Beginner’s guide to the girls who aren’tConventional wisdom has it that at least two of Itaewon’s three transgender bars are money traps. That is, that in order to experience them you have to buy an outrageously priced bottle of Jim Beam or be gone. But like many assumptions these days, this one’s incorrect.
The fact is, you can get into and out of any of these establishments without emptying your wallet. Whether you can leave with your self-respect intact is another matter.
If you’re an Itaewon regular and enjoy the cross-dressing scene, you’ve probably ventured into the most pedestrian-friendly transgender bar, Trance. But you may have steered clear of the other two, Rose Trans and Akasaka, because of the aforementioned conventional wisdom.
Granted, Rose Trans and Akasaka, steps away from each other, do cater to filthy rich men with unusual tastes, who, upon entering, are shuttled to plush booths and prompted to start with whiskey bottles and fruit dishes.
But if your dress and disposition don’t shout “Visa Gold Card,” you can enter unhassled, occupy a barstool, nurse a 5,000-won Cass and take in the scenery. You’ll be approached by one of the nine or 10 girls on hand and asked to buy her a girly drink, but at a mere 10,000 won ($8), not the 20,000 or 30,000 won at other juicy bars.
Just like at other juicy bars, if you do splash for drinks, the girl will be doing the working and you’ll be doing the paying. But unlike at other juicy bars ― and heed this warning ― she’ll have the hots for you more than vice versa. Prepare to be pawed in ways your libido can’t make a decision about. Prepare for flashes of ersatz such-and-such in various stages of hormone-treatment-induced development. Now, this may sound unpleasant, but some of the girls at Rose Trans and Akasaka are surprisingly pretty, so you don’t need to be put off. Sure, most leave something to be desired, or have something extra not to be, but there are definitely a few gems.
At Rose Trans, look for Bo-mi, a veritable spring flower with a face sweeter and more feminine then your first girlfriend’s, and a smile that can light up your dark world. Beware Bomi when she’s outside ― she’ll be in a red gown standing by a food stall, and you’ll see her and commence a stumbling double take. And beware her when she’s inside ― she’ll be in a fishnet top rendered decent only by two strategically placed black stars.
For heavenly bodies at Akasaka, start with Yoo-jin, who could pass for a Louisiana prom queen, with a lean body, sandy-blonde locks and a disconcerting deep voice. Despite her fair complexion and angular visage, Yoo-jin insists she’s 100 percent Korean. Also unnervingly attractive is Hye-mi. A curvy number who says she’s the product of a Korean mother and a long-gone Cuban-American GI, she looks like Renee Zellweger scantily clad but wearing way too much makeup.
In a word, unconventional.
by Mike Ferrin