With its flashy façade and sky-high prices, the newly opened Venus go-go bar on Soi Cowboy is the newest clip-joint venue run by “The Arab”.
There’s no need for anyone to get excited about this weekend’s opening of Venus in (half) the space that used to be Rawhide. Anyone with even a smidgen of knowledge about Spice Girls, Rio, Déjà Vu and Midnite know to avoid them like the plague. You can now add Venus to that list.
Venus the Latest ‘Arab” Bar
Nicknamed “The Arab” by Stickman Bangkok, the man behind the five flashiest-looking bars on Soi Cowboy actually is Persian. For a while he seemed intent on buying every go-go bar on Soi Cowboy, with the most-recent acquisition being Rawhide, a purchase that came in 2019 shortly before the pandemic hit.
While its undeniable that the neon and LED-lit frontages on his bars truly made Soi Cowboy worth the name “Neon Alley”, the operation of all the bars hurt Cowboy as much as the fancy lights helped. Prices are exorbitant and many, if not all, of the talent working inside cannot be barfined. Worse, for years, stories abounded of bill padding and violent outcomes for customers who protested. While the days of bouncer abuse seems to have ended, the reputation remains.
Venus: The Good & the Bad
As mentioned, the outside of Venus looks great, as can be seen in the photo above. But the inside looks great, too. The bar is tiny, half the size of the old Rawhide. There’s a single row of bench seating along the left side with round cocktail tables each with a clear surface under which are colored LEDs, with each table being a different color. The ceiling is mirrored with shimmering decorations hanging above.
In fact, the place is like a mirrored funhouse and its easy to walk into a wall while trying to run for the exit after seeing the menu.
There’s not one price on the menu that starts with the numeral 1. Heineken, Asahi and San Miguel Light bottles are 260 baht. Lady drinks are 300 baht.
When it was pointed out those customer-drink prices are about 100 baht higher than any other bar on Cowboy, service staff just shrugged. It’s no wonder that, at 10 p.m. on Sunday, there was not a single customer in the joint. Was it the rain or the prices?
Customers and Revenue Are Irrelevant
Of course, it’s long been established that The Arab doesn’t operate his bars to actually make money. All of them were kept closed during much of the pandemic, even when other Cowboy bars were allowed to reopen in 2020 and 2021. Last year, the flashy bars started to reopen, but only one at a time spread over the entire year. Rio didn’t reopen until September.
Kiss and Sahara never did. They was sold before and during the coronavirus crisis. Kiss became Rainbow Soi Cowboy. Sahara was replaced by The Oasis.
The sale of Sahara and Kiss, and Rawhide’s continued dark-door status, left some assuming whether The Arab’s business plans had changed and maybe, hopefully, he’d sell off all the bars to people actually interested in making them good and places people wanted to go. Then work began on the Rawhide site.
The Venus signage went up a couple weeks ago but it was unknown if The Arab was still involved. Online chatter had that maybe it would be a new ladyboy bar. When the flashy lights went on this weekend, disappointment flowed out of Soi Cowboy when people realized it was just more of the same from The Arab, another go-go “no fly zone”.
Don’t say Dave the Rave didn’t warn you.