Timo Boll of Germany during the men's final at the 2010 World Team Table Tennis Championships in Moscow on May 30, 2010.
Credit: Yuri Kadobnov

BANGKOK, Thailand — Before I came to Bangkok, I couldn’t decide whether I could stomach witnessing a real ping-pong show, the so-called “staple of the local sex industry.”

I thought I would either feel disgusted by the humiliating displays of female genitalia, or would just plain feel sorry for the women whose best chance to make a living is to use their pelvic muscles for entertaining the masses.

Enough has been written about the sexual exploitation of women in Thailand that I had to think twice (or more like hundred and twice) about whether I should contribute to Thailand’s sex trafficking by venturing to one of these venues.

But like many people visiting Bangkok, I couldn’t resist seeing it with my own eyes.

Most of all, I was dying to see the super-women who were able to use their privates in ways unimaginable to most women west of Bangkok.

Here is where my thinking on this subject was completely off.

A ping-pong show may be many things — comedic performance, a type of synchronized swimming routine using genitals, if you will — but it is certainly NOT a sex show.

Yes, women do insert and pop out various (and often quite impressive) objects out of there — namely ping pong balls, bananas, razor blades and ribbons, among other things — but that makes it about as much of a sex show as birthing of a baby.

Not unlike childbirth, the ping pong show is a graphic — and equally visually disturbing — testament that the vagina is capable of incredible feats.

In between the various performances — or as they put it: ping pong shoots, banana shoots, candle blowing, cigarette lighting, vulva writing, etc. — I chatted to the women who perform these kinds of “vagina monologues” for a living.

“How long did it take you to be able to blow out a candle this way?” I asked one of them.

“Oh, many, many years,” said a woman who came to Bangkok from northern Thailand. She looked proud.

“Who did you learn it from?” I wanted to know.

“My friends,” she said. “I can teach you if you want.”

“Oh, okay. Maybe next time,” I said.

As appealing as it sounded to one day be able to insert a marker in my nether regions and write “Welcome to Thailand," I couldn’t see taking actual lessons while I am here.

By the end of the night, I not only developed a new found respect for the vagina, I also came to the conclusion that the most disturbing thing about the whole experience was the inflated price of the drinks. And the girls always demanding you buy them some too, so they make some extra money.

Why don’t they charge a hefty entrance fee instead and make the performance sort of like a genital Cirque du Soleil?

Let’s be honest here, until the Canadians made a high-brow entertainment out of it, working in a circus had always been frowned upon. My point is that a Thai ping-pong show is nothing more than a cheesy circus show.

Take the guys who perform in “Puppetry of the Penis.”

They have been able to make a pretty good living making comedic shows with their male genitals.

And last time I checked, nobody was accusing them of being sexually exploited.

Maybe it’s time we trusted women enough to make their own choices how they want to make a living. 

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