Big Baby Kenny has been a regular commenter on Thailand’s nightlife scene for awhile now. He started posting on the Big Mango website as a guest author but after a major falling out with the owners of the bar/blog he started up BigBabyKenny.com. He reposted many of the articles that he had written for the Big Mango and started adding new ones.
Personally, I’ve always found his articles insightful. If anything, they’re different. They’re not the same old drivel boasting about one’s prowess in having sex with prostitutes. Even if you didn’t agree with everything he said at least he was approaching life in Thailand from a completely different perspective than most.
They were also potentially offensive. Many focused on the economics of how the prostitution and bar scene works in Thailand. Obviously people who take exception to such topics would find his writing to be crude.
One of the biggest mistakes I think BBK made when he set up his own blog was that he insisted on using it as a platform to bash the Big Mango bar, blog, their owners, and anybody who took their side in the disagreement. In the beginning I thought he just needed to get some bad feelings out and then he would go back to his normal writing but it never stopped. Every topic would somehow be spun around to disparage the Big Mango owners.
I had to quit reading the site altogether because I couldn’t take the negativity and had no desire to be pulled into the drama. I noticed that many others were saying the same thing in the comments. People had come to the site to read his interesting twists on meeting girls in Thailand but instead the site became about finding fault in everything the Big Mango guys did.
Behind the scenes, it seems, there was a war going on between the Big Mango and BBK which included death threats, letters to BBK’s employer, and other nasty stuff.
See, it turns out that Big Baby Kenny is actually, Professor Kenneth Ng, who teaches economics at California State University Northridge. Eventually a local newspaper, The Daily News, picked up the story and BBK “voluntarily” opted to take his site down.
He gives a rather long-winded explanation of the details on what’s left of the site but having watched this whole mess unfold I wanted to point out some things I believe were inaccurate in his blog post.
First is his statement calling bars in Thailand, brothels.
For those not familiar with Bangkok, many bars, including the Big Mango Bar, are actually brothels.
I guess it depends on which definition you use for brothel. The definition I’m familiar with is a place almost exclusively dedicated to prostitution and where customers can have sex with the prostitutes on the premises. The Big Mango (and most other bars) don’t fit this definition at all. I think BBK is trying to take another swipe at the owners of the Big Mango by using a word that can have more sinister meanings.
The unedited exclusive pictures of nightclubs, bars, Thai clubs, and girls inhabiting the Thailand Girl Scene stand as groundbreaking photojournalism. You couldn’t find anything like it on the internet or in the mainstream press and the photography was one of the most popular features of BigBabyKenny.com.
I think this is part of where BBK starts to whitewash what his site really was. He’s claiming to be a photojournalist rather than a guy writing about how much it will cost to sponsor a coyote dancer.
And to be completely honest, as someone who is an amateur photographer, the photography wasn’t all that great. All of that isn’t his fault as taking photos in bars and nightclubs, especially when they may have rules against photography, isn’t easy. But, that doesn’t mean that any blurry, out of focus shot is instant photojournalism.
Unfortunately, BigBabyKenny got too good for it’s own good.
The articles were too good at laying bare the economic underpinnings, the inter-personal dynamics, the nuts and bolts, and even the humorous side of The Thailand Girl Scene.
The discussion of The Thailand Girl Scene was too interesting and too revealing about the realites of life in a third world country where the usual ways women advance themselves socially and economically in The World are blocked off.
The photography was too good at documenting the nitty gritty nature of the various nooks and crannies of the Thailand nightlife industry.
The realities of life, love, dating, marriage, and sex in Southeast Asia and the politically correct western centric view of the world clashed.
Better to live in a make believe fairy tale western fantasy version of Southeast Asian culture and society than deal with an accurate, well documented truth.
Unfortunately, because I am a professor at a big public university, the popularity and publicity surrounding the ideas, the subjects and questions discussed and debated, and, of course, the ground breaking photography at BigBabyKenny.com became so great that the site had to be turned off.
Actually, none of this is true. Even according to BBK’s own version of events he took the site down because of pressure he got after the Daily News profiled this university professor running a website that promotes sex tourism.
Most of you are here reading this today because of an article written in the Daily News about BigBabyKenny.com. That article is the direct result of this anonymous email campaign.
How can the removal of the website be a direct result of the article written in the Daily News yet also be because the site was too good? I haven’t seen the Daily News article (I did see one on the Contra Costa Times website) but I highly, highly doubt it was about what a great website BigBabyKenny.com was.
It had nothing to do with the quality of the website. If it was a crappy website he would be in the same position he’s in right now. Being too good has nothing to do with it.
And the reality is, there’s an old saying “Don’t fuck with another man’s livelihood.” And that’s exactly what BBK did. His entire blog drifted from being about the nightlife scene in Thailand to finding any excuse to take a swipe at the Big Mango owners. He tries to sugar-coat it by describing what he did innocently. Here’s an example of trying to downplay things now.
Things heated up in the Fall when Nick, Michael and Graham put a restaurant they owned, The Duke of Wellington, on the market. They hired a business broker in Bangkok and the bar was publicly advertised on the internet. Certain claims were made about how much revenue the bar was generating and that the bar was profitable. These claims were discussed openly on BigBabyKenny.com.
No they weren’t. BBK did nothing but speculate negatively about the honesty of the owners and how well the business was doing. His version now makes it sound as if this was some sort of economics case study.
The bar/restaurant business in Bangkok is a small community. Once word started getting around that the books might be cooked it sure as hell hurt their selling prospects.
He wrote thousands of words and entire blog posts about what a horrible place the Big Mango is. He disparaged their owners openly and frequently. He posted every little rumor he heard about the owners. When they took their website down for some redecorating he jumped all over it to suggest all sorts of possible reasons for the move.
Like I said, you don’t fuck with another man’s livelihood. Everything that’s happened and will happen has been brought about by BBK himself.
Now, I don’t want to seem like I’m pro-Big Mango and anti-BBK. I’m not. I really liked his blog. I liked his writing. I wish he would have kept doing what made me like his work in the first place instead of getting into this pissing contest. If what BBK says is true, what the owners of the Big Mango have done is deplorable. But had BBK not been pushing the situation I doubt it would have ever come to this.
If he would have just launched BigBabyKenny.com and never mentioned the Big Mango they would have not had a reason to escalate the situation further. If he would have gotten his initial anger out at the Big Mango guys and then moved on I doubt they would have continued to escalate their attacks.
But the more he kept fucking with their livelihood the more the situation deteriorated.
At this time, I also made a decision to dig in and not be pushed around. The threats of violence, the anonymous emails to the university, and the open threats from Graham were nasty and just not right. Giving in to them, although it was the easy thing to do, was just wrong. Come what may I was going to face them down.
Nick, Michael, and Graham could threaten all they wanted but I had done nothing wrong and I wasn’t going to let them silence me or push me around. Whatever happened, I was not going to let them prevail.
But they did prevail in the end. The blog is now offline. He’s been outed at his place of work and in the press as a sex tourist. Surely any victories BBK thinks he achieved are purely Pyrrhic ones.
I’m sorry the situation came to this. And I’m sorry BBK’s previous writings are now gone (not even available in Google’s cache). But I’m not upset to see this pointless battle of egos come to a conclusion.