Members of Thai ladyboy band "Venus Flytrap" pose in Bangkok February 7, 2007. (From L-R) Amy, Taya, Bobo, Nok and Gina are Thai ladyboys brought together by record company Sony BMG to create a girl group with a twist. Five beauties, questionable singing abilities, great dance moves and the skimpiest of outfits: "Venus Flytrap" fits the girl band cliche in every respect but one. These Thai girls used to be boys. REUTERS/Adrees Latif (THAILAND) Thai ladyboy band hopes to hit the high notes
Thu Feb 15, 2007 1:40 PM GMT
By Rosalind Russell
BANGKOK (Reuters Life!) - Five beauties, questionable singing abilities, great dance moves and the skimpiest of outfits: "Venus Flytrap" fits the girl band cliche in every respect but one.
These Thai girls used to be boys.
Bobo, Taya, Gina, Amy and Nok are ladyboys brought together by music firm Sony BMG to create a girl group with a twist.
Stylish and articulate, they want to sweep aside the common image of ladyboys as cabaret queens or tourist curiosities and join the mainstream of international pop.
They have quite a way to go as the girls still flog the nightclub circuit in Bangkok, but the band is hoping a newly-released album, "Visa for Love" and a risque video will propel them to stardom.
In preparation, they're already behaving like celebrities, making a dramatic, breathy entrance into the boardroom at Sony BMG's Bangkok office and flinging themselves on chairs amid much posing, pouting and flicking of hair.
"We get such a great feeling when we're on stage. We can feel how much the audience loves us," said 24-year-old Taya, branded "Cool Venus" in the Spice Girl mode. "We are ladyboys, but we think we can appeal to everyone."
Venus Flytrap's music (www.myspace.com/venusflytrapfan)
mixes European pop, electronic house and funk with Thai lyrics.
The video -- entertaining Bangkok commuters on screens at Skytrain stations -- is based loosely on the Cinderella fairy tale and features band members running from their prince, shedding clothes as they go.
Clever camera angles protect the modesty of the singers, who have breast implants and take female hormones. Four Venus Flytrap members have undergone sex change operations.
NEW LIFE AS WOMAN
"When I was little I always wore skirts and was into girly stuff," said "Naughty Venus" Gina, 24, the most striking band member with fluttering false eyelashes and blunt cut black hair.
"The turning point was when I was a teenager and I decided not to be a man."
In her early 20s, Gina followed the path of thousands of young Thai men who come to Bangkok from the provinces looking for a new life as a woman.
In a Buddhist society which prides itself on tolerance, ladyboys, known as "katoey" in Thai, enjoy wide acceptance.
Many Thais believe being a ladyboy is the result of bad karma -- paying in this lifetime for misdeeds in former ones -- and that ladyboys deserve pity, not blame.
"We feel like girls from a young age," said Bobo, 25, who worked in a bar in the beach resort of Pattaya before successfully auditioning for Venus Flytrap. "My family has always understood me and accepted me but life hasn't been easy."
"Sweet Venus" Amy, a 23-year-old gemology student, has problems finding a place to stay when she started university.
"In the boy's dormitory I was teased and groped," said the long-limbed redhead who is the group's most accomplished singer. "The girls didn't want me because at the time I still looked like a man. In the end I had to move out and rent a room by myself."
Hot, Cool, Posh, Naughty and Sweet hope to be an inspiration for young ladyboys and anyone confused about their sexuality.
"It isn't easy if you're born into the wrong body," said Amy. "What happened to us is amazing. We never expected to be here."Thanks danii for this news.
Labels: Venus Flytrap