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This chapter investigates the men who became the female impersonators in camp entertainment on the Thailand-Burma railway. The ambiguities of gender inherent in their representations are examined, raising question about the impersonators’ sexual orientation. The corresponding complexity of the spectators’ “desiring and approving gaze” is also explored. The article concludes with an in-depth profile of Bobby Spong, the most famous and beloved impersonator on the railway.

About the Book

This book tells the story of how music and theatre helped the 61,000 POWs who were sent to these camps survive their ordeal. It is a story that is not well-known to history and it is now being recovered. It is a story about how music and theatre and the other arts are absolutely essential to a society's life.

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Chapter 14. “Somebody Had to Put a Skirt On”: Female Impersonators


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