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“Lazy films would go for the freak-show fascination . . This is far richer.
What makes the film so valuable is the way it demonstrates the importance of
acceptance and love.” – The Times


Andy Wells’s documentary, which is loosely centred on the annual transgender beauty pageant in Thailand, is worth watching. Lazy films would go for the freak-show fascination -finding the most flamboyant individuals and letting them perform in front of the cameras. This is far richer. It follows two men who make beautiful women -one is an Australian sex worker who wants to be accepted by his/her family, the other is a heterosexual from the North of England who lives a double life -as they fly to Thailand to take part. The competition itself ends up as little more than a side issue, a neurotic promotion for the Thai tourist board.

Ah, this is jollier: Mr Miss Pageant (Channel 4). Gavin, a power tools designer from county Durham, aged 41, thinning a bit on top, is off to Thailand to compete in the world’s biggest beauty pageant for transsexuals. Over here Gavin’s at the top of the pile, about as good as it gets. But Thailand is at the centre of the ladyboy universe – it’s a bit like going to America to play baseball – and Gavin is way out of this depth. He’s spent weeks in preparation, on his costume, on walking the walk (he’s not so good at talking the talk, to be honest – sounds pretty much like a male engineer from the north-east of England). But he doesn’t even make the top 10. I’m no expert, Gavin but I would say the problem is all the others look like ladies, and you still look like a boy.

Still this was a lovely film, and had the best line of the night: “You have to understand that just because I have a penis doesn’t make me any less of a woman than any other woman.”

‘We don’t know why we do it ourselves, so there’s no reason why [everyone else] should understand either,’ reasons British transvestite Gavin, aka Leah, in this fascinating documentary. Following two contestants in the build-up to the ‘Miss International Queen’ event in Thailand, it contrasts northern designer Gavin – a straight, part-time tranny – with the very beautiful Darlene, an Egyptian transsexual living in Sydney. Most of the contestants have, like Darlene, had surgery and are professional performers, so Gavin faces quite a challenge. His efforts to compete against the big girls are heart-warming but rather sad; the fascinating elements of this programme can be found in his frank interviews on home soil. He loves to watch himself making love to girlfriend Sue in full drag, he admits – a sort of narcissistic extension of the classic lesbian fantasy. Meanwhile, Darlene explains how she models herself on Barbie and talks bitterly of closet homosexuals offering her the world, when all she wants is her mother’s love. Cut into this last conversation is the powerful footage of forty-something Gavin finally telling his mother his secret.

Like Channel 4’s recent documentary on lady sumo wrestlers, this film sounds like it is going to be nonsense, but actually turns out to be rather sweet, and you find yourself rooting for the subjects, rather than mocking them. Cameras follow Gavin, by day a power-tool designer from Bishop Auckland, but by night, Leah, Britain’s entry in Miss International Queen, a beauty pageant for transgenders.

Gavin is happy living as a bloke, and so is the only contestant who has not had some kind of plastic surgery. That said, he looks superb as Leah, and when he makes his own Union Jack-adorned costume (above), you end up willing the organizers to applaud his effort. Gentle and not at all tacky, despite what you might expect.

In Mr Miss World, we follow two contestants in Thailand’s Miss International Queen Pageant. Mr Miss Egypt, Darlene, is a surgically enhanced pre-op transsexual who, to paraphrase Bob Dylan, fakes just like a woman, aches just like a woman, but breaks like a little girl when her mother refuses to accept her as a woman. Mr Miss UK, meanwhile, is 41-year-old Leah – a no-nonsense car mechanic who rejects all notion of surgery, and makes her own Wallace and Gromit-like pageant outfits from fireworks, and small hydraulic motors.
“We couldn’t win the World Cup — but we could win this!” she says. Then she sashays out in front of ten million Thai viewers in a skirt up to here, and a flagpole displaying a Union Jack erecting out of her wig. En-ger-land! Eng-er-land!

A backstage look at one of the world’s most obscure beauty contests. Power tool designer Gavin, from County Durham, is about to enter the final of ‘Miss International Queen’: the Miss World event for transgenders, held every year in Thailand. Unlike his fellow competitors, Gavin (above) – or Leah, as his alter ego is called – has had no surgery and is heterosexual, so how will he fare against some of the world’s most eyecatching transsexuals?

When Gavin from County Durham isn’t designing power tools, he likes to don heels and frocks to become transvestite alter ego Leah True, under which guise he’s entered Thailand’s premier transvestite beauty contest. His vanity is fascinating – when he decides to admit his peccadillo to his mum, he seems far less concerned about being disowned than whether she agrees he’s got nice legs.

TRAN YOU BELIEVE IT; Sexy blond Gav gives whole new meaning to TV reality show

Meet the sexy star of the most outrageous, gob-smacking reality show ever to hit your telly. But the siren in the clinging dress, impressive cleavage and stunning long hair has a few hidden extras. For cross-dresser Gavin Beales is about to put the TV in your TV – as he goes for glory in the all-male Mr Miss World competition in Thailand. And he reckons he is so convincing that people frequently mistake him for his girlfriend’s sister.

The 41-year-old transvestite uses sticky tape, silicone bra inserts, a long blonde wig and false lashes to turn himself into glamorous Leah. Gavin, other trannies and trans-sexuals all compete to try to emulate gorgeous beauty queens like Big Brother favourite Danielle Lloyd, 23. Sue, 49, who has been with Gavin for seven years, watched as he flew the flag for England in the contest.

His story, soon to be seen on Channel 4, goes into graphic detail about how Gavin – who has not resorted to surgery – achieves his stunning cleavage and tucks his bits out of the way. But the power-tool designer from Newcastle claims they are not an odd couple. Gavin said: “A girlfriend is the most important accessory for a transvestite. I’m lucky to have someone who understands. Sue gets turned on by me dressed as a woman and would class herself as bi-curious.
“It can cause quite a stir when we kiss. People get excited because they think it’s two glamorous women. “Blokes often come over to chat us both up without realising I’m a man.” But he also confessed: “The thing that turns me on the most is me.” Research nurse Sue, from London, said: “Gavin is breathtakingly beautiful as a woman. Visually I prefer him as Leah but he’s physically all man. He’s the best of both worlds.”