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TG Show Finally Beats Censorship

  • Written by  Charlene Chua
Tiffany's Cabaret Show Tiffany's Cabaret Show

It's a small step for censorship, but a giant leap for Singapore's entertainment scene.

During the early 1980s, event organiser Richard Tan said that he tried twice to bring a famous Thai transvestite show, the Tiffany's Cabaret Show, here.

The 65-year-old event consultant from E-Fair Enterprise revealed that during that period, his application for the show's licence was rejected both times due to its "sensitive content". At that time, censorship for events was handled by the censorship section of the Ministry of Culture.

But times have certainly changed.

The Tiffany's Cabaret Show, rated R18, is coming to Singapore for the first time later this month. The Media Development Authority
(MDA), which was set up in 2003 to handle censorship matters here, approved Mr. Tan's application on his first try in January.

Mr Tan told The New Paper: "I remember how difficult it was to bring ladyboy shows here for public consumption last time.

Back in the 80s, we gave up after trying twice for the Tiffany's Show.

I decided to try again because it's such a popular show, but so many people were sceptical and kept asking me: 'Are you sure you'll get approval?'

Back then, I also remember how (British singer) Cliff Richard and (Japanese musician) Kitaro were also refused entry here (to perform) because they refused to cut their long hair."

When contacted, an MDA spokesman confirmed to TNP that this was the first time that "the Tiffany's Cabaret Show has been submitted to the Media Development Authority for classification".

He said: "The Tiffany's Cabaret Show has been classified R18 based on the content of the performance.

"MDA's classification framework enables content to be made accessible to mature audiences while protecting the young from unsuitable content.

"In assessing the licence application for the performance, MDA had requested the organiser to submit all materials related to the performance."

According to MDA's website, the R18 category covers arts performances which are suitable only for audiences aged 18 years and above. These performances contain adult themes with more explicit content than those under the Advisory category.

Mr Tan said that while he was extremely pleased that his licence for the show was approved, he was surprised to find out that he could not advertise the performance on TV.

Explained the MDA spokesman: "Print publicity materials are required to comply with the Singapore Code of Advertising Practice administered by the Advertising Standards Authority of Singapore (ASAS).

"Under MDA's TV advertising code, R18-rated arts performances are not allowed to be advertised on television as the television is a mass medium accessible to all people, including the young." Mr Tan added: "I think that the censorship board is more relaxed now as we can see pictures of transvestites on the Internet.

"In our application, we also told them that we would present the show in a nice way and not make it too sexy.

"I don't think bringing in a transvestite show equates to us glamorising the lifestyle, just think of local entertainers like Kumar and Hao Hao.

"We are not encouraging the lifestyle, but rather, it's just men cross-dressing for family entertainment."

A transgendered person or transvestite expresses a gender identity differing from the one which corresponds to the person's sex at birth. On the other hand, a transexual seeks to change or has undergone medical procedures to change physical sexual characteristics to those of the opposite sex .

The Tiffany's Cabaret Show is the first transvestite show in Asia and its performers are famed for imitating international superstars such as Diana Ross, Liza Minnelli and Barbra Streisand since 1974.

Humble beginnings

When it first set up shop in a small house in Pattaya, there were only three performers, who would lip sync to the latest hits.

From humble beginnings, the iconic show now has 20 performers and it has since travelled to the US, Britain, Germany, Russia, Japan, South Korea, China and Taiwan.

In Thailand alone, there are three shows staged daily that entertain a 2,000-strong crowd. The Tiffany's Cabaret Show is so popular there that it has been playing every day - even on public holidays - for the last 38 years to an audience of 27million.

During the holiday season, there are more than five shows staged daily.

Said Ms Alisa Phanthusak, 37, assistant managing director of the Tiffany's Cabaret Show: "We are very excited to be coming to Singapore.

"The show is in English and it will be interesting and exotic. You can expect international dance acts that you are familiar with such as Jennifer Lopez, Indian dance, Thai dance, Brazilian dance and much more.

"We always update our production, our show changes every six months, creativity is key." Ms Phanthusak said that one performer, Treechada Malayaporn, nicknamed Poy, has become a famous celebrity in Thailand and has won famed transvestite pageants Miss Tiffany's Universe 2004 and Miss International Queen 2004.

Auditions for the Tiffany's Cabaret Show are held weekly and the performers are picked based on their looks and dance skills.

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Last modified onThursday, 24 October 2013 03:51
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