Tiffany Show: Gorgeous Girls From Thailand
By Rachael (Hong Kong)
The girls on-stage are literally achingly gorgeous; so much so that there is a hollow in the pit of my stomach. Apparently I'm suffering from inverted-penis envy and I can't help thinking that if I'd been born in another time and place I could have what they have too. I'm at Bar City in the basement of the New World Renaissance Hotel in Hong Kong with my TS friend Robin and we're watching the Tiffany Show from Thailand.
Robin is en femme tonight and looking very pretty in a powder blue pantsuit and matching sandals and nail polish. I'm acting as escort and in drab, so I'm the designated talker. We'd started the evening with dinner at a local mainstream restaurant and things had gone well--the tone was set for the rest of the evening.
The Tiffany Show is billed as a Thai Transvestite Troupe, perhaps because the true story is too complex to be presented easily. It is obvious that most of the girls have breast implants and according to the papers many of them are on hormones. Some are post-op, but there are at least two girls who seem likely to present as men offstage. The girls have gotten a lot of press upon their arrival and they are playing an open-ended show. They've been to Hong Kong before and their last run lasted 5 months, 7 nights a week. Obviously although the overt HK attitude towards transgendered people is not terribly accepting, someone somewhere is interested!
The show consists entirely of lip-synching and dancing. The opening number is appropriate--One Night in Bangkok from Andrew Lloyd Webber's Chess, and the girl who performs the lead is the main star of the show. At times some of the girls seem disinterested, especially if they are the backup "sync-ers", but the best of them put on a terrific show. The girls are stunning and the costumes are gorgeous, beautifully done with lots of Far Eastern glamour.
Traditional Thai dance costumes with the fingernails extended in gold cones about six inches, traditional Korean and Chinese Silks, fanciful flowing dresses in red silk with capes that later turn into wings, and modern evening gowns are all featured. They do a Spice Girls impersonation which goes over well with the crowd. Their Ginger Spice doesn't look at all like Geri Halliwell, probably because she's olive skinned and has a red wig the color of a kindergarten crayon, but Scary Spice is very good and Posh Spice looks even better than the original! I don't recognize any of the other acts as impersonations, but they may indeed be impersonations of local singers. Most of the show's narration is in Cantonese and neither Robin or I can follow it, which makes what seems to be a lame comedy sketch (from the audience's response) even lamer.
The music is painfully loud, and Robin and I are unable to talk much. She wonders about the draw of a TS show--"Why would anyone want to see post-ops on stage?" and I think she has a point. In fact, the whole show makes Robin a bit uncomfortable. Later she says that she feels that the girls were exploited.
The show closes with a mock beauty pageant, and the girls come out in regional costume: Miss Thailand, Miss Malaysia, Miss Singapore, Miss Vietnam, Miss Korea, Miss Hong Kong, Miss Taiwan, and Miss China. Miss Korea is fabulous and she catches the eye of a man up front and flirts outrageously with him. From my perspective there is no exploitation here; the girls are enjoying themselves and the audience has really taken to them. After the show audience members get the opportunity to talk with the girls and have their pictures taken with them for HK$60 each (about US$7.70). Robin talks to a couple of the girls, and they are a bit surprised when they hear her voice, but they are friendly and she asks where they come from and about their surgeons. Some of the other girls get a bit grabby with me because they want me to have my picture taken with them. I start to feel a bit uncomfortable; very much the "odd man out." I wish I were en femme. The ache in the pit of my stomach grows--I'm incredibly envious of these gorgeous women and I feel real regret.
Too be transgendered and grow up in Thailand today is very different than to be transgendered and grow up in suburban Georgia in the 60's. Thais have a very accepting attitude toward sexuality in general and unconventional gender identification in specific and Thailand must be the best place in the world to grow up transgendered. There are, of course, a whole host of other problems growing up in an impoverished economy and sadly, many girls, both genetic and transwomen, end up in the sex trade.
Finally the evening's over and Robin and I grab a taxi back to her place for a drink and a short chat before I must head home. It's been a lovely night--a good meal, a great show with gorgeous girls, and wonderful companionship. I look forward to our next meeting when Robin has invited me over to dress for dinner.
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