Saturday, September 20, 2008


After a heavy dose of jungle at Khao Yai, I felt a little disoriented. I figured I needed a bit of urban grit or my soul might go into shock from all that greenery. So we headed down to the bright lights and ample diversions of Bangkok.

The ladyboy show at the Mambo Cabaret is by no means a cheap night out. The tickets were about 25 dollars each, and the "complementary drink" was a microscopic glass of beer.

The show, however, did not cut any corners.There were tons of big production numbers with fluffy, slinky, feathery, tiny or sparkly costumes. They were designed to appeal to the different national origins of the audience members: Chinese, Thai, Japanese, Arabic, Korean, Western.

China got particular attention. Laura figured that was a good job of targeted marketing. "The whole two front rows are Chinese," she whispered. "I can tell because they're not clapping." (Apparently, applause is Just Not Done in China.)

Some of the women were a bit mannish, but some were real knockouts.

"It's not fair!" Laura and I complained afterwards. "They're more woman than I'll ever be!" But since I don't even own a hairbrush, never mind makeup and definitely never mind having any kind of cosmetic surgery, I can't really complain.

What I didn't expect was the sort of sentimental glow I felt about the whole thing. After all, for some of these dancers dressing up hot and being admired as a woman by a whole theatre full of people must be the culmination of a lifelong dream. It was fun to put myself in their stiletto heels for a while and experience the thrill of girliness.

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