Jakarta Suckers!

Mar 22nd, 2010, in Opinion, by

Ross McKay’s latest novel ‘Jakarta Suckers!’, bule-prostitute romance blossoms on Jl Falatehan.

Having only recently begun following the thread about ‘Dating Indonesian Girls‘, I was intrigued by the variety of wounded westerners/bules littering its back-roads, intrigued and mildly miffed that I hadn’t time to revise my latest work of fiction to include more of their experiences.

But JAKARTA SUCKERS! (out now, from Morfiny Books, 85000 rupiah, available from morfinybooks@yahoo.ca or PM me – free delivery in Jabotabek) is still a useful read for anybody who hangs out after dark in the dives of the Big Durian.

My first experiment in writing in the first person, it centres on a guy named Barrie (who, once you read the book, you’ll know is not me!) and his dalliance with a slapper named Losari. Having gotten into her, he finds it hard to disentangle himself, because he thinks she’s “different!”

Jakarta SuckersSome cynics say you can always tell if a bar-girl is lying, because you can see her lips move. I don’t agree – just ask her what she wants to drink and she’s guaranteed to tell the truth!

But cewek2 licik and bule2 gila will continue to interact, because they’re made for each other. And it is mutually advantageous, as the former get richer and the latter get wiser.

I have frequented Jaksa and Falatehan for a decade or more and listened to many a forlorn fellow lamenting how he was taken for a ride by these delightful demimondes, so it seemed timely to fictionalise their down-falls.

But to make it more fun I applied my colourful imagination to embed the morality tale in an adventure yarn, which I hope only emphasises the point. Mendacity begets misfortune. The story also gives hints on how to detect prevarication, with anecdotal evidence as ‘awful warnings’ to new kids on the block.

I enjoyed writing it so much that I’m already started on my next.

Excerpts from ‘Jakarta Suckers!’

(Why a Prostitute?)

Again, sage old bules will ask you why you’d expect a hooker here in Jakarta, or in Bangkok, to be good settling-down material. If you want a soul-mate in Michigan, or Manitoba, or Manchester, you’d not go rushing down to the red-light district, would you? And nor would I. Having commuted through King’s Cross Station in London at all hours of day or night for several years, and seen how frightful the hookers there are, it would seem an act of madness to go prospecting for a partner in that sort of locale.

But the girls here are not the same as prostitutes in the West, who have alternatives, not least to do what so many young women do there and sponge off the welfare state. There are millions of poor people here with no prospect of real jobs and not a trace of any serious welfare system to tide them over until an economic miracle arrives. They include large numbers of young, and not so young, women, who often have elderly parents who depend on them, or babies to feed, or, sadly, shiftless husbands or live-in lovers who whack ‘em around if they don’t go out and bring home sustenance.

So what do they do? They are not, many of them, stupid, and they are, most of them, attractive. Indonesian women are magnificent specimens of their sex, and we bules, by our reactions, remind them of this daily.

(Why a Bule?)

So the girls go out for bules, not because we have big dicks, though they tell us that, nor because we are handsome or consummate raconteurs, though they give us to believe those things too (lies, remember?) but because we have money, in amounts they can only dream about. English teachers are on the lowest rung of expat salary levels, and their pay is equivalent, so I’m told, to about the same as a judge’s or a middle-ranking police officer’s. (though those fine fellows have ways of supplementing incomes not open to the teachers)

The girls in the bars see it as their mission in life to detach us from our cash. Or more precisely, detach the cash from us, because they don’t want us, they want the nice green stuff.

To this end, guided by the imperatives of survival, and advancement – which means buying plots of land back in their kampungs, building a house on it, and boosting their bank account to a level whereby their ‘post-sell-by’ date in bar-life will be comfortable – they will tell you whatever you want to hear, or whatever they think will motivate those dollar bills and pound notes to flit from your pockets to their purses.

This goes far beyond haggling over bed-fees. It encompasses gulling the dumbest into financing courses in hair-dressing or typing or anything the poor sod will believe is a stepping stone to ‘liberation’ from a life of sin!

Big Yuli, not the scrawny little Yuli from Tebet who got a few hundred out of me to pay her dad’s debts, but the gal with enormous assets who did the ‘Johnny Andrean’ on me, yes, the full monty hair-dressing course, never actually convinced me she wanted a new career, but I was so fixated on her chest at the time that I happily handed over the money.

144 Comments on “Jakarta Suckers!”

  1. Jeames says:

    Hunter S.Thompson? With Rex and Percy and all their “bonking “; it sounds like lady Chatterley meets the lowest form of Asian sleaze.

    What’s the sequel? “Jakarta Buggers” by Ross McKay; a gripping tale of an expatriate English teacher pedophile in Jakarta and his posse of rent boys. Can’t wait!

  2. deta says:

    @ Oigal

    Indonesia is not quite a xenophobic country on that matter,

    Laugh, what do we call Malaysians, Singaporeans, Chinese again and what evil do they do?

    Ahh.. you’ve been unfair. Don’t quote just half of my sentence. That violates the journalism ethic. You know that’s not what I was referring to.

    @ ET

    Do you mean travel bans to other counties for health reasons like bird or swine flu, or even HIV?

    That includes all travel bans to get in (for foreigners whose countries are having a disease outbreak) and out of the country.

    If you had a responsible government they would certainly issue such bans or warnings instead of putting its head in the sand and jeopardize public health in favor of an economy that benefits a few and leaves most of the rakyat in the cold (or choking heat in this case).

    And in which post I ever said that they are a responsible government?

    I was referring to the times people here made a lot of noise because some western countries had the ‘impertinence’ to issue travel warnings for terror threats or impose restrictive measures because of airline safety.

    Like I said. You were over sensitive. Nobody said about terror / terrorist earlier on this thread.

    How’s the weekend going? 😉

  3. ET says:

    @ deta

    No need to continue this debate. Like I said it got entangled in linguistic or other confusions, too complicated to unravel.

    How’s the weekend going?

    Fine, as always. I hope yours too.

  4. Ross says:

    Sorry, Jeames, if you want a homo-type book, you’ll need to do it yourself.

    I did slash away at the loathesome pedophiles and so-called ‘gays’ in White Trash, two years ago, but the current book is, as you wisely noted, of more appeal to normal folks. Normal, that is, in that the male characters all prefer relationships, albeit unstable ones, with adult women. As to whether Jaksa life is normal in any other sense, that depends on the observer’s mind-set!

    And as for Hunter S Thompson, I can see little if any similarities between my approach and his, but I do prefer his writing to D H Lawrence’s.,

  5. ET says:

    @ deta

    Actually I lied about my weekend. It was shit. I was planning to follow your advice and have a quiet one but I woke up to the nowadays ever-present cacophony of chainsaws massacring trees which lasted till sundown interrupted by a half-an-hour break for nasi jinggo.

  6. deta says:

    I’ll stay away from you as you’re obviously still in a bad mood. Damn the chainsaw! 😉

  7. Jeames says:

    Ross; why would I write a book about homos?

    Did you really write a book called “white trash”? Is that about Jalan Jaksa bule? I agree that pedophiles are horrible but do you consider all gays to be abnormal?

    I’ve spent some time in Jaksa and the bule down there were a range of loud, obnoxious drunks, semi tramp/hobo like bule and of course English teachers who sat openly with a posse of young rent boys. Not really my scene but that was a few years ago; but yeah “white trash” pretty much summed it up.

  8. Temur says:

    Oigal Says:
    “I am often amazed at the venom spouted at the “working” girls and their patrons by other “ladies” is it an insecurity thing or just jealousy?”


    venna Says:
    March 23rd, 2010 at 7:48 pm
    “as much as I don’t want to call those girls as “cewek murahan”. Who am I that I have a right to call them like that? I never help them, never give a hand to them, and never do anything for them. So when I still cannot do anything, better to shut my mouth up.”

    Now, Venna, that is very fair and lucid of you. If only more were like you..

  9. Ross says:

    Yes, Jeames, I wrote it about two years ago, as I have been producing books as a hobby every year for about eight years.
    I write, edit, and publish them myself, only using little print shops to produce the end result. I bring them out in small batches, reprinting as they are sold.
    It’s fun, and a lot of people like them, apart from a few snobby drunks (nothing against drunks, but I hate snobs!)

    In between White Trash and the latest one, I also produced ‘A Very Mad Jaksa Man,’ which you might enjoy. or not! Others published over the years since I came here included Red-Handed in Aceh, Westerling’s Legacy, Red Jakarta, an alternative universe effort about how things would be if the PKI had succeeded in a take-over, and a slim anthology of ghostly tales, set in Indonesia, mostly, with a few in Canada. Most of the early ones are long since sold out.

    White Trash was another adventure story, but I hold strong views on many things and this comes through, without apology, in my books. So that one excoriated those who prey on children. Red-Handed was openly sympathetic to the Achenese, and There is a regluar under-current of hostility to Islamist fanatics in the more recent ones.
    Similarly, Jakarta Suckers!, more humorous than my usual style, is not unsympathetic to the plight of the Jaksa Chicks, and to the Suckers who think they are using them but are often used up instead!

    I take your point about the bules who use rent-boys – it is repulsive to see, and there are some hideous sights to be seen, but not only on Jaksa, which I like because it is cheaper than most other places and therefore you don’t get so many sombong characters down there. It’s a good mix of folks as a rule, good, bad and ugly. Excellent place to compose novels.

    As to homosexuality, no, I don’t regard it as normal. This was the general attitude among most people, including professionals like psychologists etc, until purely political pressure caused changes of policy in various countries.
    This is not to say they should all be persecuted. There is a good case for helping them rediscover normal relationships, but they have to want to be helped.

  10. venna says:


    Argh, I mistakenly wrote my response for you at Rubbish burning off thread! Sorry. Here I put it back:
    @ Temur:
    Thnks for the compliment. I used to be cynical to them, but after I met some of them personally and knew a bit of their real life, it changed me a lot.

  11. Odinius says:


    What evidence? GoV had a few dozen sets of remains, which it released after normalization. Fine, I grant that. But the hundreds or thousands in secret, Rambo-style camps? LOL!

  12. Ross says:

    Odinius, Don’ want to clog up this thread with immense extracts, but I suggest you read the many, many reports available on the MIA websites. Here’s a chunk I used in a recent novel as a note.

    NOTE In August 1987, a former South Vietnamese major turned up in Bangkok after being interned in Communist prisons, and was debriefed by the CIA. The major said that in December 1978, five years after Operation Homecoming, he had encountered an American in the Tan Lap prison in northern Vietnam. The American, he said, was lying down in a room near the camp dispensary where injured or sick prisoners were taken to rest. The major described the room and the building in which it was located precisely. He also described the American. According to the CIA report on the debriefing:



    The American Spectator, Feb.,1994

  13. Odinius says:

    Yeah, we’ll have to keep it brief, but:

    1. that was 1978, a long time ago. not the same as 1994.

    2. it’s from a conspiracy theorist source, which had a vested interest in keeping the idea alive.

    3. that aside, it’s here-say. might be true, but might also be like saddam’s WMDs. had ’em once, didn’t have ’em in 2003.

    4. it’s about 1 guy.

    I don’t doubt that Vietnam had a few stray Americans in custody after 1975. But that’s a far cry from the idea that they were still keeping hundreds in camps in 1994, or even worse, that they still are…

  14. Ross says:

    I leave it to you. There are so many reports that are convincing.
    I’m not sure which is worse, the idea that they are now all dead, having kept hoping till their last breath that America would do the decent thing, or that they may still be there.

  15. bs says:

    I’m with Odinius here. It might be appropriate to take of that tin foil hat (http://people.csail.mit.edu/rahimi/helmet/), the world has enough problems already (wars, natural disasters, subprime mortgage crises) with way more victims than Rambo in the Vietnamese jungle.

    Did you know that each year, for more than 20 years, European bomb squads roam Vietnam to clear up landmines and duds? You’d figure have found Rambo by now.

  16. ET says:

    Back to the Jakarta Suckers for a moment.

    A week or so ago Oigal said

    Fact is, sex for money (or other rewards) is part of the human condition.

    If so, it would be interesting to know why. I know that some male insects have to present their female counterparts with certain gifts in order to be allowed to mate but – correct me if I’m wrong – I never heard of other mammals doing the same. Display of power and beauty, yes, but turning sexual intercourse into a fleeting commercial transaction seems to be a corruption of its obvious purpose. And I still wonder what all those ‘poor’ working girls would do for a living if their potential clients suddenly would decide to sit on their wallets. Or should we consider those who are willing to pay for sex as the alleviators of poverty?

    Maybe humans have a regressive gene. 🙁

  17. Ross says:

    What they in many cases would do, ET, and I speak of the Jakarta gals only, would be to go hungry, possibly be evicted from their kos, and stop sending their children to school.
    Also maybe get beaten up by their contemptible husbands, who would be faced with the prospect of having to work themselves, an unpalatable prospect to many of those who sit outside D’s Place etc. waiting for the cash to be handed over by their wives within.

  18. mercy says:

    is your book available in bahasa indonesia?
    it must be exhausting for me to read it in english. 🙁

  19. Ross says:

    Sorry, Mercy, that is not so far possible. But it is written in everyday English, nothing too academic!

  20. BrotherMouzone says:


    And as for Hunter S Thompson, I can see little if any similarities between my approach and his…

    Oh come on… your front cover is surely a reference to the opening lines of Fear and Loathing… to misquote;

    We were somewhere on Jaksa, in front of Memories when the drugs began to take hold. I remember saying something like “I feel a bit lightheaded; maybe you should drive….” And suddenly there was a terrible roar all around us and the sky was full of what looked like huge bats

  21. Ross says:

    To tell the truth, I don’t recall those lines from the man’s book. I just thought a pretty torso was always likely to attract readers and the bats seemed suitable to the title, though it is not in fact a vampire story.
    As said before, I’d be happy to be compared to such a successful author, but I tend to think it was my mode of garb rather than the content of my book that drew the original comment !

  22. Odinius says:

    ET said:

    I know that some male insects have to present their female counterparts with certain gifts in order to be allowed to mate but – correct me if I’m wrong – I never heard of other mammals doing the same.

    It’s actually quite common.

    Adelie Penguins live in small nests made of stone. The one thing these little mammals have a lot of is rock, so when it comes to getting on their mates good side, the male penguin will often bring her a carefully chosen stone as a courtship gift to enforce their bond. Does it work? Yeah, just as much as any other 3 Karat rock works for us humans!

    Masked Boobies have their own brand of mating ritual. The males attract a females attention in much the same as the Adelie Penguin, by giving her gifts, except in addition they also offer small token of themselves in the form of feathers. Van Gogh tried this very same tactic in the form of an ear, although he had very limited success!



    Of course, animals do all sorts of awesome stuff to nab a mate:


  23. Temur says:

    This is brief quote from Jakarta Suckers:

    “But then Herawati got greedy. She wanted it all, the comfortable home in Simprug, the shiny Kijang or two, the servants. She wanted full title to Rex. And he wasn’t having any of that.”

    This isn’t exclusive to Asian women, not by a long shot.
    It doesn’t matter. When the lady is in a position where she is having absolutely everything paid for her, and she even pushes her man to be more successful (so she can get more), call it whatever else you want, she is a ‘kept woman’.
    And as such, the relationship isn’t normal, since she doesn’t have a touch of independence. She is in effect her guy’s sex toy.
    As such, she needs not be surprised if her guy sometimes goes out for a little ‘break’.
    She is his sex toy at home, nothing more. But he sometimes wants to go out in the jungle and get a wild one.

  24. Ross says:

    Yeah, no doubt true, Temur, but Herawati in the story is the naughty slapper, trying to supplant poor Rex’s missus. The story doesn’t say how Rex’s wife achieved that status. Maybe she was just a ‘nice girl next door.’ Does this entitle her to a prior claim on the guy? That’s the open question.

  25. deta says:

    Nice piece of info, Odinius, I remember this penguin mating ritual became the theme too in the movie “Good Luck Chuck” starring Jessica Alba. Silly movie but gave me a lot of smiles.

  26. ET says:

    I remember this penguin mating ritual became the theme too in the movie “Good Luck Chuck” starring Jessica Alba.

    I always thought Jessica Alba looked a bit like a penguin. Now I know why.

  27. Temur says:

    ET Says:

    “It may sound one-sided and simplistic but I consider the one who pays for some casual sex as the sucker. In the relation between hooker and client it is the former who holds the power and the latter who is the testosterone driven junkie. Just like in the drug trade.”

    The analogy with the drug trade sounds 100% accurate, and it may largely explain the sucker aspect of these, ahem, relationships. All these establishments, all over Asia (the world?) do seem to practice a standard operating procedure. They follow set rules, tried and tested. And their behavior (I mean here the bar’s or brothel’s policy, and the employee-cum hostess’) is remarkably similar across the borders.
    If they see a customer that keeps coming back, instead of cutting him some slack — to insure he’ll keep coming back — bars and bargirls immediately turn up the pressure and quickly become abusive. They start asking for beer rounds more often. They start asking for favors.
    If the guy thinks he’s going to become a regular and these people shall become sort-of friends, more and more they start behaving like his enemies. Everytime he goes in the same joint, it’s a little more expensive for him: “Dawlin, I hungry. Buy pizza for me and my friend, pweeeze!”
    It happened to me the first time I went to Kachanaburi. It took me a few days to break out of the hell-grip. Then I fled as fast as I could.
    This behavior is akin to the drug pusher’s. He gets the same client all the time. Now he knows he has an addict. His goal is to milk as much before the addict is arrested or dies.

    I knew this western guy who owns a girl bar in south Phucket. He often talks to me about his business. Refering the his expat regulars, and also to the same tourists that keep coming back to his gals year after year, to blow there all the money they’ve brought for two weeks, he observed: “That affordable love we sell, it’s addictive.”

    I should, though, quote from a movie whose title I’ve forgotten. Gene Hackman is being questioned by Morgan Freeman about a few murders in some red light district. Freeman wants to know why a married man would visit such places. Hackman says,
    “Let’s not kid ourselves. Hookers give you quite a lot for relatively little money.”

  28. ET says:

    “Let’s not kid ourselves. Hookers give you quite a lot for relatively little money.”

    Even throw in VD as an extra bonus.

  29. Ross says:

    Yes, ET, but I doubt they plan to give you VD, or worse! They’re greedy, but not generally nasty.
    Which is more than can be said for some of their customers.

  30. deta says:

    Even throw in VD as an extra bonus.

    VD can be transmitted through various ways and casting the blame on others won’t solve the problem.

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