Followers of late Canto-pop icon Leslie Cheung, one of many first singers to return out as homosexual in Hong Kong, flocked to town this week to commemorate their idol’s dying 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 recognized for his singing, dancing and performing through the heyday of Hong Kong’s leisure business within the Nineteen 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 dying on Saturday 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 competition, which is slated to formally kick off in three weeks.
Outdoors of the official displays, a gentle stream of followers visited the Mandarin Oriental Resort, the place Cheung had killed himself. The slender strip of pavement subsequent to the lodge was fully coated by a sea of flowers, playing cards, origami and posters.
The native reminiscences of Cheung show the late movie star stays a well-liked icon throughout generations of Hong Kongers and displays the need for reviving town’s cultural affect, stated Anthony Fung, professor of the varsity 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 often known as Gor Gor — “large brother” in Cantonese — produced many hits that even non-Cantonese talking music lovers in different elements of Asia may sing alongside to. These embody “Monica,” “Sleepless Nights Stressed Coronary heart” and “Chase.” He additionally starred in basic movies together with John Woo’s “A Higher Tomorrow,” Wong Kar-wai’s “Joyful Collectively,” Stanley Kwan’s “Rouge” and Chen Kaige’s “Farewell My Concubine.”
However behind all of his success, Cheung suffered from despair. He jumped to his dying from the Mandarin Oriental Resort in central Hong Kong on April 1 in 2003, sending shockwaves throughout town. His dying got here as his hometown was battling the SARS epidemic, which in the end killed a whole lot and crippled the native economic system.
“We actually miss him. His songs and movies take us again to the fantastic time of Hong Kong which isn’t the identical as these days. We’ll miss it,” stated Justin Cho, a fan from town who got here together with his buddy to put flowers on the lodge in honor of the actor.
Hong Kong fan Connie Leung, a retiree now in her 60s, recalled her disbelief when she first heard concerning the information of his dying 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 turned outdated and his trend tastes, together with his iconic lengthy hair, had been trendy — even by at present’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 crimson excessive heels.
“It advised individuals artwork has no boundaries,” he stated.
Cheung additionally broke by town’s cultural establishment 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 lots of respect from the homosexual neighborhood, Fung stated. The breakthrough was concerning the plurality of tradition that he celebrated, he stated.
“He truly 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 additionally those that had been simply toddlers when he died.
College pupil Justin Jiang stated he was solely 3 years previous when Cheung died, however he later turned 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.
Related Press video journalist Alice Fung contributed to this report.