What's up with Pornchita "Benz" na Songkhla?

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By now most of us have seen the Thailand's Got Talent video of 23-year-old "performance artist" Duangjai Jansaunoi painting on a canvas with her bare chest. The video sent shockwaves through Thailand's online communities and Culture Minister Sukumol Kunplome demanded the show's producers explain why the segment was allowed to air.

But what's most puzzling is where the female judge, Pornchita "Benz" na Songkhla, really stands on all this. In the video, she seems outraged.

"I'm not saying this is not good, but it's not appropriate," said the panel's only female judge, actress Pornchita Na Songkhla. "Within the Thai cultural context, I don't support this." (AP)

Benz appears to be unhappy about how a performance like this gels with Thailand's cultural image. It's worth mentioning at this point that in 2008, Benz was one of three young actresses enlisted as deputy spokeswomen for the Ministry of Culture. The idea here was that young people would be more likely to listen to celebrities. Benz was put in charge of "family matters".

“Older people have more experience, but teenagers do love to hear what young celebrities have to say,” she said.

She believes she can promote better communication between the young and elderly.

Pornchita was quick to add didn’t want to become a politician even though she was working for the Ministry. (Daily Xpress)

Bangkok Pundit commented on the appointments at the time:

The Ministry of Culture is made up of "fundamental prudes" who travel the country telling people what to wear and how to act – see here, here and here. If I was dictator for a day, one of my jobs would be send Ladda and her fellow preservers of cultural identity to a deserted island or to some ivory tower and allow them to preach, but as long as they don't have power to control. Because of this, I just find the appointment of the 3 actresses as deputy spokeswomen as amusing.

So the shoe definitely fits. But not everyone is convinced. Some people have speculated that the whole fiasco is part of a scheme orchestrated by the producers, Work Point Entertainment, to gain publicity. They knew exactly what they were doing when they aired the footage because the segment is pre-taped. It could easily have been cut from the show.

If it was staged, was Benz in on it? Was she just acting up to grab a few headlines? Or was she still stuck in her role as deputy spokeswoman?

Have a look at this video, shared by a reader:

In the video, a young chap comes on stage looking a bit like Michael Jackson. He then does a rather awkward striptease until he is left wearing only a thong. What follows is a lot of gyrating and prancing around. Throughout the performance, Benz seems to be rather enjoying herself. She even cackles with laughter as one of the presenters grabs the dancer's crotch towards the end of the segment.

Does Benz just have a problem with female nudity? Not if these photos of her, however tasteful, are anything to go by (as pointed out by Bangkok Pundit). In one of them she appears to be covered in nothing but chocolate. Perhaps young Duangjai was simply having a pop at Miss Benz?

No doubt all will be revealed soon enough and the fact that people are even talking about this means that the producers got exactly what they wanted and we've all been sucked in.

EDIT: For more fun and frolics, read Kaewmala's blog post.

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2 thoughts on “What's up with Pornchita "Benz" na Songkhla?

  1. I totally agree with pornchitas coments about the young lady trying to score points to win a talent show based on nudity not talent.
    Mmmm really have to say that b is a delightful classy lady wish I was thai and her age
    So I have to look at her on thai has talent and wish I could get 1 wish
    She is classy with comments & holds respect for others no matter how small or big they are.
    Wheres that damn fairy


  2. All I have to say is, I COMPLETELY agree with Benz's reaction to the whole segment of the show when this occurred. I don't believe Benz was part of the "set up" if the producers were "really" trying to boost up ratings, etc. Benz does not seem to be that type of person. She may be an actress but I don't think her reaction was fake or acting at all. She seemed thoroughly disturbed and outraged that that young woman presented her "talent" in that manner. Honestly, about the picture of Benz covered in chocolate for a magazine photo-shoot, that is so different from what that 23 year old woman did on this show! Benz was in a picture, that dumb lady who came on the talent show and painted with her breast was so stupid! And that's 100 times worst than the picture of Benz covered in chocolate. There's a difference in professionalism with Benz's picture than compared to that girl who painted with her "things". This whole situation aggravates me. All I can say is, that girl shouldn't have been able to make it to the next round. She should have been sent home and disqualified….

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