Sat, Dec 23, 2006 - Page 8 News List

Johnny Neihu's NewsWatch: There's joints, and there's joints

Hypocritical media moralizers go to town over TV entertainers who partake in wacky backy and politicians who get relief at night spots. But none of this compares with the new Taipei mayor giving Emile “No Disclaimer” Sheng a senior post in his government. Snort.

By Johnny Neihu 強尼內湖

We might be in East Asia and not North America, but a wave of Puritanism is sweeping the land -- and I, for one, am wondering where it will all end. The media witch hunt is currently going after sex and drugs, which means rock 'n' roll can't be far behind. Wu Bai (伍佰) and Chthonic, consider yourselves warned.

Before you know it, our overlords of morality in the media will campaign against dancing -- though as anyone who has witnessed foreign businessmen jiggling their beer guts on the bar at Carnegie's can tell you, a crackdown might be a blessing.

It all started with tearful apologies from celebrities Chu Chung-heng (屈中恆) and Tuo Tsung-kang (庹宗康), who admitted to using pot and then trying to cover it up.

Now, it seems like every day another minor celebrity appears on some talkshow to blubber a confession about their drug-addled binges and bow deeply to the cameras. Apparently everyone in the entertainment industry is popping ketamine, smoking doobies, snorting cocaine or Hoovering hash -- and setting a baaaad example for the nation's tots.

Chu told cable television station CTI that he decided to tell the truth "so that I could face my daughter and family ... and not live under a shadow for the rest of my life."

Earth to Chu: You smoked a joint. You didn't burn down an elementary school with kiddies trapped inside.

Then the Apple Daily upped the ante in this festival of nice-versus-vice with a report on three DPP politicians and a presidential aide who were photographed leaving a Taipei zhaodaisuo (招待所, guesthouse) with a rather seedy reputation. At least five lamei (辣妹, spicy girls) were present, and the aide, Kuo Wen-pin (郭文彬), was caught on film ushering a young lassie into his car.

That set off a firestorm of righteous indignation. But even better, it gave TV stations and newspapers an excuse to run a saliva-caked expose on "guesthouse culture" or "a day in the life of a lamei," complete with close-up video footage (albeit strategically pixilated) and provocative photos. It must have been a good week for ratings and circulation.

At least the DPP politicos came up with creative excuses -- unlike the dissolute TV celebrities, not one of whom managed so much as a "but I didn't inhale."

First prize goes to DPP Legislator Yu Jan-daw (余政道), who said he was at the guesthouse to watch HBO (it must have been showing Sex, Lies and Videotape). Another gave a more convoluted explanation, saying he was interviewing the girls at the guesthouse because they had inside information on scandals involving the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT). Just doing "oppo research," as they say in the US. What admirable party loyalty.

Clearly, part of the outrage is that guesthouses are part of a male-only world of backroom schmoozing -- where plentiful booze and sexy escorts are used to soften up a client or politician and seal a business deal or "cooperation."

But why the exclusive attention on weak-willed men? After all, it's not like Taiwan doesn't have similar entertainment for women -- they're called niulangdian (牛郎店, gigolo joints). My gal Cathy Pacific insists she's never set foot in one, but I wouldn't bet on her passing a polygraph. Self-styled "high society" maven Hsu Chun-mei (許純美) picked up one of her boyfriends at just such a place -- and there's no telling which other female celebrities and politicos might frequent such hunk-heavy haunts.

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