37 When Nevada Rhodes arrived in Korea in 1994, he visited Itaewon his first weekend. “I was in constant awe,” he says. “The whole world is right here.” Itaewon had actually become international by then. It had also become hedonistic in new ways that didn’t exist when the GIs were only trying to hit up Korean girls. “There were some wonderful party bars here,” Rhodes recalls. “And it seemed like the rules that are in bars now were out the window then.” Rhodes VJed at The Loft and a few other bars, which held ‘70s and ‘80s theme parties where everyone dressed up. “There were blowjobs (the drink) and the muff-diving drinks with whipped cream,” Rhodes says. “The girls would win stuff for the most seductive way to eat whipped cream off a banana. The guys would win prizes for the best muff diving.” The “muff diving” involved licking whipped cream off a paper plate. “The guys would win headlamps — I called them muff-diving lamps. I forgot what the girls would win.” It was in the mid-’90s when the gay scene started emerging around Homo Hill, though Rhodes says there were plenty of gay clubs off the Hill as well. The Hill itself was “100 percent” gay bars by then, according to Rhodes. “They tried to put a straight bar in there once and it failed mightily. They tried to put in a lesbian bar and that did not work at all.” But the district was still a dangerous place, he says. He witnessed two incidents he described as “riots,” with groups of soldiers brawling at the top of Texas Street, while the MPs and local police did nothing. Muff diving and the rise of hedonism ‘our area used to be a very family-friendly, lovely little community witH a rice sHop and a butcHer and dry cleaner’s. it was a really nice place to live in and Hang around. and one by one tHose places are disappearing.’ paul mattHews Wayne Gold is now co-owner of Wolfhound and Reilly’s Ta- phouse, but when he arrived in 1998, he was another English teacher from Canada. “Hooker Hill was a huge party back then, too,” Gold says. “Es- pecially in the warmer months, from midnight that alley would just be rammed. You’d go into the bars to get drinks, but then come out.” He says there were lots of soldiers and lots of fights, and at least once a month the MPs would be “dragging someone” down the hill. Rhodes and Gold described Hollywood’s Bar at the time as like the Cantina in “Star Wars.” “Because all these people from around the universe were there,” Rhodes says. “And I swear, some of them were not from Earth.” The working women changed, too. The cost of buying a Korean prostitute went up — exponentially so, and many average GIs could no longer afford it. Replacing them were Chinese, Filipino and Russian women, many of whom were trafficked, according to a Time magazine report from 2002. At the same time, as travel restrictions on Koreans were lift- ed and the country’s standard of living rose, fewer women were looking for foreign husbands to help them escape. A more liberal attitude in Korea generally also meant Korean women could hook up with Western men as they liked — though this was still usually kept secret from friends and family. Itaewon still remained off-limits to “respectable” Koreans. The highly publicized 1997 murder of a college student in a restaurant bathroom and media reports of seedy bars and high crime contin- ued to keep mainstream Koreans away.