Fri, Aug 28, 2009 - Page 14 News List

POP STOP

BY Ian Bartholomew  /  STAFF REPORTER

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One of the longest media stakeouts finally came to an end this week when photos of Andy Lau (劉德華) and Carol Chu (朱麗倩) holding hands hit the front pages of the Chinese-language tabloids. Chu has long been rumored to be Lau’s secret love, but the relationship had never been publicly acknowledged by either party. The image of Lau and Chu, hands firmly clasped, in Kuala Lumpur’s airport on their way back to Hong Kong, was one press photographers had been waiting to capture for 24 years.

The occasion of this revelation was the funeral of Chu’s father. To avoid disruption to the funeral, all references to Lau’s decades-long connection with the family were omitted from the event, but Lau, for reasons that are still unclear, decided that it was time for the secret to be conclusively let out of the bag, making his first public appearance as Chu’s partner.

Rumors of the relationship have long been present in the media, with many pointedly referring to Chu as Mrs Lau

(劉太太), although the couple have not married. Lau’s reluctance to have an acknowledged partner is closely linked with his image as one of the Chinese-speaking world’s biggest male sex symbols. Based on comments left on Lau’s many fan sites, it seems that fans have been overwhelmingly supportive of the star’s decision to give Chu what many regard as her rightful status.

Lau’s relationship with the media has never been easy given the huge interest his slightest action creates. Under pressure from Chu’s family to regularize the relationship, it was reported that Lau intended to marry Chu in April, even going so far as handing over a house worth more than NT$30 million as a dowry. Leaks to the press about the forthcoming nuptials angered Lau to such an extent that he called the marriage off, making the particularly hurtful comment that he wasn’t sure if he loved Chu enough to make the commitment of marriage.

Lau is not the only superstar who has worked hard to keep a long-standing relationship secret. Jackie Chan’s (成龍) relationship with Joan Lin (林鳳嬌) was only acknowledged quite recently (though they married in 1982), partly as a result of son Jaycee Fong (房祖名) emerging as a celebrity in his own right. In 2000, Taiwan’s own Jackie Wu (吳宗憲), who had long been thought to be single, was exposed as not only having a wife, but also four children, all of whom he had kept out of the media limelight. While both Wu and Chan were notorious for their numerous extramarital affairs, a situation that may have prompted their reluctance to open up about their domestic lives, Lau has never been strongly associated with any woman other than Chu. There is ongoing speculation as to whether Lau already has a child by Chu.

Meanwhile, A-mei (張惠妹), or rather A-mit (阿密特), as she is now known after the release of her new experimental album, is basking in the glow of success. Although struggling to hang on to a place in the wrong half of the Top 20, the announcement last week that her new album will be re-released with a number of cuts after the original was given an 18+ rating for the nudity and sexual content of the accompanying DVD, will give her plenty of kudos. The refrain “It’s bullshit” will be removed from the song Black Eats Black (黑吃黑) in the new edition. In compensation, a new song with Taiwanese lyrics will be added, capitalizing on the huge popularity of the Wu Bai (伍佰) inspired Come If You Dare (好膽你就來), which also features on the album. A-mei has clearly arrived as an artist pushing at the boundaries of the acceptable in Mando-pop, though watching the unexpurgated tracks on YouTube, it’s hard to see anything particularly transgressive, and A-mei’s take on female domination and sex as a power game is unlikely to shock anyone but a government censor.

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