Pleasures of the Flesh – and the Mind, in The Economist Podcast


A museum tells the history of one of Bangkok’s notorious districts – Patpong has hosted artists, spies, serial killers and sex workers.

“There’s a lot more to Patpong than sex,” Michael Messner says. The district lies east of the Chao Phraya river in Thailand’s capital city; two parallel streets host night markets, bars, clubs and sex shows.

People forget, Mr Messner says, that “the CIA ran its first Bangkok safe house here, while American corporations like Pan Am turned the street into the city’s main business district during the cold war. Tony Poe—the CIA agent Marlon Brando’s Colonel Kurtz in ‘Apocalypse Now’ is based on—drank on this street.”

The area has attracted creative types as well as entrepreneurs and spooks. The likes of David Bowie and Jean-Claude Van Damme filmed projects there in the 1980s.

Read the full story in The Economist.

Or listen to The Intelligence/The Economist Podcast, in which Mr Messner and myself recount the history of Patpong.