BANGKOK • Twerking nine to three is the new way to make a living for a Thai teenage music star. But her eye-popping dance moves have enraged the country's military strongman.
Country music singer Lamyai Haithongkham, known for her signature "Nine Levels" twerking routine, has become a sensation in her homeland thanks to the kind of gyrating moves that might even make Miley Cyrus pause for thought.
But now, the 18-year-old has agreed to tone down her dancing after coming under fire from the country's military leader.
Lamyai's manager Prachakai Naowarat told AFP yesterday: "When I talk to my friends, I joke that we will have to reduce her twerks from nine to three. But yes, after the Prime Minister mentioned her name, we will tone down her dance moves and her wardrobe."
Lamyai's onstage antics and skimpy outfits have won her legions of fans. But one man remains unimpressed: Thailand's mercurial junta leader Prayut Chan-o-cha.
In less than a week, Mr Prayut has brought up Lamyai's dance moves with the press on three separate occasions, blasting the singer for her skimpy clothing and suggesting that foreigners are to blame for encouraging such lewdness.
"Just because foreigners are doing it doesn't mean we have to," Mr Prayut told reporters in his first tirade last Friday. "The way she dances, she's about to show all her genitals already. I don't want to talk about it, people will say I'm crazy. But I want everyone to help solve this problem." He brought up the singer's dance moves again on Monday and Tuesday.
On Tuesday, a government spokesman defended the junta chief by saying the singer's racy dancing style was to blame for crimes like "rape, murder and prostitution".