was very satisfactory. John’s exact words were, “It couldn’t have been better.” John Carroll is the Director of 110sport Management and John has represented Stephen for the past 18 23 years. John is a very warm and friendly Scotsman. He proudly said, “Stephen won’t go anywhere without me.” I could see why, because John’s infectious personality soon grows on you. I can see that he is both a terrific manager and a father figure at the same time. From my interesting conversations with John, I was learning a lot about the fascinating world of sport.
The first venue on Monday evening was at the Robin Hood Pub on the corner of Sukhumvit, Soi 33/1. Because I had been writing about the event on the internet, I was kindly invited along by Rob as the public relations representative. I would also accompany and assist my friend Ralf Winkler who is the official photographer. Even by Bangkok’s standards, this would be a special evening. Just as I was preparing to leave, the skies opened and the rain came down. That ghastly rain was most untimely! Luckily, the rain suddenly stopped and I sped off on a motorbike taxi and headed to the Robin Hood Pub. In side the Robin Hood, a crowd had already gathered upstairs around the pool table. The idea for the Roadshow was a series of one-hour appearances, which would include some games of pool.
The event was much less formal than I had first anticipated. This seemed to suit all involved. I thought that Stephen Hendry looked remarkably composed and relaxed for somebody that had been travelling since 11:00pm the previous night. Despite the tiring journey, he looked as fresh as a summer rose. The gathering commenced with the obligatory round of photographs, which included some Thai fans. One young Thai lad brought his own cue along, in order to play a game of pool with Stephen. The enthusiastic Thai guy even asked Stephen to sign his signature on his pool cue. The conditions were a bit uncomfortable, because there was not much cool air being circulated. But, Stephen seemed happy enough to meet fans and play them at pool. Rob had organised two gorgeous beer promo girls especially for the event. I must say that they certainly embellished the scenery. It was lovely eye candy!
After several friendly games of pool, there was a “meet and greet” session with photos, autographs and specially made polo shirts were handed out. It was time to move on to Bully’s Pub, which I anticipated would be an ideal venue. As I thought, Bully’s Pub was much more suitable. Bully’s is a large open-plan pub, which is both very spacious and comfortable. As soon as Stephen approached one of the pool tables, a crowd began to gather. Stephen soon got into the swing of things and looked much smoother on Bully’s pool table. The important thing to remember is that this was supposed to be fun. I don’t think many would want to play snooker with Stephen, unless they like being a spectator! The fact is that Stephen rarely plays pool; he is a 100% snooker player.
Over the course of the first two evenings, I managed to have a few games of pool with Stephen myself. It was laid back and enjoyable. Stephen exchanged some banter among us all, which helped to warm up the crowd of spectators. The awareness of what was happening in Bully’s, soon had the vast majority of the people watching. After several games of pool, Stephen was thanked for visiting Bully’s by the owner Ed on the microphone. Following a couple of jokes by Ed, Stephen answered a few questions. Following an extended photo and autograph session Stephen and John made their way back to the Amari Watergate Hotel. Stephen shook my hand and said good night. So far so good…
Monday was a Buddhist Holiday and I walked down Soi Nana to witness that most of it was indeed in darkness. Morning Night, Big Dogs and Golden Beer Bar were all closed and inside Nana Plaza, it was a sea of black. In stark contrast, almost every bar was open in Soi Cowboy. With this in mind, Ralf and I decided to visit a go-go bar in Soi Cowboy. We went into Spice Girls and I was very impressed with some of the coyote dancers. Some of the Spice Girls really were full of spice! They are very sexy and they really can dance. Their constantly gyrating bodies had me mesmerised. They danced non-stop for a full 20 minutes, whereas some go-go girls are non-start! Many go-go dancers tend to do what I call the Skytrain shuffle. They resemble passengers on the Skytrain, holding onto a pole and occasionally moving due to the sway of the train. Sadly, this is a sign of the times. The problem is harder to solve than you may think. Thai go-go dancers are not easy to manage at the best of times, but if you start barking orders at them, they will be unresponsive. Some may even leave your go-go bar and work somewhere else.
The coyote dancers in Spice Girls are very energetic. They all dress and dance with a touch of individuality. Although they wear shorts and tops, the styles are very different. Some coyote dancers look as though they have spent quite a long time attending dance classes. Believe me, some coyote dancers really are that good. I even spotted a few tall, leggy coyote girls. They have a light skin tone and some are very pretty too.
Spice Girls feature coyote dancers on a nightly basis. There were three dance sets of 20 minutes each. They take the centre stage, whereas the scantily-clad go-go dancers are scattered around the bar.
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Thanks for visiting. Reporting live from the heart of Thailand…
Dave The Rave — Go-Go Guru.