Dude (Looks Like A Lady)!

Everybody knows that Thailand is famous for it’s ladyboys… so what’s the deal? Known to the locals as ‘kathoey’ and more commonly, ‘ladyboys’, these beautiful people are often seen as a third gender. I have also read somewhere that Thai’s believe that being a kathoey is the result of transgressions in a previous life. I don’t know about transgressions per say  but as I like to believe in re-incarnation myself, I can see some logic in this thought.


Famous kathoey actress, Nony Tum

While America is (still) banging on about freedom yet ‘debating’ wether or not they should jail transgender people for using a public toilet allocated to their self-identified gender… Thailand seems to be refreshingly accepting of the kathoey in both every day life and the workplace.


Image from Alex in Wanderland

Having seen a couple of enviably beautiful kathoey working in shops and hostels, it was time to see what all the fuss was about. The cabaret on Koh Tao runs every night at 10:15pm for about an hour. Entry is free but drinks are about double what you’d usually pay (about $4 for a beer). We headed into the lazer-lit bar and were immediately ushered to some bench seats at the back as we were a little late. The place was packed but the show was instantly entertaining.

Just as you would expect, these talented ladies ran renditions of Abba and Hot Cholocate, all the way through to ‘My Guy’ from Sister Act, complete with Whoopi Goldberg. The dancing was fantastic, the lip-syncing was definitely in a foreign language and the wigs were a bit fancy dress… but then it got really interesting.

Much to her horror, a girl was dragged from the audience to volunteer. Looking pretty mortified, within seconds she had been pounced on and become part of a dangerous looking acrobatic feat involving a pair of large plastic stilettos and a pair of large plastic boobs.  It was pretty hilarious to watch, let me tell you.

P1080887The show ended with ‘Thank You For The Music’ by Abba and a huge round of applause… but it wasn’t quite over. Five guys (including Rich of course) were also dragged from the audience, taken back stage, stripped of their t-shirts and trousers, given some glitzy bikini tops and shoved (without any instruction) back on to stage to dance. This guy seemed to be loving it though I’m not sure how much he’d love to see this picture now! Rich enjoyed it too (obviously) but was VERY disappointed that they hadn’t provided him with any sparkly pants to match his top!


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