Jomtien, 28th July, 2010

The “Home” page is my daily blog. The remaining tabs contain previously blogged, episodic ‘stories’, which are now re-published in chronological order.

Nid (Part 4)

I was becoming quite well known in Bangkok’s entertainment circles.

Every two to three months, we brought another ‘name act’ to Bangkok.  Some were long-established singers and groups, such as the New Seekers, Brotherhood of Man. The Supremes, Vicki Car, Eartha Kitt and others were newer acts who we could get ‘on the cheap’.

We promoted these acts at the ballrooms of some of Bangkok’s top hotels, such as: The Dusit Thani, The Oriental, The Ambassador, The Indra and many more. The shows would be staged at whatever hotel that Ittiput could cut the best deal regarding room rent, rooms for the stars and their entourage and the prices for food.

For this type of promotion, we would typically hold a concert-style show in the afternoon, followed by a dinner show in the evening, when many the ‘hoi polloi’ of Bangkok would attend in large numbers.

Then there were the pop concerts which catered principally to the younger crowds. For these promotions we needed larger venues to make the whole thing financially viable. We weren’t about the repeat the mistake of that first concert, where Mobi in particular had lost so much of his money.

But as previously stated, this was in the days before the advent of Muang Thong Thani and some other large venues which now grace the Bangkok skyline, so we were forever on the lookout for a new venue that could be used for our concerts.

The National Gymnasium was now off limits, but we managed to book the Indoor Stadium at Huamark, which proved a great success, and acts such as Donny and Marie Osmond, Christopher Cross and Tina Charles were promoted there.

Then we discovered Prakanong Theatre – long since gone. This was an absolutely massive cinema auditorium with a large stage and must have held at least 3000 seats. It was ideal for our purposes and became a regular venue for our concerts for the younger crowd.

Osibissa, David Essex, Sherbet, Dr Hook, Jigsaw, and many more pop acts from that era were promoted to sell out performances at the Prakanong Theatre, which for a while became our regular venue.

One of the biggest stars we promoted during that period was Debbie Harry and Blondie.  ‘New Wave’ was just becoming established and it was literally a few months before Blondie became a worldwide phenomenon.

So we got them cheap, but we weren’t sure of their drawing power so we compromised on venues and promoted them for couple of concerts at the ambassador Hotel.

To this day I well recall the press conference that preceded the concerts when Debbie Harry and her then husband, Blondie guitarist Chris Stein were wheeled out to answer questions from the Thai press.

True to her ‘punk’ origins, she treated the questioners with disdain and provided insolent, anarchic replies, most of which, thankfully, went over the reporters’ heads.

Then came the moment I will never forget.

Debbie, who was looking absolutely gorgeous in an extremely tight T-shirt and close fitting jeans, noticed that many of the press core were wearing “Blondie” T-shirts which we had given out as a ‘freebie’ to encourage them to write nice things about the forthcoming performances.

She turned to Ittiput and asked if she could have one, whereupon one of our staff duly obliged.

In full view of the assembled press core, she stood up, whipped off her T-shirt to reveal her wonderful bra-less breasts, and then quickly slipped on the Blondie T-Shirt that she had just been given.

Such was the speed of the change of clothes that I doubt any of the photographers present were alert enough to snap her naked torso. I think they were initially too shocked to press their camera buttons and by the time they had come their senses, it was too late.

Those were good times for Mobi. I would socialise with many of the artists and take them to some of the night spots around Bangkok, and bask in the reflected glory of being with, and drinking with the famous stars of the time.

Debbie and Chris were mainly interested in getting high on ‘gunja’ and other ‘recreational’ drugs which would be procured for them by one of Ittiput’s less respectable associates, and then we would all go out to a night club where all and sundry would get stoned out of their minds.

For many of the groups, we would throw in a free holiday in Pattaya as an incentive to come and perform in Bangkok, and once again it was down to Mobi to be tour guide, prostitute procurer and drinking pal in chief.

Then it would be back to the office to take care of the mountain of paper work and accounting that would build up during a concert promotion, before hot footing it to the venue to ensure that the green room was properly stocked in accordance with the artists’ contracts.

I would invariably spend much time in the Green room taking care of the artists before and after their performances.

I drank hard and worked hard, receiving a pittance from Ittiput for my super-human efforts, but I loved every moment of it.

There is nothing like the thrill of a sell-out concert, with the kids yelling their lungs out and the artists strutting their stuff on the big stage. During the shows I would usually stand at the side of the stage, or maybe at the sound mixing desk, already tanked up on beer, and revel in the deafening sounds echoing across the auditorium.

At such times, my adrenalin would be at bursting point; I was happy to be alive and to have been instrumental in creating such an event. Without Mobi, I used to think, it would never have happened.

My beloved Nid would be given a stack of complimentary tickets for every show. She would duly turn up with her own little Thai entourage and enjoy the reflected fame of being with Mobi and the artists at the end of the day’s gig.

Looking back, I think that Nid was in two minds about her relationship with me.

Sure, she enjoyed the aura and lifestyle of being with a farang who promoted international concerts, but she was less than impressed with the money I gave her at the end of each month.

This conflict of emotions came to head one evening when I received a visit from a Thai couple, who I had known for some time. They ran their own radio shows and like Ittiput, were also crazy about western pop music.

I knew that the girl came from a very hi-so family (her father had been in the cabinet of the previous government) and the man was a very wellknown DJ.

It transpired that they were suffering from cash flow problems at their radio station and were looking for a short term ‘bridging’ loan to pay for their ‘air time’ until their main sponsor paid them at the end of the month.

They told me that they were desperate, and that if they didn’t pay the station what they owed on the following day, they would be off the air.

They told me that they needed 100,000 Baht, which was a great deal of money in those days. I still had about 200,000 left from my savings and I couldn’t see any problems in lending them the money for a couple of weeks until their sponsor’s money came through. She was from a good family, he was a famous D.J.

In my naive mind, there was no risk. So I agreed.

When Nid realised what I was proposing to do she went completely ballistic. She told me that they would cheat me and not pay me back, but I thought she was talking out of her backside and told her so. I had known these people for several years – they were good friends and very respectable. Of course they would pay me back.

So the next day I met the couple at my bank and gave them the money.

Nid didn’t stop railing at me for lending them the money. I couldn’t wait for the end of the month when I would be able to prove to her that not all Thais were dishonest and that I would be repaid on time, as promised.

Of course Nid was right and I was wrong. The end of the month came and went and there was no sign of the money. I tried calling them, but they weren’t answering their phones.

Nid was becoming more and more incensed.

A month past and no word from either of my borrowers, and in desperation I decided to go to the DJ’s radio station and confront him about his debt. I doubt if I would have ever dared to take such drastic action if Nid hadn’t been so seriously ‘on my case’.

I duly met both of them when the man had finished his radio show and they were full of apologies for not repaying the debt. They explained to me that some further complications had arisen, but they would be in a position to give me the money at the end of the current month which was some three weeks away.

Mollified and reasonably confident that they would keep their word, I returned home to report what had transpired to Nid. She immediately ‘blew up’ and told me in no uncertain terms what a fool I was to believe them yet again.

Of course, yet again, Nid was right.

The end of the month came and went and not a ‘dicky bird’ from my borrowers.

By this time I was starting to realise that Nid had been right all along and I should never have lended the money to my so-called friends. I also was starting to fear that I would never get the money back.

I didn’t know what to do. Nid was still furious with me for lending them the money in the first place, and what remained of my own little nest egg was fast running out.

Then one day Nid vanished.

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