From Ugly Duckling to Beautiful Swan and back
TV host Kalamare downed by her own “Power Shot”
She started as an ugly duckling in TV’s glamorous world but Patcharasri “Kalamare” Benjamas quickly rose to fame, winning over viewers with her quick wit in front of the camera. These days, she is not only more beautiful but also much richer.
Though she ended her contract with TV Channel 3 a year ago, the well-known TV host is now firmly back in spotlight and this time it’s for all the wrong reasons. Kalamare is under fire for making false and deceptive claims about her own food supplement products on social media.
In one of her social media clips, she claimed Botera “power shots” drinks promote healthy skin as well as overall health. She said in the video clips that the food supplement has tightened her skin and got rid of the bags under her eyes as well as her wrinkles. She added that she didn’t need to resort to cosmetic surgery because the product had already done a good job. Boastful words perhaps but, for the most part, harmless enough.
But in other clips she says the drinks can hep people recover from Covid-19 and cancer and it is this claim that has sparked an uproar. Exaggerating beauty benefits is one thing but deceptive advertising related to deadly diseases is quite another.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has filed a complaint with the Consumer Protection Division against Kalamare and wants the celebrity to be charged with violating Thailand’s Food Act for false and deceptive advertising. Surprisingly, this is not the first time that the celebrity has faced such a charge: the FDA earlier filed complaints against Kalamare’s Power Shot Co and so far, the company has faced 7 cases of false and deceptive advertising.
Supatra Boonserm, FDA’s deputy secretary-general, warned the public that the dietary supplements are just additional nutrients and users can’t expect them to change face structure or cure a disease. “This is not the first time she has made outrageous claims,” said Supatra.
And Kalamare’s response only made matters worse. The TV celebrity said that her statement came from her direct experience after consuming her product and she just wanted to share her firsthand experience with her social media followers. She posted her photo on Instagram and wrote that she only spoke about what she believed her product could do even though it might not meet the rules.
“Wait a minute… she meant to say that it is the truth that her supplement can cure major depressive disorders and Covid-19?” asked a Twitter user posting as Pattick III Rangimant.
The TV host has been an influencer herself so she doesn’t need to rely on any other social media influencers to promote her product. She set up the company slightly more than a year ago and it’s been very successful. Last August, Kalamare made headlines when she went to Wat Chedi in Nakhon Si Thammarat to worship Ai Kai (a boy’s ghost). She explained that she earlier asked the boy spirit for a blessing and that her wish had come true, as her business had raked a cool 130 million baht. So, she went there to express her gratitude.
Sharing stories about her successes is common for the TV host, who in recent years has been portraying herself as a savvy businesswoman with the Midas touch. She has groomed herself too, appearing both healthy and wealthy and always brimming with confidence.
A graduate of Chulalongkorn University’s Faculty of Communication Arts, Kalamare’s career began with an internship as a journalist at Channel 3 in 1996. Over the years, she penned a number of books including the 2002 best-seller “Men Are Worse than Dogs and Not From Mars” and was a columnist for many publications including Matichon and The Nation Weekender.
Kalamare is best known for her outspoken personality and her wit, which turned her into one of most charming TV personalities of her time. Her popularity grew even further when she co-hosted the morning TV show “Phu Ying Tueng Phu Ying” on Channel 3 together with three other female anchors. The foursome did so well that they even starred in a movie, GTH’s “Gang Chanee Kab E-Abe”.
Today, the TV host sells herself as a successful businesswomen. She has 11 companies in her portfolio with the most profitable earning 133 million baht in 2019. She has focused on lifestyle products lately and also written a number of books on health, good nutrition and exercise, all linked to her food supplement business.
Off camera, Kalamare is very close to her life coach and mentor Thitinart Na Pattalung or Kru Oi, a businesswoman-turned-dhamma writer and life coach, who grooms her in all things business and “spiritual”. She always joins Kru Oi on pilgrimage trips around the country and in neighbouring countries like Myanmar.
They (Thitinart and her “students” or followers) don extravagant clothes, making them stand out from the crowd at each religious ceremony. Together they look like a group of angels, though angels don’t make merit with pure gold worth millions of baht. Every religious trip is well documented on Facebook. But as much as showing off their religious side, the group really puts their focus on wealth and successful entrepreneurships. Kalamare, who is now in her 40s, is by Thitinart’s side when she is not busy going live on Facebook to sell her products.
Everyone agrees that she is a lot prettier now, but her critics say that’s on the outside only, and her years in the entertainment and influencer businesses are taking an unfavourable toll on her inner self. Much of the criticism is so harsh that it seems her life as the Ugly Duckling is now being told in reverse.