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Thai ‘Sin City’ finds abstaining from sex hard


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)

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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.

Go-go dancers onstage

Go-go dancers perform onstage at a dance bar along Walking Street in Pattaya, Thailand, March 29, 2017.
Two hours east of Bangkok, Pattaya’s bawdy reputation hails from the Vietnam War era when U.S. soldiers partied there while on leave. (Photo: Roberto Schmidt/AFP/Getty Images)
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Performers dancing in Pattaya

Performers dance on a stage set up in a red light district of Pattaya, at an event used to highlight a push by the town to promote safety in the area. (Photo: Roberto Schmidt/AFP/Getty Images)
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Police and soldiers walking past bar

Police Lt. Col. Sulasak Kalokwilas leads policemen and soldiers past a group of young women, enticing customers to a bar, as they patrol Walking Street in Pattaya. (Photo: Roberto Schmidt/AFP/Getty Images)
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Dancer at bar

A performer dances next to a neon sign from a go-go bar in a red light district in Pattaya, at an event to highlight a push by the city to promote safety in the area. (Photo: Roberto Schmidt/AFP/Getty Images)
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Woman dances overlooking street

A woman dances on a stage above Walking Street, a renowned red light district, to attract customers to a bar in Pattaya. (Photo: Roberto Schmidt/AFP/Getty Images)
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Pole dancers at bar

Young women work the poles onstage at a go-go dance bar on Walking Street in Pattaya. (Photo: Roberto Schmidt/AFP/Getty Images)
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Elderly woman offering garlands

An elderly woman offers flower garlands along Walking Street — a mile-long drag festooned with bars and clubs pouring out ear-crushing EDM music — in the Thai city of Pattaya. (Photo: Roberto Schmidt/AFP/Getty Images)
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Women at entrance to bar

Women stand at the entrance of a go-go dance bar to attract customers along Walking Street in Pattaya. (Photo: Roberto Schmidt/AFP/Getty Images)
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Shot girl at dance bar

A young woman offers shots of liquor at a dance bar on Walking Street in Pattaya. (Photo: Roberto Schmidt/AFP/Getty Images)
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Dancers waiting for customers

Young women wait for customers at a go-go dance bar on Walking Street in Pattaya. (Photo: Roberto Schmidt/AFP/Getty Images)
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Hostess promoting safety in red light district

A hostess is shown at an event to promote safety, in an area renowned as a top red light district in Pattaya. (Photo: Roberto Schmidt/AFP/Getty Images)
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Policeman interacting with bartenders

Police Lt. Col. Sulasak Kalokwilas, right, interacts with bartenders at an outdoor bar as he patrols Walking Street in Pattaya. (Photo: Roberto Schmidt/AFP/Getty Images)
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Pole dancers on stage

Pole dancers perform onstage at a go-go bar on Walking Street in Pattaya. (Photo: Roberto Schmidt/AFP/Getty Images)
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Sign along Beach Road

A road sign announcing a public transport order campaign is shown along Beach Road in Pattaya. (Photo: Roberto Schmidt/AFP/Getty Images)
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Dancers on stage

Go-go dancers work the poles onstage at a dance bar on Walking Street in Pattaya. (Photo: Roberto Schmidt/AFP/Getty Images)
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Go-go dancer performing

A go-go dancer performs onstage at dance bar on Walking Street in Pattaya. (Photo: Roberto Schmidt/AFP/Getty Images)
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Policeman patrolling street

A policeman patrols Walking Street in Pattaya. (Photo: Roberto Schmidt/AFP/Getty Images)
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Woman dancing on stage overlooking street

A woman dances on a stage above Walking Street in Pattaya, promoting a bar. (Photo: Roberto Schmidt/AFP/Getty Images)
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Dancers performing at bar

Pole dancers are shown onstage at a dance bar on Walking Street in Pattaya. (Photo: Roberto Schmidt/AFP/Getty Images)
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Performers dancing at event

Performers dance during a staged event highlighting a push by the city of Pattaya to promote safety in the area. (Photo: Roberto Schmidt/AFP/Getty Images)
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Tourists talking to woman on street

Foreign tourists speak to a woman on Walking Street in Pattaya. (Photo: Roberto Schmidt/AFP/Getty Images)
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Reflection of pole dancer

A pole dancer’s reflection is shown on a board with numbers assigned to dancers at a go-go bar on Walking Street in Pattaya. (Photo: Roberto Schmidt/AFP/Getty Images)

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Daily News Photos: Thai ‘Sin City’ finds abstaining from sex hard
Thai ‘Sin City’ finds abstaining from sex hard
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Daily News Photos
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