Wednesday, June 2, 2010

May Flavour of the Month: Cross Dressers

In the month of May and a young man's fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love, or, in China's case, putting on women's clothes. There were a spate of cross-dressing episodes last month, the most notorious involving Liu Zhu (刘著), a contestant on the mainland's Super Boy talent show. Although in the Mandopop world pretty boys are as common as lip-synching, Liu Zhu took it to the next level when he appeared on Hunan TV's popular singing contest.

His appearance in full drag provoked a now notorious response from one of the guest judges, Anni Meigui. Meigui kept interrupting the hapless Liu, questioning whether he was eligible for the all-male contest, even summoning the internet's human-flesh searchers to check his background. Ironically, netizens turned on the rude and abrasive judge and sympathised with Liu Zhu instead - a reflection perhaps of changing mores in Chinese society.

Liu progressed past the early rounds of the Super Boy competition, but was eliminated before reaching the final 25. Immediately a conspiracy theory sprang up, that the Chinese government through its State Administration of Radio, Television and Film (SARTF), had ordered the show's producers to remove Liu from the contest. (The EastSouthWestNorth website has translations of media coverage of the conspiracy theory). The theory goes that Liu is hardly a poster boy for wholesome values and mainstream culture, so SARTF - as guardians of mainstream culture - intervened. But then, if you started banning every man who dressed up as a woman and sung, it would mean the end of that bastion of Chinese culture, Peking opera. Perhaps a more plausible theory for Liu's elimination is that, despite his admirable courage in putting himself out so to speak, he just wasn't a good enough singer.

Another "is-she-a-boy?" scandal, this time in Hong Kong, erupted when B-grade movie producer Stephen Siu alleged that a former Miss Hong Kong placegetter had been in fact a Mister. Siu claimed in a radio interview that a transsexual had finished in the top three of a past Miss Hong Kong Pageant. The Pageant, organised by TV station TVB, is one of the premier events on the Hong Kong show business pageant, and has been the launching pad for dozens of acting and singing careers. Notable finalists in the Pageant's 37-year history include Maggie Cheung, Ada Choi, Charmaine Sheh and Anita Yuen.

Unfortunately Siu declined to reveal the name of the transsexual, the only clue given that she/he was a contestant from sometime in the past 12 years. This immediately sparked a frenzy of groundless conjecture from the media, with Anne Heung (pictured left) and Hoyan Mok - both former winners - pronounced the chief suspects. Alex Fong, husband of Mok, will no doubt be surprised by the revelation.

Even Taiwan had its own "fake girl" episode. (伪娘 or wěi niáng, literally "fake girl" is a neulogism that has only become popular in recent months to describe the fad/fashion of men dressing as females). Former Taiwanese Super Idol winner Eison had a public appearance interrupted by a cross-dressing fan. The fan presented the singer, celebrating his birthday that day, with a birthday bun...from her chest. At least Eison appears to be enjoying his close-up experience with transgenderism. (Photo and story courtesy of CpopAccess).

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