Katoey — Stars Shine Brightly

| Feb 17, 2014
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Katoey stars.

Katoey stars.

TG people have been around in Asia for more years than anyone can remember. From China to Thailand, from Indonesia to The Philippines, or from Japan to Korea, the “third gender” have been omnipresent for hundreds, if not thousands, of years.

Many Asian cultures have long accepted, or liberally tolerated, the presence of “new-halfs” or “shadow women,” and some even celebrate the creativity of TG’s or allow them to entertain at formal gatherings such as weddings (ie the Hijras in India). Sure, the “glass-ceiling” to career advancement in professional life hasn’t been raised much in the past few years (and I’ve talked about this in earlier articles), but many TG people have carved out rewarding, well paid careers for themselves in the entertainment industry.

The Calypso show.

The Calypso show.

Whether it be the “Warias” in Indonesia or the “Bakla” from The Philippines, without doubt, many TG people have been blessed with the ability to perform and entertain and one need look no further than the ubiquitous Ladyboy (or more typically known as “Katoey” in local Thai) in the Land of Smiles.

With their beauty and grace surpassing that of many real women, in Thailand numerous Katoey are celebrities in their own right, given their skills in singing, dancing and, most of all, looking like the epitome of feminine perfection in long, slinky ball-gowns, sequined studded body suits or skimpy bikinis.

From humble beginnings some 20 or so years ago, Katoey cabaret shows have grown in stature and quality over the years to now be beautifully choreographed, highly polished show spectaculars. Who would have thought that those shows started in the distant past by groups such as Tiffany, Calypso or Simon could have become such mega attractions for tourists and locals alike in Pattaya, Phuket or Bangkok. Many of the purpose built show arenas have three shows per day and seat up to 2000 people per show — and most of the time, certainly in high season, are playing to full-houses.

All credit to the Katoeys and the show and costume designers for creating and presenting such engaging entertainment. For top performers, salaries and fringe benefits are excellent — but, sadly, the career of a top Katoey star is relatively short, and is often over by the time she is 28-29, as looks start to fade and, more importantly, the fierce competition from yet another new “up-and-coming” star.



Still, these days, it’s also possibly to perform on the overseas “circuit,” and which major or minor city in, say, UK or Europe hasn’t had the benefit of seeing a Katoey Cabaret show over the last few years, as such entertainment has become much more mainstream.

Yet, despite all of the glamour and thrills of those Katoeys lucky enough to have the looks and style to be able to participate in the top shows, there are thousands of their “sisters” still being forced into low-paying, unattractive positions simply because of their gender.

With the advent of the much more awareness about TG people in the media, let’s hope the success of the starring Katoey may long continue, and that many of the other TG people can cling on to their (show) coat tails and haul their status up to be equal with other “normal” people… (sigh…, if only!).

Available from Club Lighthouse Publishing

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Category: Transgender Body & Soul, Transgender Opinion

Christine B

About the Author ()

Christine has written numerous (at least 150) articles, columns, op-eds, features & stories for well known T magazines, websites & e-zines; she also works as a part time fiction editor for Club Lighthouse Publishing, and is a co-editor of an award winning T-girl Magazine. In addition, she has written 8 adult books mainly in the T sub-genre which have been published by Club Lighthouse Publishing, for whom she has been the best selling author for the last 5 years.

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