Saturday, March 10, 2007
Thai Spice Girls Preach Transsexual Power
20th February 2007 17:04
From Pink News.co.uk
A girl band of transsexuals who model themselves on the Spice Girls are hoping to change social attitudes and achieve pop chart success in Thailand.
Venus Flytrap's five members were all born males and later underwent gender reassignment surgery.
Like the famous British group, they have onstage personas, namely Cool Venus, Naughty Venus, Posh Venus, Sweet Venus and Hot Venus.
They have achieved the dream of many a struggling artist and been snapped up by Sony BMG Music Entertainment, one of the world's biggest recording companies.
However, this is a purely commercial venture by a company looking to exploit a niche market in Thailand.
Sony auditioned 100 transsexual performers before selecting the final five, who later underwent a year of singing, dancing and acting lessons.
The band hope that their first single, 'Cause I'm Your Lady, will help to promote tolerance and inclusion of transsexuals in Thailand.
Their first album, Visa for Love, was released in December.
It has not had any chart success yet, but has earned the girls a lucrative concert deal, and has enjoyed repeat play on Bangkok's SkyTrain rail network
Sony's director for artists and repertoire Amonrat Homhoul told AFP: "It was not easy.
"Recording was time-consuming because the group members sing as women, but cannot keep their voices at a high pitch for more than a few hours.
"The response has been good, even if their songs aren't in the charts yet."
Thailand is believed to have the largest transsexual population in the world.
Experts estimate at least 10,000 trans people live in Thailand, though some put the figure at 10 times that.
Even the conservative number would mean that per capita, Thailand has many more transsexuals than most developed countries.
Although no-one is sure why Thailand attracts so many, part of the reason may be that medical treatments for sex change operations are extremely cheap.
They cost roughly 150,000 baht, (£2,000).
Some clinics in Pattaya will perform the surgery for as little as £500.
Thai people are often more tolerant of trangender people than other countries.
Transsexuals are known as "kathoey," and have special roles to play in village festivals, usually involving decorations or performances.
Transgender people are also often represented in the media and in public Thai life, but they can still draw negative attention.
More often than not their only option of work is dancing as exotic entertainers in cabaret revues.
Laws in Thailand are also heavily stacked against transgender people. They are not covered by rape laws, and are not allowed to marry.
The band's dream is that the music's appeal will extend to beyond the cabaret clubs tucked away in seedy red-light districts.
"I see being in Venus Flytrap as another chance for me, a ladyboy, to work in another field of entertainment other than cabarets and beauty pageants," Dhanade Ruangroongroj, or Cool Venus told AFP.
Krerkkong, who is studying for a masters in political science, said she hopes her experience with the band will help earn recognition for other transsexuals.
Ploypaitoon Moukprakaaiphed, or Hot Venus, lets us know why transsexuals do it better.
She told AFP she had the edge because, "I can sing both as a woman, and a man."
TransGriot Note: There's a glaring inaccuracy in this report. One of the paragraphs states that Thailand is believed to have the largest transgender population in the world. That's doubtful. The US alone has 300 million peeps and with a conservative estimate of one in 500 births being transgender that translates to roughly 2 million transpeeps in the US.