Pattaya, Thailand: Backstage at Tiffany’s

Much has been done in the way of backstage photographs of ladyboy cabaret shows in Bangkok and Pattaya, but I felt like I couldn’t readily talk about or explore this aspect of the culture without experiencing it firsthand. So my assistant contacted Tiffany’s Show in Pattaya and asked their PR director if it would be OK for me to come by and take some pictures. After a lot of back and forth and a few roadblocks, she finally agreed. The above images are from the hour that I had with everyone as they prepared for their show.

It’s funny how connections are made. Another assistant had introduced me to her friend in Bangkok, and I photographed her and agreed to come by the next day to meet some of her friends as they did hair and makeup for an iPhone 4 commercial. There I met another woman named Mae and took a portrait of her. When I mentioned that I was trying to get backstage at Tiffany’s, Mae told me that she had a friend that was in the show. Her friend, Tu, couldn’t get me backstage, but invited me over to her house to take her portrait in Pattaya, on my first night there, at about midnight after her last show (that’s another post). First we stopped by the main choreographer’s house and I met him and another show performer while there. The choreographer owned a marble bust of Marilyn Monroe adorned in a retired stage outfit from one of his earlier shows. Nothing to do with connections, but it was amazing. They said nice things about me to the PR director and I was eventually granted the access I wanted on my last day there. It pays to be nice. And ridiculously good looking and charming.

Backstage was lots of makeup. Like an hour of straight makeup. Foundation. More foundation. And then a little more foundation. Some color. Some eyelashes. Some glitter. Some crazy outfits. I had a great time and everyone was very nice and welcoming, but after about fifteen minutes I felt like I was spinning my wheels. How many times can I get someone’s reflection in their hand mirror? How many ways can I photograph someone with pursed lips applying gloss? But just being there was great. Seeing it happen, the complete normalcy and the whole routine of it, seemed absurdly, well, regular. I stuck it through and got some images I’m happy with. I’m sure something from the backstage will make it into an edit, because it’s such a large part of the culture and one of the few things that most people know about ladyboys in Thailand (they do cabaret!), so I feel like it needs to be represented. Plus too it’s so distinctly different from the other people I met. Like the Olympics or World Series of the transgendered fashion world.

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40 Comments on “Pattaya, Thailand: Backstage at Tiffany’s

  1. Good looking and charming was definitely the key.

  2. “Like the Olympics or World Series of the transgendered fashion world.”
    LOL
    Surely, a distinction could only be truly garnered by the come what may lay back Thais.

    (they do cabaret!)
    They do Ao Dai show too. I’d read in an article some where that once in a blue moon, Tiffany would put on an Ao Dai show for the package tours from Vietnam. It’d be something if you could interpret that scene with your artistic lens.

  3. “Like the Olympics or World Series of the transgendered fashion world.”
    LOL
    Surely, a distinction which could only be truly garnered by the come what may lay back Thais.

    (they do cabaret!)
    They do Ao Dai show too. I’d read in an article some where that once in a blue moon, Tiffany would put on an Ao Dai show for the package tours from Vietnam. It’d be something if you could interpret that scene with your artistic lens.

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  6. Mr Blob, I’d love to see the ao dai show! I noticed it on their website. Unfortunately I couldn’t stay that night for the whole performance, so I’m not sure if they performed it or not. Next time.

  7. This may only be hearsay I’m transmitting: but by any chance, did the chubby Leather S&M tranny tried to rub your head into “her” sweaty cleavage while you were there? LOL
    Sorry for the previous double post. I keep forgetting that with wordpress, a comment can’t be deleted once the submit button’s been pressed.

    Happy a’ snappings,

    Mr Blob

    P.S. Sorry to hear about your unfortunate run-in with the pussy-footed larcenous Hanoi ninja.

  8. Great, colorful photos–loved ‘em! I hate all the stress chaos backstage, but once you’re on stage or in the audience it’s so much fun. Great post, and congrats on getting Freshly Pressed! :D

  9. Just goes to show that being the “nice guy” pays off. You never know who you’re going to meet again or when. You can find friends in the most unexpected places. Beautiful pictures! Looks like a fun show, too. The colors are dazzling.

    Superfan307

  10. You got a Pinoy-sounding name that made me want to type my congratulatories here. But I’ll make it short: Great shots man.

  11. a bluish yellow tint, great..man with camera deserves the credit

  12. When I first lived in Chon Buri But to Pattaya a few times.
    I watch the show. Tiffany several times. But never saw the show backstage.
    Thank you, you write this post.
    If I had the opportunity to go see the show in Pattaya tiffany.

  13. Thanks to everyone for the kind words. Funny that I actually considered not writing about this. Go figure. The photographs do very little to show how great the actual show was; if you ever find yourself in Pattaya, definitely stop in to see the performance.

  14. Even when I haven’t read what was written here, the pictures already caught my attention! They’re so crisp! Mind if I ask what camera was used? Thanks! Congratulations, by the way, for getting freshly pressed. :)

  15. gorjaceous, I’m glad you enjoyed the images. I used a Canon 5D Mark II for all of this work (and actually for all of my professional work). Cheers!

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  17. Very well written and good photos. I grew up in Thailand, so I can say that this post captures this part of the “ladyboy culture” very well.

  18. Great photos and story. I was in Pattaya earlier this year for the Songkran Festival. The people there are great!

  19. Oh these photos are absolutely stunning! Brings back a lot of memories of when I went to see that show myself. It sounds like you had an amazing opportunity. :)

  20. Wow–I didn’t realize that they had such elaborate shows in Pattaya. I wish I had seen one. I was there last spring.

    Beautiful photos! I especially like the first one.

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  22. You really make it appear really easy along with your presentation however
    I in finding this topic to be really one thing that I believe I’d never understand. It seems too complex and extremely wide for me. I’m looking forward for
    your subsequent put up, I’ll try to get the hang of it!

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