Sunday, 29 July 2012

Tiffany's Show

It's high-stepping, toe-tapping and drop dead gorgeous - guest blogger John Borthwick meets the stars of Pattaya's renowned cabaret, Tiffany's Show.


“When my parents came to see the show, they couldn’t recognise me on stage,” says curvaceous Lada, a star dancer at the celebrated Tiffany’s Show in Pattaya. It’s not surprising that they didn’t recognise her. When she left home a few years before, Lada had been a male. 


Now transformed in every sense, she is sporting a billowing gown and towering, blond pompadour and cuts a formidable figure ahead of a chorus line of similarly flamboyant dancers. 


Tiffany’s Show, the world’s largest transvestite cabaret originated as a one-man performance on New Year’s Eve 1974. Today, Tiffany’s 1,000-seat theatre rings out five times a day to a musical soundtrack that ranges from Thailand to Broadway, Bollywood to Seoul, via Tina Turner. A cast of 90 katheoy (transvestite/transgender) and 20 male dancers perform an extravaganza of high-stepping, drop-dead gorgeous, lip-synched routines. 




I catch up with Lada and her sister dancer, Fang, a willowy 28-year old who seems stitched into a black gown that displays an impossibly slender waist. At 169 cm tall, plus her 14 cm heels, this is a woman to literally look up to. Wasp waists, silicone curves and dazzling routines are all part of the showgirls’ lives. Above all, they live to dance, to blaze before a rapt audience. “I love to dance, and to make people happy,” says Fang. “It’s the very best part of my job.” 



In the dressing room before curtain there are no hissy-fits. Just a low murmur of chat above the swish of make-up brushes. Each performer at this point is a plain chrysalis in a dressing gown — still a long way from the butterfly who, radiant in silk, spangles and adrenaline, will strut her brief hour upon the Tiffany stage.


It’s showtime. On with the follies. The next hour is an extravaganza of all that glitters, mimes, twirls, kicks, swoons and sparkles, with even a Tina Turner lookalike. There’s no nudity — the fun is more vamp than camp — and the high-tech sets are as sumptuous as the leggy performers and their flash dancing. 



With a grand razzle-dazzle finale, Fang, Lada and the other principal showgirls descend majestically from the stage. With waists like fleeting hourglasses, plus spinnaker d├ęcolletages, they sweep through the foyer, heading to the Tiffany forecourt for the show after the show. Here, tourists jostle to be photographed with the girls — who tower above them. All for a good tip, of course. 


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