Maria from Buenos Aires called
the Reel Asian Film Festival office looking for this dude in the
cowboy hat -- she has seen a party picture of me from one of the
social galas -- I got the impression that it might be a shooting
gig in Buenos Aires… cool. I was clueless to being cruised.
few innocent flirty emails led to cyber sex… the next thing you
know… Maria is inviting me to come spend Christmas in Tango
Land. All my friends were worry that curiosity might just kill
the cat. But I’ve never been good at keeping score… out of nine
lives… there must still be one left for me. If nothing else, I
had to get it outta my system.
Cheuk was also stuck on this idea of finding a gay tango-dancing
restaurateur à la Leslie Cheung from “Happy Together”. When I
toss the idea around about escaping Toronto for Buenos Aires, he
was all excited and contributed to the cause generously for me
to find this needle in the haystack. So here I am, Christmas in
blazing summer… shorts and tank top… cruising the gay bars in
I’m catching the tail end of the riots in Buenos Aires. The
political climate is probably a lot calmer than a year ago when
their dollar took a nosedive and peoples’ life assets were
frozen or, worse, lost. Maria’s family warns me not to take
unmarked taxis and people on the streets tell me to put my
camera away. The economic down side has turned people so
desperate that you don’t have to be rich to be kidnapped.
Days go by and there’s not a single gay tango-dancing Chinese
dude in sight. I, on the other hand, am getting some action while
my possessive “fag hag” Maria keeps the “rice queens” at bay.
Truth of the matter is… there’re not many Asian dudes around
period… gay or straight. At this rate, I’ll settle for a
straight Chinese guy with two left feet.
Compare to Brazil, Buenos Aires is pretty much a white town with
the majority being Italian or Spanish immigrants. Any dark skins
you see are probably Brazilian tourists or migrants from
Uruguay. Unlike Havana, the Chinatown in Belgrano here is shut
out from everyone else including me.
Today, I finally luck out with Chiang Foo-ching, the Egg Roll
King of Argentina. I meet him in his Casa China on Viamonte, a
very Parisian neighbourhood. We have tea in an enclosed interior
courtyard with a skylight above. I think it would be the ideal
place to shoot his interview. The light is beautiful. You can
see the balconies to the second story of his living quarters. I
feel like we are transplanted somewhere in China inside this
oasis. He speaks to me in broken Cantonese/English, and Spanish
through Maria when all else fails. His English is not bad from
practice with his international clients. His speech is incisive
Like most Argentines, Chiang keeps tight attachments
to his homeland. But unlike other Argentines, he speaks
passionately about making Argentina a better place and
developing relations and tides with his homeland China. I think
I found my guy for Cheuk.