Thanyakarn “Micky” Rattanarak, one of the 24 Thai ladyboy performers, recalling her childhood, tells that she always asked parents why she was different. Being 7 years old she wanted to wear skirts to school and to have long hair as other girls.


Today she is a part of big sparkling extravaganza known as Thailand Ladyboy Superstars Cabaret that gives tours around Australia.

Rattanarak now prefers to refer herself to a third sex which is neither male or female, and such gender finds more acceptance in Thailand and other countries. She also says that the “ladyboy” conception should not be confused with “drag queen”. While drag artists are used just to dress up as an opposite sex frequently overdrawing the whole image, being a ladyboy is state of mind, alike being transgender: “We are this way all the time”.

At the same time, the term may feel in some way insulting. However it depends on the intentions with which the word was used. Rattanarak says that usually they are happy if people call them ladyboys in case they are polite. She also adds that all the performers are proud of being who they are, and do their job with passion making the show complete.

Talking about gender reassignment surgery, the dancer admits that many trans girls change sex in order to find relationship easier and faster. However Rattanarak has a boyfriend even if she has not undergone the surgery yet. The couple doesn’t hide their relationship, while they avoid kissing in public, because Thai culture finds such expression of romantic feelings rude, no matter who you are.

Thailand is widely known for progressive and accepting attitude towards transgender community, anyway the circumstances do not always add up to the benefit of ladyboys. While the Thai society is more supportive and accepting towards them, but when it comes to find a decent job most of trans girls are forced to work in the entertainment and beauty industries. That’s why such stories as the Thai airline company PC Air invited to work transgender flight attendants are just random exception to the rule.

Rattanarak tells that she loves her job: she feels very feminine wearing sparkly dresses and doing hair and makeup. Preparing for the show usually she needs 1.5 hours for makeup and another 30 minutes for hair and costume.
Damian Syred, the director of Thai Ladyboys, describes it as the show with plenty of razzle-dazzle and promises the audience will be “left in ave” by the performance. After all two hundred of costumes were sewn including more than 350,000 rhinestones, 200,000 sequins and 100,000 feathers in order to impress the audience.

The show performs covers of Kylie Minogue, Jennifer Lopez, Tina Turner, also some traditional and modern Thai songs.

Syred says that the show’s title deliberately includes the word “ladyboy”, so people are aware about what kind of performance they’re going to see and “nobody ends up watching something they didn’t want to be watching”. Syred also believes that the show like this helps to demonstrate to society that there’s nothing untoward: “They are just beautiful performers”.