Idols of Development: Transnational Transgender Performance in Thai K-Pop Cover Dance

D. B. Kang
2014 Transgender Studies Quarterly  
Inter-Asian cultural flows are transforming everyday Thai gender practices and performances in unexpected ways. The most striking example is the way in which Korean popular music, or K-pop, is molding contemporary beauty and dance aesthetics through cover dance, the copying of choreographed movements from music videos. K-pop cover dance has become a definitive social activity among Asian sissies (young feminine gay men) and is organized into an extensive contest circuit leading to an annual
more » ... ng to an annual competition in Korea. Thai sissies are among the most enthusiastic and skillful practitioners of K-pop cover dance, and some practitioners, such as the members of the group Wonder Gay, have become national celebrities. I describe how cover dance demarcates a new social arena for feminine Thai males to express themselves through the idiom of modern Korean female embodiment. Semiprofessional cover dancers constitute a class of "hyper-fans" who become "demiidols," with fan followings in their own right. I argue that Thai K-pop cover dance can be read as both an aspiration for personal and national development that indexes participation in a new cosmopolitan Asian sphere. The cover dance phenomenon in Thailand highlights recent shifts in Asian regionalism, idol fandom, and transgressive gender performance.
doi:10.1215/23289252-2815246 fatcat:myrryp7l6fbvhdusdixvrck4ca