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Heartbreaking Portraits of Boy Prostitutes in Thailand Paint a Picture of Innocence Lost

Underage #25 Name: Sittikom Sricharoen Nickname: Boat Age: 13 D.O.B.: February 24, 1997 Sexual Ori...

Heartbreaking Portraits of Boy Prostitutes in Thailand Paint a Picture of Innocence Lost

Underage #25
Name: Sittikom Sricharoen
Nickname: Boat
Age: 13
D.O.B.: February 24, 1997
Sexual Orientation: Straight
Hometown: Bangkok
Siblings: 13
Parents: Never knew father. Mother is a street vendor
Length of prostitution: One month
Clients: 22
Reason for prostitution: Money
Dream: Pilot
Date Photographed: September 2, 2010
This project is multi-layered and complex in its nature. Psychologically, the project offers provocative and haunting portraits of these lost souls. The visual is visceral and represents an ugly mess and deep-rooted problems of family, teenage years in Thailand, and society. The personal data of each subject is included to offer an insight and to peep into their lives and journey to the opposite side of norms, tradition, and perception.

While most subjects identify themselves as heterosexual young boys who come to terms with having sex with gay guys for money, almost all of them have never had sex with females. Many of them reason that all men must go through having sex with gay guys in order to understand how to have sex with females when such time comes.

I want the images to act as a mirror reflecting the rotten reality of child abuse and exploitation. I also want the images to pose painful questions about life, choice, consequences, and of humanity. Lastly, I hope the project will shed some light about this pervasive situation, raising questions for us about society, corruption, morals, and human treatment.—Ohm Phanphiroj
Underage is Thai photographer and filmmaker Ohm Phanphiroj’s powerful documention of underage male prostitutes in Thailand. According to a survey in 2004, there were 800,000 underage prostitutes in Thailand, putting the country at the top for underage sexual exploitation according to the U.N. Phanphiroj brings an evocatively human element to this disheartening statistic, revealing the lives of these young boys in an upfront, tangible way. The portraits deliver an intensity you can almost feel in your gut; the complexity of corruption and innocence is potent, undeniable. The look in the boys’ eyes seems to stretch for miles, through you, past you—but not before locking you in with a gaze that as Phanphiroj says, makes you “take the part of both…the boy and the buyer.”

Phanphiroj has received much recognition for the project, including Critical Mass 2013 and artist-in-residence fellowships at the Newspace Center for Photography and Light Work. The Kinsey Institute acquired the project for its permanent collection in 2011.

Heartbreaking Portraits of Boy Prostitutes in Thailand Paint a Picture of Innocence Lost
Underage #3
Name: Parinya Luenpitak
Nickname: Tent
Age: 12
D.O.B.: May 28, 1998
Sexual Orientation: Straight
Hometown: Nonthaburi
Siblings: 7 (2 passed away)
Parents: Unemployed
Length of prostitution: 6 months
Clients: 24
Reason for prostitution: Money
Dream: Military
Date Photographed: June 25, 2010
Heartbreaking Portraits of Boy Prostitutes in Thailand Paint a Picture of Innocence Lost
Underage #20
Name: Chawalit Choosangkaew
Nickname: Jo
Age: 13
D.O.B.: 1997 (Never Know his exact birth date and month)
Sexual Orientation: Gay
Hometown: Chiangrai
Siblings: 5
Parents: Mother died of Tuberculosis. Father is a street vendor
Length of prostitution: 5 years
Clients: 100+
Reason for prostitution: Money
Dream: Mechanic
Date Photographed: August 4, 2010

Heartbreaking Portraits of Boy Prostitutes in Thailand Paint a Picture of Innocence Lost
Underage #1
Name: Chanon Sornsuebsin
Nickname: Non
Age: 15
D.O.B.: December 7, 1995
Sexual Orientation: Straight
Hometown: Thonburi Province
Siblings: 3 (2 boys, 1 girl, all of which are prostitutes)
Parents: Unemployed
Length of prostitution: 5 months
Clients: 40+
Reason for prostitution: Parents told him to come earn a living
Dream: Military
Date Photographed: May 30, 2010

Heartbreaking Portraits of Boy Prostitutes in Thailand Paint a Picture of Innocence Lost
Underage #46
Name: Nattawat Sukhontawong
Nickname: Nut
Age: 17
D.O.B.: October 15, 1994
Sexual Orientation: Straight
Hometown: Bangkok
Siblings: 2
Parents: Divorced
Length of prostitution: 6 years
Clients: 400+
Reason for prostitution: Money
Dream: Policeman
Date Photographed: November 7, 2011

Heartbreaking Portraits of Boy Prostitutes in Thailand Paint a Picture of Innocence Lost
Underage #54
Name: Monton Wongkornburi
Nickname: Ball
Age: 17
D.O.B.: March 28, 1995
Sexual Orientation: Straight
Hometown: Bangkok
Siblings: 4 (One passed away)
Parents: Brass jewelry shop workers
Length of prostitution: 3 years
Clients: 200+
Reason for prostitution: Money
Dream: No Dream
Date Photographed: November 11, 2012

Heartbreaking Portraits of Boy Prostitutes in Thailand Paint a Picture of Innocence Lost
Underage #4
Name: Warin Mangsin
Nickname: Bas
Age: 14
D.O.B.: November 12, 1995
Sexual Orientation: Straight
Hometown: Bangkok
Siblings: 3
Parents: Unemployed
Length of prostitution: One week
Clients: 8
Reason for prostitution: Money
Dream: B-Boy dancer
Date Photographed: June 30, 2010

Heartbreaking Portraits of Boy Prostitutes in Thailand Paint a Picture of Innocence Lost
Underage #17
Name: Worawit Ketkaew
Nickname: Tu
Age: 15
D.O.B.: March 15, 1995
Sexual Orientation: Straight
Hometown: Nonthaburi
Siblings: 5
Parents: Father Passed away. Mother is unemployed
Length of prostitution: One year
Clients: 120+
Reason for prostitution: Money
Dream: Policeman
Date Photographed: August 3, 2010

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