As anyone with even the most superficial understanding of Taiwan will know, cuteness rules. Evidence of this simple truth is seen in the accessories hanging from most people's mobile phones and the popularity of Hello Kitty products at 7-Eleven.
The new Queen of Cute is undoubtedly Rainie Yang (楊丞琳), the singer (of sorts) and variety show TV host. Her greatest asset, however, is a baby-doll face that has earned her over NT$10 million in endorsements. Ads featuring just her visage have included those for fruit tea, yogurt, silver pendants, earrings, hair products, contact lenses and most recently an electric toothbrush.
A Chinese-language daily reported this week that she earns up to NT$3 million for each promotion and estimated that her face will earn NT$15 million by the end of the year.
This is serious cash for someone who is most famous for pursing her lips and looking like a squirrel. But to be fair to the 22-year-old signed by music giant Sony BMG, she has changed the cultural landscape.
Before Yang there was just ke ai (可愛), or cute. But since Yang has reigned zhuang ke ai (裝可愛), or “fake cute” has become the pop norm for aspiring starlets. To achieve this look try looking like a frightened animal and pronounce ke ai as kou ai (口愛).
The former queen of cuteness, Jolin Tsai (蔡依林), this week paid US dance instructor Link the princely sum of NT$1 million for three days work to ensure she's in shape for her upcoming concerts in Hong Kong.
Local gossip rags also reported that her record company has insured her pins for NT$50 million. Pop Stop guesses they won't be wishing her luck in Hong Kong with the traditional saying, “Break a leg.”
Someone in need of a break this week is Cyndi Wang (王心凌), who has been mercilessly slated for her acting in the soap opera Pasta. Over the weekend Wang popped on a baseball cap and went to Taipei's Xingtian Temple (行天宮) to pray for good reviews and the arrival of “Mr. Right” in her life.
This trick worked once before. Before the release of her debut album, which sold a respectable 100,000 units, she took time out from her promotional schedule to pray for success at a temple in Penghu. The Gods may have smiled on her then, but on this occasion the press pack related that she entered and exited the temple from the left side, rather than leaving stage right, as suggested by temple staff. Having missed her cue, they conjectured, the Gods may not look so favorably on her plight this time.
Finally, some good news for follicly challenged young men. Asia's top stud muffin, the immaculate Rain appears to be losing his crowning glory. On his visit to Taipei in April this year some scribes remarked on what appeared to be his receding hairline.
A recent shot of the South Korean singer and actor at the poolside indulging his passion for dried noodle snacks got the commentators going again. They brought up the case of a 29-year-old Taiwanese who was said by skin specialists to have lost his hair because he ate only instant noodles for a year.
Rain, they opined, should give up his noodle munchies to avoid a similar fate.