Q&A: Denise Ho
Canto-pop singer Denise Ho Wan-see is known for her androgynous image. She's released songs such as Rosemary (2002) and Lawrence and Lewis (2005) that touch on homosexuality and shocked people by 'admitting' that she was gay. Although Ho (above) later explained her outing was meant to be a joke, many believed she was serious.
But Ho, 32, has transformed her image recently. Appearing in a miniskirt and high heels, she looks more feminine than ever. Is she trying to stifle questions about her sexuality or does her new look serve some other purpose?
Describe your new feminine look?
The theme of my new concert series is superheroes, and I've been portraying a female superhero; most of them wear tight outfits with really short skirts and long boots, don't they? Honestly, I am used to people questioning my sexual orientation, but no matter what I say, people will hear what they want to, so it makes no difference whether I say I am or am not [gay]. This sort of gossip doesn't bother me because it is not a subject to be discussed anyway.
I believe every person has a super power. Batman or Superman can't save the world - they are fictional. Everyone must find the super powers within themselves. These powers do not have to be grand, just the ability to treat those around you nicely or even to believe in yourself: those are super powers to me. I believe if everyone could find those powers within themselves, the world would be a much better place. That is the message I want to send through this concert.
You launched a 'super power hunt' on your blog recently. Can you tell us about the response?
We only launched this campaign two weeks ago, but already I have received more than 50 video clips. I asked them to tell me what super power they think they have and how they use it to help others. Some of the clips are inspiring. A child told me that after he helped his grandmother sweep the floor, he felt like a super grandchild. Like I said, a super power does not have to be one that saves the world; just offering help can make a difference.
Who is your superhero?
My si fu [teacher, Canto-pop diva Anita Mui Yim-fong, who died in 2003] was probably my first hero. She had a major influence on my career. Her super power was her ability to turn someone lacking in confidence like I was into the confident singer I am today. Her positive energy and encouragement got me through the bad times in my career and made me believe I could be a singer. Because of her help, I know I would do the same to help a young fan of mine in the future.
You picked a special date for your concert. Can you explain why?
I always like to stage my concerts in October. My last concert at the Coliseum was also in October three years ago. That month is special to me because Anita was born in October. Luckily this year we managed to get a slot on October 10, which would have been her 46th birthday. Last year, I spent the day quietly, but this time it will be meaningful to spend it with many people. I am planning a special tribute to Anita at the concert, but I don't want to disclose too many details now.
Can you describe the new charity fund you set up recently?
I set up the HOCC Charity Fund several years ago and I recently set up the HOCC Education Grant to help local underprivileged children. The idea came last year when I did a project called Decameron to raise awareness of mental health issues. While we were filming a documentary for the project, I reached out to many poor families and learned about their difficult lives. I invited some children along to a beach for a music video shoot and some of them were ecstatic. I wasn't taking them overseas, just to a local beach, but these children couldn't afford the cost of local transport to get there otherwise. The most touching story I heard was from a little boy who saved up every cent he could in his piggy bank. I asked him how he was going to spend the money. I thought he would say on snacks or video games, but he told me it was his education fund and that he also wanted to buy a big house for his mum. I was shocked and moved. I am so lucky to have been born in a family in which I had pretty much anything I wanted. But these children are so good and deserve a better memory of childhood than scrounging for every cent they can. I decided to set up this grant and donate HK$200,000 to HK$300,000 every year to help children through the Hong Kong Family Welfare Society. I have joined with skincare brand Kiehl's and designed two gift pouches featuring my signature icon, Thelma, and all proceeds from sales will go to the grant.
HOCC 2009 Concert - Supergoo, Oct 9-11, at 8.15pm, Hong Kong Coliseum, Hung Hom, HK$150-HK$480, Urbtix. Inquiries: 2905 8134