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Phuket puppet master: Double the fun, Triple the funny

PHUKET: At the Phuket Old Town Festival last month, a sea of people were entranced with something moving on the street. I couldn’t figure out what it possibly could be. Curious, I moved closer.

By Anthika Muangrod

Thursday 27 March 2014, 01:51PM

Chaoguay got the idea from a Youtube clip. Photo: Chaowakit Siangproh

Chaoguay got the idea from a Youtube clip. Photo: Chaowakit Siangproh

“Come, come, the puppet is dancing!” a little kid yelled to his friends.

In the middle of the crowd, a man was dancing with two puppets, one in front of him and the other on his back side – all connected together by three sticks.

This created an illusion, making it appear as if three people were dancing in perfect sync. Perhaps the biggest attraction of the performance was how silly the puppets looked with their bright clown-like clothes, wigs, sun glasses and not to mention, the funny gestures.

The puppet master, Peerapong “Chaoguay” Chalermtin, 30, has been dancing in Phuket for three years. He always turns up on Patong’s Bangla Road on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.

But on Sundays, you can find him performing on Thalang Road in the Old Town.

“The turning point for me was when I was unemployed. Finding a job was so hard. I tried every way to get some money to live on, but nothing worked. Then I saw a clip on Youtube. It’s a street performance of a man who danced like Micheal Jackson with his puppets.”

“I thought that a Thai could also do that, so later I created puppets and started dancing with them using Thai songs with ‘cha cha cha’ rhythm. But last year, ‘Gangnam Style’ was really famous and people loved it so much. So I added the song to my show, and my dancing become famous as a result.

Diamond Resort Phuket

“I call it ‘triple dance’ because it looks like three people dancing. ‘Gangnam Style’ is the song that made me famous, but at the moment, ‘Kor Jai Laek Ber To’ [Exchange my number for your heart] is the hottest song for both Thais and foreigners.”

Chaoguay told The Phuket News that on Bangla Road, he dances mostly to ‘Gangnam Style’, ‘YMCA’ and Micheal Jackson songs. Since he brings a lot of colour to Bangla, Patong Municipality allows him to dance in a public area on the road, free of charge.

“My initial challenge about this job was that I had to win over people’s hearts. They all have different nationalities and speak many different languages from all around the world. The most challenging thing for me is [deciding] what to do to make them stop walking to look at my performance and enjoy it. I want to make sure that they will not waste their time looking at me for nothing.”

“Sometimes, foreigners can’t get Thai humour. Also, Thais can’t really get foreigners’ humour. So, I think action is the best way to communicate with [both of] them, as everyone can understand body language.”

“Triple dancing” on the street is Chaoguay’s full time job, though he has already been booked to do a TV programme via KPP Phuket (Thai cable channel 1) on air everyday from 1-2pm and 8-9pm. His shows will last ten minutes in each segment.

Though he has gotten lots of good feedback from spectators, he changes the clothes style, wigs, and dancing style from time to time to keep things fresh, and is planning to perform a new show midyear – magical mask-changing.

“Most are familiar with Chinese style mask-changing performances, but what I’m going to do is ‘Khon’,” he said, referring to a traditional Thai mask style of drama. But as it is an ancient Thai art, I will not show this on the street like triple dance.”
Chaoguay can be hired to perform at hotel events, staff parties and other ceremonies. He can be reached at 087 461 0229.

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