*Disclaimer: The photos below may be inappropriate for young audiences.
Kathoeys or “ladyboys” are transgendered women in Thailand. Unlike in the west, there is very little stigma attached to being transgendered in Thailand, and it is often viewed and accepted as a third gender. Several Thai models, actresses, and singers are kathoeys. They live their lives as females and typically work predominantly female jobs like in beauty parlors, shops, hair salons, and also in tourism as entertainers (but also, of course, in the sex industry, which is huge in Thailand). During my time in Thailand, I saw no less than 6 recognizable kathoeys just out and about. And there may have been many more that I just couldn’t tell the difference. The last time I saw that many transgendered individuals in one place was at the PRIDE festival in San Francisco.
I read on TripAdvisor that there was a great ladyboy show in Chiang Mai at the Anusarn night market. It was a bit of a struggle to find, but with a bit of determination and a lot of stopping and asking people along the way, I got there just in time for the show.
And what a show it was. I’ve seen a few drag shows before, but this one was pretty high up there with the best. The costumes were fantastic, the dancing was great, and the lip-syncing was awfully hilarious. The whole show was a solid, non-stop, 1.5 hours of high-energy, in-your-face lady boy action. A few of the dancers really, TRULY looked like females. I was impressed. One *lucky* audience member even got his moment in the limelight with an on-stage lap dance. It was well worth the $6 entry free (with free drink!). I highly recommend it if you ever find yourself in Chiang Mai, Thailand.