Entertainment behind the scenes
Working-class folk who grew up with ad hoc, grab-a-mike-and-sing entertainment at the temple entrances and sultry night markets of industrial southern Taiwan found a hero in a local guy with an odd-shaped haircut and a gift for comedy skits about sex. Chu Ge Liang went on to become a home video sensation before cable TV, cheering up the haggard south by speaking the region’s animated dialect and taking swipes at more mainstream Taiwan performers who would talk the official, but less intimate, Mandarin Chinese and weren’t very funny.
Like American radio “shock jock” Howard Stern, he would invite women to his shows – at their own risk. A run of films followed. The 62-year-old star’s real name is Hsieh Hsin-ta, but he is best known as “Chu Ge Liang,” which roughly translates to he’s horny.
“Southern Taiwan identifies with him. He belongs to their community. His style is theirs,” says George Hou, a mass communications lecturer at I-Shou University in Kaohsiung, the south’s major city.
But about 12 years ago, Chu Ge Liang vanished. A lust for gambling – also a hallmark of working-class Taiwan – led to massive debts with some of the island’s shadier syndicates, widespread local media reports say. So he hid.