BANGKOK — While holding truth to power and scandal are supposed to be priorities of the press, it’s the celebrity gossip of who’s-sleeping-with-whom that makes for the biggest headlines.
Entertainment reporters got together for a longstanding tradition of devising nicknames for the celebs who made news this year, a ritual that summarizes the year’s drama of divorces, affairs, births and various imbruglia that dominated social media.
The tradition returned with a vengeance after taking last year off in the wake of King Bhumibol’s death in October 2016.
Toon and Koy: “Billion Baht Running Couple”
Bodyslam frontman Artiwara “Toon” Kongmalai wasn’t alone when he ran 2,191 kilometers in an epic fundraising effort from south to north. Always by his side was his girlfriend, actress Rachwin “Koy” Wongviriya. The run ended up raising 1 billion baht – far exceeding Toon’s initial goal of 700 million.
Lumyai Haithongkam: “Hot Dance Girl of 100 Million Views”
From the fever swamp of social media and Thai culture wars came the gold-sequinned debate over teen luk thung singer Supansa Wetkama, aka Lumyai Hai Thongkam. She first became a national sensation for her vertiginous “Nine Floors” twerking routine. Her name spawned headlines again when junta chairman Prayuth Chan-ocha weighed in to chide her racy moves, going so far as to dispatch police to a concert to make her wear a jacket. But her fame only skyrocketed; her signature song “Phu Sao Kha Lor” has racked up more than 100 million views.
Sek Loso: “Good Sperm, Magic Pregnancy”
Rocker Seksan “Sek Loso” Sukpimai raised eyebrows when he dropped a shocker on his fans: Not only did he have a child with the woman he’d been dating only a year, former Miss Universe Thailand contestant Paphada “Sandwich” Chotikavanich, but that child was already 3 months old. The news led fans to joke about his fertility “magic trick” to have conjured up such a big surprise.
Chaiya Mitchai: “Amazing, Oh Wow, Two Kids!”
A likay actor turned luk thung star best known for hit song “Amazing, Oh Wow, Amazing!” shocked his fans by revealing he was married to his personal manager and had two kids together.
Amy Amelia: “Mommy Isn’t Coming”
Actress and former Miss Teen Thailand winner Amy Amelia Jacobs became a criminal defendant after police accused her of being a drug dealer and her mother refused to post her bail or even show up at the police station. Update: Amelia was acquitted of the charge in August 2018.
Aff: “Runaway Princess”
Following weeks of rumors, superstar actress Taksaorn “Aff” Paksukcharern confirmed that megawatt couple “SongkranAff” was no more as she had separated from businessman Songkran Tejanarong. This fueled wild internet conspiracy theories sourced from study of partial reflections seen in cutlery. Some fans shed tears for the former couple, known for their elegant appearance. After confirming the breakout, Aff went to holiday in France, presumably to escape the social media fallout.
Angel Gang: “Paradise Lost”
The so-called Angel Gang – an elite group of big name actresses including Virithipa “Woonsen” Phakdeeprasong, Janie Tienphosuwan, Cris Horwang, Rybena “Nana” Intachai, Paula Taylor Buttery, Janesuda Parnto and Alisha Laisatruklai – appeared to have collapsed this year following an complicated love triangle that tore apart their Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.
Chakrit: “Snake That Stopped Slithering For You”
Shedding his reputation as a snake, or playboy, actor Chakrit Yannam unexpectedly announced his wedding to a real estate scion. He also said they were expecting a child – his first ever.
Chompoo Araya: “Mother of Billionaire Twins”
Superstar actress Araya “Chompoo” Hargate gave birth to her twins, named Thunder and Storm, and they soon became Thai Instagram’s favorite baby pics. Her billionaire husband Visrut Rangsisingpipat told the media he had already charted their lives: They will be sent at 12 to study overseas.
Gunjae-Sal: “Love Me, Stay Away From Your Mom”
Actress Panthorthong “Gunjae-Sal” Boonthong made news after her mother complained to the media that her son-in-law had barred her from seeing the couple’s newborn. There was no clear information about why Gunjae-Sal’s husband was so put off by his mother-in-law, landing her the nickname.