Richard, a farang friend of mine, passed away recently but for many years he was happily married to a lovely Thai lady. I mention him because a year or so before he died, he told me that his Thai wife was so upset with my photobook Thailand: Land of Beautiful Women that she couldnít stop badmouthing it. Well, I thought, the late writer, Kingsley Amis, said something like: if your writing hasnít pissed anybody off it probably isnít any damn good. So I didnít mind. Besides, as all writers eventually learn: controversy sells books; silence sells nothing.

But then he told me something incredible: There was a discussion group formed at Thammasat University especially to condemn my book! And he knew this because his wife, a magazine editor, had taken part.

A discussion group held by professional, young Thai women just to denounce me! I couldnít believe it Ė my ego soared! In fact, I found it to be a very definite turn-on, and it wasnít only my ego that soared. But then I thought - why didnít they invite me? My God, can you imagine the scene?

Beautiful, curvaceous, succulent middle- and upper-middle class Thai women on a university campus sitting around a table in their middle- and upper-middle class outfits and perfumes and hairdos and high-heeled shoes and they are ALL GATHERED TO CENSURE ME ME ME ME!

Can you just imagine their well-scrubbed, perfectly perfumed, lovely jade-white, Thai-Chinese, flawless, goddess-like, complexions ? Their perfectly pressed Gucci business suits, Racket Club slacks, Salvatore Ferrugamo dresses, Yves St. Laurent skirts, Versace blouses, Charles Jourdan matching handbag and shoes, Prada purses, and maybe even a few school uniforms!

Their pleated navy blue office skirts rising up their long, lovely jade-white, Thai-Chinese legs as they cross them; all the while, fervently, passionately, fervidly denouncing ME! The mind boggles! And nobody invited me!! Why? What did I do wrong? Please, lovely ladies, if in the future you want to hold a DENUNCIATION SESSION OF DEAN BARRETT, please, please, please invite me as guest of dishonor.

I mean I would have been the first one to suggest I needed to be punished for what I did. Yep. No question about it. Just be kinky and creative in your punishment is all I would have asked. You would have found me repentant and willing to take my medicine. We could have adjourned the meeting and reassembled at the Cave bar on soi 33. But, hell, not inviting me to an all-Thai-female discussion group denouncing my book is cruel and unusual punishment.

So these gorgeous creatures are sitting about drinking coffee and tea out of, well, out of what? Fine china, maybe? Styrofoam cups? Dunno. But I bet they had a small dish of some kind of refreshments. Some Thai desert, maybe: coconut pudding in banana leaf cups or maybe Thai cookies. Or maybe they just grabbed a few bags of shrimp-flavored potato chips from the 7/11. Shrimp-flavored potato chips always go good with denunciation sessions of Dean Barrett.

OK, so there they are around the table: now picture those perfect, dazzling bright, sparkling white teeth sinking into the smooth, creamy white coconut pudding enclosed within the tiny forest green banana leaf cups, a bit of white rice flour stuck to their full, warm, lustrous, perfectly formed red lips; lips expertly coated with lip gloss Ė a watermelon shade, maybe, or perhaps orange toffee or honey rose; and they naturally brush the bit of white rice flour away with their soft, tender pink tongues or deftly dislodge it with one long, delicate, professionally manicured, perfectly varnished, fingernail - their healthy, glowing, blush-hued, cheeks made smooth with Revlon New Complexion Skin Defense Softener, and their female deity bodies glowing with vitamin-enriched moisturizing gels, soft-texture cleansing foams, anti-dehydration toners, and various skin-whitening emulsions.

The room replete with earthy and warm and sensual feminine scents mingling with the seductive flowery fragrances of the most mysterious of perfumes and cologne sprays Ė pink peony, amber, mango musk, sandalwood, lily of the valley, rose, orange, peach, orchid, honey, and, of course, night jasmine. The mind boggles! And the lovely feminine scents a bit more evident than normal perhaps because of their impassioned umbrage and righteous anger at none other than yours truly!

All the while the light-complexioned, perfectly groomed, provocatively scented, Thai women -- the reddish pink of indignation just visible beneath the soft beige Revlon Love Pat moisturizing powder covering their cute-as-a-button cheeks -- are furrowing their lovely brows and, in distaste, pursing their smooth, full Maybelline wet-shined lips, and beneath soft, supple, lashes made longer with LíOreal Longitude Lash Out Mascara and above Revlonís ďbrazen berryĒ eyeshadow, looking down at (and down on) the women pictured in my book: equally beautiful dark-complexioned Essarn women - ricefield workers, construction workers, highway sweepers, beach sweepers, fishermenís daughters, farmerís daughters, hill tribe women, classical dancers and go go dancers. If that scene isnít an incredible turn-on, if that portrait isnít the gateway to Erection City, I donít know what the hell is.

Oh, sure, Hemingway, Henry Miller, Bukowski, they all had their fan clubs but me Ė I get my very own Denunciation Discussion Group! Wherever they are, Iíll bet those other writer guys are eating their hearts out.

But the best part is yet to come. Because Richard told me he had bought my first photo book decades ago, The Girls of Thailand. And his wife was aware of the fact that, despite her denunciation of Thailand: Land of Beautiful Women, Richard had always liked The Girls of Thailand book.

And his birthday was coming up. So guess what his wife bought him for his birthday? You guessed it: a copy of Thailand: Land of Beautiful Women. ďGo figure,Ē said Richard.

I ask you: Is it any wonder why we love these women?


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