‘The first question I ask someone who wants to work here is this – what do you want from life as a showgirl?’
I am sitting with Haute, the creator and owner of The Queen’s Cabaret at Sairee Beach, Koh Tao.
Haute explains that life as a showgirl is hard at first - you have to learn many dance routines and lyrics and work late. And there isn’t much money in it.
Tina Turner, Gloria Gaynor, Beyonce, Diana Ross, Lady Gaga – just some of the acts you can see at The Queen’s Cabaret. And boy, can they move.
When Haute arrived 4 years ago on Koh Tao, there was a lot of resistance from locals to the cabaret.
‘The local people had their fears about ladyboys,’ Haute says, ‘but I do not accept prostitution or selling drugs to make extra money. It’s about the cabaret, that’s it.’
Haute speaks Thai, Italian and English fluently and uses all languages to run the business.
‘My father worked for the American army in the Vietnam war as a secretary – mainly translating documents. So it’s thanks to my father I can speak English.’
Haute lived in Italy for 10 years, studying fashion design in Padua. Rumour has it she rubbed shoulders with Valentino.
‘When I lived in Italy, I wrote a column for a newspaper called Sawatdee Thailand about being a Thai person in Europe. Writing this column helped me to overcome the loneliness I sometimes felt living abroad.
‘I also write about my cabaret – writing helps me with my feelings of sadness when someone leaves – it’s like losing a member of the family. And writing helps me to cool down when I’m angry.’
Haute loves Koh Tao – a small island (21 km square) located north of big sister and brother, Koh Phangan and Koh Samui.
‘I love the small mountains and the beautiful sea and sunsets,’ Haute says. ‘We can have a very good life here.’
Koh Tao has a laid back feel – yes, there are beach parties and vodka buckets, but you can still have a good conversation at 2am with most of the party crowd.
Haute suggests a trip to John Suwan Point for something more serene, the best view on the island across two coves.
I stay with Haute at The Queen’s Cabaret for the show, which has the audience on their feet. Singing, clapping, laughing, cheering.
After the show, I play Connect 4 and Jenga at the bar with two ladyboys who share their beauty secrets and their eye make up tips with me.
‘You should do make up lessons here Haute,’ I say. ‘And dance lessons. I would pay a lot of baht to move like Tina Turner.’
But as Haute says, ‘it’s about the cabaret, that’s it.’
To watch a video about Haute and The Queen's Cabaret Koh Tao visit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ibLDi0Y_1uY