Body Sellers: The Sex Workers Of Thailand
Photographs by Gerry Yaum
December 1 – 31, 3013
Opening: Saturday, Dec 14, 5-7pm
Zeitgeist presents the work of Canadian photographer Gerry Yaum for PhotoNOLA 2013. The subjects from Body Sellers: The Sex Workers Of Thailand were documented with an 8×10 view camera in multiple locations throughout Pattaya, Thailand over a five year period.
“When I go boomsing (sex) with farang (Westerner) I smile outside and cry inside.” – Long 25, gogo bar worker Pattaya, Thailand 2007
I feel that photography can be a powerful voice for change; it can help the forgotten people in our society. My dual hope in creating these photographs was to document the sex workers of Thailand as well as to raise awareness in the viewer. I wanted to personalize the nameless sex workers everyone hears about but no one knows. My goal was to humanize the statistics, to give a voice to the worker.
The set of portraits in this exhibition were made in Pattaya, Thailand in 2007, 2009 and 2012. Pattaya is a city three hours south of Bangkok and has a population of 100,000. It is world-famous as a destination for foreign sex tourists and sex pats (long-term foreign sex tourist residents). The sex tourists of Pattaya are predominantly male, both straight and gay, from countries around the globe. Different areas of Pattaya are devoted to various types of foreign tourists; Western customers, Middle Eastern customers, Asian customers, gay customers: all have regions in the city that cater to their specific desires.
The people in these photographs work in a variety of venues such as gogo dance bars, outdoor beer bars, as street freelancers, and as short-time bar workers. The sex workers of Thailand can make ten to twenty times in one week what an average Thai worker can make in one month. This makes the lure of Pattaya very strong for a young woman or man in rural Thailand. Often the money earned from the foreign customers is sent back up-country to the worker’s homes to help support their children, parents and sometimes entire families. – Gerry Yaum