Archive for December, 2012

A thousand Dreams of Leslie Cheung.


So this post, in lieu of April 1st 2003 (I will do another post nearing that date itself) , dedicated to the brightest star in the sky, Leslie Cheung Kwok Wing 張國榮

I remember gushing on this blog over Danny Chan three years ago and now, it’s finally Leslie’s turn. What I regret is that it took me another three years to reconcile Danny and Leslie together. I think I’ve heard of Leslie Cheung since forever because he was one of the most adored and cherished celebrities of the 80s and you know, me being me…a softball for all things old and glorious just had to know who this person was. For many many years, Leslie Cheung had always been a semantic and perhaps,a semiotic familiarity to me. His face graced countless covers of magazines, his songs were often broadcasted over Hong Kong television dramas and many of today’s most coveted veterans were partners with Leslie some time in their careers. However, it is with regret that I admit my very first impression of Leslie came not from these devices, nor from my mom’s ardent love for Leslie (he was her teenage obsession), but when I was 11, on April 1 2003, the front pages of the newspaper told me all I needed to know then about this person- Leslie Cheung, Hong Kong’s King of pop, the Chinese favorite flower boy..had committed suicide. The next few days saw a flurry of memorial activities, all celebrating the life and love of Leslie and my very first visual memory of Leslie then was the picture of him on I weekly. The next most vivid memory I have of Leslie was in December 2004, in my first trip to Hong Kong where my tour bus went past the Mandarin Oriental and the guide sighed and remarked that the hotel was the place of Leslie’s death-he had jumped off from the 24th storey of the hotel. Before I approached my teenage years, it was with the notoriety of Leslie’s death did I step into the age where you fully embrace idols, celebrities and all sorts of entertainment. It is now, 8 years after that I fully appreciate the beauty of the maven who is Leslie Cheung.

Many people can be a singer, many people can be actors or actresses, many people can even be one of the most glorified thespians of their time, but it takes a whole lot of grit, a whole lot of charisma and enigma to be a Star. The West have their Michael Jacksons and Madonnas, and the Oriental East have Leslie Cheung and Anita Mui. Nicholas Tse was right to say that the golden age of HK cinema and HK music was over. What HK dreadfully lacked now was the star quality that had graced the screens and stages of 80s HK. Maybe it is human fallacy to see the Past via rose tinted glasses, maybe the mnemonic devices pay ample sympathy to what is gone, maybe…yet you cannot deny that there is a semblance of truth.

My very first song of Leslie was Monica, and till this day it is still my favorite song and my favorite live performance. My very first video concert of Leslie was his duet with Danny Chan and till this day it still remains my most poignant concert performance. Danny and Leslie, my most adored duo of the 1980s and my heart’s two golden boys.


Danny and Leslie, in happier times

Then comes the point when the manacles of nostalgia springs its roots around me and I remain seated, choked in the memory of gone years. Before I deviate and start talking about Danny’s demise which could have been prevented, that will be another story for another day. Recently, I’ve been bombarding my mom with questions about her memory of Leslie-what was he really like in the 1980s? Was he really that popular and enigmatic? Was he with his cherub face and melancholic eyes always everyone’s favorite boy? What did the media know about him? With my mom’s recollection of Leslie, alongside biographies of Leslie which I found and just sitting down watching his movies and listening to his songs…I think I have found an answer. Perhaps. What remains a perennial mystery was Leslie’s state of mind amidst the fame and grandeur. Then my mind started entertaining the whispers of what could have been-an alternative history. He could have continued to be so great, so loved …yet he probably wouldn’t because the nature of 90s HongKong, a world which shunned the old and embraced the new, a society which undergone such a rapid pace of change after 1997 was no longer the same Hong Kong which nurtured and saw the rise of stars like Anita and Leslie. Post 1997 Hong Kong was no longer the idyllic city of old-it pulsates even more with life, with its frenetic buzz and with that came the ushering of youth and all things new. Struggling to find a place in the world which no longer can harbour you was probably the most urgent threat towards Leslie’s existence. On hindsight, Richard Corliss knew Leslie enough to conclude that Leslie’s depression, along with his bitterness towards a world he no longer could relate to were partners in the crime of denying Leslie Cheung. Leslie, was the quintessential Dorian Gray.

Discovering Leslie now, and loving him may be 10 years too late, but I’m sure, he’ll revel in the fact that a girl, who was way too young to live through his golden years loves him as much as she loves the living celebrities now. Three years ago, I wished Danny Chan knew that I loved him and he’ll always be my idol. He still is. Three years later, Leslie came into the picture and here’s me sending him a message to eternity-that no matter what, for the rest of my years, Leslie…too will have an exclusive position in the eaves of my heart. He’ll always be my brightest star.



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