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Thai soapy massages meet politics

Can Bangkok’s former “Brothel King" bring political tension to a happy ending?

No. Let me explain. I was educated in a U.S. university in Buies Creek, North Carolina. That’s where I met my ex-wife. She’s a “farang” [Thai word for light-skinned Westerner.] I still have two kids in the U.S.

The media says I’m a sex merchant, a sex tycoon. Whatever. But I quit already! They’re massage parlors, OK? It’s not immoral. But now, when I go to the U.S. embassy, they won’t issue me a visa. I say, “It’s human rights! You have to let me see my kids.”

My ex-wife won’t allow my kids to see me in Thailand. So I’m just waiting and waiting. I’m thinking, you know, in the U.S. you’re supposed to get a second chance. Americans first came over from Europe and England, not agreeing with their king’s system, to the United States. They got a second chance. I need one too.

So you’re still out of the massage business?

I smashed [that jacuzzi]. I stopped it. I’ve started over with a new [family-friendly] hotel.

You’ve quietly registered a new political party called “Love Thailand.” What are your plans?

If you have something to propose to the Thai people, you have to pick a party like ... [rattles off Thailand’s political parties]. There’s noone democratic in these parties, so how can they make things democratic for this country? This isn’t going to be a political party. It’s my company. I want to run for MP and this is just my vehicle.

So you’d be the only person in the party?

I accept that. Because if I have someone else, I have to pay them off. Why should I pay anyone when I'm not doing dirty things? It will be a clean business. Last election, I spent almost 30 million baht [$927,660] to advertise the campaign. The posters, the billboards, the TV ads. So people know my face now.

I only need 80,000 votes from Bangkok. I can get that easily here. Some politicians only know about politics outside Bangkok, in the provinces, where you have to pay money for votes. I’ve been to Isaan [rural, northeast Thailand] and asked people, “Why do you accept 500 baht for one vote?” They said, “I get 500 today. That’s better than getting nothing.” This is the way politics work in Thailand. It needs time. It needs development.

Thai politics is currently a nightmare. Why get involved now?

It’s a nightmare. I accept that. Look, say you have a product, but the market is not very good. Do you wait and wait until the market recovers and then you release your product? No. You’ve invested labor, you’ve invested in the brand. I've been waiting a long time. Long enough. This is maybe my time.

In previous campaigns, one of your main platforms was corruption, particularly police corruption. Will you keep pressing this issue?