ايمان محمد عبد المجيد
ياسمين ابشير ارسام
Thai actor Chaiwat Thongsang (born April 10, 1989) of Bangkok Love Story fame, whose nickname is “Tob,” was only 17 years old when he was cast in his first leading role in the controversial feature film Puen Koo Rak Meung Wah (Bangkok Love Story), released September 2007.
In the movie, he played “It,” a closeted gay man in uniform who is about to marry his pretty fiancée. But by chance he falls in love with a lone hit man hired to assassinate him.
The movie broke new ground in mainstream Thai cinema with the portrayal of two masculine men in intimate scenes including deep kissing and love-making. For decades, the big Thai studios produced movies with themes or sub-plots about sad transgender characters and comedies portraying gay men as drag queens.
Not so with Tob, who was 79 kg and 187 cm when he was cast and already looked like an aspiring body-builder. He said he became interested in body-building when he was 14, but only got serious about it after the success of Bangkok Love Story, which afforded him the time and money to devote himself to the sport.
His personal success is all the more ironic given how most actors still shun gay roles, seeing them as the kiss of death for their careers. As with Tob’s transition from actor to body-builder, his attitude toward gay roles is the opposite of most actors.
“I wanted the part because I knew taking a gay role could quickly make me famous,” Tob said, adding that he’s more than willing to take on the role of another gay hunk, if offered.
“No doubt about it,” he said. “If I hadn’t played It, I wouldn’t have gotten famous and received more job offers,” adding that recently he was the only guy picked out of 25 male actors in casting for a foreign film production to be announced. He was also signed up to be a presenter in a TV commercial ad for a muscle-pain relief balm gel product.
While doing publicity interviews for the movie, Tob said the most oft-asked question was how he felt about kissing a man. He always gave the same answer: he’s straight, but also a professional: “After many takes, I got used to it. It’s just acting.”
Late last year, he was seen dancing at a famous gay bar on Samet Island with his girlfriend and her gay pals.
“It’s fun going out with them,” said Tob. “They’re members of a cheerleading team at the university where my girlfriend is studying. In the group, it’s only me and another guy who are straight. I really had a good time on the trip.”
Now standing 190 cm and over 90 kg, Tob turned 20 a few months ago and is ready for a new direction, though he’s not giving up on acting or modeling work, which pay the bills. He said he believes he can tone down his big muscles if they do not fit the outfits for fashion shoots or movie roles.
Tob made his remarks in a two-part special interview with the male lifestyle TV show Passport For Men, now available with English subtitles on the Internet and on Bangkok cable TV.
In the show’s special two-part report, “Adonis,” Tob and his buddies talk about the tough training sessions and how they enjoy the sweat, shouting, and companionship of one another.
“I’m training to compete in a body-building contest in October this year,” he said. “It’s my dream. I’m not planning to be another ‘Hulk,’ but I want my muscles toned.”
He plans to compete in Body Classic category, under which the contestants develop toned muscles without the bulk.
One of his trainers Sitthi Charoenrith is a five-time Mr Thailand champion and two-time International Federation of Body Builders world champion. “Since Tob has strong interest in the sport and he is a well-build, I believe that he stands a great chance to join the national team.
The above was extracted from:
Celluloid to iron: Chaiwat ”Tob” Thongsang
By Vitaya Saeng-Aroon