‘Katoeys’ hit the music scene

  • Letters
  • Saturday, 3 Feb 2007


Venus Flytrap is Thailand's first ladyboysband to sign a record deal. The five memberswere picked from over 200 applicants. 

THE singers of Venus Flytrap, the latest Thai pop group, were pretty in white bridal corsets during their virgin public performance last November.         

In the middle of performing their debut single, Cause I'm Your Lady, the 10,000 audience at the Virgin Hitz Radio concert in Bangkok started murmuring.  

Latest sensation: Venus Flytrap is named after a sensuous planetand an alluring carnivorous plant.

The audience was not sure who we were, recalled Nok. They were thinking Venus Flytrap? Ladyboys? Ladyboys band? 

Oh, oooohooi, the audience screamed when they realised that the five members of Venus Flytrap were katoeys (Thai for transvestites). 

Introducing Posh Venus (Yonlada “Nok” Komklong), Hot Venus (Ploipaitoon “Bobo” Moukprakaaiphed), Cool Venus (Dhanade “Taya” Ruangroongroj), Naughty Venus (Topmonthawan “Gina” Boonchalee) and Sweet Venus (Rachakorn “Amy” Jaroensuk).  

Named after a sensuous planet and an alluring carnivorous plant, the group is Thailand’s first katoey band to sign a record deal. The band is backed by Sony BMG, the global music joint venture with a roster of artists such as George Michael, Beyonce and Christina Aguilera. 

Venus Flytrap grew out of Sony BMG's innovative project to launch a five-man, ermm women, ermm ladyboys pop group.  

About 16 months ago, the record label auditioned katoeys from all over Thailand, searching for five who had the look, the voice and the showmanship.  

Out of more than 200 katoeys, five coming from diverse backgrounds were picked to characterise Posh, Cool, Hot, Sweet and Naughty.  

Posh Venus, 24, is the winner of Miss Alcazar 2005, a transvestite beauty pageant, Cool Venus, 24, is the first runner-up in the Miss Tiffany Transvestite Competition 2005, Hot Venus, 25, was a katoey pub singer in Pattaya while Naughty Venus, 21, and Sweet Venus, 22, are university students.  

Sony BMG has heavily promoted Venus Flytrap on video screens at 7-Eleven outlets and BTS (Bangkok Mass Transit System) stations. 

The music video has a scene of them running without any clothing while covering their upper bodies. 

Thailand has welcomed the katoeys with open arms. Bobo attributes the acceptance to the tolerant nature of Thais who are mostly Buddhists.  

“Anyway 50% of Thai men are gay,” noted Bobo, with a loud I-should-know cackle. 

According to Taya, being a member of Venus Flytrap is her destiny. It gives her a great chance to be “a microphone to announce that katoeys can do other things besides stereotyped jobs such as hairstylists, make-up artists, cabaret dancers and go-go dancers”. 

Venus Flytrap members are as womanly as any woman. More beautiful, perhaps. But can they sing like a woman? 

Neung, soong, sam (Thai for one, two, three) and they crooned Cause I'm Your Lady acapella. Amazingly, they sounded like women.  

Why do they sound so feminine? “We don't know,” the beauties said in unison. “Maybe it is a gift from God.” 

“The Thai press asked us whether we underwent surgery to change our voices. But a ladyboy who goes for surgery can only sing in monotone,” Nok explained. “We can sing using a range of highest and lowest voices.” 

“Have the five of you ...?” I asked, making a scissor-cutting gesture with my fingers. All except for Bobo. “I've not done it, that is why my voice is still deep, especially when I get angry,” she said in a very deep voice.  

“Amy cut down there and at the same time she put something up here,” she added, pointing at her full chest. 

Ha ha, the vivacious group laughed at Nok's gesture. The four probably were reminded of the pain they had to endure to become women. 

Once Venus Flytrap makes it big in Thailand, the katoeys plan world domination. Starting with Malaysia,” Nok said. And they screamed like ravenous man-eaters.  

“It is close to Thailand,” explained Amy, “and I love Malaysian men.”