by Kauai Boy
December 14, 2004
Bangkok is apparently world-famous for its incredibly "real" cross-dressing entertainers – to the extent of being able to support several mainstream stage venues with "all-male" casts in Vegas-style performances. Two of the more popular (but pricier) productions are Mambo and Calypso.
Very similar to each other, both Mambo and Calypso are cabaret performances showcasing the song and dance as well as the elaborate costumes of various Asian cultures, with a few western/pop numbers thrown into the mix.
The first, Mambo, was entertaining in both a cultural and a comedic sense, and despite the price, was quite enjoyable. Housed in a Broadway-style theatre building, the show is conveniently located just a block away from my hotel (Novotel Lotus Bangkok) on Sukhumvit, between Soi 33 and Soi 31. Seating was comfortable with classic movie theatre-style seats. With round tables placed every three seats, there was at least 4 to 5 feet between rows in order to allow a drink server easy access. Taking advantage of the larger stage, the layout and prop design was far superior to the other show (Calypso), as was the number selection, variety, choreography, and overall professionalism. The show started promptly at 8:30pm and lasted for about 1 hour and 15 minutes. I felt the 800 Baht admission was a bit steep, although it did include one pre-show drink. Also, the performers line up outside after the show to pose for pictures (a "tip" of 40 Baht is expected).
Calypso, on the other hand, is performed in a much smaller venue that is actually housed by the Asia Hotel. Very easily accessed via the BTS Skytrain, the Asia Hotel is virtually attached to the Sukhumvit Line. Seating is on folding chairs, cramped and a bit uncomfortable. The stage wasn’t large enough to have an elaborate set-up like Mambo, and the performers did not appear to be as professional. One "free" pre-show drink was offered, but the show started 10 minutes after its advertised show time of 8:30pm and lasted for about 1 hour. Finally, the performers line up by the exits, posing for pictures (once again for tips). Overall, this was not worth the 1,000 Baht admission.
From journal My First Trip to Bangkok