Fri, Sep 24, 2004 - Page 1 News List

Elton John feels no love for reporters

SPIRITED EXCHANGE The British pop legend became the latest star forced to run a gauntlet of aggressive photographers at CKS International Airport

STAFF WRITER , WITH AP

Elton John exchanges pleasantries with local photographers after arriving at CKS International Airport in Taipei yesterday for a concert at Chungshan Stadium.

PHOTO: TONY YAO, TAIPEI TIMES

Elton John warmed up his vocal chords for a concert early yesterday morning in Taiwan by telling photographers to "fuck off" and that they were a bunch of "rude, vile pigs."

However, despite rain and a fracas at the airport on arrival, he opened with The Bitch is Back at his concert, which filled about 80 percent of the 12,000-seat Chungshan Stadium in Taipei.

"We had a bit of an incident at the airport. But I want you to know that the people of Taiwan have been wonderful," he said. "But those cameramen and television reporters are a disgrace to your country. They should not be allowed to meet people like that at the airport."

The media ambushed the rock star after he arrived by private plane shortly after midnight at CKS International Airport.

John was angry that police did not properly restrain the pack and protect him "from the ensuing chaos," a statement issued by the singer said.

ETTV cable news showed footage of John, dressed in a royal blue track suit and matching sunglasses, berating the photographers and TV crews as he cleared immigration.

The fuming star was also shown clenching his teeth and muttering expletives as he stood with his arms crossed tightly across his chest.

"Rude, vile pigs," shouted John, who was to perform in Taipei. "Do you know what that means? Rude, vile pigs. That's what all of you are."

One of the photographers shouted back, "Why don't you get out of Taiwan?"

John answered, "We'd love to get out of Taiwan if it's full of people like you. Pig! Pig!"

The star, who recently performed in Shanghai, said: "We had a great tour of the Far East and then we come to Taiwan and ... fuck."

Taipei was the last stop on his four-leg Asian tour, which also included Hong Kong, Seoul and Shanghai.

"Despite this frightening arrival, his spirits remain high and he is looking forward to performing the concert," John's statement said.

The British singer has declined to give any interviews while in Taiwan, according to the local agency handling his concert arrangements.

Despite previous grievances of the sort John encountered, local media representatives with a pass are allowed to enter the restricted areas of airports, according to a statute governing the use of airports' restricted zones.

In many countries, however, it is not the normal practice for the media to be allowed access to such areas.

John was not the first foreign star to experience an immediate case of culture shock after encountering aggressive Taiwanese photographers at CKS airport.

When British singer Robbie Williams arrived for a concert in 2001, he ran through the terminal as photographers pursued him.

Some reporters later objected to Williams' use of an expletive when referring to Taiwan.

"I didn't insult your country. I will insult you," Williams said before rattling off a series of expletives.

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