Since I was a teenager I've stared a Ladyboys of Bangkok flyer that's pinned up opposite my bed. Last night I finally satisfied all curiosity and desire and scuttled in, late, and round a lot of tightly packed-in tables full of large Geordie women as the Mile High tour - the latest in the ten year tradition of Ladyboy international performance - was taking off.
Although the tour is loosely based around a different theme each year, in this case, a papier-mache plane nose, I gather the premise of the show remains the same, as does the audience lure: Thai men, dressed as ladies, of questionable genitalia, miming badly to western pop hits in spangly outfits.
Hell yeah. It was like a combination of Strictly Come Dancing, America's Next Top Model and that new reality program on E4 about drag queens. Although welcomed in by what was obviously a man in an air hostess outfit, the first song which clearly marked the Ladyboys out as the mean, lean, all-woman machine they are was "Don'tCha" of Pussycat Doll fame. Never mind my non-existent girlfriend, I wish I was hot like them.
It was confusing beyond belief. Glossy, tumbling locks which were clearly attached at the follicle, judging by the amount of head-flicking, breasts that clearly weren't made out of chicken fillet and in some cases, hips that put mine well to shame.
Just as you were beginning to wonder where they tucked all their manbits, out comes a Kylie tribute in leotards cut so small that it wasn't just a Mollywood that was going on down there -something else must have been waxed off in the process. By the time the Dolly Parton 9-5 strip-tease number, in which suits are whipped off to reveal skimpy bikinis, was through, I was seriously considering abandoning all pretty clothes and make-up. If I have no hope of looking as good as a man in a bikini, what point is there in even trying?
But for every convincing mangina, there were a series of comedy drag acts and woman-to-man activity to confuse you even further. Namely, the "Robert/Roberta" situation in which one person performs a duet in a seriously technical costume, and the Frank Sinatra cover in which an arguably questionable woman turns into a man by the end. Impressive stuff.
However, the perk of the night was the Ladyboy's dedication to their 'ferverent city'. Several incomprehensible Geordie tunes - the aforementioned clan hanging next to us were shouting out the lyrics, I think "lads and lassies" and "brown" was mentioned - and a hell of a lot of stripey shirts later and it was evident that those on stage weren't the weird ones anymore. Maybe I should just go the whole hog - become a man, start drinking Newcastle Brown Ale and learn some local songs, they seemed less confused than I did.