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UPDATED: Thai transgender talent show shocker = YouTube gold

Thailand's Got Talent contestant steals show with a startling "remix"

This is why humanity created YouTube.

The new show "Thailand's Got Talent" -- can guess the premise? -- may have found its first break-out contestant

You'll see that singer Bell Nuntita easily wins over the crowd with her rendition of a typically sappy Thai pop tune. Then, to the crowd's amazement, she suddenly switches up her pipes and begins singing like a dude. (The switch-up happens at the 1:04 mark.)

It seems Bell was born male but has transitioned into an extremely convincing female. The odd dissonance of hearing Bell croon like a guy gets squeals from the audience. By the song's end, they're going nuts.

Bell, of course, gets the thumbs up from all three judges. (Interestingly, the female judge happens to be a deputy "family affairs" spokeswoman for the Ministry of Culture, which has a habit of banning films with gay or transgender themes.) Then she receives a lingering hug from the male hosts.

Warning: the feel-good vibes come to an abrupt halt around 4:30, when Bell recounts her dark family history. 

So what will become of Bell? Her element of surprise is shot. She can't just pull the voice box switcheroo forever. Can she parlay this gimmick to legit recognition for her legit singing talent? I normally could care less about Thailand's Got Talent, but their savvy producers have successfully sucked me in.

P.S. If you've ever wondered how Thailand's large numbers of male-to-female transgenders handle the military's mandatory draft -- and I'm sure you have -- check out my piece from last year, The Lovely Conscripts.

P.P.S. In case any interested suitors are reading, I have learned through additional reporting (*cough* Facebook stalking *cough*) that Bell has a boyfriend. Sorry, fellas.

Update: Or does she? A reader in the comments section has rightly questioned my Facebook stalking skills. It seems I confused Bell with someone else on Facebook.

This is the real Bell. Turns out she's not a wanna-be singer off the street but a member of "Venus Flytrap," a Spice Girls-esque all-transgender singing troupe. They go by cutesy nicknames like Hot Venus, Sweet Venus, Posh Venus and Naughty Venus. Bell is Sassy Venus.

But the plot thickens.

"Thailand's Got Talent" is produced in association with Sony Music Thailand. Bell's singing group is signed to Sony Music Thailand.

I think we've all been suckered into a clever cross-promotional sales gimmick. Someone at Sony Music Thailand office deserves a raise.

Now where's my Pulitzer?

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/globalpost-blogs/the-rice-bowl/thai-transgender-talent-show-shocker-youtube-gold

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