In movies, comic books, video games and 80s videos, all street gangs are assembled around a loose theme--like rollerblading, ancient Vikings, or love of classic opera. And they're all either constantly brawling in the streets after kidnapping somebody’s girlfriend, or else dancing in them to help save the neighborhood rec center from an evil real estate agent. Yes, in pop culture gangs are colorful, memorable, goofy and kind of awesome. But reality, as it is so often, is a buzzkill. Real gangs are not quirky or thematic at all; they’re usually just poverty stricken youths with access to guns and a poor concept of the importance of life.
When you hear the words "schoolgirl gang," your mind likely reels off half-remembered scenes from the kind of Cinemax movies they can only show at two in the morning, but they are very real. In Japan they’re called Sukeban and they’re just like everything else in that country: adorable, confusing and potentially lethal.
Sukeban gang "colors" were always some variation of the sailor-style school uniform--usually modified with patches, stencils and lengthened skirts--and they often sported cartoonishly bright dyed hair and colored socks. Doesn't sound like Anime yet? Many reports even state that their weapon of choice was... the Yo-Yo. They couldn't be more stereotypical Anime characters if one of them was a robot and the whole thing took place on a spaceship. But then, if the Sukeban were an Anime, there'd probably be thousands of them and the whole thing would be plagued with outlandish ultra-violence... which it totally was!
"So long as basic logic works in this country, this is a non-threatening sight."- Last Words of Unfortunate Tourist
As for the ultra-violence: Minor slights against your Sukeban were punished with cigarette burns and beatings, while major trespasses were dealt with by lynching. Lynching. The Klan phased that shit out for being too hardcore, and even their slap on the wrist was a cigarette to the face. And as for numbers: The largest Sukeban was the Kanto Women Delinquent Alliance; they were 20,000 members strong.
That's not even remotely believable; a mid-sized city comprised of nothing but vicious Asian schoolgirls and their deadly toys. It sounds like something a pervert would make up in a bizarre fetish forum. But it was, and is, a reality.
Pictured: F... facts?
So basically, all those Anime shows you turn off because they’re too much fantastical nonsense? Pretty much documentaries. Japan wasn't being weird; they were just trying to warn us this whole time, and all we did was chuckle and dismiss them:
Japan: “Yo-yo girl army kill all!”
World: “Oh, Japan, you so crazy.”
Japan: “No, please! So many! Sailor uniform lynching!”
World: “Ha! I’m putting that shit on a T-shiIIIT NOW EVERYTHING IS ON FIRE!”
If Japan is where reason and logic go to die, Thailand is where moral decency and restraint go to get raped. It’s like somebody built a whole country based on the Mos Eisley Cantina: You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy. It's indecent, perverse, dangerous, diseased, and generally just so, so awesome.
For the white people, anyway.
Not so much for the locals. When the only "nine to five" job available to you is sixty-nining five fat Accounts Managers there for the weekend on a Frequent Flier Group Discount, one can be forgiven for turning to a life of crime.
Gaze upon the face of crime, and despair. Or put your feet on it. Whatever. It's your 20 bucks.
It should come as no surprise to anybody that Bangkok is home to occasionally criminal trannies. According to this fictional census I just made up, roughly half the population of the entire country is made up of unruly transvestites--the other half being chicks who can shoot ping pong balls out of their nether regions and imported sex donkeys. But what's most surprising is how these gangs take down their victims: no spiked heels, extreme tea-bagging or dominatrix whips for them. No, they bring down their prey by drugging their own bodies.
In 2005, a gang of transvestites were arrested for slipping sedative pills under their tongues and Frenching their victims into unconsciousness. Not once or twice either; it got so bad that the Bangkok police amended their warning pamphlets from “don’t accept food or drink from strangers” to “don’t rush to kiss a stranger on the mouth or you will end up in a deep sleep.”
"We know it's tempting, but try not to molest that on the street."
It wasn't just the one gang, either. Years earlier in the tourist city of Pattaya, another group of she-hes were arrested for a similar crime. The only difference being that they didn’t tongue their sedatives; they applied it to their nipples. At which point the Pattaya police probably sighed, rolled their eyes, applied some white out to the third bullet point on their tourist warning and quietly grumbled at the fact that they had to actually write down “Please don’t immediately suck the nipples of the local gender-benders; they are often poisonous.”
It should be self-evident: Just like in nature, they try to warn you with their garish displays.
The Swedish Black Cobra gang are not to be trifled with. They’re most often recognized by the telltale facemasks, dark colors and, oh yeah, the giant silk-screened logos on the back of their sweatshirts.
Seriously, guys? You show your gang affiliation the same way teenagers show their appreciation for metal bands and skateboard companies? Gang uniforms should do one of two things: be subtle, like wearing simple color patterns so you can feign ignorance if you’re detained by the cops, or be completely the over-the-top, like donning spikes and full-body tattoos to scare the holy shit out of everybody around you. Unless you're Cobra Kai, simply screen-printing your logo on a sweater straight up doesn’t cut it.
"Sweet gang jacket! I roll with the Mossimos, myself."
But still, uniforms aside, the Black Cobra are serious business: They specialize in theft, destruction of property and they’ve even been know to--god help us--eat their enemies.
...hey, it’s not their fault that their enemies are often delicious snack cakes.
An offshoot of the Black Cobra were arrested earlier this year for stealing “120 boxes of almond tarts, punch rolls, apple crowns and brownie treats” from a local delivery truck. They slashed the side of the cargo area as the driver slept, and ran off with their precious booty of hilariously unappetizing Swedish treats. And lest you be thinking, So what? You can sell anything. Money is money, you should know that one of the suspects was apprehended while feeding his child the stolen pastries. Yep: They kept them.
So just try to sleep tonight, knowing that somewhere out there in the vast, austere Nordic wasteland, a terrifying gang of masked urban warriors called the Black Cobra are roaming the darkened alleyways... stealing the Northern European equivalent of Ding Dongs.
Why, of course! These are Bosozuku (or more accurately, those are nerds dressed up as Bosozuku. But they are, if anything, being tastefully subtle compared to the real thing). Bosozuku is a general term--it’s like saying “bikers” in the U.S.--but it is literally impossible to just pick one single gang for their cartoonish insanity. The entire genre of hoodlum is absolutely riddled with ridiculous awesomeness. But much like cold water, sleep schedules and giant dongs, it's better to ease into this one. Here’s a typical biker:
Ha ha, OK: He's riding one of the bikes from Akira and he’s dressed like a sushi chef. Still, I would probably take him very seriously if he pointed some kind of blade at me. I would definitely try to stifle the giggles of childish awe at his life-size G.I. Joe Action Cycle. Oh, but look at that photo. That’s dated. Twenty-, 30-years old maybe. What are they riding around in now?
Holy shit! They don’t even make matchbox cars that retarded. I’m sorry, guys: Objectively, I know that just because you drive a car that looks like somebody microwaved the left shoulder of that lame Vehicle Voltron, that doesn't mean you're not still a tough motherfucker. But somewhere between the loading ramp on the front end, the paintjob lifted from a plastic dinnerplate at a cheap all-you-can-eat Chinese buffet and the crazy-straw exhaust, you lost that intimidation factor. Oh, and if I need to reiterate: This is by no means an isolated thing. It’s not limited to cars and bikes either--even their Rapevans look like abandoned Transformers that a child lost interest in mid-change.
Chester Prime: The only Transformer with a mustache. And a record.
Le Sapeurs are an African based gang that place supreme importance on fashion, sophistication and a gentleman's code of conduct. And though they’re not dangerous (they abhor and reject violence above all else, probably because it might scuff the wingtips), they're still a gang. It's just that they're less like the ones from Compton or Southie, and more like the ones from Michael Jackson’s “Bad” and West Side Story. See, they do routinely engage in “fights"--they just do it Zoolander style. That's right: They have walk-offs.
Look at that poor bastard on the right: He brought a cane to a pipe-fight.
And that's not me putting words in their mouths: They really do consider them "fights." Le Sapeurs assemble at outdoor bars every week and engage in fashion contests dictated around rules of engagement--primary colors only, pinstripes required, three-piece showdown--and the standards of battle change weekly. But shit, words are barely necessary. The pictures speak for themselves. For example, check the intro image up there again--see that guy on the far right, in the gray suit? Look closely: He’s smoking a duck.
That motherfucker does not need anybody to explain him. Nor does this guy:
You can tell me that guy is “non-violent” all you want, this picture was clearly taken right before he killed Daredevil with some sort of sex-based raygun.
But you know what? I don’t even believe you in the first place, previous sentences. Look at this guy's lap. You see that thing? What the hell is that? Oh sure, those outfit-offs may sound harmless, endearing, even a little gay in concept... until you realize that the victor harvests the loser’s goddamn scalp.
You can buy Robert's book, Everything is Going to Kill Everybody: The Terrifyingly Real Ways the World Wants You Dead, or find him on Twitter, Facebook and his own site, I Fight Robots where you can order the Strategy Guide and learn how to defeat all these gangs and more!