Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Noir Bangkok Post Columnist Bernard Trink in the Bangkok Night

"Noir Bangkok Post Columnist Bernard Trink in the Bangkok Night" - Chris Coles
For thirty-seven years, he wandered around the Bangkok Night back before it became the gigantic industrial-scale enterprise it is today, asking questions, poking around, writing his weekly Nite Owl column for the Bangkok Post..........

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Monday, April 29, 2013

Young Russian Poet All Lit Up in the Bangkok Night

"Young Russian Poet All Lit Up in the Bangkok Night" - Chris Coles 
Before he arrived in Bangkok for an International Poetry Conference, he felt ethically secure. The first week, he pretended the Bangkok Night did not exist. In the second week, he acknowledged its existence, but knew it had nothing to do with him.  By the end of the third week, he's hanging out at a Gogo Bar full of ladyboys in Patpong and he's all lit up.........

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Thai General in the Bangkok Night

"Thai General in the Bangkok Night" -Chris Coles
A Thai general has many responsibilities and obligations......from Thailand's Deep South to the northwest border with Burma.....and in Bangkok too....Ratchada, RCA, around the Asia Hotel and more....everyday there are complex and difficult tasks to accomplish and many interests to be kept in harmony....

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Sunday, April 28, 2013

Party Time in the Bangkok Night

"Party Time in the Bangkok Night" - Chris Coles
Without the hundreds of thousands of girls, all lit up and ready for action, there would be no Party Time in the Bangkok Night........where are these hundreds of thousands of girls from, why are they there, what are they thinking and who are the ultimate beneficiaries from the billions of dollars of cash flow they generate each and every year............

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Arab Guy at the Grace Hotel Bangkok

"Arab Guy at the Grace Hotel Bangkok" - Chris Coles
Night Time at the Grace Hotel on Sukhumvit Soi 3 in Bangkok......swarms of Arab, Iranian and African Muslim sex tourists looking for some noir action......muscular ladyboys, hefty overweight Thai women, bleached out middle-aged Russian prostitutes from Uzbekistan, Kazakstan, Ukraine, Moldova....it's the lower depths...

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Harvard Guy in the Bangkok Night

"Harvard Guy in the Bangkok Night" - Chris Coles
A couple of years at Harvard in politically correct Cambridge.......a brilliant scholar, teacher, author....confronted with the ambiguity and darkness of the Bangkok Night.....

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Australian Accountant in the Bangkok Night

"Australian Accountant in the Bangkok Night" - Chris Coles
An accountant in Sydney, financial planner helping people with millions get and keep more millions, married for 30 years to the same woman, grown-up kids, an upstanding citizen and member of his community.......in the Bangkok Night he's just another guy looking for some action..........

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Saturday, April 27, 2013

American Philanthropist in the Bangkok Night

"American Philanthropist in the Bangkok Night" - Chris Coles
He's led an exemplary life, diligent, responsible, full of integrity and good intention, working hard to lift humanity at least a little bit...........in Bangkok for the first time, he wanders around in the midst of the Bangkok Night..........observing mankind in degenerate splendor, a noir spectacle on a scale almost beyond his capacity to understand and accept........

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German Film Director in the Bangkok Night

"German Film Director in the Bangkok Night" - Chris Coles
Not a bad guy, a talented film director, loyal husband and father when he's back in Germany, only a couple of girlfriends over the years, heart in the right place generally speaking...........but in the Bangkok Night, what's there to say........

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Friday, April 26, 2013

Fixer from Azerbaijan in the Bangkok Night

"Fixer from Azerbaijan in the Bangkok Night" - Chris Coles
Azerbaijan was once part of the Soviet Union before its collapse, a Muslim area, but secular and one of the world's centers of oil production..........at the crossroads of trade, commerce, culture and political struggle, often violent.............in the Bangkok Night, the Azeri Fixer feels comfortable and at home.....monkey business, corruption, moral ambiguity and the power of cash are the ocean he swims in every day.....no matter where he goes, no matter who he meets, no matter what he does............

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Thai Muslim Guy in the Bangkok Night

"Thai Muslim Guy in the Bangkok Night" - Chris Coles
From Thailand's Deep South where the majority is Muslim and ethnic Malay, he's wandering around Sukhumvit Soi 3 and the Grace Hotel, surrounded by Sex Tourists from the Middle-East and Africa, hundreds of Thai prostitutes, female and ladyboy, Russian prostitutes as well, drugs and alcohol consumption off the charts, party central for Muslims in the Bangkok Night......

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Party Hard in the Bangkok Night

"Party Hard in the Bangkok Night" - Chris Coles
It's Party Time in the Bangkok Night....drugs, alcohol, girls, loud music, lots of lights.......

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International Investment Banker in the Bangkok Night

"International Investment Banker in the Bangkok Night" - Chris Coles
In New York, London, Tokyo and Hong Kong, he feeds on the world.........in the Bangkok Night whatever he sees and wants, he takes......

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Thursday, April 25, 2013

New Age Buddhist Guy in the Bangkok Night

"New Age Buddhist Guy in the Bangkok Night" - Chris Coles
He's on a spiritual quest....for purity, serenity, harmony....seeking the truths left behind by the Buddha.....headed for a meditation retreat near Chiang Mai.......in Thailand, the world's most Buddhist country.....herbal colonics, a strict vegetarian diet and five hours a day of chanting.....if only the Thai massage girl hadn't turned out to be a ladyboy......

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Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Rent Boy Surawong/Silom

"Rent Boy Surawong/Silom" - Chris Coles
A Khmer-Thai from Surin, he's been a Rent Boy in the Bangkok Night for five years....working the Surawong/Silom area in and around Boys Town.....hard gritty action with guys from mostly Europe, Australia and North America......enough money to pay his rent, food, taxis and some leftover to send his Mom and Dad on the hardscrable farm near Surin.....

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Gay Tourist in the Bangkok Night

"Gay Tourist in the Bangkok Night" - Chris Coles
The gay scene in Bangkok is large and diverse, both paid and free....hi-level and lo-level....Asians of all kinds, Europeans, Australians, Americans, Africans, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Christians, Atheists.....men and women.....there are no limits and no controls........

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Jai Roon Reviews "Navigating the Bangkok Noir"

Chris Coles Paintings and Social Commentary.......
 By Jai Roon
Since writing pros James A. Newman and Jim Algie have both written extensive reviews on this book and both reviews are excellent, I'll keep mine brief.

I remember discovering the art of Chris Coles over 10 years ago. My first thought was: this guy seems interesting. Nobody is doing what he is doing. Dozens had written about the Bangkok Night before and dozens have written about it since but in the 21st Century, Chris Coles has been the indisputable leader in painting the darkness and the neon of Bangkok's notorious night paths.

But he does more than paint. He provides the quintessential social commentary needed with every colored frame. Chris Coles is to Bangkok Noir as Gary Trudeau was to Washington D.C. politics. The efficiency of what he gets across with the written word is classic story telling, usually with conflict involved, not often with catharsis.

Like many great artists, Chris Coles is misunderstood at times. There are some who see him as a proponent or cheerleader for the pay for play sex industry in Thailand. Not true. Chris has merely been making an extensive documentary in his art for over a decade.

The word prolific is overused but it is not overstated in his case. In NAVIGATING THE BANGKOK NOIR the very best of Chris Coles over 1,000 paintings have been selected.

Christopher G. Moore writes an excellent Forward to the book explaining the world of noir that Chris Coles captures so well.

I have no idea which authors will be remembered best in the 22nd Century for having written about the Bangkok night in the early 21st Century, if any at all. But I have a sneaking suspicion that the legacy of Chris Coles, the art of Chris Coles and the words of Chris Coles will linger well into the 22nd Century and beyond. His art, his documentary will be a reminder of a dark time. A time that once was and never will be, exactly, that way, again.

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Fortune 500 CEO in the Bangkok Night

"Fortune 500 CEO in the Bangkok Night" - Chris Coles
There are many large multinational companies based in Bangkok and many Fortune 500 CEO's passing through.....a day or two of meetings.....a couple of nights.....the Bangkok Night appeals to every level, every race and ethnic group......bringing out the noir in just about everyone......some more than others.....

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Number 25

"Number 25" - Chris Coles
In Thailand, many girls wear numbers every night, not just tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands.......it's considered so everyday and normal, no one even notices......often, the customers or Mamasans don't even know their names........

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Thailand Influential Person in the Bangkok Night

"Thailand Influential Person in the Bangkok Night" - Chris Coles
He's a Thailand Influential Person with a full sense of entitlement, accustomed to taking whatever he wants as much as he wants....in the Bangkok Night, he likes well-built young men.......there are plenty of them......able, willing and available.........

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Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Bangkok Noir Author James Newman

"Bangkok Noir Author James Newman" - Chris Coles

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Monday, April 22, 2013

KROM's Noir Music Video "The Ying"

KROM's noir music video "The Ying" song.....accompanied by a montage of my paintings from the Bangkok Night.... 

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Sunday, April 21, 2013

Sexy Sauna & Soapy Massage in the Bangkok Night

"Sexy Sauna & Soapy Massage in the Bangkok Night" - Chris Coles

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Saturday, April 20, 2013

Educated Farang in the Bangkok Night

"Educated Farang in the Bangkok Night" - Chris Coles
Confronted for the first time with the chaos, density and unleashed humanity of the Bangkok Night, the educated farang is pushed out of his customary comfort zone into an Interzone of moral abandonment, ambiguous spectacle and a ringside view of the inner workings of mankind presented without the usual niceties.........

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Thai TV Interview with Chris Coles April 2013

Friday, April 19, 2013

True Love in the Bangkok Night

"True Love in the Bangkok Night" - Chris Coles
Love comes in all shapes, sizes, colors, ages, moods and situations.....but only in the Bangkok Night is there True Love....................

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Farang Tourist in the Bangkok Night

"Farang tourist in the Bangkok Night"- Chris Coles
Straight off the plane from Europe, the hot Bangkok Night expectently awaiting his every desire.......

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Thursday, April 18, 2013

Long-Time Expat in the Bangkok Night

"Long-Time Expat in the Bangkok Night" - Chris Coles
He's been living in Bangkok and SE Asia it seems like forever......been everywhere, seen everything, getting a little worn down........

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"The Bangkok Night" - Chris Coles Talk at Bangkok Fiction Night of Noir Event April 17, 2013 Bangkok

"Ratchada Poseidon" - Chris Coles
Much of the Noir fiction written about the Bangkok Night is set in and around what is often referred to as the Bangkok Night.

But what actually is the Bangkok Night?

The answer usually depends on who you ask.

There's the so-called real or objective version which turns out to be so subjective, it's difficult to find two people who agree on what it is.

Then there's the mythic version which doesn't really describe an objective reality but is more an entertaining yet hazy cloud of accumulated lore from magazine and newspaper articles, tv reports, sensational and otherwise, pop music songs like One Night in Bangkok, stories told by friends and acquaintances, various newspaper reports or blog posts.

For instance, the Trink Column which used to be featured weekly in the Bangkok Post, the Stickman Weekly website, or the Bangkok Eyes blog which presents a detailed, well-organized chronological history of the Bangkok Night.

"Soi Cowboy" - Chris Coles
The mythic version's usually a little out-of-date as the actual Bangkok Night is always in a constant state of change in terms of venues, demographics, geography, fashions, fads and people and as a result, our accumulated perception always lags.

Other versions of the Bangkok Night are presented in the novels of various writers like Christopher G. Moore, John Burdett, Stephen Leather, Jake Needham, Dean Barrett, Tim Hallinan, James Newman, Tom Vater.

"Portrait of Bangkok Noir author Stephan Leather" - Chris Coles
Or in Nick Nostitz' Bangkok's Twilight Zone, a brutal yet brilliant book of photos and commentary set in the Patpong District of the 1990's.

Or Cleo Odzier's autobiographical Patpong Sisters.

There are also versions contained in films like the original very gritty Bangkok Dangerous and even in the completely dumb and often unintentionally absurd Hangover II or in the recent, very evocative and powerful short film True Skin, of Bangkok-in-the-brutal-future, directed by Stephan Zlotescu, a young visual effects guy from LA.

Further versions of the Bangkok Night are in various music videos that play on Thai tv, especially the Isan music videos which often feature storylines of young Isan males and females migrating to Bangkok from the rural countryside to work in various nightlife venues.

"Bangkok Boys Town" - Chris Coles
And then there's the version of the Bangkok Night as contained in my paintings which is the version I'm going to focus on tonight.

To me, the Bangkok Night is a vast, dark, edgy and noir universe.  It has a powerful density and velocity, a kind of Dark Energy.  It's full of nihilistic motifs and themes, populated by many different kinds of people frm all over Asia and all over the world who, in the universe of the Bangkok Night, are often revealed in ways they might not have intended or wanted to be revealed.  In ways that might contradict the version of themselves that they project or present in their ordinary or so-called normal lives.

Their daytime lives when they're suited up for work, constrained and subdued in all sorts of ways that are necessary for them to survive, replicate and succeed in terms of careers, families, financial security, etc.

Like the Paris Night circa 1900 painted by the Fauvists or the Berlin Night early 1900's painted by the Expressionists, the Bangkok Night is a world without daylight or sunshine.   It's all about darkness, glowing neon and various man-made and multi-colored lighting: florescent, blinking, reflected and otherwise.

"Obsession Bar Neon" - Chris Coles
There are multiple and constantly overlapping music tracks and sound effects.

All different kinds of women and men, and ladyboys, dressed up and costumed for the night, not for the day.  Thousands of them, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, millions.

Of every size and shape, beautiful, not beautiful, young, not-so-young.

From everywhere in Thailand, Asia and the world: Isan, Thai, Khmer, Chinese Burmese, Russian, Indian, Japanese, Korean, Arab, Iranian, German, French, Italian, Turks, English, Scottish, Scandinavian, American Australian, African.  One night I even met a guy from Turkmenistan.

"Guy from Turkmenistan in Bangkok Night" - Chris Coles
In my view, as I mentioned already, two key elements in the Bangkok Night are density and velocity.  Without density and velocity, kind of like one of those gigantic Black Holes in Deep Space, the Bangkok Night would lose much of its power, its brightness, its almost irresistible attraction, its ability to draw in millions of people.

Another key element in the Bangkok Night are the extreme situations, often very personal, dramatic and acted out in strange ways in full public view, many of which I use as raw material for my paintings in which I try to convey not only the illusion of excitement and desire, but also the poignancy, the ugliness, the momentary glimpses of wonder and beauty, and the enormous loss of human potentials, damaged lives and tragedy.

"Ratchada Fishbowl" - Chris Coles
The Bangkok Night is full of ambiguities, nothing is ever quite clear. It's complex, multi-layered.  Sometimes, it has an ironic overlay, sometimes a touch of noir humor lurking somewhere underneath.

In my paintings, the men, women, ladyboys and even the soi dogs are portrayed at their best, in-between and worst, usually caught up in a Darwinist dog-eat-dog setting.  Desiring.  Being desired.  Wanting. Being wanted.

"Bangkok Ladyboy Nana Plaza" - Chris Coles
Compulsively, sometimes mindlessly, devouring or being devoured, consuming or being consumed, etc.

It's a world where only the strongest and luckiest manage to avoid being sucked in the vortex and to survive completely intact.

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Introduction for Christopher G. Moore from Bangkok Noir Night of Fiction

(.......the introduction I gave for Bangkok Noir author Christopher G. Moore at the Bangkok Noir Night of Fiction Event April 17th at the Check Inn 99 in Bangkok................)

Two Christopher G. Moore books with Chris Coles paintings as cover art....
Most of you are probably familiar with the various novels and essays of Christopher G. Moore, especially his series of Private Eye novels featuring the Bangkok Expat detective, Vincent Calvino.

Christopher was one of the first fiction writers to undertake a substantial and sustained effort to make use of the settings and characters of modern Bangkok to create not one, but a series of stories that portrayed the life and times, the neighborhoods and streets, the gestalt and weirdness of this vast and energetic metropolis we call Bangkok.

"Portrait of Bangkok Noir Author Christopher G. Moore" - Chris Coles
His work has paved the way for others, writers, film-makers, musicians and artists, to realize that the vast setting of the Bangkok Night has way more potential than simply five minutes of condom sex between two or more strangers in a short-time hotel.

That the Bangkok Night could be transformed into not only many individual stories, books, films, songs and paintings about the actual Bangkok Night and its actual people, but that there were also more universal themes to be explored, portrayed and revealed.

Among them as present in Christopher's work, the ongoing 1st world/3rd world collisions between people and cultures in a time of rapid globalization and wide-body jets, the internet, ATM machines and Smart phones. 

The confused, ambiguous and rapidly changing state of male/female relations in our present time, created, in part at least, by radically more equal access to education, professions and money. 

The changing role of religion, superstition and beliefs in people's perceptions and how they act.

The immense pressure and dislocation caused by rapid economic development and the consequent dis-integration of traditional social structures.

And so on....

I, for one, am grateful for Chris' dedication and efforts, both past and ongoing.

It's my pleasure to introduce Christopher G. Moore.

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Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Nana Plaza Ladyboy in the Bangkok Night

"Nana Plaza Ladyboy in the Bangkok Night" - Chris Coles
Nana Plaza in the Bangkok Night is a world vortex of ladyboys....hundreds and hundreds of ladyboys....who are their customers and where are they from and what do they think they want.....

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Tuesday, April 16, 2013

English Bar Owner in Pattaya

"English Bar Owner in Pattaya" - Chris Coles
He's owned bars in Pattaya's sex district for twenty years, selling beer and girls to anyone who wanders by.....at this point in his life, he doesn't give a fuck about anything......

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Saturday, April 13, 2013

Christopher G. Moore's Introduction to the "Bangkok Noir" Anthology

Behind the Thai smile and the gracefully executed wai, in the near distance is another realm: the geography of conflict, personal grudges, anger, revenge, disappearances and violence. Where loss of face, personal rivalry and competition for power often have fatal consequences. The risk of danger, like an irregular heartbeat, is unpredictable. Most of the time the danger is out of sight, out of mind. But when it unexpectedly explodes, the victim goes down hard and doesn't get up.

Glide along the daylight surface of Bangkok, and the gritty world of noir often seems light years away. The surface is polite, pleasurable and fun-sanuk. But dig deeper below the sanuk layer, and the tropical paradise reveals a far colder, damp darkness of lost souls-souls stranded, battered and estranged. Writers are often among the first to kick over that noir rock, and their readers watch as the spiders, scorpions and cockroaches scatter in all directions.

The dozen authors in Bangkok Noir lever their collective boot to that stone in the heart of the City of Angels. Hints of noir appear like blimps on the Bangkok radar screen. The members of local charities who cruise around in vans to collect the dead and injured are called body snatchers. Newspapers announce the latest official crackdowns, which in the past have been directed at bar closing hours, abortion clinics, car thieves, hired gunmen, speeders and underground lotteries. And whispers posted on the social networks speak of unofficial shakedowns. At every turn there is a new noir-like incident, such as the Bangkok temple morgue, found to contain two thousand aborted fetuses. Art follows such dark spaces of human activity.

Already a horror movie about the morgue is in the works for 2011, titled 2002 Baby Ghosts. Noir in Bangkok happens fast. The subject of noir is often taken from the latest headlines of the Bangkok Post or The Nation. And of course the noir history of past coups looms, casting a long black shadow that feeds the fear of future coups.

The potential list of subjects is long, but the stories in this collection will give more than a few insights into the Thai noir world. The idea of the national sport, Muay Thai-a combination of ballet, boxing, kicking and kneeing-is pure noir. That's the idea of sanuk dipped in bruises and blood. Muay Thai may be closer to assassination than normal boxing. Whatever it is (or isn't), Muay Thai is the sport of noir. With ancient rituals and music the fighters perform before a huge, cigar smoking, game fixing, betting crowd, where gangsters, fraudsters, boiler room operators, bar owners and crooked cops and officials, wearing gold chains and amulets, gather. The kind of men who know each other's birthdays and what's expected in terms of keeping the wheels greased. Men and women with advance knowledge of who is going to win before the fight starts.

There is no consensus on the definition of "noir" that covers all cultures. Writers don't agree on one version of noir, and photographers and painters translate noir into their own image of darkness. Slowly, a general idea of noir in Bangkok has emerged over the last ten years.

The foreign and Thai artistic noir movement has been growing during this period. Ralf Tooten, an award-winning photographer, has captured Bangkok noir in his photographs (one of which graces the cover of this book).

The artist Chris Coles has painted the faces of men and women who move through the Bangkok underworld.

The authors represented in this anthology, foreigners and Thais, have contributed stories that create powerful images, bringing the Bangkok noir movement another step forward. Thais and foreigners live together inside the world of noir. These stories record their experience of Bangkok's dark side.

Bangkok Noir contains twelve short stories by professional authors who have developed an international reputation for their writing about life in Asia. Not all of the writers in this collection are crime writers or even, normally, writers of fiction. What unites them is their knowledge of Bangkok, their depth of cultural understanding and their love of storytelling. As a group they are professional authors whose books are published in many countries and languages. You will find a diversity of original voices and perceptions of noir as well as various approaches to tone, structure and characterization-in these deeply felt, insightful and thought-provoking tales. This volume is special for another reason: it is the first time that foreign and Thai professional writers have combined their visions of Bangkok within a single volume.

I opened this introduction with a comment about the ambiguity of noir as a concept. It is worth noting some basic background. "Noir" is the French word for black or dark. The French used the term to describe certain dark films portraying characters doomed by the hand of fate. Appropriated years ago by Anglo-Saxon critics and authors, the word "noir" in English has been used to describe a certain category of crime fiction. American authors like Thompson, Willeford, Goodis and Cain made a reputation selling a bleak, nihilistic vision of life. The contemporary notion of noir, traceable to the original French idea, is based on an existential space where the characters find themselves caught without the possibility of redemption.

Noir fiction chronicles a world where a person's fate is sealed by a larger and more powerful karma, one from which, despite all efforts, they can't break free. The stories in this collection are in the tradition of past noir authors who were masters at leading characters onto the platform, slipping the noose around their necks and springing open the trap door.

What Westerners call a fatalistic vision of life, in Asia often passes as karma. All of those good and bad deeds from your past life work themselves out in the streets, bars and back alleys of this life, and there's not much room for free will inside this concept of a universe where payback awaits in the next life.

With this anthology this group of authors, known for their writings about Thailand, have put their creative talent to the task of showing that noir is geographically unbounded. If noir is looking a little tired in the West, in Thailand it has all the energy and courage of a kid from upcountry who thinks the Khmer tattoos on his body will stop bullets. Dark stories, like a good som tum, need the right number of red hot peppers to press the pain and pleasure buttons, and when a noir writer runs short of hot peppers, he throws in a Thai dame (she may be a ghost), knowing she can drive any man to ruin with the flash of her smile.

What makes Bangkok Noir different from, say, American, English or Canadian noir?  There's no easy answer.  But a stab in the heart of noir darkness suggests that while many Thais embrace the materialistic aspects of modern Western life, the spiritual and sacred side draws upon Thai myth, legends and customs, and remains resistant to the imported mythology structure of the West.  In the tension between the show of gold, the Benz, the foreign trips and designer clothes, and the underlying belief system creates an atmosphere that stretches people between opposite poles.  I like to thing of noir as the by-product of the contradictions and the delusions that condemn people to live without hope of resolving the contradictions.  No matter how hard they struggle, they can never break free.

Take a late night walk through some poor neighborhoods in Bangkok.  Hear the soi dogs howling as the angry ghosts launch themselves through the night, and observe that modern possessions don't stop the owners from making offerings to such spirits.  In the slums life is short and cheap, and it's a tough life filled with uncertainty and doubt.  But noir isn't just about the poor or dispossessed.  The rich occupy their expensive condos and drive their luxury cars, sheltering inside the circles of influence and power, only they, too, like the poor, can find their world overturned by an accident of fate, stripping them of their safety and exposing them to terror and loss.

No one is going to provide a definition of "noir" that satisfies eeryone.  Critics and writers try to distinguish hard-boiled fiction from noir fiction.  Strip away the fancy stuff and it comes down to nothing more than this: the difference between hard-boiled and noir is the difference between hemorrhoids and cancer.  Hard-boiled stories make for uncomfortable reading, but you know somehow there's the possibility of hope at the end (no puns are allowed in noir).  Noir is black in the way certain death is black.  No redemption, no hope, no light at the end of the tunnel.

Tough guys, players, losers, the tormented and lost souls all appear in Bangkok Noir.  But the heart of Bangkok Noir is the existential doubts that haunt the characters.  Many of them are expatriates washed up like pilot whales on the shore, thinking that someone is going to save them.  Instead they get rolled over, sliced up and processed as another part of the food chain.  The heat, the corruption, the lies and double crosses, the bars and the short-time hotels conspire to lull, entrap, encircle and finish off anyone who betrays the system.

In Bangkok there is an old trail that leads through a thicket of historical noir cases told by Thai storytellers of the past.  Books and TV shows have created a mini-industry around the likes of See Ouey, the Chinese-Thai cannibal executed in the 1950's for murdering a half a dozen young children.  His preserved body is exhibited like a ghoulish alien creature inside a see-through display case at the Forensic Museum.  Another noir celebrity is the ill-fated Jim Thompson, not the noir writer, but the American (rumored to be a CIA agent) who reintroduced silk-making into Thailand and who mysteriously disappeared on a walk in the Malaysian jungle.  His body was never found.

This anthology of contemporary stories weaves a pattern of intrigue and mystery where the living and the dead occupy the same space.  Crooked lawyers, crooked cops, transsexuals, minor wives, killers and ghosts take you along for a tour that unlocks the secret doors and invites you to enter into the space where Thais and foreigners work, live, play and die together.  The only mystery not uncovered by the writers in this collection is why it has taken so long for a volume of Bangkok Noir to appear.

Chrstopher G. Moore
February, 2011


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Kenneth L. Kantor Reviews "Navigating the Bangkok Noir"

Complex and Powerful Modern Expressionism
On the one hand a free-form fantasy and on the other a fascinating ethnographic documentary, "Navigating the Bangkok Noir," is a powerful work. 
With its haunting, ghost-like figures and its chaotic, yet desolate, landscapes, Coles' work has become one of the favorites in my collection. This is a rich and compelling effort that I find myself drawn into again and again. Each time, something new and unexpected is revealed. It is rare to find an artist who combines such a skilled and playful sense of aesthetics with an unblinking eye for the turbulence which lies hidden just below the surface of a smile. Observing the paintings, I find myself sometimes forced to look away... to mitigate their intensity or to reassure myself that I am safe in the comfort of my own world.

Rooted in the Expressionism of the early 20th century, Coles' work employs deceptively simple imagery to illuminate complex emotional moments. Coles himself stands outside of any particular epoch; his images are simultaneously quite modern and intensely primitive. In spite of, or perhaps because of the decision to work in a social context alien to his primary audience, he manages to speak strongly to universal human feelings like alienation, hope, fear and desire.

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Thursday, April 11, 2013

Nigerian Guy at Pattaya Beach

"Nigerian Guy at Pattaya Beach" - Chris Coles
Plenty of guys from Nigeria in Thailand these days, mostly in Bangkok, many around Lower Sukhumvit, not too many enjoying a seaside stroll at Pattaya beach..........

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Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Welcome to Walking Street

"Welcome to Walking Street" - Chris Coles
Through the gates into the inferno........

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Sunday, April 07, 2013

Love at First Sight in the Hot Bangkok Night

"Love at First Sight in the Hot Bangkok Night" - Chris Coles
A chance encounter in the hot Bangkok Night...........drinking and partying in the Silom/Surawong district....hours of passion in a short-time hotel.....it's love at first sight.............

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Colonel Gaddafi at Marine Disco South Pattaya

"Colonel Gaddafi at Marine Disco South Pattaya" - Chris Coles
Some people say that the guy who got executed in Libya was a double....that the real Colonel Gaddafi's still alive, spending his days and nights in South Pattaya, blending in with the thousands of Arab Sex Tourists, hanging out, partying at Marine Disco and chasing over-weight Thai girls, maybe even a few tall muscular Thai ladyboys...........

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Saturday, April 06, 2013

Two Thai Guys at Bangkok Private Member Club

"Two Thai Guys at Bangkok Private Member Club" - Chris Coles
There are many "delivery systems" in the Bangkok Night, from high to low and everything in between, there to "provide service" for customers rich and not so rich, normal to dysfunctional, old to young, from all over Thailand, Asia and the World......the "Private Member Clubs" are mostly for Hi-So Thai guys with more money than sense.....upper-income guys from the rest of Asia too, especially Japanese....plus millionaires from the Middle-East, Russia, Europe, Australia and North America....extravagant decor and an endless selection of girls in all states of dress and undress.........service at whatever level is desired.......

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Friday, April 05, 2013

New York Hedge Fund Manager in the Bangkok Night

"New York Hedge Fund Manager in the Bangkok Night" - Chris Coles
He imagines himself as one of the world's primo Alpha Males, entitled to whatever he desires.....let loose in the Bangkok Night, in the eyes of the endless stream of hi-end Thai prostitutes he's been devouring, he's an Infinity ATM machine with an attitude.......

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Thursday, April 04, 2013

Thai Police Guy Hard at Work in the Bangkok Night

"Thai Police Guy Hard at Work in the Bangkok Night" - Chris Coles
Every night, he works Bangkok's Sukhumvit District....dealing with people from all over Thailand, Asia and the World.......maintaining "law and order" amidst the near total chaos and dis-order of the Bangkok Night......

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Bangkok Expat and Girlfriend

"Bangkok Expat and Girlfriend" - Chris Coles
She's focused, alert and has a dream of a better life for herself, her kids and her family....he, on the other hand, is about to turn in the Pillsbury Dough Boy......

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Khmer Girl in War Paint

"Khmer Girl in War Paint" - Chris Coles
Every night, before starting work at the bar, she prepares for battle, hoping to survive and live another day............

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Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Two Farang Business Guys in the Bangkok Night

"Two Farang Business Guys in the Bangkok Night" - Chris Coles
In Bangkok for business once or twice a month, all expenses paid, free to roam and pillage without restraint......no one has ever said the Bangkok Night brings out whatever might be "good, decent and nice" in the human animal....

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