Les Boys do cabaret
Les Boys are glad to be gay……
Mark Knopfler: Dire Straits: Les Boys
Dire Straits’ number about a night club bar in Munich, Germany and its transgender cabaret rings in my ears as I write. An iconic and gritty piece it is, but not entirely true; les boys are decidedly not gay. At least the ones in Thailand aren’t, and the same goes for the rest of South East Asia in my experience.
Thailand is well known for its welcoming smiles, great cuisine, superb winter climate, beaches, beautiful women and riotous naughty night-life. It’s also known for its kathoey, or lady-boys. Thai lady-boys range from the incredibly beautiful such as you find in the Cabaret shows with their superb figures and sweet smiles to the hard bitten and often repulsive (and dangerous) drag queens who ply a sordid life of street walking prostitution in the seedy areas of Bangkok and Pattaya. And in between those there is a mixed bag of lovely to much less so.
I have met and known many over the years. I have lady-boy friends. I move easily among them and I’m at ease in their presence. And they confide in me. I was once the only man in the company of eighteen at a party. We drank and teased each other with risqu banter. And some were big “girls.” Unnerving? A little, but I survived the encounter, and unscathed I should add.
Can I be fooled? Yes I can and have been often. My wife claims she can always tell. Mainly it’s the voice, but even if the “girl” is perfect, and has a feminine voice, she will know. She says lady-boys can be completely convincing to a man, but not to a woman.
But they got no gun now
….it’s all in fun now
Lady-boys have been the referred to as the Third Sex and I buy that description. They are not homosexuals. Gay men are men who like other men. Some katoey are in fact transsexuals, men who yearn to become women. True katoey however, want to be women, but not completely. They indulge in hormone treatment which develops their breasts, increases the volume of their hair and feminizes the texture of their skin. They may undergo surgery for Adam’s apple reduction and to correct and alter other features. But, they hold their hand at genital re-assignment. The big surprise between their legs is something they wish to keep as it makes them unique; it puts the boy in lady-boy.
For transsexuals however, this phase is a stop on the way. They are just passing through, a work in progress. They seek, and eventually undertake, the full monte of sexual re-assignment. True katoey don’t want to go this far and so they keep their guns.
One thing lady-boys and transsexuals do have in common is that, owing to the cocktail of hormones and drugs they ingest, they are exceptionally highly sexed which explains why so many work in the sex and adult nightlife industries as escorts and hostesses and such. They like the sex, the financial remuneration is icing on the cake.
So, what kind of man goes with these ladies of the third sex? It would be too easy to dismiss them as perverts, latent gays and odd balls. From my experience they are normal red bloodied males who like a little spice, a little touch of kink. They range from the single to the married, the curious to the committed, and the timid first timer to the junkie. I do know two men who left their wives for lady boys.
Take Ian, a British chap I know. Ian’s an ex Parachute Regiment macho character, a man’s man. At thirty six he looks like an all in cage fighter. A few years ago, while girl hunting in bars in Birmingham, England, he connected with a lady-boy and got the bug. Then he came to Thailand and flipped. He comes often now to Thailand, for the girls and lady-boys.
Then there is Barry, an Australian friend that has a katoey wife. In late middle age now, but not slowing down, Barry met Koy in Phuket three years ago. She’s twenty four and incredibly lovely. I’d enjoyed her company and cooking many times and had no reason to doubt her female credentials before Barry opened up and gave me the lowdown. And, as he is the quintessential macho man with two ex-wives and seven offspring, he gave me the shock of my life. I thought he was joking. “No, Koy’s a guy.” he said with a wry smile. “But she’s the best girlfriend I’ve ever had.” Enjoying my re-action he joked. “Oh, girls are OK. But you can’t beat the real thing.” But, of course, Koy is definitely not a guy. She is a lady-boy.
What about me then? Where do I fit in? I admit I’m fascinated by beautiful lady-boys and I’m very curious. But as curiosity killed the cat, I have never let my fascination get the better of me. In any case, I’m very happily married.