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NIGHT PROWL — “I was curious, so said I’ll have the 10 baht. She had a towel wrapped around her hand, and after the deed was done, I pulled it off. She had leprosy.â€


That’s not an anecdote one can find in a daily newspaper, but for decades it was the kind of frank report you’d get from the hardest working man on the commercial coitus beat, Bernard Trink.


A little over a year ago, I slipped into Bangkok’s nightlife scene for this investigative column you’re reading now. I trolled S&M and go-go bars, chatted up DJs and generally tried to stir up a little controversy.


But I’ll be the first to tell you it doesn’t come close to the league Trink played in as Bangkok’s original nightlife reporter.


Trink’s weekly column, “Nite Owl,†to which “Night Prowl†pays homage, ran for nearly 40 years first in Bangkok World, then the Bangkok Post. This hotshot farang writer was the recognized expert on the city’s go-go bars, massage parlours and girls, idolized by expats and American GIs stationed during the Vietnam War. The birth of Bangkok’s prostitution playground was a pivotal time, ultimately paving the way for Thailand’s contemporary sex-tourism industry. Trink saw it all. He even coined the term “Soi Cowboy†and enduring catch-phrases such as the verbal shrug of “This is Thailand†or “TIT.â€


Despite this, the man behind the black-and-white type is still something of a mystery. His last interview was a decade ago and he’s pushing 83 now. The new generation of expats probably wouldn’t recognize the name, and some of the older ones are still trying to forget him.


But Trink’s accomplishments are impossible to deny. “Nite Owl†was one of the longest-running columns in the world. He was a successful gonzo journalist from the Freak Power days of Hunter S. Thompson.


I knew I would have to track down the owl to bring my own column full-circle. I wanted to know if he was a charmer or a scoundrel. After a 40-year career in writing, perhaps he would even have some wisdom to bestow.


So, here’s what happened.





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Trink started in the Bangkok World, an evening paper. He had 3 pages each Saturday, which he filled with information and photos. The Post bought out the World and closed it down after a while. Then Trink was moved to the Post and never had the freedom he used to. He was told to tame it down. No more naughty pics or MP reviews. :(

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