A contestant auditioning for the popular “Thailand’s Got Talent” show shocked judges and earned producers a government dressing down after she doused her breasts with paint and used them to paint a canvas.
The 23-year-old woman appeared on the Thai version of the international franchise aired on Sunday evening by the public broadcaster, Channel 3. She was demurely dressed in a checked shirt and jeans, and spoke politely to the three judges.
But she turned her back to the camera, faced a canvas and pots of paint, and removed her shirt and bra. She doused her naked torso from the buckets of yellow, green, red and black paint and rubbed it into her breasts.
Then as dance music played she rubbed her breasts against the canvas, using them to paint as a stunned audience and the three judges – two men, one woman – looked on in disbelief at the scene unfolding before them.
Thailand’s culture minister, Sukumol Khunploem, summoned the producers for a dressing down over airing the clip in the show that is watched by audiences of all ages, including children.
She said that public nudity was unacceptable and jarred with Thailand’s conservative culture.
“There must be limits to artist expression,” said the minister, Ms Sukumol. “The minister will meet the producers of Thailand’s Got Talent to get an explanation.”
The show had not gone out live and the producers could easily have cut the clip entirely if they had desired. Indeed a YouTube video of the segment shows they had pixilated out a shot of the contestant’s breasts taken from the side.
The woman judge on the panel, who eventually walked off the set, complained that the performance was inappropriate to Thai culture and was dismayed by audience members who expressed their support for the artist.
But the contestant interviewed after her performance, now covered by a sheet, said that if she had merely done a normal painting the act would have been nothing special.
The two male judges decided the performance was a form of artistic expression and advanced her to the next round.
Thailand’s Got Talent issued an apology late Monday.
Panya Nirandkul, the head of Workpoint Entertainment, which produces the show, was quoted by the Thairath newspaper as saying he was not aware the contestant would be topless and denied the act was staged to boost ratings. He vowed not to let the mistake happen again, Thairath reported.
Thailand is a predominantly Buddhist country which remains largely conservative, despite its freewheeling image and a flourishing sex industry. Censors in Thailand regularly target a range of social offenses, blurring out cigarettes, alcohol and nudity on television and in movies.