If sex sells, why has a young Asian actor caught with his pants down gone into hiding?

I’ve never “got” sex scandals. I don’t care how famous or infamous somebody is — what they do in the privacy of their or other people’s bedrooms, or for that matter on beaches, kitchen tables or in the loos on jumbo jets, ought to have no bearing on their ability to star in a movie or run a country. But it does make for great reading.

The Brits are great at them, the most eternally notorious case being the Profumo affair, which was sublime in its seediness and cloak-and-dagger intrigue. Britain, indeed the entire world, was agog at the thought of a starchy, pinstripe Englishman indulging in what the English call “the old in and out” (so subtle, the Brits) and in the process being an unwitting source of spy material to be divulged to willing Red ears.

Monicagate three decades later became the most infamous case of our own times, but whereas you gasped and swooned at the salacious goings-on at Whitehall in the Sixties, when the Nineties came we were all too inured to sex and scandal to be more than amused at the thought of an American president having sex at all, let alone in the Oval Office and with a voluptuous (some would say plump) intern. Clinton, yes, but Dubya? Naaaaah …

But public sexual embarrassments are not the preserve of politicians. Celebrities from movies and television get burnt too, as actor Rob Lowe discovered when a videotape of his romping with a pair of teenage girls became a public commodity in 1989. I was in Cannes at the time the news broke, covering the annual film festival. I wrote a story about it and filed it to my paper in Cape Town, where it was met with some puzzlement by a news editor who kept going on about Rob Louw, the Bok rugby player. He felt sure that Rob Louw would never do anything like that.

Here’s the point: Rob Lowe, the actor, is still in the business almost two decades later, although he had a few wobbly years before being allowed back into the Hollywood establishment. But that signifies a maturity, I think, because really, let’s face it, people have sex. Barack Obama has sex, and we can be fairly sure that Hillary Clinton gets down and dirty on a regular basis. Tom Cruise and Julia Roberts have sex (perhaps not simultaneously). Many, many people have lots of it, with different partners, in and out of marriage. And so what if a famous person is “caught” doing it with, say, another famous person, or even filmed in the act? It’s still just an ordinary, if delightful, bodily function, something we are all designed for.

While it is a little unusual to film oneself in the carnal act, to record oneself doing anything at all is, again, nobody else’s business, unless you make it their business by shoving it in their faces.

Most recently there was the Pamela Anderson sex tape, which flew round the world almost instantly thanks to the internet. That taped romp with her husband, Tommy Lee, did nothing to dim Anderson’s reputation, really, if you think about it.

The latest sex scandal to swamp the web with all the force of a Barack Obama on the campaign trail involves an Asian movie and television actor and singer, Edison Chen, who until recently was hardly known to anyone outside Hong Kong, China and Taiwan.

Edison Chen is Canadian-Chinese, which may seem an odd hybrid unless you know that Canada is to Hong Kong what Spain is to Britain. If you look at a world map from right to left, Hong Kong is not far at all from Canada, their favoured holiday destination.

Edison’s sin, and I would hesitate to call it that, is not only that he had sex with a string of actresses, but that he videotaped the acts. Sending the offending item in for repair, the images were found by repairmen who decided to profit from their unlikely treasure and started bootlegging the material. Before you could blink it was all over the internet, as is the way of this new world. So our boy went into hiding, in America.

Not at all helping his predicament is that he has a girlfriend whose daddy is said to be a big noise in the Hong Kong mafia, and there is speculation that there may be those who would end the lad’s life for the embarrassment he has caused his girlfriend. Talk about a bummer. He must die for having had sex? OK, there is the loyalty issue, which is a tad annoying for the girlfriend, but die?

Matters of personal safety aside, presuming that all the sex involved (there was loads of it, with loads of partners) was consensual, with partners of legal age, the guy should do anything but go into hiding. Rather than face the world’s media to apologise (which is what he did), he should face the camera and assert his right to have sex with any consenting partner he chooses, and (with their consent) to record their coition, and frankly to hell with anyone who has a problem with that. After all, he wasn’t raping them (fellatio is rape?).

Then he should instruct his agent to line up some big movie deals in Hollywood. The boy, after all, has suddenly become world famous, whereas only last week he was unknown outside parts of Asia.

He could team up with Pamela Anderson and Rob Lowe in a remake of Sex, Lies and Videotape. That should sell.


Tony Jackman

Tony Jackman

Tony Jackman is a journalist, budding playwright and sometime chef. He's written two plays, An Influence of Ghosts and Blue Train Coming, and back in the day wrote loads of songs. He paints a bit in watercolours...

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