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 celebrity identified for his singing, dancing and appearing throughout the heyday of Hong Kong’s leisure trade within the Eighties and ’90s. His supporters, who span throughout Asia, fondly remembered his norm-breaking works and known as him “forward of time.”
The twentieth anniversary of Cheung’s demise was Saturday and 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 live shows and movie screenings about him within the metropolis’s first popular culture pageant, which is slated to formally kick off in three weeks.
The native reminiscences of Cheung show the late movie star stays a preferred icon throughout generations of Hong Kongers and displays the will for reviving the town’s cultural affect, stated Anthony Fung, professor of the college 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 generally known as Gor Gor — “huge brother” in Cantonese — produced many hits that even non-Cantonese talking music lovers in different components 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 melancholy. He jumped to his demise from the Mandarin Oriental Lodge 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 in the end killed a whole lot and crippled the native economic system.
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 style 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 celebrity 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 purple excessive heels.
“It advised 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 really 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 in addition those that had been simply toddlers when he died.
College scholar 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 persona 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 may be very brave and that is price studying for us,” he stated.