Icons of our time

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 12 February, 1995, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 12 February, 1995, 12:00am

NAME: The Collector.

A.K.A.: The Western man who 'collects' Eastern beauties for romantic or sexual purposes usually directly related to his own shortcomings.

NATIONALITY: Often English, with loyal support from the French, Italians, Scandinavians and East Coast Americans.

BRIEF HISTORY: The original Collector may well have been Marco Polo, who not only returned from China to Italy with spaghetti, silk and spices but also an impressive array of exotic STDs and tales of Middle Kingdom beauties. Since then, the Collector has been disseminating glowing word of porcelain skin, raven hair, ruby lips and foot massages all over the Western hemisphere; he's also been immortalised on the silver screen in such memorable flicks as The World Of Suzie Wong, Taipan and M Butterfly. One of them calling himself 'Shrimp' recently advertised membership of a club offering information on Asian beauties.

PET HATES: (1). Those 'damn women's libbers' in London and San Francisco, with their strident voices, clunky shoes, and underarm hair.

(2). Fashionable clothing and hairstyles that detract from his 'ideal' of an Asian woman in cheong sam and slippers - you know, like Joan Chen in Taipan or those long-haired lovelies in Good Morning Vietnam.

STOP PRESS! LATEST PET HATE: The ABC woman. 'Well, she looked like an Asian lovely - but she sounded just like one of those damn women's libbers.' NATURAL HABITAT: Wherever cosmopolitan Asian girls party, pose, purchase, and sik faan, there are Collectors lurking. JJ's is the classic Collector's playground, a heaven where 'East is chatted up by West', every flash of the dance floor strobe illuminating a red-faced, middle-aged zealot doing the bump with an almond-eyed lovely who's got a stash of honey-roasted peanut packets in her handbag.

California disco attracts some real pros while, at the other end of the scale, the stop-at-nothing brigade prefer to lurk in Wan Chai clubs until the techno music comes on and scares them away (you can't slow dance drunkenly to The Prodigy).

TRICKS OF THE TRADE: (1). Learn the lie of the land, and the language. Your truly committed Collector invariably develops command of a large repertoire of local phrases. The Hong Kong Collector also takes a crash course in Chinese cinema and pop music and therefore has an 'in' socially. The trip to the cinema to see the latest movie from Wong Kar-wai is a tried and trusted move on the part of the Collector.

(2). Keep a database. It used to be a little black book, but the truly on-line Collector now favours a computer file of names, numbers, and nationalities of the Asian lovelies that he's met.

WHAT THE COLLECTOR THINKS PEOPLE SAY ABOUT HIM: 'Hey! He speaks some Cantonese/Mandarin/Thai/Japanese. He must really be interested in assimilating himself into the ways of the country, rather than trampling all over the natives in Colonial-issue brogues.' WHAT THEY REALLY SAY: 'Oh God. There's another one sniffing after Amy from the typing pool. Lord. He's just used the 'isn't Faye Wong's new single cool?' line. Haven't heard that in a while.' THE COLLECTOR WATCHES: Any Oliver Stone movie (especially Year Of The Dragon), the CD-ROM Asian Babes collection.

THE COLLECTOR READS: (1). The social pages to check out potential targets and work out when different clubs hold Ladies' Night.

(2). Glossy Chinese weekly magazines. The words make no sense, but those pictures of pouting lovelies will do very nicely thank you.

WHAT'S IN THE COLLECTOR'S ROOM 101? A wedding ring.