Queering body and sexuality: Leslie Cheung's gender representation in Hong Kong popular culture
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AbstractTop Canto-pop star and Hong Kong actor Leslie Cheung proclaimed his bisexuality in an interview in 2001 after finishing his last concert tour, the Passion Tour, during which he wore six Jean Paul Gaultier outfits, from a white tux with angel wings to a naughty skirt and long black wig. His bisexuality is not only revealed by the English name he adopted in the early 1970s when he attended high school in England but also by his androgynous appeal on stage and crossdressing in films in the 1990s. Born in 1956, Leslie Cheung Kwok-wing was the youngest son of a Hong Kong tailor who made suits for William Holden and Alfred Hitchcock (Corliss 2001: 46). Cheung was brought up by his grandmother and did not have a happy childhood but rather one marked by quarrels, fights and family conflicts. After a year studying textile management at the University of Leeds, he returned to Hong Kong and later won first runner-up in ATV's Asian Music Contest in 1976. He began his career as a TV actor from 1978 to 1985 on local television programmes where he was typically cast as a rebellious youth or an aristocrat because of his angular features, delicate beauty and noble gestures. He released his album Restless Breeze in 1983, which launched his career as one of the most popular singers in Hong Kong. He released over 50 albums, including Summer Romance (1987), Virgin Snow (1988), Side Face (1988), Salute (1989), Final Encounter of the Legend (1990), Red (1996), Big Heat (2000) and Crossover (2002), in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan and Korea beginning in the mid-1980s, and won numerous music awards including the golden prize of best male singer as well as accomplished performer in both Hong Kong and Asian music festivals. Although Cheung started his film career in the late 1970s, he did not receive much public attention until 1987 when he starred in John Woo's A Better Tomorrow and Stanley Kwan's Rouge. He was awarded best actor at the Golden Film Festival in Hong Kong for his brilliant performance in Wong Kar-wai's art film Days of Being Wild in 1991. He gained international recognition later when Chen Kaige's gay opera film Farewell My Concubine was awarded Best Foreign Picture at the Golden Globe Awards in France in 1993. As a Canto-pop singer, Cheung distinguished his stage performance by his seductive image of a dandy in the 1980s and his crossover style in the 1990s. As an actor, he presented his charm, tenderness and elegance in such films as Rouge (1987) and A Chinese Ghost Story (1987) and his gay femininity in Farewell My Concubine (1993), He's a Woman, She's a Man (1994) and Happy Together (1997). He put an end to his glamorous life at the age of forty-six when he leapt to his death from the twentieth-fourth floor of the Mandarin Oriental Hotel on 1 April 2003. Cheung's suicide became the top story in Hong Kong as well as other Asian cities, for he represents a queer figure of gender-crossing unprecedented in the history of Hong Kong popular culture.2 My chapter discusses the crossgender identity of Cheung. What I interrogate includes Cheung's crossover style and intersexuality in music videos, his androgynous dressing and makeup in concerts and the multiple images of his male/gay femininity in films. My purpose is to investigate the body politics, the sexual identity and the gender performativity of Leslie Cheung as a queer subject of position.
All Author(s) ListChan N.S.-H.
All Editor(s) Listed. by Yau Ching.
Detailed descriptioned. by Yau Ching.
Volume Number9789882205727
Pages133 - 149
LanguagesEnglish-United Kingdom

Last updated on 2021-20-09 at 00:14