No show at the Ladyboys of Bangkok open audition in Edinburgh

IT was an audition intended to launch the glittering international career of Scotland's first professional Ladyboy.

No show for News reporter John Connell and judge Sonja. Picture: Toby Williams
No show for News reporter John Connell and judge Sonja. Picture: Toby Williams

The winner would have been flown out to Thailand to perform alongside the Ladyboys of Bangkok – one of the biggest cabaret acts in the world.

But organisers of the long-running Fringe show were left bewildered when not a solitary drag queen or female impersonator turned up to compete for the opportunity of a lifetime.

The Evening News had even taken its place on the judging panel – ready for hopefuls to stream through the door.

Bosses were initially at a loss to explain the lack of contestants given the publicity surrounding the audition and the top prize on offer – a four-day trip to Bangkok complete with cultural tours and a chance to perform at the Thai capital’s famous Mambo Club.

Sandra Jolly, who works on the publicity team, said that they received e-mails from 12 artists confirming they would attend and that organisers were also expecting other performers to turn up unannounced.

“Something scared them off,” she added. “We need to find out what it was and offer them some encouragement.

“This is a chance for someone – possibly at the start of their career – to learn from some of the best artists of their kind in the world.

“Does Scotland have the shyest ladyboys? It could be that performers were intimidated by the prospect of performing alongside the Ladyboys. In Thailand this is very much part of their culture and they live that life. This is quite different to what we see in this country.”


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Show founder Phillip Gandey suggested that the audition may have been too early in the morning, particularly because a lot of cabaret acts and female impersonators perform late at night.

The Ladyboys of Bangkok has been running in Edinburgh for almost two decades and the audition was held to celebrate their strong links to the city.

The winner of the contest would have been invited to perform with the troupe for their 20th anniversary show and also for next year’s Fringe performance.

The organisers have not ruled out holding a second audition but the date and time is yet to be agreed.


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It had been hoped that this would be the first step in an exciting new cultural exchange that would see Scottish ladyboys entertaining international crowds in the Asian heartlands of the cabaret sensation.

The offer came after the proliferation of tribute acts in the Festival made the organisers realise there was a wealth of talent in the Scottish cabaret scene.

Created in 1998, the show has gone from strength to strength year after year.