The recent death of a Bangkok Pretty has spark outrage and underscored the risks faced by these models for hire who offer their services ranging from gigs, modelling at motor shows and hosting “VIP” parties, sales promotions and normally end up entertaining their male hosts in some way.
Whitchayaporn Visessombut, known as Wa-Wa had attended a VIP party in a Bangkok suburb where she had been booked late on Monday night and died the next day at the hospital from a suspected drug overdose.
Local media shared CCTV footage of two men dropping of the model at a hospital at around 6 am, paying 15,000 baht to the cashier and then driving off. The 33-year old model then died a few hours later.
The actual cause of death is yet to be released by the Authorities but activist lawyer Atchariya Ruangrattanapong, chairman of the Crime Victims Assistance Club, said she had “died from heart failure after consuming a large amount of ketamine and Ecstasy”.
Atchariya said members of his organisation have already talked with other lady partygoers and they had confirmed that one man at the party was khon mee si, using the Thai catch-all term for a “man in uniform”, although he could not say if the uniform was that of the police or army.
Atchariya has also urged any partygoers to turn themselves in, but Thai police played down the likelihood of foul play, and no charges as of yet have been filed in the incident.
“As of now … it’s not a criminal case,” Police Colonel Prasopchok Iemphinit, chief of the Phahon Yothin police station in Bangkok, told reporters on Thursday, adding that there was “more than one man” at the party and that four women, including Whitchayaporn, had been hired to entertain the men.
“If we find that there’s no wrongdoing, this case will be over,” he said.
On Friday the police had made a search of the party house and collected DNA samples from the car that was used to take Wa-Wa to the hospital.
The job of a Bangkok Pretty, attending gigs and pouring drinks like the one on Monday can pay very well. Salary us usually from 1,000 bht up to 10,000 bht. All this depends on the risk level and the services expected by the client. Pretties can also ingest a large amount of alcohol and drugs while they are working.
Many ladies are drawn into this work simply for the money as it provides them with a steady income and in many cases they can get very wealthy from this. Some Bangkok Pretties have millions of followers and can sign well-paying endorsement deal for products.
This line of work is very competitive and many ladies regularly undergo plastic surgery to enhance their looks and try to keep them looking young and beautiful. Many ladies also do all this just to stay in the good books with their clients that are normally very rich and powerful.
But stories of sexual and physical abuse abound, and Thailand’s legal system offers few safeguards for the women involved, instead favouring the powerful and well-connected.
“When the clients are influential people, if there’s a case of rape, assault or even death, police officers will often give more weight to the clients who hire the pretties because they’re of higher status,” Supensri Pungkoksung, director of the Social Equality Promotion Foundation, told This Week in Asia.
Another model had said that she will charge around 5,000 bht for just a few hours of hostessing and the sexual harassment and pressure to consume drugs and rink are very heavy
“Some pretties who can read the game get themselves out of the situation as fast as they can,” said the woman, who would only be identified as “Pink”.
“Those who end up in trouble are either forced into [a job] out of desperation for money or for fear of not being hired again.”
Wa-Wa’s death was not the first time a tragedy befalling a pretty had made headlines.
In September 2019, a pretty named Thitima Noraphanphiphat was found dead in a condo lobby after being called out to a 24-hour party at a home in suburban Bangkok. A toxicology report revealed that she had died of excessive alcohol intake.
Six men who attended the party – including a male model and the owner of the house – were found guilty of a range of offences including the illegal detention of Thitima and illegal assembly, and in October 2020 each was sentenced to a jail term of up to eight years.
All, however, are still free on bail and intend to appeal.