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PERSONA NON GRATA

Introduction by Tracy Quan

Edgy and gritty albeit stunning photographs revealing and documenting the darker side of Bangkok, Thailand; the Land of Smiles.

What comes to mind when you think of Thailand? Many think: The Land of Smiles. Couldn't be further from the truth, in my opinion, at least when you scratch the surface. Although I have to admit: first time you get there, you can't help but think, "Man, these people know some secret of life. Look at them–smiling and being nice, to the point of even kissing ass." But then by the second week of your stay it's clear, most of it is fake! How could you even think they really like us? Look at us: Americans on steroids doing Muay Thai, banging local girls... lost souls trying to find some sense of belonging? Old German dudes walking around with really young (or not so young) prostitutes? Backpackers with dreadlocks... nothing there to like, and if I were Thai I would be seriously pissed off, which I think they all are, but are just trained not to show it... 

It's a weird country, on one hand you have people doing whatever it takes to save their face, trying to look right at all times, avoiding any (ANY) kind of confrontation; going as far as to tell you ONLY what you want to hear, even if they don't mean it, even if it's not true; but on the other hand there is rampant prostitution, underage girls are sold into it by their families, it's just weird. Maybe better to say different...  

Visually, it's just stunning. Food is also amazing. And the fact that most people don't speak English, or are too shy to even try, makes it even more interesting. Different planet...

I did, I think, ten long trips to Thailand, mostly focusing on Bangkok. Tried to go as deep as possible, not at all with the flow, and I think I did a good job. As my friend Adrian, who lives there, put it, "MAN IF YOU EVER DO A BOOK ON BANGKOK, THEY'LL NEVER LET YOU BACK IN..." Hence this title... I hope he's wrong, but we'll see. -- Boogie

Born and raised in Belgrade, Serbia, Boogie began photographing rebellion and unrest during the civil war that ravaged his country during the 1990s. Growing up in a war-torn country defined Boogie's style and attraction to the darker side of human existance. He moved to New York City in 1998. He has shot campaigns for high-profile clients and has been published in top fashion publications around the world, and has exhibited widely in the U.S., Europe and Asia. Boogie lives and works between Brooklyn and Belgrade, and is the author of some nine influential photo books, amoung them is It's All Good (2006, updated 2016), Boogie–the Limited Edition (2007), Belgrade Belongs to Me (2008), and Moscow (2019), all with powerHouse Books. 

More books from this author: Boogie