I’m not ashamed to admit I’ve been to my fair share of ladyboy bars. I genuinely enjoy the buzz, vibe, and banter of a good ladyboy gogo, and usually try to incorporate at the least one ladyboy venue into a Bangkok bar crawl, or when showing friends and newbies the typical sights of the city. So obviously I was pleased back in 2011 when I found out Soi Cowboy would be opening its first dedicated ladyboy venue, and then reasonably impressed when I finally got to visit the joint.
The only ladyboy bar at Soi Cowboy
Since opening, Cockatoo Ladyboy a Go Go Bar, has proved a number of doubters wrong, by surviving as this popular street’s one and only ladyboy a go go. Now this isn’t quite on the scale of the mighty Cascade Bar or Patpong’s King’s Corner, nor is it as intense as venues such as Casanova, or quite as enticing as Obsessions, instead you’ll find a bar that you could regard as a happy medium. The aptly named Cockatoo is run by the same group that own Nana’s Temptations Bar, and though it’s fairly small in comparison to some of its neighbours, the bar itself isn’t as intimidating as one might expect; it has proven to be popular amongst Japanese and Korean visitors. It’s also proven to be a good venue for ladyboy virgins, especially those who feel somewhat overwhelmed by the chaos of Patpong and the hardcore hunting ground of Nana Plaza. In any other Soi of the city it would be hard to miss the large neon Cockatoo sign, though in this mini Vegas-esque strip the exterior is somewhat out muscled by the bright bulbs of Baccara, directly opposite. You will however notice a number of particularly tall ‘laydees’ sat by the entrance, showing the usual fun and fearless approach to drawing in both the witting and unwitting gogo fanatics.
The interior is not much to write home about, it’s fairly long and narrow inside, though enough room for a central dance stage, hosting around 10 to 15 dancers at a time, and a row of soft seating on either side of the bar. I really don’t mind this set up, for some it may seem a little claustrophobic and the more timid may prefer a bar where you can sit several rows back and ogle the transgendered beauties from afar (though anyone who has experience Cascade bar will know there is no hiding from an attention hungry ladyboy). During my visits the ladyboy dancers have always been dressed in bikinis and heels, and I’m under the impression this is the standard uniform for the bar, while waitresses seem to be in maid and nurse uniforms. It seems a shame that a little more imagination has been put into the dress code for the waitresses rather than the girls on stage.
All About Fun
From my experience the average customer tends to enter out of curiosity, or small groups of ‘straight mates’ looking for some ‘innocent’ fun rather than seeking a bedfellow for the night, and the vibe of the bar is very much fun and playful as a result (though some dancers make it clear extra services are available). It can be a quiet venue early on in the evening, even when other bars are starting to pack out, but Cockatoo Ladyboy a Go Go Bar tends draw in decent numbers by midnight, usually helped when the first group of Japanese tourists enter, with others then follow in with more courage and confidence. As said before I find the bar to be a happy medium compared to other ladyboy go go’s, and that can be said about the staff too. The girls here aren’t as aggressive and intimidating as those in Casanova, nor are they as ‘cute and cuddly’ looking as those in Obsession bar. However, your typical Cockatoo dancer would still be attractive enough to fool your visiting aunt and uncle, and turn plenty of heads walking the high streets of most western capitals. You are likely to get asked to buy lady drinks on occasions, and mamasans seem to be there to pair you up with the lady of your choice, but the advances of the staff aren’t as persistent as you are likely to experience in other such go go’s, and a smile and shake of the head is usually enough to be left in peace, for a while at least (buying the mamasan a drink is a great way to be left alone and learn the latest gogo gossip).
No Surprises on Prices
I’m somewhat impressed with the pricing of Cockatoo. Some of the Soi Cowboy go go’s are charging over 150 for a beverage and close to 200 for a lady drink, but Cockatoo has set the vast majority of bottled beers and spirits at 145, with lady drinks priced at the same. Bar fines are also set at an ‘industry standard’ of 600 Baht. If I was purposely showing a friend the best of Bangkok’s ladyboy bars I’d head to the large selection of ladyboy go go’s in Nana Plaza, however I do like Cockatoo, and though I’m unlikely to go far out of my way to pay a visit, I will certainly pop in for a cold one when out in Soi Cowboy for the night.