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HONG KONG — Followers of late Canto-pop icon Leslie Cheung, one of many first singers to return out as homosexual in Hong Kong, flocked to the town this week to commemorate their idol’s demise 20 years in the past — revisiting his legacy of pioneering work made throughout a socially conservative time.
Cheung, who was 46 when he died, was a famous person identified for his singing, dancing and appearing throughout the heyday of Hong Kong’s leisure trade within the Nineteen Eighties and ’90s. His supporters, who span throughout Asia, fondly remembered his norm-breaking works and referred to as him “forward of time.”
The twentieth anniversary of Cheung’s demise on Saturday drew crowds of each native followers and supporters from mainland China to go to exhibitions about him in Hong Kong. Even the federal government included concert events and movie screenings about him within the metropolis’s first popular culture competition, which is slated to formally kick off in three weeks.
Outdoors of the official displays, a gradual stream of followers visited the Mandarin Oriental Resort, the place Cheung had killed himself. The slim strip of pavement subsequent to the lodge was fully lined by a sea of flowers, playing cards, origami and posters.
The native reminiscences of Cheung show the late celeb stays a preferred icon throughout generations of Hong Kongers and displays the need for reviving the town’s cultural affect, stated Anthony Fung, professor of the varsity of journalism and communication on the Chinese language College of Hong Kong.
“After so a few years, we hardly discover any new icons, new superstars who may attain that stage of significance,” he stated.
Cheung, who was affectionately often known as Gor Gor — “massive brother” in Cantonese — produced many hits that even non-Cantonese talking music lovers in different elements of Asia may sing alongside to. These embrace “Monica,” “Sleepless Nights Stressed Coronary heart” and “Chase.” He additionally starred in traditional movies together with John Woo’s “A Higher Tomorrow,” Wong Kar-wai’s “Glad Collectively,” Stanley Kwan’s “Rouge” and Chen Kaige’s “Farewell My Concubine.”
However behind all of his success, Cheung suffered from despair. He jumped to his demise from the Mandarin Oriental Resort in central Hong Kong on April 1 in 2003, sending shockwaves throughout the town. His demise got here as his hometown was battling the SARS epidemic, which finally killed tons of and crippled the native financial system.
“We actually miss him. His songs and movies take us again to the great time of Hong Kong which isn’t the identical as these days. We’ll miss it,” stated Justin Cho, a fan from the town who got here together with his buddy to put flowers on the lodge in honor of the actor.
Hong Kong fan Connie Leung, a retiree now in her 60s, recalled her disbelief when she first heard concerning the information of his demise from a former colleague. “I stated ‘don’t make such a joke on April Fools’ Day’,” she stated.
She stated Cheung’s songs by no means grew to become outdated and his trend tastes, together with his iconic lengthy hair, had been fashionable — even by immediately’s requirements.
Chris Choi, Cheung’s live performance choreographer within the 2000s, stated the late famous person broke by many gender boundaries by introducing “unisex” concepts, a few of which had been dangerous on the time. Amongst his stage costumes, for instance, had been seashell culottes and crimson excessive heels.
“It informed individuals artwork has no boundaries,” he stated.
Cheung additionally broke by the town’s cultural established order by boldly revealing his homosexual relationship in a conservative native society at the moment— a call that might have ruined his profession however has earned him a whole lot of respect from the homosexual neighborhood, Fung stated. The breakthrough was concerning the plurality of tradition that he celebrated, he stated.
“He truly crossed by the boundary, make a noise and affect on the tradition of Hong Kong,” Fung stated.
Cheung’s work not solely impressed older generations of followers but additionally those that had been simply toddlers when he died.
College pupil Justin Jiang stated he was solely 3 years previous when Cheung died, however he later grew to become a fan in highschool after studying extra about Cheung’s character and charisma from his legacy of works. This week, the 22-year-old, who lives in neighboring Guangzhou, visited Hong Kong with a buddy to pay tribute to his idol.
He praised Cheung’s boldness in expressing his views and breaking by a society strongly influenced by gender stereotypes years in the past.
“Gor Gor could be very brave and that is price studying for us,” he stated.
Related Press video journalist Alice Fung contributed to this report.