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  1. #1
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    A private glimpse at the life of a Phuket ladyboy dancer

    A private glimpse at the life of a Phuket ladyboy dancer

    PHUKET: It’s 5.30 in the afternoon and heading towards dusk. Spotlights on the roof of the Aphrodite cabaret show on the bypass road are bouncing beams off clouds. Already more than 200 tourists are milling around in the auditorium.



    Backstage, it’s busy, busy, busy. The first of the evening’s three shows begins at 6pm on the dot, so there’s a flurry of activity as the dancers and actors put on make-up, shovel down supper (sometimes both at the same time) and wriggle into tight, spangled dresses.

    The dressing room is crammed, with sparkling costumes hanging in profusion, wigs by the dozen, headdresses with huge feathers, and a happy babel of conversation, squeals and laughter.

    Most of the actors are ladyboys, and are proud and happy to be part of the show.
    Siwanun “Yok” Khanvilaikul, 29, says, “I’m proud of myself. And, I have never been disappointed in my decision to be a dancer. I know who I am.

    “My father passed away some time ago but my mother is very pleased with me. I take care of her and we spend a lot of time together.

    Phuket-born Yok has worked at Aphrodite for five months. “I have my own business, the White Room fashion shop in Phuket city, but this is fine for me because they pay well – I already had some experience of dancing in a show.

    “Work time starts at 6pm and ends at 10.30pm. I get two days off a month. It may sound like hard work, but I love this job.

    “I don’t care what people think about me being a ladyboy. I am doing what I love and I am just proud of what I can do for my mother and for Phuket – the show attracts tourists from around the world, so I am part of the machine that can support tourism.

    It’s a well-oiled machine. “Everyday, I have to come to the theatre by 5.30pm and finish my makeup and be dressed by 6pm. Everyone else has to do the same – and all at the same time,” he says.

    Managing the machine is “Mother” – otherwise known as Kajohndesh Panawas.
    He is officially Show Manager, taking care of all the players, training them, setting the rules, organising clothing (all created in Bangkok) and ensuring the show goes like clockwork, with everything happening to a precise schedule.

    “Everyone has to be on time because the times for all the shows are set,” says Mother. “The show has many acts, and all the players for each act must be ready backstage before their cue.”

    “It’s very important that I look after every detail and remind them of their duties, including meeting the audience after each show. In Aphrodite all the actors have to know their duties and be nice to each other, and do what I tell them.”

    The show keeps up with the times and trends. For example, right now, a Gangnam act has been added. “It is so hot now. So we have introduced a special Gangnam act, just for this month.”

    The show is about to begin. Players in the first act bustle through a door from the dressing room, pausing to wai a Thai Khon dance mask – the symbol of traditional Thai dance – before getting ready to go onstage.

    Backstage, too, is a flurry of activity as stagehands prepare the backdrops and special effects. They, too, are highly trained, moving at speed to match the songs and dances with sound and lighting effects, smoke and scenery changes.

    The audience love it. Acts featuring feathers and sequins follow lip-synch acts (mostly in Korean or Chinese), modern dances and Indian dances.

    A big favourite is the “fat lady” – a comedy act by a very chubby ladyboy with a strangely cute voice. The audience howls with laughter as he jiggles his wobbly body.

    He ups the hysteria by dragging male members of the audience onto the stage and trying to get them to touch him, just oozing desire. His victim is terrified, but the audience are falling about.

    After the show finishes, all the actors walk out from the stage to meet the audience. They love this part.

    “I love being on stage and I love meeting my audience,” says Yok. “I want the audience to go away with good memories and to come back again. It makes me feel wonderful.”

    The audience crowd around the actors, wanting to get a close-up look at all the feathers and sequins – and the people inside them – and have their photos taken (tipping is obligatory).

    The audience file out with big grins on their faces. But for the actors, it’s time to get ready for the next show.



  2. #2
    Mid
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    Quote Originally Posted by thephuketnews
    he

    thephuketnews.com

  3. #3
    ding ding ding
    Spin's Avatar
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    ^ Katoey kwai hee pii gaan.

  4. #4
    Gohills flip-flops wearer
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  5. #5
    Tonguin for a beer
    Bung's Avatar
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    Oh shit, A rare green for that.....Pissed myself.

  6. #6
    or TizYou?
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    Quote Originally Posted by dirtydog
    “Everyone has to be on time because the times for all the shows are set,” says Mother. “The show has many acts, and all the players for each act must be ready backstage before their cue.”
    What's the secret to getting everyone to be on time? Must be a nightmare with them all on "Thai" time.

  7. #7
    Mid
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    Quote Originally Posted by TizMe
    What's the secret to getting everyone to be on time?
    Heavy docking of pay I suspect .

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