I Kissed a Ladyboy…(and I Liked It)

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Ladyboys in Thailand

Yes, I kissed one of the ladyboys in Thailand. And I hope my friends don’t mind it.

Well, it’s more like a ladyboy kissed me.  And as for the liking it part — read on oh curious one…

As I write this I’m at Chaweng Beach in Koh Samui, Thailand. While strolling down the main drag (see what I did there?) we noticed a gaggle (flock? coven? a murder?) of ladyboys congregating outside a 7/11, as ladyboys tend to do in this part of the world.  Further ahead we heard music filtering down from above, and looked up to see the appropriately star-spangled sign for Starz Cabaret.

Fun For All and Family Showtime Sign

Ladyboys in Thailand, or “kathoey” are far more visible and accepted here than transgendered people are in the West. You see them working in shops and restaurants, on trains and buses, and of course, in the odd cabaret.

Starz Cabaret, Chaweng Beach, Koh Samui, Thailand
Known as the third gender, or (my personal favorite) “woman of the second kind”, ladyboys in Thailand are as much a part of daily Thai life as chopsticks in China, or fatty foods in America. 

Ladyboys in Thailand are everywhere, they are accepted as part of the culture, and for most, it’s no big deal.

Starz own website put it best:

“Many communities accept a third sex, from Thai

and Samoan to Native American and Filipino. Only in

the West has repression occurred.”

So the following night, we decided to take the plunge and investigate further.  The voyeur in me wanted to see how they put the tuk in tuk-tuk.

We arrived late to the show, so were seated in the only two remaining seats – right at the very front.  I actually had to lay my camera bag on the stage.

We were that close.

Ladyboys, Starz Cabaret, Koh Samui, Thailand

The mostly straight audience was a varied mix of vacationers – couples, backpackers, and gobsmacked families with kids. I was surprised by the lack of audience participation. The ladyboy performers did their best to engage the crowd, but some obviously had never seen anything like this before.

There were more stone faces than Rapa Nui.

Diana Ross Ladyboy -- ladyboys in Thailand

Celine Dion Ladyboy, ThailandAfter a couple of standards by Diana Ross and Celine Dion, the show got a little bit more risqué when the ladyboys started to pull audience members up to the stage.

Ladyboy Dancer, Starz Cabaret, Koh Samui, Thailand

Ladyboys Performing at Starz Cabaret

Ladyboys Dancing

I wasn’t the only one who got kissed that night.

Ladyboys and Audience Member, Starz Cabaret

A highly camp (or maybe just high and camp) Whitney Houston from her “crack is whack” days began to stumble through her version of “I Will Always Love You”.

 Then she saw me. 

The next few minutes were a haze.  Cameras clicked. Flashes popped. Crowds clapped.  Some ooh’ed.  Some ahh’ed.  Some ooh’ed AND ahh’ed.

And then it happened.

BAM!  Right in the kisser.  Somewhere after the line “We both know I’m not what you need” (the irony is not lost on me) she sat on my lap and, for a brief moment, made me her Bobby Brown.

Yes officer.  This is her.  

Whitney Houston Ladyboy, Koh Samui, Thailand -- ladyboys in Thailand

So how did it feel? Did I taste her cherry Chapstick?

Well, I can’t say it was horrible.  Kind of like kissing anyone really.  Though certainly she could’ve used a mint.

But when people ask me, I will tell them I kissed one of those ladyboys in Thailand, and I will tell them I liked it.  Not because it was some sort of magical, earth-shattering, rock me to my core kinda kiss. But because I walked away with a great memory, a good laugh, and an awesome story.  And every time I tell the story, I’ll think of her every step of the way…

Check that one off the bucket list. Oh wait. It was never on there to begin with.

If You Go:

  • Shows are at 8:00 pm and 10:00 pm nightly (no show 8:00 pm on Sundays).
  • Admission is free, but you are expected to buy a drink.  If you don’t want to buy a drink, their sign says you pay a cover of 200 Baht.  So just buy a drink.
  • Drinks are more expensive than neighbouring bars, but you are getting a free show.  So drink up.
  • If you want to take photos with the ladyboys at the end of the show, you are free to, but ladyboys in Thailand expect a tip, so don’t cheap out.
  • If you’re a dude and don’t want to be picked on, go in drag — none of the women were asked to take the stage the night I was there.

What has been your experience with Ladyboys in Thailand?

I am a travel blogger and freelance travel writer. I left behind my cubicle-shaped cell to see the world. Now I inspire others to shake the shackles and escape through travel. This is my blog.

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