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The 'Ladyboys' of Bangkok

THE 'LADYBOYS' OF BANGKOK

These pictures of the famous ‘ladyboys’ of Bangkok were taken more than 2 years ago. I was with my family on a holiday group tour to Bangkok together with many others. On the evening of the first day of the trip, we were taken to watch a glitzy and glamorous cabaret show performed by the ‘ladyboys’ of Bangkok. There was no age limit and everyone was allowed in to see the show – adults, teenagers, children and even babies! Only after the show started, did we know that it would include some ‘topless’ performance by the ‘ladyboys’. Photography was NOT disallowed, both during the show as well as after, when the ‘ladyboys’ would line up outside the theatre to take souvenir pictures with the audience for a charge.

Thailand’s ‘ladyboys’ (or katoeys as they are called in Thai) are some of the most beautiful – and convincing – transvestites in the world, accepted and embraced to a remarkable degree by a highly tolerant Thai society. Some of them hold regular jobs like nurses, secretaries, beauticians, hair stylists, etc while many work in restaurants, bars and cabaret shows. And Bangkok boasts some of the most famous and fabulous ‘ladyboy’ shows in the world. These cabaret-like shows feature spectacular extravaganza-type sets and costumes, and pay tribute to the creme de la creme of the female persona, from Hollywood glam and disco divas to mythical creatures and legends of the Orient.

Typically, the ‘ladyboys’ dress and live as women. They undergo hormone replacement therapy, and most have breast implants. They go to great lengths to conceal any tell-tale signs of masculinity, including surgery to reduce the size of the Adam’s apple and other medical procedures to shape their bodies more like those of women (jawbone, hips, buttocks) – even voice chord surgery. To the extent that it is often quite impossible to tell them apart from their (real) female counterparts. (A favourite contestant for the Miss Thailand title was once disqualified in the final rounds of judging, after her ‘ladyboy’ status was leaked to the local media by a rival.) Nevertheless, for many 'ladyboys', their deep or husky voice is often a dead give-away.

The 'Ladyboys' of Bangkok (Sep 05)
The 'Ladyboys' of Bangkok (Sep 05)
The 'Ladyboys' of Bangkok (Sep 05)
The 'Ladyboys' of Bangkok (Sep 05)
The 'Ladyboys' of Bangkok (Sep 05)
The 'Ladyboys' of Bangkok (Sep 05)
The 'Ladyboys' of Bangkok (Sep 05)
The 'Ladyboys' of Bangkok (Sep 05)
The 'Ladyboys' of Bangkok (Sep 05)
The 'Ladyboys' of Bangkok (Sep 05)
The 'Ladyboys' of Bangkok (Sep 05)
The 'Ladyboys' of Bangkok (Sep 05)
The 'Ladyboys' of Bangkok (Oct 07)
The 'Ladyboys' of Bangkok (Oct 07)
The 'Ladyboys' of Bangkok (Sep 05)
The 'Ladyboys' of Bangkok (Sep 05)
The 'Ladyboys' of Bangkok (Sep 05)
The 'Ladyboys' of Bangkok (Sep 05)
The 'Ladyboys' of Bangkok (Sep 05)
The 'Ladyboys' of Bangkok (Sep 05)