Sunday, 29 July 2012

Here Come The Boys - Pattaya, Thailand

Tiffany’s Cabaret

With its famous reputation, it was only fitting that we go to the renowned Tiffany’s caberet show, Pattaya’s finest and most fabulous ladyboys performing as they only they know how.

We got a ‘songthaew’, a Thai-stye taxi, to the theatre. We bought our tickets before immediately being swamped by a couple of the dazzling performers who towered above us in their ridiculous heels and fancy costumes. We had some photos with them before they started harassing us for money, refusing to let go of us until they got just a little something. We then headed up to the balcony area where we took our seats. No photos were allowed during the performance so only before and after shots of the ladyboy beauties.  

Me and the girls

The performance kicked off with a voiced over introduction from a rather plump ladyboy trying her best to mime the words and look coy as she ate up the stage. She was surrounded by a handful of male (real!) backup dancers before they left the stage to applause. The curtain then rose to introduce the first of thirteen acts.

The first act was a fusion of colour, with the dancers wearing incredibly flamboyant headdresses and outfits. The theme for the act was Pattaya, an homage to the area where the show is based, with an outrageous backdrop teeming with colour and bright lights like the Las Vegas strip. 

There were three different types of outfits, each with a similar aesthetic design but differing wildly in colour: gold and black feathers, black, red and white diagonal striped patterns, and neon pink, green and yellow dresses that resembled a pack of Stabilo highlighters. Each group took to the stage individually, dancing and ‘singing’ and standing to the side when the next group came out. Once all the performers were on stage at the same time there was a ridiculous amount of twirling and dancing which caused a sudden colour sensation on stage.  

The second routine was divided up into three parts and had a traditional Thai theme, including dancing and music, and a backdrop of a typical Thai style temple. Each part involved three elaborately dressed ladyboys in dazzling dresses, miming to the words surrounded by their back up dancers. There were three of these parts, so nine dancers in total until they brought out all the dancers and performers for the finale of the act. This included one last ladyboy who was clad in the shiniest white dress you’ve ever seen. 

Many of the dancers seemed to be just going through the motions, doing this show twice a day, every day, must take its toll, but it’s nice to see the odd dancer throwing his very soul into every dance move he does. One guy in particular stuck out. I imagine he irritates all his co-dancers with his unnatural enthusiasm.

The third act was performed in front of the curtain as the crew behind no doubt prepared the stage for the following act. A much simpler routine was played out here, with one main performer and six back up dancers who were spread out in a line along the front of the stage wearing suits and top hats. As the routine continued they disrobed, pulling off parts of their suits until finally just the lead dancer was wearing only her bikini, all the while tossing her long dark hair back and forth, not in time to the music, just because she liked doing it I suppose.

As the third act finished, the fourth began and from the get go it was obvious the theme here revolved around fans, with four giant ones covering the stage and every performer holding one. The main performers had them sewn into their dresses so they could hold them outstretched so they looked like wings. I’m guessing the country theme here was China. There were many dancers, with one in particular clad in white, while there were male dancers constantly banging on their gongs, possibly the only real sounds coming from the stage.

Act five was very simple; as the curtain descended one of the performers came on stage dressed as Tina Turner and mimed her way through three of her classics. I didn’t realise she was miming at first until I noticed the sequin covered prop microphone. Hopefully I wasn’t the only one who was almost fooled. My only excuse is I was so enraptured, hoping and waiting for ‘Simply The Best’, which was sadly not forthcoming.
The seventh act was probably the most outrageous, or at least that one time you really wanted to sneak a photo. The ladyboy who came on stage was in a giant sparkly silver shoe wearing a blue sequin dress and a silver headdress which was a bird cage containing two doves in a huge black bonnet wig, singing ‘I’m your drama queen tonight’. Say no more.

At this point the show became a dancing tribute to other countries and their cultures with the stage changing to reflect the country on show; these included India – lots of belly dancing, Vietnam – lots of bicycles and pointy hats, Russia – lots of big warm looking dresses and Italy – lots of Pisa, a giant leaning tower taking centre stage.

In between two of these acts, the lights went out causing the theatre to fall into complete darkness with just background music playing, a male and female duet, and a flashlight directed at the stage. Out of nowhere, the light caught a male performer dressed in a tuxedo miming along to the male parts and then in the blink of an eye, the flashlight was on a woman in a red dress as the female singer’s voice came to life. As these exchanges continued, the crowd started to murmur as it became apparent that the two performers were in fact one and the same person, a ladyboy dressed up like Tommy Lee Jones in a case off Two Face suit. The audience began to applaud and once the game was obviously up, the lights came back on to reveal the performer who was clearly revelling in their role, a real treat. 

To conclude, all the performers came on stage, all the ladyboys and male backup dancers in all kinds of regalia and bowed for the audience as what can only be described as the Tiffany’s theme song played in the background. With lyrics like, ‘Is it a man or is it a woman?’ I can only assume it is one they came up with themselves. All of the ladyboys were dressed to kill, with more than a couple falling out of the tops of their dresses, one size to big, or too small, depending on how you looked at it. 

Nice orderly line outside to take photos of the girls

Serious face

Okay, smile for the camera...

Thank f**k she's gone

Any more takers?

Come here...

Once outside, many of the more modestly dressed ladyboys had congregated outside of the main entrance and were posing with the audience, holding on to big wads of cash they received from passersby for their performance and the opportunity to be in a photo with them. Constantly hooting and cat-calling to the men to join them on the raised platform for an experience only Thailand could possibly serve up, this was a pleasant change from the more common ladyboy fair that is so usually the norm here; no deadbeats after poor unwitting drunks here, only classy ladies.

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