From Fallen Star to Forever Diva – in Memory of Leslie CheungPosted on September 12th, 2009 No comments
Today is Leslie Cheung’s (張國榮 )birthday, and I still find it hard to believe that he has left us for 6 years already. On April 1, 2003, when I heard that Leslie had ended his life by jumping off the balcony from the 24th floor of the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, I thought it was just a cruel and stupid April Fool’s joke. But apparently Leslie had chosen a no-return way to say goodbye to this world and his fans, and just to think how much he cared about his appearance and image it made my heart ache for him even more.
I first came across Leslie’s songs when my Hong Kong and Malaysian friends were listening to his songs day and night, though I could not understand Cantonese I was immediately attracted to his voice. One day I heard this same deep sexy voice on radio, someone being interviewed on ICRT, talking about his love for literature and arts, with a very cute British accent. I found the man who spoke very artistically was Leslie Cheung, and I got curious enough to look for his albums in Mandarin. 1992, after reading an excellent review about a Chinese movie Farewell My Concubine, I went to Palo Alto to watch that movie, and went back the following week so I could watch it again; I liked the story plot but I had fallen in love with Leslie for his performance. Leslie acted the part as a Peking opera star who reaches fame with his exquisite performances of female roles; the screen was flared with life when his soft and smooth face appeared, and I swear he was the most beautiful woman I have ever seen on big screen. I felt his love, his loneliness, his sorrow and his pain; to me he wasn’t gay or transsexual playing this part – he was an artist a real DIVA. Though he has started in another considered gay film Happy Together in 1997, which centrally depicts a complex relationship between two gay lovers, and several other very successful acclaimed films, but the image of him in Farewell My Concubine has left the deepest footprint in my heart.
Once Leslie had announced his quitting singing in 1989, to pursue a common, and everyday, quiet and peaceful life away from his stardom status. However, his fans in Asia never forget about him after his putting the microphone down on the stage of Final Encounter of the Legend concert.
I was so excited that, in 1995, Leslie returned to Asia full-time and re-emerged in Chinese-language popular music. Both his singing and film career took off and arisen in no time, and he made it to the top again as the top Asian pop start. In 2000, Leslie held his last concert series, Passion Tour, which was his most disputable and possibly best concert with the flamboyant costumes and seductive and alluring dances.
Leslie was bisexual and once said in an interview in Time magazine: “It’s more appropriate to say I’m bisexual. I’ve had girlfriends.” Despite numerous tabloid rumors, he denied his homosexual/bi-sexual orientation for the first half of his career, until in a 1997 concert, I was so happy for Leslie that he finally openly revealed his “most beloved” friend with this song
Although Leslie passed away six years ago, but he is never forgotten by his fans; every time I think of a romantic figure his face and voice came into my mind. Before he leaped to death, he ended his suicide note with this question “In my life I did nothing bad. Why does it have to be like this?” And in the last six years, I asked the same question again and again — Leslie, why breezed out of our life into early April morning?
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