They could be Thailand’s answer to the Spice Girls. They have attitude, style and grace; everything needed to be bastions of ‘girl power’ in the Land of Smiles. They go by the name of Venus Flytrap and have been taken under the watchful wing of Sony BMG. The girls are known by the monikers of Hot, Posh, Cool, Naughty and Sweet Venus, and they really really really wanna be women; because unlike the Spice Girls, they were all born men.
“Sony BMG had a project for a ladyboy band and I wanted to become a singer,” explains Naughty Venus Gina. “I came to casting and I won a place in the band.”Posh Venus Sasha adds: “We knew that the company had an audition and it lasted around two months. At first we didn’t know each other because we all come from different parts of Thailand, but now we are all part of Thailand’s first all-ladyboy pop group.”
The only other all-ladyboy pop group in the world to receive major record label support is a Korean quartet known as ‘Lady’.
“When we signed the contract with Sony, we had to begin training for singing, dancing and getting ready to be in the band,” says Sasha. “We have had to take language lessons in English and Chinese, and so we don’t have much spare time at the moment. We’re very busy.”
Before joining the band, the girls were either studying at university or performing as singers and dancers. Now they have a chance to fulfill their dreams and act as ambassadors for social change.
“We want to show that we are not different,” says Sasha. “We are not abnormal.”
Cool Venus Taya adds: “We want people to see that we can do the same as any real woman can.”
“When people think about katoey, they think of a cabaret show,” continues Sasha. “When we sing, people will think we are lip-syncing, but we are real singers, real dancers and real performers.”
Venus Flytrap are keen to push social boundaries and break the global stigma that is associated with ladyboys.
“The social situation is becoming more and more open,” explains Sasha, “but when we first joined the band we prepared ourselves for a lot of negativity. Actually, there has not been much negativity. We were very surprised because 99% of people have been very supportive.”
“We want people to accept us and to listen to our songs and hear the sounds first. Then they can judge us later,” says Sweet Venus Amy. “Don’t see us as ladyboys; just listen to what we are doing and then if you like it, open your mind and accept us and accept other ladyboys as people.”
The girls have each overcome their own individual sets of adversities, and they are quick to acknowledge this, along with the Southeast Asian obsession with beauty pageants: “We have all been in a situation of discrimination already,” says Sasha. “We each had bad times before, but now we want to be a representative for others. We want to tell other ladyboys that if you don’t have beauty, you can still concentrate on other things to be successful. Not just dancing or singing or being in beauty competitions; you can do whatever you want to do.”
Gina continues: “There are a lot of ladyboys who are not beautiful, but they have their own skills. It’s not up to the look, but up to the talent.”
The look of each of the five girls in Venus Flytrap is decidedly striking: Gina has long, straight, raven-black hair; Sasha has perfect cheek bones without any help from surgery, she adds; Taya is tall and provocative; Bobo is more reserved in her aesthetics; and Amy has piercing eyes.
After a year of working together, the girls are preparing to release their debut album ‘Nu-able’. It is slated for release on December 15: “It’s a mix of digital music, European pop, techno-house, and electro,” explains Taya. “There are many different sounds with Thai lyrics and one song in English.”
“Before the launch on December 15, we have to show ourselves to the public,” says Sasha. “We have to go to radio stations and perform many shows, for example, at Route 66 and Siam Center Point. We have to prepare ourselves for that.”
Sasha explains the crowd reaction to Venus Flytrap’s debut public performance: “For that concert, which was at Route 66, the first time we did a show, people first thought: ‘Oh, who are these people?;’ then they thought: ‘They are ladyboys?!;’ and finally they thought: ‘Hey, they can really sing and dance.’ It was a triple-shock and after that they wanted to listen to us and watch the show.”
“We have been working to show people what we can do,” concludes Taya. “We are confident that the most important thing is that we know what we are capable of now, and we are going to tell the world about it.”
Travellers try to use their spare time travel time wisely. They do this by getting cheap hotels in their hotel deals and flights long before their departures dates. They are then able to get luxury hotels and seats on Paris flights without any hassle at all.